On paper Brian De Palma (the man behind such films as Dressed to Kill, Scarface and The Untouchables) directing an adaptation of one of the best crime noir books by arguably the best noir writer, sounds like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately it just doesn't come together as well as you might hope.
In January 1947, the mutilated body of aspiring Hollywood Betty Short was found, severed at the waist, in an empty LA lot. Around this real-life case is spun a fictional web involving boxing rivals turned LAPD partners Lee Blanchard (AaronEckhart) and Bucky Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) – each increasingly obsessed with the case, each comforted by Lee’s girlfriend Kay (ScarlettJohansson) – and the powerful Linscott clan, including femme fatale Madeleine (Hilary Swank) and pill-popping mother Ramona (film-stealing Fiona Shaw).
The actors for the most part recite Ellroy’s staccato prose well enough, but while the characters in the book would crawl under your skin with their secrets and desires the live actors performances are just so shallow it's hard to care or even dislike any of them. I think the big problem with the movie was the casting in general, I've never thought of Hartnett as an exceptional actor and his performance in the film just isn't up to scratch. In period pieces there is a certain way the actors need to speak and hold themselves that is in fitting with the times but Hartnett doesn't even attempt to do this, if you didn't know any better you'd think he was back on the set of The Faculty. On the other side of that is Fiona Shaw who hams it up so much you can't help but either smile at the call back to the actors of yore or just cringe (although not as cringe worthy as the drug deal shoot out). The other two main character actors Eckhart and ScarJo seem to be phoning it in for the most part but the bigger thing that annoys me is that ScarJo's character Kay who was a strong woman who and a nuanced relationship with both the main leads in the book gets turned into a complaining temptress in the movie.
The movie does do some stuff right and it's mostly in the style department. Weirdly Hartnett's monologues are a lot better performed than his actual on screen acting and when it's accompanied by the sleazy saxaphone jazz that drips from the speakers it's all Grade A Noir. The details afforded to the costumes and 50's LA setting also help to set the scene and is arguably the movies greatest strength.
Overall The Black Dahlia is a great sounding and very pretty film with nice dialogue that's performed by mediocre actors portraying shallow characters.
A Gallery of Rogues is a semi-regular noir fiction blog that will contain reveiws of games, books and movies as well as topic articles (Blog Theme and Background Sound: Why don't you do right - YouTube and Rainy Mood)
Sin CIty 2 is one of my most anticipated comic book movies of this year and the more I see of it the more excited I become. Hopefully it can live up to it's stylish predecessor. Also keep an eye out for my review for this first movie.
Also here's the trailer for anybody that's not seen it yet.
Moon Knights Back After His Ill Fated Trip To The City Of Angels. Can Warren Ellis Get Him Back On Track?
The first word that comes to mind when describing Moon Knight #1 is cinematic. But I don't mean that in the sense of high octane explosions but rather this book has all the mood and style of a great crime thriller. It almost feels like you're reading an X-Files episode written by James Ellory. It's almost like a pilot episode for a TV-show (Imagine that, huh?). A big part of that is the amazing art by Declan Shalvey and the masterful colouring by Jordie Bellaire. Moon Knight or Mr. Knight's (as Detective Flint likes to call him) stark while visage imposed against the dark browns and reds of the New York cityscape along with his swagger and the the panel frames just screams neo noir.
Warren Ellis does a great job of catching us up on who Moon Knight is and what he's been up to but he doesn't do it in a way that seems forced and he also manages to keep that bit of mystery about that character that will have even long time fans wondering if they know everything about him. He also does a good job of taking some aspects of the character that were introduced in the last run that were maybe not so well received and making them a lot more palatable. Doing this without the aid of retconning or just straight up ignoring what came before (even if it's bad) is the sign of a great writer.
There was many things I didn't like about the previous run but one thing I would have loved if it had been done properly was Moon Knight's move to LA. Now before you all start throwing stones at me I don't mean I would have kept him as a tv producer or anything stupid like that. I just think that Los Angeles is the perfect setting for a pulp noir egyptian themed vigilante that solves weird crime and may also be insane. However keeping him in LA might mean that Moon Knight regulars like Detective Flint, Marlene and Frenchie wouldn't be turning up but I'm sure there would be a way to make that work. Also I kinda like the idea of LA becoming the home to all of Marvels loner psychopathic vigilantes.
Personal preferences that don't actually bother me aside (because let's face it, that's all my Bad section is filled with) Moon Knight #1is a great issue that could well be shaping up to be the most promising All New Marvel NOW! book so far. I would fully recommend it to anybody that's interested in Moon Knight, crime fiction or just good stories in general.
So welcome to A Gallery of Rogues. This is (hopefully) going to be a semi-regular blog I'm going to do about all things Noir, whether it's Crime, Pulp, Neo, Country or my new favourite Neon Noir! I'll be doing reviews and retrospectives on all manner of media like books, films, games and comics and I'll sometimes I'll just be talking about a topic that interests me. Really I decided to start making this blog since I can't find any decent fan sites and I've nobody else to talk to about it :- /. Anyway my first topic will be about the Femme Fatale.
She's the woman that walks in the door like a tigress in a Burmese orphanage- strawberry blond and legs four hours. Every mook in the room is looking in her direction but she's only got eyes for you. She sashays her way over leaving broken men in her wake. You get a whiff of her perfume. It smells like sex. She has bad news written all over her like October '29. You know you're not her first but you're fool enough to think you'll be her last.
The Femme Fatale is one of the oldest archetypal characters used in fiction. Female characters that use seduction and sex as weapons to manipulate people and get what they want have been used in ancient myths of every culture and is still used today. This type of character has been used extensively in Noir fiction and is now thought of as a staple in the genre.
These days this character type has been getting a bad rap. Some people see the Fatale as misogynistic and sexist relic to a bygone age when women were seen as sex objects and nothing more. For instance when DC rebooted with the New 52 one of the titles in the first waves Catwoman and everybody was happy about that. Catwoman is a great character and over the years has become one of the most popular female comic book characters. And she is also the epitome of the Femme Fatale. A dangerous girl that knows what she wants and will use anything at her disposal to get it. But when she was shown in the first issue of her New 52 series seducing Batman and having sex with him on the rooftops (a very femme fatale thing to do) fans were up in arms saying that she was over sexualised.
Another comic example I can think of is Natasha Romanova. Espionage has a huge overlap with Noir almost to the point that it's become the British version of the genre. In the spy game there was agents known as Honey Traps. Basically woman that use their feminine wiles to manipulate the male agents into spilling all the secrets. And this is what Natasha used to be. The name Black Widow is a reference to the spider that would bed her mate then kill it. However like other characters this trate is almost gone from the character as she is now shown to be more the straight up secret agent type.
The talk of the Femme Fatale being sexist got me thinking about how to use it in a different manner. Do you think a role reversal would work? A hardnose female reporter being seduced and manipulated by a male. A Homme Fatale if you will? Or would that still be seen as sexist to the woman? I'm not really sure.
Part of the fun of Noir is that their isn't really any good guys. Everybody has some dirt on them. All the men are drunk and brutal thugs so I kind of enjoy having the females be sexy and manipulative. I do agree that sexism was rife in 50s, 60s and even some current crime fiction but I don't agree that the Femme Fatale was apart of that. In fact I see the character type as kind of opposite. She isn't going to take your crap but she'll take your money and your dignity and she's always the smartest one in the room usually with everybody else wrapped around her finger.
This was my first A Gallery of Rogues blog so hopefully you enjoyed it and I'll be doing more soon. Please leave comments in the mean time :)
The is the foreword to the big hardback omnibus of the Immortal Iron Fist and I think it is possibly one of the greatest forewords ever written.
Kung Fu Is A Thing Of The Spirit: Why The Immortal Iron Fist Is The Greatest Story Ever Conceived And Told
There are many people in this world. Some of them are mailmen. Others are hairdressers. Even more still work at the post office. I myself am a master of the deadly fighting secrets.
You want to know my name? i could tell you my name. But then I would have to kill you, your whole family, everybody you've ever met, and everybody they have ever met to cover my trail. I am that deadly, and that hunted. You've heard of the six degrees of separation? Well i am the three degrees of totally killing you.
So instead allow me to tell you a little bit about me so you might better get to know me:
You would pass me on the street and think nothing of me, save that I am ruggedly handsome and clearly moneyed; visually I resemble nothing more than a well-to-do chap of classy breeding. Very classy breeding. But I am not a be-monocled fancy sort of lah-dee-dah how-do-you-do with a top hat and spats, but a real street-level workingman's manly man. Joe Lunchpail looks at me with awe and envy for my lunchpail is made of rubies and is filled with tastefully erotic photographs of my lady.
