So, recently Iv been feeling some apathy towards warhammer 40,000- so long playing other game systems and probably overexposure to the offerings of the black library have dulled my interest. This coupled with the constant stream of releases (most quite good) it’s felt as though 40k is everywhere. However, upon being dragged to Cribbs Causeway I popped into the Games Workshop and was handed some cash by Rox. With a painting backlog of probably years it was books.
Fantasy is about to he reset so the books are in short supply, so instead it was 40k only, one of which was Khârn Eater of Worlds by Anthony Reynolds. Set after the Horus Heresy the armies of Chaos are scatter and divided with no leaders of note anywhere to be found. This book naturally focuses on the World Eaters, barbaric bloodthirsty Astartes who are turning on each other and bleeding their numbers dry. Unfortunately the one man (marine) who could unite them is dead: yeah, that’s right Khârn starts the book dead, dragged from a pile of Imperial Fist corpses on Terra he’s been enshrined on a ship within the World Eaters fleet. I say dead, he isn’t strictly speaking dead- but when he was picked up he was. