8 Aug 2019

Review: the Queen of Air and Darkness

The Queen of Air and Darkness is a great book that just goes on for too long. Cassandra Clare’s third book in the series is over 200,000 words—and a fourth book, a short story, is coming. Can the plot really support going over half a million words?

The Queen of Air and Darkness is undeniably a stunning work of fiction: the vast array of characters, relationships, conflict and magic is enough to keep this poor reader awake till the dark hours of the night. To cover all this ground in a review feels onerous; I can only summarise the key points, and reflect on my personal impressions. I assume the reader has already read the previous two books in the series, as well as the Mortal Instruments books. You are going to have a tough time reading this book otherwise.

Characterisation takes up most of the immense word count; this is partly a good thing, and partly a bad thing. Emma and Julian are great characters, of course, and we’ve come to know them well—the devoted and protective Julian, so beautiful yet so tortured; and fierce Emma, trusty Cortana at her side. There are many, many other characters in this book, however. Some, such as Jace and Clary—or my favourites, Alec and Magnus—are well-loved favourites from the Mortal Instruments. In fact, let me be honest: Alec and Magnus broke my heart, in all the best ways.

The remaining character cast is not as important to the narrative, but still take up too much “screentime”, so to speak. The number of pages dedicated to Drusilla and Jaime/Diego; to Rayan and Divya; Kit and Ty; and yes, even to the Mark–Kieran–Cristina nexus, is out of proportion. It slows down the plot, and weakens the story. Emma and Julian are the real protagonists in this tale.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed Mark, Kieran and Cristina’s relationship immensely. It’s rare to get a bisexual love triangle in a fantasy book! Even so, I feel Cassy drew out their subplot way too much. Every romance story needs to have a reason for why two (or three) people can’t be together—and the biggest problem with any romance story is when those reasons become contrived. These three were like a seesaw: always up, always down. At some point you have to wonder: “Why don’t they just get together already?”

The plot is certainly interesting: Cassie has woven twists and turns between the angst-driven relationships, and her skill as a plot writer is, by this point, undeniable. The problem, really, is that there’s just too much—the story loses focus and starts to confuse the reader. The real antagonist is not Annabelle Blackthorn, as the title alludes to; it’s actually Horace Dearborn and his Cohort. Nor was it Annabelle in the first book (Malcolm Fade gets that honour).

I’ll try not to spoil this too much, but in part two of the book, Emma and Julian head to an alternate dimension known as Thule. I think this was probably a mistake for the story. This section seems separate from the rest of the book—aside from a few plot points, the entirety of this section could have been removed without affecting the main story too much. There’s some good characterisation, but the re-introduction (and subsequent death) of Sebastian Morgenstern is just anti-climatic.

The subplot between Kit, Ty and Drusilla is underdeveloped, because it does too little to affect the resolution of the story. Cassy could have given this rather important subplot much greater significance, with a bit of imagination: Livvy could have done something important in the final battle.

I would also like to comment on a few things that personally drew my eye. Cassy understands politics incredibly well—I almost wonder if she majored in political science or history at college. She’s certainly read the history books: the Cohort’s rise to power mirrors the Nazis, from the false flag attacks; the political theatre; and the Hitlerjugend. I also enjoyed the political realism displayed by the Seelie and Unseelie rulers; I think Machiavelli and Bismarck would approve.

Despite my criticisms of this book—really, it needed a better developmental edit—I still enjoyed the book tremendously. Emma and Julian are a great love story; Alec and Magnus are wonderful; likewise the Blackthorn family, which is one of the best examples of family I’ve read. The plot twists and turns, sometimes in horrible, unpredictable directions.

I will be reading the next book—a short story anthology named “Ghosts of the Shadow Market”—which will, at least, be shorter.

Rating: 4/5

3 Aug 2019

My Experience at AUC: A Review

As promised, I am writing a review of my experience at AUC—including the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. I have given similar feedback in the evaluation form I was sent, so the information presented here has already been communicated via the official channel. Instead, this blog post is written partly as an introspective essay, and partly as a guidebook to future AUC students.

The Good

The best thing about AUC is the student community. The environment is co-operative: think MIT rather than investment bank. Some students are academically gifted and help other students, but even the weakest AUC students possess something uncommon—initiative. Entrepreneurialism is cliché, and it’s not the best description here; we AUC students don’t start companies (this is not a thing in the Netherlands) but we do organise events, sing, write, go to festivals, and chair lots of committees.

The curriculum is interdisciplinary, at least much more so than at comparable universities. The course is demanding and hard, but also intellectually satisfying. The AUC faculty teachers are really good—I studied under a lawyer who is foremost in his field of environmental law, for example. One of my teachers is a prominent climate scientist in the Netherlands; another is a best-selling writer and human rights advocate. All of them are good teachers as well as academics; they’re obviously passionate about interacting with the students, and the students are happy to ask questions or pose criticisms.

We have graduates from Stanford, Cornell and Leiden in the faculty. The number of AUC students that obtain master’s degrees from the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or HEC is remarkable given that AUC only graduates about 300 students a year.

The Bad

Academically, the programme suffers from two problems: there’s too much work (and stress), and the quality of courses offered by outside professors is too variable. I won’t name courses or professors here, but one course I took at AUC was more like a high school class than a university-level class at one of the country’s most prestigious schools.

The workload is a well-known issue—AUC themselves basically admit it—and the stress takes its toll on many students. A survey reported by our student newspaper indicates that mental health issues are probably pretty common, and stress is the foremost issue in student life. Speaking personally, it’s not just the amount or the difficulty of assignments that’s stressful—though some exams and assignments were difficult, and sometimes I did have an awful lot of assignments. It’s also the way the assignments and exams are structured: the assignments are usually due at midnight. Not infrequently, on weekends. Exams can be early in the morning (I had one at 8:30am) or as late as 6–7:30pm.

The AUC experience is chaotic, in other words. It also doesn’t help that university’s administration is likewise chaotic and disorganised: the rules are many, important information is not always communicated on time, and some very bizarre decisions are taken with respect to retakes or grade equivalencies from semesters studied abroad. I myself contested an economics paper grade, and ended up having to write a new paper over the summer. Not fun.

The Downright Ugly

The ugliest thing about AUC is not actually AUC, but rather, DUWO—the company responsible for student accommodation. All AUC students have to live in the dorms, so there is no way to avoid dealing with this bunch of losers. Their incompetence verges on the comical, and I could write a long litany of all the things I hate about them. This is but a brief list, covering the greatest iniquities:

  • Repeated breakdowns in the hot water system. Sometimes this lasted a couple of hours in a localised part of the dorms, but once, all of the dorms didn’t have hot water for 2 or 3 days.

  • Repeated breakdowns of the lift: good luck getting your bike to the 3rd or 5th floor.

  • Lack of communication, and stubborn idiocy on the other end of the line.

  • Electronic keys that stopped working.

  • Poor quality washing machines. They didn’t allow us to use our own washing machines, either.

  • A bathroom with no light fixtures or ventillation; a linoleum floor that was always dirty even if you just cleaned it.

If I had to pick one ugly thing about AUC, however, it would be the way they deal with struggling students. As of 2020, students who need an extra semester to graduate need to move out of the dorms and find housing on their own. Retakes are officially forbidden, so hope you don’t screw up an exam.

Conclusion

I ultimately enjoyed my time AUC, and survived the more difficult periods. I have just graduated cum laude with a high GPA—enough to meet the minimum requirements for Oxford. Nevertheless, I cannot recommend AUC to just anyone. It’s obvious that academic ability is required (any good university requires this), but the experience is also unnecessarily stressful. By the end of my studies, I was exhausted.

2 Aug 2019

Publishing Woes, and other news

Hello readers!

It has been a while (over a month, in fact) since I last wrote on the Magical Realm. Alas, this is inevitable: there was too much work to do in June—the final month of my studies—and after July 1st, when I graduated. The wonderful housing corporation, which every single AUC student is obliged to rent from, made me move out on July 15th. That’s barely two weeks since I graduated.

After I managed to sell my furniture—or rather, a single piece, the rest of which I simply dumped—I travelled with my parents to Romania, and visited beautiful places in Austria along the way. The journey is about 2300km in length, and we were in no hurry, so we stayed 2 weeks on the road. You can check out my album here.

