Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Totalitarian Warlords and Termination Squadron Episode 3

Just an update - the latest video in my Totalitarian Warlords And Termination Squadron series is now up on Youtube to watch. For those that have been waiting for the next episode, apologies for the wait.

 

In this episode, the Man in Shadow introduces a new member to the team, they debut their new villain song and the Man in Shadow lets us know what he REALLY thinks of a certain Disney song - which could prove to be his undoing. There is also a little nod to a classic anime for all you otaku's out there ;)

 

Check it out below and feel free to leave a comment to let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Pandragon Reviews - And a Child Will Lead Them

There are many taboo subjects that are likely to rile people up. War, governments, Justin Bieber and Jar Jar Binks to name a few. But the one thing GUARANTEED to start up a storm is religion. Even in this day and age, people hold religion very close to their hearts and some are willing to follow it to the letter – even using it to justify their evil actions.

 

Now myself, I am not religious (I’m agnostic if anything), but I do appreciate religion and see its positive message as much as its faults. Therefore, I was very interested in reading this book when it was sent for a request.

 

And a Child Will Lead Them is a novel that follows Julian and his friends as their band sets to fame – and Julian’s rise as a new messiah. If you thought the Beatles were controversial for their infamous “Bigger than Jesus” quote – you ain’t seen nothing yet! So pray for my soul (or not) as I review this spectacular, and very funny, novel by Marcus Herzig.

 

 

About The Author

 

Marcus Herzig was born in 1970 and studied Law, English, Educational Science, and Physics, albeit none of them with any tenacity or ambition. After dropping out of university he worked for bank, a utility company, and for Big Oil. He prefers sunsets over sunrises, white wine over red, beer over white wine, and pizza over pasta. His reaction to airplanes passing overhead resembles that of a seven-year-old seeing an ice cream truck. Which, he insists, is a good thing.

 

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Links for the book are as follows:

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E80Y34C

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00E80Y34C

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18456249-and-a-child-will-lead-them

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/341983

 

 

 

Cover

 

A really simple, but effective cover – showing Julian holding the microphone stand across his back in a crucifix like pose, with the city of Rome behind him. I don’t think it really needs explaining – the picture speaks for itself.

 

Synopsis

 

A new Pope, a world in social and political chaos, and a young singer and songwriter who has his unbelief tested as his big mouth accidentally propels him towards global superstardom. These are the ingredients of this thought provoking, tongue-in-cheek debut novel.

 

When 17-year-old singer and songwriter Julian Monk exposes secret government plans for controversial education reform, he and his band Puerity are suddenly hurled into the limelight and inadvertently create a series of events that plunge the world into turmoil.

 

As the government finds itself in hot water, and a newly elected Pope is hell-bent on turning the Church into a modern, ‘hip’ institution, Julian’s band mates look on in awe as their leader transforms from the shy and timid creature they had known all their lives into a charismatic public speaker and global superstar right in front of their eyes.

 

Julian's idealistic worldview, which is firmly based on a combination of science, reason, and humanistic values, and his unabashed outspokenness against bigotry, hypocrisy, and superstition, immediately strike a chord with the public. Here’s a young pop idol who clearly seems to have the makings of a 21st century poster boy for Christianity—if only he believed in God. But will the powers that be allow him to lead the world into a better future?

 

 

What I liked

 

Our main characters are 17 year old students that are part of the band Puerity and each chapter (which is listed as “The Gospel According to...”) is told from the POV of them. They are Tummy, an overweight, but loveable chap that has family issues – Michael, a technological genius that is also best friends with Julian – and Ginger, who is the only girl in the band, but often very outspoken and able to stand up to most of the boys. Through each chapter, we get to hear their thoughts as we see them go from a simple school band, to a worldwide sensation – partly down to Julian’s controversial statements about religion.

 

Interestingly, the only member of the band that we DON’T get a POV chapter of was Julian himself. So all we really know about Julian is what we hear from the other characters. This I think added a lot of mystery to Julian’s character – even though we did get ideas of his back-story (and learned he was a shy, somewhat autistic child), we never truly heard the story from his POV. This I think was a great move by the author, as it leaves the reader free to interpret Julian themselves. I also found it interesting how the new Pope (in an effort to make himself look “cool” to the younger audience) tries to manipulate Julian for their own needs – though that doesn’t go as planned!

 

Now Julian’s views about religion definitely raise a few eyebrows in both the story and no doubt the readers – but strangely enough, I actually agree with MOST of what he says! Like I said, I respect all religion – but I am strongly opposed to the way that a minority of human beings use it to justify their evils. What Julian tries to do is show the world that love and kindness are more important that worshipping a God. Much like Jesus tried to do, Julian wants to teach everyone to love his fellow man. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that more important? And whilst some may try to silence him, he is totally indestructible and cannot be stopped. Julian is a modern day revolutionary – but winning wars through words, not violence.

 

But the other characters are just as interesting and great to read about. All of them have their own quirks and feelings which make them likeable (I never once found any of them annoying) and you see their transformation throughout the story. As the band’s fame increases, the pressure starts to get to the other kids and we see how the stress of being famous starts to ruin their personal lives. It’s especially heartbreaking when the band goes their separate ways and Julian seems to choose his fame and fortune over his friendship. At least – that’s how it appears. I won’t give anything away for spoilers, but does feel that way at first. I also found Tummy’s story especially tragic with his family problems.

 

But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are some hilarious moments in the book that made me chuckle. Whether it’s Julian’s witty put downs, a moment where he sings the wrong National Anthem at a football game – or an absolutely priceless moment where Julian completely owns Bill O’Reily, there is plenty of humour as there is pathos. And the fact that you get to see it from so many POV’s means that there is no shortage of funny moments in this book.

 

 

What I didn’t like

 

To be honest, this isn’t so much what I didn’t like, but what some readers may not like. Like I said, religion is a terribly taboo subject and there are many out there that do not like them being challenged. And some of the stuff that And a Child Will Lead Them comes out with will most definitely wind up a few. I’m not saying that if you’re religious that you will hate this book (because I like to think that many people can be open minded about it), but if you’re sensitive about the subject, you might want to read this at your own risk.

 

Another thing that may put off some people is the relationship between a 17 year old and a 22 year old – which some may find uncomfortable. Now, the author did send me a sample chapter before I agreed to review this book, just so I could gauge the content (as you know I do make it clear to contact me if there are any strong sexual content, or anything that I may find offensive). But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and the content between these two is handled sensitively enough. It’s not a problem for me, but I should just warn you guys about that.

 

 

PROS (Stairway to Heaven):

  • Very brave tale that asks some very bold questions.
  • Characters are all very well written.
  • Hilariously funny in places.
  • People with an open mind will warm to this.

 

CONS (Highway to Hell):

  • Those sensitive to religion may not agree with the content.
  • Has a relationship in it that some may not agree with.

 

 

Summary

 

And a Child Will Lead Them is a novel that I think that both John Lennon and George Carlin would love to read. It’s a very bold statement against religion, but it never openly insults it either. It’s a story that teaches forgiveness and love for your fellow man – something we seem to have forgotten about. If you have an open mind and want to read something that will make you think, then I highly recommend this book. The strong characters, witty dialogue and moving pathos will keep you entertained throughout and leave you wanting more! The review is ended – go in peace and grab yourself a copy of this excellent book!

 

FINAL SCORE: 5/5

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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A special musical blog - The Self Titled!

Hey guys. Hope you are all enjoying the olympics. Go Team GB!

 

Anyway, thought I'd do something a little different today. I thought that I'd talk a little bit about a new release - that ISN'T a book! Confused, let me explain.

 

See, as well as writing, my other passion is music. In fact, prior to becoming a writer, I did consider a career in the music business, playing rock/metal music. From the early days of my Dad playing me Led Zeppelin and The Beatles records, I guess I kinda had music implanted into me. Over the years, my music tastes grew to bands like Metallica, Dream Theater, Fear Factory, Pantera, Stone Sour, Slipknot, the list goes on. That being said, I do also have a respect for a lot of the classic rock guitarists - Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai and even Django Reinhardt.

 

In actual fact, I have a respect for virtually every type of music - and since watching Treme I've picked up a bit of a liking for Jazz and Blues - but metal and rock has always been my first choice. I love listening to music that makes my adrenaline pump and makes me rock out. This is probably one of the reasons I also like Wrestling, as many themes in that have a metal based style to them.

 

I played in a few bands before - but the one I play with now (which I can honestly say is the best band I've ever been a part of) is The Self Titled, of which I am the rhythm guitarist. This band is a heavy metal band and actually the type of band that I've always wanted to play in. I joined this band in 2010 originally and we played several gigs. I left briefly in 2011 to concentrate on my book writing but I have now rejoined them in the hope of getting back to gigging. We recently released our first album Defaced (which has had some pretty decent reviews) and I thought it would be cool to let any of you musios out there know about it!

 

Click on the pic below to be taken to our website and you will also see links where you can download the track on Itunes and Amazon. I actually don't play on this record (as it was recorded when I left the band), but I DO play these tracks live.

 

 
If you like your music hard, with a melodic edge, then this will be for you! Check it out and, if you like it, feel free to contact the band to let them know. Also follow us on Facebook (links on the page).
 
Something a little different for you guys today, but I figured it's best to mix and match it up. Also feel free to leave your comments below if you wanna let me know what you think of the band.
 
Have a great weekend, folks!
 
 

Regards

Pandragon

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Why I Love Dream Theater

In a slight change of pace from my usual blogs based around writing, I decided to take a slight break from it to talk about one of my favourite bands of all time - the American Prog-Rock/Metal act known as Dream Theater.

Why am I writing about a metal band in a writing blog? Well, to be honest, I don't always just look to books and TV for inspiration. Music can also play a part in my writing process. Being a former musician myself I have a huge appreciation for it and the emotion that it can convey. I often listen to music when writing when trying to convey a certain scene. And Dream Theater are one of the bands that I play most often.