Now, the very most perceptive of you might intuit via your chi vessels and inner chakras that I am of noblesse oblige as our friends the Spanish would say. And that would intrigue you. Arouse you, even, if I was your type, and I probably am. Who am I, a total stranger walking past you on the streets of Chicago with a selection of magazine subscription cards in hand and ready for mailing, and why have I evoked such a strong feeling within you? Why are you compelled to kick me?
Because you, friend, have the kung fu spirit about you. And we know our own, oftentimes by scent. If you could bottle it, you could call it Hai Kung Fu (which is Japanese for 'Hello Kung Fu Master') but you cannot bottle it so don't even try. Why would you do that? It doesn't make sense and it is very stupid. Time wastingly stupid. Kung Fu masters don't waste time. They don't have time to waste.
If you are reading these words now then you are of the spirit. You have tried to kick me on the street, perhaps on your way to your own local mailbox to drop off some letters or pay some bills. And at the mailbox I have kicked back. We are brothers and sisters of the spirit of kung fu, of karate, of boxing, of whatever fighting style you find is the most awesomest. And kung fu is a thing of the spirit. All martial arts are things of the spirit. Even the spirit of kung fu is a thing of the spirit and I am a spiritual master. I mastered spirituality when I was twelve years old and made my lifes mission to keep it, and other deadly secrets like it, safe and secure inside and behind the clenched fist and brutal foot of my own savage nobility. It is not a burden to be this amazing, but rather, it is an honor. A spiritual honor.
Yes; kung fu is a thing of the spirit. And I was honored to accept the award for the Best Spirituality by the seventeen Shadow Shao-Lin Masters of Black Wuxia as a fifteen-year-old boy, not yet a man, but manly especially for a boy and proud. It was there my journey began. It was a journey that is 100% identical to your own.
You can stop reading this introduction now because it will be like reading a mirror and it will probably be a real "freak out".
I, like you, and like Daniel Rand, the hero of these pages, have discovered I was the scion of a kung-fu legacy; that my father was pushed off a mountain by his best friend; that is was a Himalayan mountain I happened to be on as a young boy of six, alongside my mother, in spite of any and all matters of logic or safety one might encounter when preparing a trek to and through the Himalayans; that mu mother, running from my dead dad's best friend, was totally eaten by wolves right in front of me, and that I then found a magical city ruled by arcane law and kung fu fighting tournaments and a woeful disregard as to the safety of its children.
You hear me? My dad is DEAD. My mom is DEAD. You best respect that. For then I punched a dragon in the face and I was a man. A man with numerous awards, a lot of money, the love and respect of a foxy boxing woman, and a golden sash. The world was my oyster, my fists were cocktail sauce, my feet just a splash of lemon. Served up over the bed of ice that was my life, I was the meal that walked like a man, kicked like a stallion, and loved like a Centaur.
These stories, friends, masters, and fellow philatelists, are our stories, you see? Our story. Singular. One story. It was Shakespeare who probably said that there's just one story and man was he right, I think.
Like you, I have fought these men and woman. I have broken their bones as they have broken mine. I have dwelled in forgotten science cities and discovered my name in books I did not write. and not the phonebook either, wisenheimer, I mean like real books, real old books, like you get on eBay. And I too have made wishes on my birthday. That most sacred and secret ritual, of blowing out a candle affixed to the top of a delicious celebratory pastry, and making your very dearest wish, was how I knew this book was created by men and women like us. Like me. That I was reading my own biography. That I had written my own biography, only it was not by me, or about me. My biography was about someone else.
The names in these pages, willfully obscured of course, betray not the identities of the heroic souls that actually lived these stories. The details are there, though, so that those of us in the know can totally have our minds "blown" by the inside jokes that make us all feel like real big shots. Our friends, foes, lovers, frenemies, Friendsters, Facebooks, and Baron Von Broheims present in these pages only serve to reinforce the realness that's about to be dropped on your ass.
This book is the real, raw deal. The stories it tells are the way we live and love our lives and lovers respectively. This is the way it really is when you are ranked on the list of the World's Most Deadliest Men. And if you're reading these words, then congratulations- - you made the list. You gambled a stamp and it really paid off. I look forward to murdering you soon.