In Romania, I hoped for some peace and quiet, but naturally, got neither. Part of it is because of my family. Part of is it also because of a medical problem: I have developed foliculitis decanavans on my scalp and hair, thanks to years of antibiotics and reclacitrant acne. The good news is that I have convinced a local dermatologist to put me on isotretinoin (also known as “Accutane”). This is a Vitamin-A derivative that drastically reduces sebum production—sebum being a fatty secretion on the skin. Acne like mine has a variety of causes, but a huge overproduction of sebum is the main cause.

(The above is still a very simplified explanation: you can read more about it online, if you are interested.)

The medicine is, unfortunately, known for its side-effects, and I will need monthly medical supervision during the 6-month treatment course. But it’s the only permanent treatment available for both my acne and foliculitis.

You, dear reader, are probably interested to know more about my new novel—Fallen Love—as well as my experience at AUC. The latter is a topic I will be addressing in an upcoming blog post, entitled “My Experience at AUC: A Review”. I will be posting that shortly.

As for my new book, progress has once again stalled. I have queried another batch of agents, receiving one rejection and no replies after 1 month. The situation is so bad that I’ve seriously started considering how I will self-publish. Self-publishing requires three things: knowledge, time, and money. Naturally, money is the most difficult of the three. One good thing about AUC is cost; the cost of living in Amsterdam was manageable thanks to student housing and subsidies, and the tuition was mostly covered by loans. The loans have 0% interest and a 15-year repayment period starting in 2021. This means that I am not broke.

Even so, I have divided the self-publishing option into two plans: the cheap plan, and the expensive one. It is impossible to self-publish effectively without a good cover and a solid marketing strategy; and since editing is expensive, it must face the financial guillotine.

The two plans cost as follows:

  • The cheap plan costs €2500. This includes cover design (in the region of €500); the services of a marketing professional (€1000); miscellaneous expenses including a self-publishing course, for around €200; and the remaining €800 is budgeted for ads.

  • The expensive plan costs €5000. It budgets €2250 for editing (developmental + a proof read) and €750 for cover design, just to make sure I get the best cover I can.

The cheap plan is feasible for me right now; the expensive plan is predicated on getting some sort of job.

Right now, I’m honestly still uncertain as to what to do. I have applied for a master’s degree and a scholarship at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, where I can save rent living with my parents. If that doesn’t pan out—and there’s no guarantee it will, financially—I will look for a job or start a master’s degree in the winter.

Now you understand my quandary. I will leave you now, dear reader, for I need review the quality of my university’s education, on which I shall be writing again soon!

21 Jun 2019

The Bullshit of Academia

Hello intrepid reader!

It has been a long while since I last published a post here on the Magical Realm, and this has been because of—wait for it!—my university. In its usual way, the university has left me stressed out, in doubt, and wondering what to do next. Partly, it’s avoidable mismanagement on the side of both the university and the housing association: I am meant to be moving out on the 15th of July, but I have no idea who the new tenant will be, and I have a lot of furniture I need to sell. Naturally, my room came completely unfurnished; were I to extend the luxury of furniture to the new tenant, both of us would benefit. Instead I must live with the uncertainty.

Then there’s the idiotic choice of dates: I will have my graduation ceremony on the 1st July, my final internship report the day before, and have only two weeks to move out. This is despite the fact that the first years start intro week at the end of August. The rationale? None. Or at least, none that a sane person could comprehend.

It gets worse: although I have to move out on the 15th of July, I don’t get my official diploma until August 30th. What the hell does my university think I’m going to do in the intervening six weeks? (Hint: it’s not holidays or travelling. A great deal of bureaucracy must be conquered in order to have the diploma delivered by post.)

Still, the title of this post does not single out my university in particular (although, buyer be warned). Rather, there is an underlying problem here, common to many universities across the globe: the bullshit of academia.

Teaching Useless Skills

I have spent a great deal of time and effort, during the past 3 years, in perfecting skills that will be useless later on in my career. I speak here of such things like citation styles (an archaic mess that belongs in the 7th circle of Hell); or the various muddled conventions of academic writing, like passive voice; or indeed the whole sorry mess of journals, impact ranking, H-index, et cetera ad nauseam.

All practical applications of writing—i.e writing that people want to read and which makes money—follow conventions that oppose the dictums of academic writing. I am not referring to such things alone as writing a novel, essays, or journalism pieces; indeed, business writing, too, shares more similarities with a journalism entry than your typical academic paper. Practical writing uses active voice; the intent is to sell something, be it a story, your CV, or a product. Good writing gets to the point. When presenting an argument, the reasoning must be comprehensible and the conclusions clear.

