Category Archives: Book

The Greatest (Un?)Intentional References in The Witcher 3

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The Witcher 3 is still one of the greatest games of this generation and perhaps once you really get into it one of the greatest and most ambitious projects of all-time as well. As with any expansive quest to combat evil and save loved ones, there are plenty of popular references along the way- harking both to previous adventures of Geralt’s as well as to things that exist in other worlds entirely. I will only be discussing two of these references today- one of which I’ve talked about at some length previously either in comments or my other Witcher 3 discussion blog which can be found here.

The first reference is perhaps the deepest and potentially even completely or mostly unintentional in its origin and yet still altogether interesting whatever the case may be- me reading too much into it and nerding out or otherwise. I must warn you first and foremost, if you’re reading this post then know that I will be shamelessly discussing things of the spoilery nature that pertain not only to The Witcher series (although are predominately limited to Wild Hunt), but also to popular fiction and other mediums. The first reference I have comes in two very simple words and is in fact related to the name of one Gaunter O’Dimm- a non-playable character whom Geralt first meets in White Orchard at the onset of the game but becomes shall we say more important in the Heart of Stones expansion.

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Yes, that’s the guy right there. Now, you may be wondering how it is that a simple thing such as a name can in any way, shape, or form be a huge pop culture reference. Well, this one goes pretty deep so just bear with me as we descend into a rabbit hole of sorts and I try to make sense of the startling revelations I’ve been having lately. Gaunter O’Dimm seems to be a little bit off but it’s not until you really get to know him that you begin to realize that being off is just the tip of the iceberg- he’s obviously some sort of djinn or conjurer or demon as Geralt himself deduces.

Now here’s where I do a bit of conjuring of my own and send your brain into oblivion with my next few words: Gaunter O’Dimm can be related in more than one way as a reference to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. BAM. Didn’t see that one coming now did you? Oh yes- I assure you there is at least marginal ground for this presumed assumption whether intentional or not. You see, In the fifth book of the main novel series (Wolves of the Calla) there is a character referred to as Walter O’Dim- or Randall Flagg for those of you into Stephen King who recognize the demonic presence in both The Dark Tower series and The Stand.

So in essence this is pretty much a reference within a reference within a ton of references- confounding, I know.

The reason I say there is very definitely at least some sort of relation here is mainly because of some of the elements that make up Flagg/O’Dim’s character and contribution to the story overall. In many ways the devious and devilish acts that O’Dim and O’Dimm try to pull off are vaguely similar in scope and design. Plus they have semi-similar existences and inevitably come to about the same conclusion in terms of character arcs as well. Just as Walter O’Dim toys constantly with King’s Gunslinger in the series, Gaunter O’Dimm toys constantly with Geralt of Rivia in Wild Hunt- often working with him as much as against him behind the scenes as well as completely out of the shadows.

It’s an interesting relationship that both sets of characters have and one that dynamically affects their respective stories as well. Another interesting note is that whereas King’s O’Dim is an evil wizard who also maniacally permeates the very fabric of fourth wall breaking time and appears time and time again throughout King’s works as a minor yet outwardly evil presence, O’Dimm is as far as anyone knows “evil incarnate” and can manipulate both time and souls on a whim. Needless to say both are incredibly terrifying and powerful forces of nature and not to be trifled with.

Although their relationship as far as references go mostly stems from very similar names and highly suspect powers and intentions, it’s interesting to see that two well-known and well-respected worlds of fiction should share such amazing entities that are startlingly similar after all.

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I’ll leave you clinging to your seats with a little glimpse at at least one incarnation of the infamous Walter O’Dim of King’s legendary series…

But now we must really be moving onto our second and most interesting in-house reference, at least as far as CD Projekt Red productions and games go. It is not secret that the talented minds behind The Witcher series have been putting their respective time and effort towards a new, much more modern (but no less dark and gritty) world. Cyberpunk 2077 understandably strikes a lot of Blade Runner-esque chords and looks entirely too promising not to be an interesting next project for the team.

Although there have been recent stories in regards to the nature of the proposed trademark and how it might affect others attempting to create games in the cyberpunk genre, which has been around long before CDP deigned to craft their role-playing adventure, I believe we are in much better hands than the whole Scrolls debacle between Mojang and Bethesda seemed to be industry-wise. Potential scandal and news tidbits aside, there is an interesting relationship between both Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077 and it stems from a direct and quotable source within the confines of Ciri and Geralt’s adventure. Literally- there’s dialogue support of such a reference and even lore to back things up.