Now saying that the Malazan series is the best high fantasy in the last 20 years is a pretty big claim considering the amount of praise series like A Song of Ice and Fire and The Wheel of Time have gotten but I'm going to outline some of the reasons why I (and many others) consider this to be the best fantasy series in recent years in the hope that some of you people decide to give them a read. But first a description:
The Malazan series of novels is a shared universe of High Fantasy books written by Canadian authors Steven Erikson (Malazan Books of the Fallen) and Ian Cameron Esslemont (The Malazan Empire). Erikson and Esslemont are archaeologists and anthropologists who originally created the Malazan world (unofficially called Wu) in the early 80's as a back drop to their GURPS roleplaying game that they played when not in the field. Eventually Erikson would publish a novel set in this world called Gardens of the Moon. This was the first novel in a series that would eventually consist of 10 Books of the Fallen novels, 6 Malazan Empire novels and 5 novellas with one spin-off series underway and another planed after that as well as a Malazan Encyclopaedia. This is the very definition of Epic Fantasy.
Malazan may be High Fantasy but there isn't a Elf, Dwarf or Orc in sight instead they have there own unique races like the Tiste (separated into sub groups of Andii, Edur and Liosan), the Jaghut and k'Chain Che'Malle. Erikson and Esslemont take all the tropes you would come to expect from fantasy and puts them in a blender and just when you think they are about to fall into the same old fantasy tropes they suddenly take an about turn as if writers just like to mess with your expectations. Too many fantasy books ride on the coat tales of Tolkein by largely sticking to the same formula of having fake Europeans hanging around with elves and dwarves fighting orcs, what the writers of Malazan do instead is give their series a much more global feel. The massive Malazan Empire consists of many races that range from white skinned and ginger haired to black skinned and even the Napan whose skin is tinted blue, even Quon Tali the continent that the Malazan Empire belongs to is vaguely Eastern with the pepole that live there resembling Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Mongolian also a great portion of the action takes place on continents called the Seven Cities which is very much middle eastern and Lether which takes it's inspiration from North America.
Tall woman, small woman, fat woman, skinny woman, good woman, bad woman, warriors, mages, thieves, assassins, gods and even an empress. One pit a lot of fantasy writers fall into is the lesser spotted female. When this strange and exotic creature is featured she's usually confined to the roles of dainty princess or wife of the hero that "must stay strong" Malazan instead have females be apart of the bigger picture just as much as the males do but the writers never put them on a pedestal, they are always written just as "human" as everybody else. One of the very first PoV characters you meet in the series is a soldier and a mage in the Malazan army called Tattersail, she is a badass but deeply flawed character that is central throughout the entrie series.
After reading through just the first novel I was extremely attached to these characters and that only makes it so much worse when Erikson and Esslemont decide to take them away. This series isn't called the Books of the Fallen for nothing you know People. Will. Die. But unlike A Song of Ice and Fire where R.R. Martin has freely admitted to adding characters, letting the readers fall in love and then killing them off with no plot advancement just for the sake of shock value and padding out the books some, the character deaths in Malazan are organic and mean something. There is a scene at the end of Deadhouse Gates that has become known as The Fall and it is one of the most emotional and poignant scenes I have ever read in a fantasy book.
Reading the Books of the Fallen can be compared to playing Dark Souls or The Witcher, not in any stylistic way but rather both those games can be hard to get into at first and it's only after you get over the steep learning curve can you truly appreciate them. Erikson does not use much exposition in his books, he drops you into unknown world without any explanation as to who anybody is so instead a reader needs to pay attention to what the characters are saying to follow on or they may get confused. For instance if you are halfway through the book and your current PoV character meets someone they do not know they will describe his/her appearance and it's up to the reader to work out if they have actually seen this character before. Don't let any of this scare you off tho, Malazan fans have a meme called ROTFO aka Read On To Find Out. If you find yourself really confused, don't worry because that's they way you are meant to feel but everything will be explained in due time.