The weasel words of academia—“generally”, “this indicates that”, or, my favourite, “to what extent”—have no place in business writing. Superfluous jargon or verbiage, likewise, must face the guillotine. (I exclude technical terms here, which are necessary in order to be precise.)

Teaching Useless Courses

Another pet favourite of liberal arts courses is the teaching of superficial nonsense courses as general requirements. In my case, it was such wonderful things as: “the Global Identity Experience”; “Big Questions in Future Societies”; or Advanced Research Writing. (ibidem)

The problem, let me be clear, is not always the material itself. It is instead its superficiality. Philosophy of science, for example, is a huge discipline with a rich and wonderful history. (And plenty of real-world applications, for that matter.) Yet its treatment in Global Identity did not do it any justice. Qualitative methods, likewise, is a practical course, but covered insufficiently.

Creating Knowledge (not)

The crux of my criticism against academia, as taught in undergraduate courses, is that it inculcates bad habits in students in order to succeed in the academic game; that it teaches certain important topics too superficially, and places too much attention on unimportant things; but my argument also contains a distinctly scientific criticism.

Academics like to delude themselves into believing that they create knowledge. From the perspective of epistemology, it is obvious that the purlieu of academia only covers propositional knowledge, and not other forms of knowledge which are valuable in the pursuit of human flourishing (for example, practical knowledge, moral knowledge, or friendship). Economists like Hayek will tell you—correctly, in this case—that the private sector is also responsible for creating a great deal of knowledge.

But even with these caveats, there remain more problems for academia. The first is one of social conventions—I refer, once more, to the aforementioned passive voice, citation styles, and pretentious journals. These social conventions are dangerous enough on their own. In order:

  • Passive voice obscures the nature and strength of the claim being made. Exempli gratia, “Results indicate that the prevalence of rape culture on campus is proportional at 25% (95% confidence interval: 21–29%).” Active voice: “A small-sample size questionnaire with dubious methodology, carried out by feminists with an agenda, found that approximately one quarter of women on campus were raped.”
  • Rick & Morty (2000) found that stress made consumers less likely to judge information correctly... versus... A study, “The Effects of Stress on Consumer Behaviour” (1) found that stress made consumers less able to judge information correctly. (Guess what: author name and year tells me absolutely nothing about the the claim being made. Give me a useful description and number your reference list!)
  • Pretentious journals, or journals with no standards. One rejects potentially valuable research on technicalities. The other publishes crap. Naturally, everyone wants to get published in the pretentious journals, which, via supply and demand, are given even more power to enforce pointless requirements.

Another problem, well documented by this point, is the “neo-liberalisation” or industrialisation of research output. This is a topic all of its own, and one that I cannot cover in sufficient detail within this mere blog post. I only point to the effect: a huge amount of research is published, much of it unreadable by laymen or non-specialists, and whose scientific merit is difficult to evaluate.

So what to do?

I often see that academics are reluctant to suggest solutions to a problem, either relying on weasel words (“x and y claims are subject to further research...”) or leaving it to someone else (“policymakers”, whatever that means). I don’t have all the answers, but I can suggest some obvious first steps. To begin with: academia and academic teaching should collaborate much more closely with business, industry and successful professionals. Academia is not real life, but real life has a lot to teach academia.

Secondly, scrap the archaic citations, academic verbiage, and passive voice.

I promise you that not only will academia benefit, but students too.

Yours truly,
A frustrated student.

2 Apr 2019

Review: Epic Battle Fantasy 5 (RPG)

It’s hard to review this game, for me personally, because I’ve been playing the series for so long; this a game steeped in nostalgia, with a history spanning a decade and two spin-offs. This is Matt’s magnum opus—I don’t think he will ever make a game that’s bigger than this one.

Before I carry on, if you’re considering buying this game: do it. The executive summary is that Epic Battle Fantasy 5 is a great RPG—one of the best, even. And I’ve played a lot of RPGs, let me tell you.

The remainder of what I’m going to write is intended for other players and Matt himself; it’s my experience playing this game after having played EBF3 and EBF4. I’m not a hardcore gamer in the sense that real hardcore players would consider, but with 72 achievements under my belt (and a similar number for EBF4) I’m definitely not your average casual.