With a career that spans back to 1989 (and beyond), Dream Theater have been one of the biggest names in progressive rock world. With influences that range from bands like Metallica, Yes, Pink Floyd and even the legendary band Rush (of which one might argue is their biggest influence - the singer, James LaBrie even sounds very much like Geddy Lee. Even the drumming has similar motifs to Rush drummer Neil Pert), Dream Theater have a style that is extremely heavy, melodic and emotional and technically perfect. In fact, I have seldom heard a band that had better musicians than Dream Theater.

Dream Theater's current line up consists of James LaBrie (vocals), John Petrucci (guitars), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), John Myung (bass) and Mike Mangini (Drums - taking over from Mike Portnoy after he and Dream Theater parted ways). Other notable members included Kevin Moore on Keyboards (up until the album Awake) and Charlie Dominici (their vocalist on their first album - though I have to be honest, I didn't think he was that great). Each member of Dream Theater is perfectly skilled at their instrument - in fact I honestly don't think their are better musicians in the rock world than these guys. Petrucci can play with lighting fast speed and ability that most speed metallers fail to reach, Rudess fingers move across the keyboard like a spider, Myung's bass lines are often overlooked - but never understated. And as for Mangini - well, he has set 5 World Drumming Record between 2002 - 2005, some of which still stand today! So you know these guys have to be good!

But it's not just about speed that makes Dream Theater such a great band in my opnion - but for their song writing skills. Every song is filled with emotion and affects you in a way most other metal songs can't. In fact, Dream Theater songs have more than one reduced me to tears because the emotion feels so real. James LaBrie doesn't scream his lyrics like most metal bands but actually sings them. His voice has garnered mixed reactions from people, but I think he's a great vocalist. It's because of this that the emotion is put across is a way better than just screaming down the microphone.

Also, another plus for Dream Theater, whilst most metal bands are about doom and gloom, Dream Theater's songs usually have a more uplifting message to them. They do have some dark songs, but they have plenty of songs that have a strong message to them. Being that most of the band are Christians and Spritalists, they do try and put across a positive outlook on life - which I think is why I listen to them the most. If I ever get down, I put on some Dream Theater and let the music raise my spirits. The songs pull you into them and take you on a journey - they tell a story rather than just going by "verse-chorus-verse" as with most songs.

Strangely enough, despite the fact that are respected amongst their fans and fellow musicians, Dream Theater have pretty much been ignored by the commercial market - only having one major radio hit in the nineties. In some way though, I think that's a great thing as it means their sound has never been compromised for the sake of being "commercial". They've done what they wanted to do and fans respect them for that.

To be honest, I could go on forever talking about Dream Theater and how good they are - and the many themes their songs cover. But to really do them justice, you need to listen to them. If you're a fan of rock or music in general and don't mind having an open mind, then I truely recommend you check them out. In fact, if you do then I recommend you check out these albums as a starting point.

Images and Words is their second album and a perfect starting point if you're new to them. The songs on this album are more easily listening, yet still technically perfect. In fact, they get to show off just how tight their jamming skills are on this album. It also contains two of my favourite Dream Theater songs "Take The Time" and "Metropolis Pt 1". Take The Time is an uplifting song about not trying to rush through life and just taking a step back to enjoy it. And Metropolis is an exciting, futuristic epic that deals with birth, death and reincarnation. It has a certain sci-fi feel to it, much like the movie of the same name.
Octavarium contains a few "radio friendly" songs and even some more folkier sounding tunes. It's not really considered a great album by some, but I love it. For one reason - the theme of it. The album is based around the number 8 and the theme of the octave. As any musician knows, an octave contains 8 notes and 5 intervals. This was Dream Theater's eigth studio album AND they have five members - coincidence? Every song has a time signature or idea with the song to go with the theme of this number, and each song starts off in a different key that goes up in ascending order. That is clever song writing in my eyes! Not only that, but the final track is a brilliant 20 plus minute epic that is heavily Pink Floyd inspired.
A Dramatic Turn Of Events is their most recent album and has a harder edge than the other two I mentioned. This is an album that will appeal to more heavy rockers, but it still has the positive and uplifting message that I've been talking about. It's also their first album with the new drummer Mike Mangini. And let me tell you, this guy can do with one hand what most drummers struggle to do with two! Drumming wise that is! The songs on here take a while to tune into, but once you give it a fair go, I think you'll agree that it's a very emotional and powerful album.
Of course, I'd recommend ANY Dream Theater album - but these are just the ones I'd pick for beginners.
If my books were ever made into a film, I'd LOVE Dream Theater to do the soundtrack for it because their music is just so powerful and moving. Hopefully others will feel the same way about them as I do. Dream Theater's music is inspiring and uplifting - and as a writer that's what I look for when I look to create stories.

Are you a fan of Dream Theater? Want to share your thoughts? Please do feel free to comment below. I do read all comments and respond when possible.

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

 

Pandragon

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