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The Infernal City & Lord of Souls

These two books, written by Greg Keyes, follow on 40 years post-Oblivion-crisis. I’m finding it hard to decide whether to write this as two parts or one. My instinct says two, but you really could (and I am half considering doing this) staple the back cover of The Infernal City to the front cover of Lord of Souls and not a lot would change. Which is my way of saying that, while they are two books, it is very much one story, one set of characters, and one overall story arc. So as compromise, I’ll do them separately, but in this one page, so here goes.

1. The Infernal City

Umbiel_Infernal_CityThe first part starts, puzzlingly, with an account of a few sailors spotting a big, flying city, before switching to a man called Sul, who appears for all of about 2.5 pages before moving on. I know this was the point, to move between characters (as the blurb alludes to), but I quickly found myself not working out who was who, nor which character had which name, nor what they were doing, nor where. The plot evolves into revolving around three central characters, Annaïg (a 17 year old Breton girl living in the Black Marsh town of Lilmoth), Prince Attrebus Mede (son of the Emperor Titus Mede, who eventually assumed control of the Empire after the events of Oblivion) and Colin (man with unimaginative name, spy). The stories of these three characters play off each other, before eventually more or less joining up later on, as they strive to somehow stop the floating city of Umbriel.

I think the best way of summing up the general idea of these books, without giving away plot points, is that if you approach it with an Elder Scrolls mindset, you’ll think they’re not too bad. If you’re looking for well written books, prepare to be disappointed. Thankfully I approached them from the former viewpoint, and enjoyed many of the references and ideas related to Oblivion. And in its favour, the book does a good job of being descriptive and creating nice, interesting environments. However, the manner in which the plot and characters are written leaves a lot to be desired.

2. Lord of Souls

LordOfSouls-coverMuch the same as above (see section 1.), but located in the more familiar territory of Cyrodiil, which is nice. There’s the usual plot developments and twists, and it wraps the story up in a nice (albeit predictable) way. All in all, fair.

If anyone’s read these books, what did you think of them? Better than fair, worse?


Top Ten – Elder Scrolls Weapons

Note: Most of my Elder Scrolls experience comes from Oblivion and Skyrim, so that’s the perspective from which this is being written.

10. Mace of Molag Bal

SR-item-Mace_of_Molag_BalThis mace is given out by the Daedric prince Molag Bal in Oblivion for provoking a pacifist into murdering you, and in Skyrim for beating and killing a priest (Molag Bal isn’t a nice guy). However, this mace is worth it, as it will attack the victim’s melee and magic capabilities.

9. Mehrune’s Razor

SR-item-Mehrunes_RazorAnother Daedric artifact, while this dagger may seem weak, it is devastating against any Daedra and armour, and in Skyrim it even has a chance to kill any target instantly. Handy to have as a backup.

8. Goldbrand

OB-item-GoldbrandYet another Daedric weapon here, Goldbrand features only in Oblivion this time, and is rewarded for competing in a tournament against every race in Tamriel. This sword holds the distinction of being the most powerful one-handed weapon in the game (Umbra has a higher base damage, but Goldbrand’s fire enchantment makes it a generally far more effective).

7. Dragonbane


The first non-Daedric weapon on the list now, and the Dragonbane, featuring in Skyrim, does exactly what you’d expect from a game filled with dragons, kills them good. Found in Sky Haven Temple, this Akavari katana will do an extra 40 damage to any dragons, and an extra 10 points of shock to anything else that gets in your way. Useful, even if you’re not fighting dragons.

6. Northwind


Another Akavari katana, Northwind is more or less a more conservative version of Dragonbane (though this features in Oblivion, not Skyrim). 20 points of cold damage to all opponents is no bad thing (frost damage being my favourite, just saying).

5. Volendrung


A weapon that looks absolutely demonic, Volendrung is the two-handed mace of the Daedric pring Malacath. While in Oblivion it drained health, paralysed and was a beast of a warhammer in terms of sheer damage, in Skyrim it was toned down a little, absorbing stamina instead.

4. Blade of Woe


This little ebony dagger starts out from humble beginnings, with no enchantments at all, but by the end of Oblivion’s dark brotherhood questline will be your go-to-melee-sneak-attacking weapon of choice.


3. Ebony Blade


Another ebony weapon, what can I say, they’re good. Ebony blade was good in Oblivion (absorbing health and silencing spell-casters), but it got great in Skyrim (absorbing more and more health the more people it slays).

2. Shadowhunt


Although it was a bit bugged, when it was working properly this bow was, for my money, my favourite weapon in Oblivion. Perfect for taking out foes at range in any scenario, it did extra damage to health and magicka, turned the undead, and applied a weakness to poison as well. Truly a great bow.