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Later in the story- actually, shortly after you rescue some dwarves (or leave them to die, your choice really) from a misty island filled with plenty of nightmare-inducing creatures, Ciri will be reunited with Geralt and there will be plenty of ensuing dialogue. At one point, Ciri will mention offhandedly that she traveled to other worlds (as is well within her power) with Avallac’h and one of these worlds boasted flying carriages and people with metallic heads and something of the general futuristic-y kind of noire vibe essentially.

Well, if that obvious and blatant references doesn’t just light the signal fire for Cyberpunk 2077 then I don’t really know what will. As The Witcher 3 is probably Geralt’s last huzzah at least for the foreseeable future and a completely appropriate end to an amazing generational character arc, the next project predominately on CDP’s plate is of course none other than 2077. As such, it would only make sense that they include some kind of passing of the baton and what better way to do it than to actually confirm that both The Witcher and Cyberpunk actually exist in the same universe/multiverse? Actually, it’s quite brilliant from a developer perspective and even gave them an excuse to build in other worlds (showcasing their design abilities and unique ideas) as well as time bending mechanics into Wild Hunt as well. Really, well done CD Projekt.

Although the first of these two references is of course a lot grander and perhaps more farfetched than this second quite brief one- both are thoroughly interesting to ponder and the mere thought of Geralt and cyborg ninjas (or whatever) existing in the same dimension is mind blowing to be honest.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m sure Geralt has always wanted to travel between worlds and get attacked by what Stephen King would eagerly refer to as massive “lobstrosities” as well. Well, you’ll have more than one opportunity to travel to other realms and not all are as sunny and forgiving as this ruined desert world that echoes of human vanity and global warming and other issues prevalent in our culture today. For example, you may find yourself in a future where the Wild Hunt has decimated Gearalt’s world with the White Frost and the mere touch of snow chills you literally to death.

Or in another instance if you descend from suitably safe platforms and into the fern forest below then you suffocate and die thanks to toxic fumes. Really, Avallac’h and Ciri were lucky to wind up in a dystopian future rather than the places that Geralt was spun all around creation and quite literally through time and space for. The man just attracts bad luck and worse monsters like no other, it’s true.

Anyway, it’s been a long haul and I’m sure some of you have thoroughly fired your brains by now with at least one of these supposed references- real or otherwise theorized. I do hope you’ll share your comments and questions or even discuss some of the other spoilery intricacies of The Witcher 3 with me either now or in the future. If you cannot tell, sometimes I’ve just got to nerd out. Cheers.

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Why You Should Watch Jack Taylor

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If you’re into the sort of thing, the online providers of mixed media (predominately television shows and films) such as Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and HBO typically offer some quality entertainment and interesting specimens. One such series that has recently struck a chord somewhere deep within the dark recesses of my sleep deprived and otherwise addled brain is none other than ‘Jack Taylor.’ Allow me to state some of the selling points for the series to begin with, in all of its Netflix glory (although there are at least three new episodes not yet available on the streaming service).

Iain Glen, better known as ‘That Guy’ from the often sub-par Resident Evil films and even better better known as Jorah the Explorah from Game of Thrones (HBO), is featured as the titular character Jack Taylor. The series is predominately set in and around Galway- Ireland for those of you unfamiliar to the lay of the land. So you’ve got your fair share of drinking, smoking, and unsavory thuggish sorts going toe to toe with J.T. and constantly getting outwitted and beaten soundly (typically in the literal sense as well). The show is similar to the popular BBC Sherlock series in that it typically boasts three film-length episodes per series and is based upon novels revolving around the same titular character (written by Ken Bruen). One interesting additional note is that the episodes typically originate on local Irish television channels as well.

It is very much a dark, cynical, and gritty show- so essentially everything I love besides petting unicorns and smelling daffodils while skipping around meadows. Jokes aside, the show features story arcs and characters from the novels themselves and despite following in the same thematic footsteps and potential cliches, it all still works and is directed with such things in mind. Unsurprisingly, Jorah- er Jack, is easily the highlight of each lengthy film, although Garda Noonan (Nora-Jane Noone/Siobhan O’Kelly) is just as witty and well-portrayed. It won’t often throw you for true twists that you don’t see coming, but it’s far from mere pulp fiction or trashy romantic paperbacks that most people spend their time with. Think of it as something along the lines of Lee Child’s ‘Jack Reacher’ series, although not in terms of being made into a feature-length Tom Cruise film.