Let me begin by saying that this game is huge. It’s even bigger than EBF3 and 4, which were pretty big games in their own right. I’ve spent 100 hours on this game, and—unlike other games where a player can tally 100 hours or more—EBF5 is not repetitive. Pretty much every hour you spend on this game is fighting new enemies, discovering new areas and treasure. In fact, I’m going to say that EBF5 is too big: Matt has bitten off more than he can chew, and it shows.

I don’t like the new cool-down system. While it’s appropriate for some skills that would otherwise be abused, overall it functions less effectively than the mana points system. All of the players except Lance can spam the same skills over and over, without having to worry about running out of MP. Lance, on the other hand, is crippled by the fact that most of his skills—especially his best skills—have long cool-downs. I would have preferred keeping the mana system and having shorter cool-downs on some of Lance’s skills: zero cool-downs for bullet hell/antimatter/plasma, as well as machine guns + airstrike. MOAB and Unload should have cool downs of 3 and 2 turns respectively.

The summon system, which initially didn’t exist until EBF4, has gotten better, but is still a little broken. I love the mechanism of catching foes and summoning them in later battles. However, most summons cost too many summon-points, which makes them rather ineffective in battle. It’s no fun having bosses and Cosmic Monoliths in your summon pool if you only use them once in a blue moon. To fix this, I would have the party receive summon points every turn based on their level, in addition to SP from foes. I would also make the summon pool larger, or else lower the summon cost of the stronger summons.

I do love having NoLegs as a playable character. Firstly, he’s super cute. Secondly, he’s an effective fighter; I would say the most effective after Matt. His evade often saves him from attacks that kill Natalie, Anna or Lance; he has good support skills; and good offensive skills.

Finally, let’s talk story. What I loved about EBF3 and 4 was the storyline: it was so wonderful to see the heroes join forces to take on dangerous bosses and save the world. I loved the wit, the banter, and the meta humour. EBF5 has many of the same elements, but the story is not as good as it could be. Partly, it’s because the characters don’t know each other in this game, which is just a big setback for character development. The ending fixes this to some degree, but... I would have liked it if the characters got flashbacks or hints from their past.

It’s also a setback for the worldbuilding, especially since the new character—NoLegs—doesn’t have a story of his own. Who is NoLegs? Does he have feline family? Why does he fight other cats? What made him choose Matt and his friends instead of Godcat?

Then there’s another problem: EBF5 has certain problematic themes that don’t really belong in an RPG. It’s one thing to portray Lance as an anti-hero who wants to take over the world; it’s another to depict him with Nazi paraphernalia. The previous games used the iron cross, which is definitely not the same thing as the swastika-like symbol in EBF5. He’s still lecherous towards women, but lacks the humorous, endearing qualities he possessed in EBF3.

The music, by the way, is awesome. Phyrrna has outdone herself yet again.

In conclusion, despite all the negative feedback, I still loved playing Epic Battle Fantasy 5. This is still an awesome game. There’s a gravestone, actually, near the masoleum, which says: “Here lies Epic Battle Fantasy 6, along with all those who ask about it.” But I think Matt is wrong. We do need EBF6. It certainly shouldn’t be as long as this game, but I think the series deserves one more shot. At the very least, I would like to see some of the game mechanics be fixed.

18 Mar 2019

The Necromancer, and Reedsy Discovery

Hello readers!

Once again I have been lackadaisical in keeping the Magical Realm up to date with all my doings. I will spare you the usual litany of excuses: writing a capstone, exams, et cetera. Instead I will briefly cover what’s been going on so far, and my plans for the near future.

To begin: I am still trying to get Fallen Love published. I’ve submitted to many, many agents and have scored a few near misses and close-calls, but no contract as of yet. I will persevere insofar as it is reasonable with this. If not, I will reconsider my options.

In other news, I have decided to submit the Necromancer to Reedsy Discovery. For now, the book is only available to Reedsy reviewers. The idea is to get more reviews, and reviews = exposure. The book will go live on Reedsy on the 30th April. On the day, I will write another post reminding you, my faithful readers, to go to the landing page and upvote the book!

Naturally, I will also be running a Kindle Countdown deal from April 30th to May 3rd, and any readers will be able to buy the book for cheap during that week.