1. Chillrend


Seeing as I said my favourite Elder Scrolls element was frost, it should come as no surprise that this would top the list, a glass sword tinted pale blue as ice, instead of the usual stock green. While in Oblivion it was a perfect shortsword for most situations, dealing plenty of frost damage to take out anyone and anything (and being light and quick too), once again the weapon was beefed up in Skyrim, gaining the paralyse ability too. A must-have.

And it just looks so epic here in Skyrim.

And it just looks so epic here in Skyrim.

Any other weapons you think should have made the list? Let me know in the comments below!


A Day in the Life of Oblivion (2): Fallen Rock and Killing Field

Continuing in my work for the Fighter’s Guild, I accepted a new contract: Find the Bosmer Maglir and find out why he hasn’t done the job he was meant to. So off I travelled to Skingrad, to the West Weald Inn. Therein I found Maglir, being a big ol’ coward, scared of a few undead! So naturally, I decided to take the quest in his stead.

Maglir had been charged with recovering Brenus Astis’ journal from Fallen Rock Cave, a short journey north-west of the city. Clearly, I wanted some better equipment, just to be safe.

Which is when I found this AWESOME helmet.

Which is when I found this AWESOME helmet.

So off I set, travelling to Fallen Rock. The journey was short but eventful, as I was interrupted by not one, but four wolves roaming the grassland. Needless to say, I had the last laugh. Before long I was at the cave itself. Gave my armour and weapons a quick repair, and in ventured.

As I set foot into Fallen Rock, the light failed. I opted to put away my steel claymore, and instead wielded the fine steel longsword along with a torch to light my way. Cautiously, I proceeded further, until suddenly, two skeletons ambushed me, one armed with an axe and the other with bow.


Note the archer lurking in the shadows.

Note the archer lurking in the shadows.

Immediately they attacked, giving me little time to decide my strategy. The axeman took a swing, which my longsword parried with ease, though it did stagger me. I fought back with a flurry of quick strikes, each one hampering the skeleton, not giving it any time to counter, all the while trying to keep myself out of the archer’s line of sight. The last thing I needed was arrows staggering me while I fought. The first skeleton was handily knocked down for good with a well-timed power attack, whereupon the archer took his chance, and let loose an arrow that found me in the shoulder. The steel armour took the brunt of the hit, allowing me to rush the archer and quickly defeat him.

At last I was able to take stock of my surroundings. The room was sparse, save for a chest containing a few septims. However as I proceeded, the skeletons didn’t let up, and some fights pushed me to my limit, Further through the dismal cave I encountered two skeletons once again, but this time both wielded sword and shield. I dodged and countered them, waiting for the few opportunities to present themselves for quick, light hits, until they were finally defeated.

2013-08-04_00003Further and further, lower and lower I traversed the terrain and slew the skeletons, until at last, in the flooded floor of the cave, I found Astis’ journal! With the path to the exit now clear, it was easy work climbing back up and out to the welcoming daylight.

After returning to hand in the completed contract, I, as is my custom, restocked on equipment, potions and repairs.

Found myself another new hat.

Found myself another new hat.

Freelancing, I decided to help out Valus Odiil by protecting his sons, Rallus and Antus, as they defended their farm from being overrun by foul goblins from the nearby countryside. Together, Rallus, Antus and I travelled from Chorrol, past Weynon Priory and onwards to their farm south-east of the city.

2013-08-04_00005As we reached the farm, goblins poured onto the field left, right and centre. As they charged, I took out one goblin with a single swipe of my claymore. Another passed by me, but was quickly taken down by the two brothers. As they fought off a third, stronger goblin, I came up behind the vile creature and, with a powerful strike, swung the sword overhead and took the goblin unawares. Without the foresight to block or dodge the attack, the creature fell.

Wave after wave we fought off the intruders until they were spent, and we were victorious. I was paid handsomely by Valus, along with his personal sword, Chillrend, an enchanted Elven shortsword of blue hue (as opposed to the usual green), and imbued with cold.

A Day in the Life of Oblivion (1): Beginnings and Bandits

(Playing on 50% difficulty/medium, if you will; have mods Knights of the Nine, Shivering Isles, unofficial patch, Francesco’s mods (optional files, slower skills 1.5x, 1-20 day length rescale, 10 days respawn time, optional creatures and items, and levelled creatures and items)

I awake in the dungeon of the Imperial City, a trapped Nord noble warrior, imprisoned for a crime I didn’t commit. Wait, that’s something else…

A-TeamRegardless, I was found by the emperor and his elite guards, the Blades.

Drama queen, Picard.

Drama queen, Picard.

We travelled through the dungeons, attempting to escape. I even encountered some undead folk, but dispatched them handily with axe in hand.

2013-08-03_00003We carried on through the dungeons, and I picked up some heavy armour, much to my relief. When I chose my starsign, I had a choice between the Warrior (+10 to strength and endurance) or the Lord (25% weakness to fire, but an excellent healing spell). I chose the Lord (partially for the spell, as I have appalling magicka, but also because I’m noble).