The gist of what I’m getting at here, without trying to give everything up and give everything away in order to ruin things for you, is that it’s definitely worth a watch. Perhaps the first few episodes get off to a little bit of a rocky start in terms of cliches and stereotypes typically found in thrillers and novels of that sort. But the characters are what really piqued my interest and got me invested and I’ll bet if the series sounds like it’s up your alley, then they’ll probably interest you as well. Iain Glen has long been a favorite of mine in terms of lesser-known on-screen actors who’ve come from great theatrical and producing backdrops. His film roles may be minimal in terms of the limelight (although Mountains of the Moon is pretty amazing) and he may be predominately known for guest roles or his acting slot on Game of Thrones, but he thoroughly sells the Jack Taylor vibe and has quickly become a favorite in that capacity for me as well.

And here’s a quick fun-fact for you as well. Glen starred alongside such notable names as Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Edward Norton, Ghassan Massoud, Alexander Siddig, Jon Finch, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Maton Csokas, and Michael Sheen. If those names themselves don’t all ring a bell, look up some of the films and works they’ve been involved in and you’ll get a better picture. Needless to say the most well-known involved include but are not limited to Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, and so much more.Iain Glen is good. Jack Taylor is good. Well, the show. Try it out.

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“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pt 1 & 2” Review

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First of all, allow me to say as a fellow ’80s child (alongside Harry who is of course a little under two years older than me by this point) that I appreciate this play/writing being created just as much as any ’90s child would. I read through the first seven novels and always had a blast exploring the mystical world that J.K Rowling crafted. I watched all eight films and was mildly surprised that each found its way to the silver screen in such an amusing and enjoyable way. Sure, things always differ between film and book and although I would’ve loved them to be exact replicas, I do understand why they could not be at all times.

Therefore, upon hearing that not only would there be a two-part theatrical production but a released text to accompany it in semi-book form, I was as enthused as anyone would be. And then of course there is the matter of the film adaptation of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ coming shortly as well. Suffice it to say, the world cannot have enough of Harry Potter- whether you condemn the producers for selling their souls and continuing to milk the brand or not is beyond the point.

To be clear, this particular review is for the text of ‘Cursed Child Part 1 and 2’ not the theatrical release. As much as I applaud them for taking leaps and bounds theatrically to shake things up and make them interesting, I’ve always preferred text and I like to envision the characters the same as I always have in my mind as well. I’ll do my best to hit the highlights of the three-hundred odd pages or so without spoiling anything, as if you all probably haven’t had things spoiled enough for you by this point.

‘Cursed Child’ should be considered the eighth base text in the Potter saga although it is as much Harry’s story as it is that of his youngest son Albus Severus Potter’s (alongside Scorpius Malfoy, perhaps the most darling character Rowling has written yet). Picking up roughly where the epilogue of book seven (Deathly Hallows) leaves us, nineteen or so years after the Battle of Hogwarts and all that was thenceforth ended in the wizarding world (see: Moldy Voldy and several lovable characters), ‘Cursed Child’ quickly proves that it isn’t going to stay quietly in the Potter mold. Within about fifty pages, three or four years pass at Hogwarts and an entirely different story begins to take shape. Things have never been perfect in Harry’s world and Rowling (alongside of course Jack Thorne and John Tiffany) makes sure to inject just the right, believable amount of familial drama and flawed characters into the mix as well.

I enjoyed the believable evolution and portrayal of familiar characters as well as the addition of new ones to make the story have its own, new sense of purpose and direction and life. The world may or may not be a better place and characters see their flaws and notice how things in the past may come back to haunt them and this is very much a large and intricately portrayed part of the story. I’ll not spoil any key plot-specific elements but I will most definitely say that time plays a large role in the story- not just in terms of establishing the future but reconciling with past actions as well. Rowling definitely goes the classic route and tugs on the heartstrings by making callbacks to previous notable moments in Harry’s life, exceptionally so in roughly the last fifty pages or so of the text.

I enjoyed seeing the overall arching storylines that traced characters’ paths from book seven until ‘Cursed Child’ and I also enjoyed how things ended. I say ended merely because the two-part theatrical production definitely serves as a fitting end for Harry’s story, although it could very well turn into the beginning of his son’s generation of characters’ story. I was satisfied with the end of Harry’s seven years at Hogwarts for better or worse and I’m just as satisfied by the end of ‘Cursed Child’ overall. It both trod old and familiar territory and spiced things up a little bit with some changes to the nostalgic formula and teases of darker things to come hither and thither. I’m excited to see where the world continues to go- whether in terms of films or other productions, and that will never change. The groundwork has been laid for delving into other realms of production and Rowling has proved that she can craft intricate and thought-provoking stories both with eight-hundred page tomes and three-hundred page manuscripts.

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Milly Schmidt

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