The authors have said two of Malazans biggest influences are A Song of Ice and Fire and The Black Company (Erikson's 7th book is dedicated to it) so you know that these books are going to have a lot of grit but to stop itself from getting bogged down in the grimdark there is also a healthy dose of humor but not in the Jim Carrey ridiculous style but real human wit. A lot of the main characters throughout the series are soldiers in various armies and everybody knows that that means a heavy dollop of gallows humor and you just can't help but snort with laughter at one of the characters sarcastic remarks while the sit in the middle of a battlefield . One character I LOVED was Corabb, an incredibly earnest soldier in the Apocalypse Rebellion who manages to get himself in to the most dangerous situations possible but through sheer luck and bumbling manages to scrape his way through it every time to hilarious effects.
The two series of Malazan can be read as chronically as a whole since they are designed to complement each other or you can read them both separate OR you might only read one series and that's fine to. I very much recommend these books to anybody that loves fantasy, military or even mystery books, they take you on such a emotional and unique saga and I hope some people decide to give them a shot.
A lot of pepole think that villain books cant work because nobody wants to read about bad pepole. Well I disagree. People love bad guys. People love Tony Montana, people love Darth Vader, pepole love Walter White, pepole love the Joker and pepole love Lex Luthor. Do you know why? Because they don't give a f$%k. It's wish fulfillment. If some one tells these guys they cant do something, well they just go ahead and do it anyway just for badness, if they want something they take down anybody that stands in there way. Remember when Action Comics used to be about Lex? That was hella awesome and it's about time we had that once more.
- See Above
A lot of pepole have been crying out for a Cyborg ongoing ever since it turned out he would be the only founding Justice League member without one and I think since he's going to be teaming up with the Metal Men in Forever Evil, now would be a good time to just make it an official thing. The Metal Men would bring a shared mythos to the book making Cyborgs world seem bigger. I think they could be A.R.G.U.S's team thathunts down technology that should be in the Red Room
J'onn J'ozz is hella cool but we see far to much of him in a team setting IMO so it's about time DC let's him stretch his legs. I would love to see Martian Manhunter do what he's meant to do and actually hunt men. J'onn is a cop, a detective and that's what he should be doing in a solo. DC could even spin his book out of an event if they wanted. Have the White Martians secretly invade earth and since they can make themselves look like anyone or anything J'onn's job is to hunt them down.
Billy Batson is far to popular and has too big a mythos to leave out at this point. Geoff Johns has already built the foundations with the Curse of SHAZAM! and it's time to expand upon that with his own ongoing featuring him and his family.
John Constantine does not need nor should he have ever had a New 52 ongoing, nor should he be leading the Justice League Dark for that matter. John doesn't like America, he doesn't like superheroes and he doesn't even like fighting, hell he's probably never won a fist fight in his life, Hellbalzer should have never been cancelled. If they have to have him in the DCnU then fine but they need to stop treating him like Wolverine. Zatanna on the other hand should of had an ongoing from the very start. Shes one of DC's oldest and most popular heroines and she should be leading JLD as well as spearheading the magical corner of the DCU also it couldn't hurt to have a few more female led books.
I don't mean a direct copy from the tv show but since the Teen Titans book hasn't been great maybe they should try a new approach for the younger characters. Nightwing's identity being compromised means he's going to have to lay low for a while so why not put him in to a mentor position? He could train up some young heroes and send them out on missions Batman Beyond style. We could have some of the current Teen Titans members as well as Static, Blue Beetle and even Wally and Cassy if it all pans out well when they are introduced.
I'm still not 100% sure on the direction they have took the Question in the DCnU so far however an Occult Noir mystery book could be pretty awesome if they do it right. Also I'm pretty surprised that the most interesting character out of the Trinity of Sin still doesn't have an ongoing, conspiracy? Well that's the question, isn't it?
The Doom Patrol is full of freaks, weirdo's and losers and guess what? That's awesome. Everybody loves the underdog and the Doom Patrol are underdogs if I'v ever saw one. DC needs to reinvigorate there teen books and I think the Doom Patrol would add the right balance of weirdness and fun that it seems to be lacking.
I love Tim Hunter. He was a great character when Neil Gaiman first invented him and he's a great character now even after JK Rowling ripped him of to make Harry Potter. Tim Hunter used to be in a line of Vertigo books called 'of Magic. There was Books of Magic, Names of Magic and the Age of Magic and I want to add to that by having a book in the DCnU called the Schools of Magic. In the Vertigo books Tim attended a multi-dimensional school for magic called the White School, I think it would be a great idea to bring this in to the New 52 with a large cast of magic using teen characters like Tim Hunter, Traci 13, Black Alice, Klarion and Jakeem Thunder. Zatanna is the ideal choice as headmistress.