However, disaster! Jean Luc was assassinated just before I escaped the dungeons! He handed me the amulet of kings, and entrusted me with finding his one living son (illegitimate), voiced by Sean Bean (Boromir). But first things first, I needed some experience and equipment. After finally escaping, I set to work slaughtering bandits and highwaymen. This was easy work, and I soon had enough money to buy myself some decent equipment. Onwards I travelled to the Arena of the Imperial City! I watched Saliith and Branwen training, picking up a cool +5 to my hand to hand skill in the process.

2013-08-03_00005I joined up with the blue team, talking the man in charge, Owyn:

Bit of a dick.

Bit of a dick.

(Aside: here are my lvl 1 stats)

2013-08-03_00008 2013-08-03_00007After a few rounds, fighting yellow team idiots to the death, I decided to pack it in for now. I’d earned up a decent amount of gold, and remembering my priorities, travelled to Weynon Priory, just outside Chorrol, to meet Jauffre in my quest to find Boromir. It was a nice walk, if fairly uneventful. There were few dangers on the black road, but it was pleasant enough, and good scenery too.


Passed through a fort on the way to Chorrol. Bandits weren't happy with that.

Passed through a fort on the way to Chorrol. Bandits weren’t happy with that.

After much walking, I reached Weynon Priory and spoke to Jauffre, head of the Blades. He told me that Sean Bean was a priest in the city of Kvatch, to the south. So, after stocking up on supplies, I headed south, but not to Kvatch. I was going further…

Travelling south the the Colovian Highlands, I made my way to the port town of Anvil, to sign up to the Fighter’s Guild, a group of mercenaries taking on contracts of all kinds. My first job? Defending some damn rats in some Dunmer’s basement. I had to find the mountain lions attacking the rats, with the help of the hunter Pinarus Inventius.

2013-08-03_00015After killing a bunch of the lions, I helped out a poor shopkeeper on the waterfront, who was being robbed every night. Lying in wait in the shop during the night, three thieves entered via the front door. Boldly, I drew my longsword and lit my torch, confronting these dastardly villains. After a quick scuffle (I funnelled them onto the stairs, to fight them one at a time), I returned to Norbert, the shopkeeper, to deliver the news.

2013-08-03_00017My work in Anvil was done for the time being, so I set off to Cheydinhal, located in the foothills between the Valus and Jerall Mountains in the east. When there, I was contracted by the Orsimer in charge of this branch of the Guild to deliver weapons to some members in a mine that has become infested with dirty goblins. As quests go, this one was a simple one: deliver weapons, kill goblins.

2013-08-03_00019Though, upon leaving the mine, I realised I had suffered serious injury.


Was very nearly a butt shot.


Top Ten – Dogs in Video Games

10. Mojo

180px-OB-creature-MojoThis pooch lives in the Anvil Fighter’s Guild in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. He’s a loyal guild-dog, and technically a full member of the guild itself.

9. PaRappa

parappaThat loveable rapping dog/thing. Remember kids, learning can be fun!

8. Dogmeat

dogmeatMan’s best post-apocalyptic friend, Dogmeat appears in Fallout 3 (and his ancestor in the original games), and will be a loyal companion if you help him out. And he fetches things for you too!

7. Dog (Resident Evil 4)

dogs_residentevil4If you choose to make Leon help out this dog, you will be rewarded. He’ll make the El Gigante fight that little bit easier.

6. Peter Puppy

peter_puppy_by_edyouassbaka-d58q8d6Earthworm Jim’s friend, Peter Puppy is a dog who changes into a monster when threatened. A useful trait, except when he goes for Jim.

5. Barbas

barbasEveryone’s favourite talking dog, Barbas is Clavicus Vile’s companion, though they don’t always see eye to eye on his nefarious Daedric doings.

4. Dog (Fable II)

fable-2-dog-2If Dogmeat was good at finding stuff for you, he’d be in a close second to your treasure tracking pal from Fable II. This guy is a whiz at finding those troublesome dig spots.

3. Dog (Dragon Age: Origins)

dragonageoriginswardogcStrictly not called a dog but a “Mabari War Hound”, these vicious beasts are loyal and deadly, being used by the protagonist and the Fereldan military alike. (Mild early-game spoilers in this next clip.)

2. Arcanine

ArcanineIn my opinion, there is no cooler Pokemon than an Arcanine. Fire-wolf, species is listed as a “Legendary Pokemon”, what’s not to love?

1. Amaterasu

amaterasu_6I almost feel like taking back what I just wrote about Arcanine, because Okami’s Amaterasu is truly legendary. The sun goddess, Amaterasu paints the world good again, quite literally. The art style in this game is fantastic, along with the music, setting and feel of it. A majestic place for the top dog (pun intended).

So, that’s it! Were there any dogs you think should have made it into the top ten and didn’t? Comment below and let me know!


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