Very well, that’s all for now! I will return to the Magical Realm once again, when time permits. Until then, may the stars be with you.

1 Dec 2018

I’m back

Hail readers!

I must apologise for having taken so long to return to blogging. Several things have conspired against me; I will summarise the problems briefly. Firstly, university, with its litany of papers, exams, and other work-related demands. Secondly, my photography—a new hobby that has taken up time and money, but which is, I suppose, necessary to keep my mind active and buzzing with ideas. Finally: I’m still trying to get Fallen Love published. I have therefore submitted to a number of independent publishers and agents.

I wish to return, then, to discuss my goings-on and life in general. Those of you who have followed my blog and writing adventures will be right at home; otherwise, simply read a few posts from the archive if you want to get up to speed. Additionally, I’ll add a few choice words to the connection between writing and photography—a topic I have touched upon before, but which has gained increasing importance now that I’m spending so much money and creative energy into it. Don’t worry: it’s good for my writing as well as my visual skills.

Life

There is a debate in aesthetic philosophy regarding the extent to which art is representation—or if it is representation at all. It’s a commonly held belief that fiction is inspired by life; but the word inspired can mislead here. Some things in life do inspire me, yet the link is often abstract, its origin mysterious. Then there’s the simple fact that a lot of things in life are antithetical to art: bureaucratic papers, for example, or never-ending work.

It’s unfortunate that the last few months have been more of the latter than the former. Being in my third year of university has something to do with it, as does the simple fact that I’ve not been writing seriously. It’s as if I’m living my life on autopilot: I take care of myself, do work and chores, but nothing about my actions is important. Writing gives me purpose; without it I am lost.

It does not help that I am struggling to feel enthusiastic about my courses. They are not difficult—if anything the opposite is true: they don’t challenge me enough. I don’t feel like I’m exploring new frontiers in my knowledge, or gaining valuable and skills and insight. Although courses like programming were time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, I did learn stuff.

The concept of equilibrium also has a role to play. The last two and a half years have challenged me in a number of ways, but I have now adapted to the challenges as best I can, and there have been no major departures from this equilibrium state. While this is not the same as being unchanging (there have been many changes as of late) this kind of life does nevertheless entail a certain taedium vitae.

To put it more simply: I need something new. Something wild and magical.

Photography and Writing

There are few writers who are great photographers, and photographers rarely write well; it would seem, then, that there is no connection between these two disciplines, or even that they are mutually exclusive. This, however, would be drawing a hasty conclusion. The relationship between photography and writing is complicated, but often fruitful.

Ansel Adams, the famous American landscape photographer of the last century, wrote of the importance of previsualisation: the act of imagining the image you want to make, and setting up your equipment to achieve that creative vision. The same technique applies to writing—the greatest mistake a writer can make is not having a plot, a character motive, or, most importantly, a story. A bad book is much like a snapshot; it is aimless and boring.

The real difference between photography and writing—this will, by the way, annoy some photographers—is in the gear. Frankly, photography is an expensive hobby because it demands expensive equipment. Good luck trying to shoot a puffin in flight without a good telephoto lens and a fast DSLR. (If it’s around dawn or dusk, that won’t be enough, and you’ll need to shelve a couple of grand for a super-telephoto lens.) If your subject is in low light or high dynamic range, you’re going to want an expensive camera with a large sensor. Even the price of peripherals like filters or tripods (or flashes!) can give newcomers a heart attack.

On the other hand, huge bestsellers like Harry Potter were written on a typewriter by a single mum on benefits. The difference is stark.

If you are privileged enough to be able to afford photography, though, it is a satisfying art form to work with, and generally less stressful than writing. Expectations, of course, play a role: with photography, I am content to sometimes lose a shot. Difficult light, and inclement weather (think 60mph gusts and sub-zero temperatures) all play a role.

When you’re writing at my standard, though, there is much less room for error. A typo is trivial to correct, but a cliché you missed, an awkward line of dialogue here—or a chapter that doesn’t fit into the narrative—and you’ve potentially lost an editor.

Concluding thoughts

I must abandon you once again, dear readers, for work beckons. I hope I have made my somewhat scattered thoughts clear for you. There are no guarantees as to when I will write once again on the Magical Realm, but if things go according to plan, it will be sooner rather than later.

Until then!