DC have already started to expand there cosmic line beyond the Lantern Corps with Justice League United but I think they could so so much more with it and the starting point with that IMO is the New Gods. The New Gods are the most unique cosmic character DC has at there disposal and I would love to see more of them. Get Azzarello on the book and have him explore the back ground of the eternal war between New Genisis and Apokolips and we could even have some dimension hopping fun with the boom tubes.
In this day and age horror films don't usually do all that well at the box office but that is not so for The Conjuring with the highest opening for an R rated movie and raking in more than 15 times its production value it's safe to say the film was a hit. A lot of pepole say they'v had enough of these types of films but I personally cant get enough, James Wan brings his A game and provides all the chills that made his earlier films so good. Word of warning, The Conjuring is based on real life events that will suck you down in to a crazy rabbit hole if you decided to play internet sleuth.
5. Star Trek Into Darkness
I admit, as much as a sci fi geek that I am I was never really in to Star Trek growing up, it just kinda seemed boring to me but love him or hate him J.J Abrams has given the series the shot in the arm it's been needing. Into Darkness isn't as good as the first movie but it's still pretty fantastic with the superb cast returning and Cumberbatch the cherry on the top as Khan.
4. The Wolverine
Ok so I'v never been a fan of Wolverine, in fact I would go so far as to say I kinda hate him however that doesn't mean I cant enjoy a damn good film and that's exactly what The Wolverine is, more like a Japanese thriller than an actual superhero movie this goes a long way to washing away the taste of Origins.
District 9 was one of the best sci films I had seen in a long time and Neil Blomkamp is at it again but this time he has his sights on the USA. Blomkamp seems to enjoy making films about to things, social-political issues and sci fi and you can tell from the outset that this film wants to make you think just as much as it wants to make you go"cool, robots." Also Sharlto Copley is just amazing in pretty much everything he's in.
2. Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro
What more this there to say? This is a big movie with a big heart filled to the brim with some crazy action. Watch it.
1. Europa Report
There is very few things I love more than horror and sci fi so when I found out there was going to be a hard sci fi/horror movie about a mission to study one of Jupiter's moons I kept a close eye on it and it did not disappoint. What I love the most about this film is the attention to detail the makers put in to it, it's one of the most realistic movies set in space ever, the director Sebastian Cordero even got help from NASA so the film could be as accurate as possible. Also more Sharlto Copley! This is the best film of 2013 in my opinion.
I have yet to see Gravity put it's very likely it would have made the list.
The Toblakai are a race in Steven Erikson's Malazan Books of the Fallen epic fantasy series. Bad ass 8ft tall barbarians with Wolverine style healing factors, that are immune to magic and have blood red great swords made out of compressed wood that's harder than steel. One of my most favourite characters in the whole series (Karsa Orlong) is a Toblakai. To find out more click the link, Thelomen Toblakai - Malazan Wiki
Name: Karsa Orlong (Warleader)
Age: 80 (That's about 18 to the Toblakai since they are long lived)
Race: Nord (the Toblakai are are half blood giants and Atmoran so make the character as large as you can and give him dark hair also give him white tattoos to match the giants ritual scars and try and make them similar to Karsa's "shattered head" tattoo seen above)
'Nord? No I am no "Nord". I am Toblakai, the blood of Atmora and the Tall Ones run through my veins. Our ancestors came to this land many moons ago, some set off and built cities, became weak, others stayed true to the old ways and lived with the Tall Ones and became as kin, those are our fathers. No, there are no Nords in this land, just clans, clans of children. Children from the Imperial Clan came, they said this was there land. They said we need to pay them tax:
The swing of our Bloodwood Swords said "come and make us."
Children from the Stormcloak Clan came, they said this was there land. They said we need to fight for Talos:
The swing of our Bloodwood Swords said "we care not for your little god"
Children from the Forsworn Clan came, our ancient enemies. They said this is there land. They said they are Reachmen and they were here first.
The swing of our Bloodwood Swords said "we are Toblakai and we are here now"
This is our land, not because of some pitiful birth right, no, it is ours because we farm it, it is our land because we hunt it, it is our land because we mine it, we took it, we fought for it, we bleed for it.
We are Toblakai. This is our land, who shall take it from us?'
Armor - in the beginning use hide, fur and leather or even the Stormcloak officer armor is good, basically anything you can find that's barbarian looking enough, except Forsworn armor as they are the Toblakai's old enemy. As soon as can, get Savour's Hide cuirass , this is the perfect armor for this build. Not only does it give much needed magic protection but it also looks great on barbarians and it even fits in to the actual canon of Karsa as in the books he slew a powerful shape shifter (I believe it was a bear) skinned it and wore it's hide. You might also want to supplement it with an Ancient Nord necklace enchanted with resist magic, as well as leather gauntlets with the same enchantment and some leather boots of stamina. By the end game you are going to want Dragon Scale armor, this also fits the canon of Karsa taking trophies from his enemies.
Weapons - The Toblakai used weapons called Bloodwood Swords, these where crafted from the fabled Bloodwood trees whos sap hardened the wood until it was harder than steel yet still as light as wood. So for this we are going to use the Bloodskal blade, it looks perfect and is also a pretty great sword for a barbarian character since it has a ranged attack. Toblakai also carry a bow but do not use it in combat, only for hunting.
Sleeping Tree Sap - See Roleplay
Two-Handed: You are a Warleader of the Toblakai, you swing your great sword with speed and power.
Light Armor: You craft your armor from the beasts of the wild as well as the skin and bone of your enemies.
Restoration: The giants blood in your veins grant you a natural healing factor that can best any injury
Smithing: The Toblakai remember the ancient traditions of Atmorin blacksmithing and are able to create weapons and armor second to none.
Sneak: You are a warrior and a hunter and you know how to track your prey, however you are not a sneak-thief or an assassin and so will not stab enemies in the back
Enchant: These Children keep throwing attacks of ice and fire at you, you enjoy the look of terror on there faces as your shrug them off and gut them where they stand.
Block: You are a Warleader and are the best trained swordsmen in the clan, able to block any attacks and even kill the enemy with the bash of your sword.
Warrior then Lord
In the books Karsa Orlong has a companion called Leoman, he was a desert warrior from Raraku in the Seven Cities. To mirror this I recruited Ahtar from Solitude and gave him an Alik'r hood, Karsa also had a Tablor hunting dog and horse so get ether Vigilant or Sceolang if you have Dawnguard and make sure you get Frost as he is the only horse worthy of a Toblakai.
Blood Rage: Sleeping Tree Sap+Whirlwind Sprint+Sweep
Karsa charges in to battle in a berserker rage and cuts a bloody swath through the enemy
Barbarian Assault: Great Critical Charge+Elemental Fury
Karsa leaps on to the nearest enemy and tears him limb from limb
Breaker of Chains: Warmaster+Battle Cry
Dismember the enemies and watch as the flee in terror.
This is probably my favourite Skyrim character now, it's even beat out The Forsworn Guerilla Fighter as my main. What I did was carve out a piece of Skyrim and claimed it for the Toblakai. The lands around the border between The Reach and Falkreath were now my clan's land, it covered everything from Bannermist Tower in Falkreath all the way to the Forgotten Valley in the Reach with Kniferidge Camp being home base/capital, I would hunt these lands and kill any intruders, be they Imperial, Stormcloak, Forsworn or even NPC's I would also make pilgrimages to Secunda's Kiss since the Giant's hold it sacred. When I was out and about in Skyrim I did what I wanted, when I wanted and took anything I liked the look of, no pick pocketing though, what I did was just take it and challenged whoever to try and stop me, if they failed in protecting the goods then they had not rights to them in the first place. I was playing as a true barbarian were Might is Right and fools and insults should not be abided.
As for the quests, you can do any and all except for the Imperial Civil War quest, the one thing the Toblakai find utterly abhorrent is the putting of changes on humans and any man who does it makes of him self an enemy. A good quest to do is the Forsworn Conspiracy, once your in jail beat the Orc guard in a fist fight then pummle the King in Rags to a bloody pulp and loot the key from his corpse then go on to lay waste to the Silver-Bloods. Just remember any of the quests you do are not for honour or righteousness but for glory and because you can. Romania used to sniff/drink the sap from the Bloodwood tree to send them in to a "warriors madness" type state before battle so what I did was keep a ready supply of Sleeping Tree Sap to use before a big battle.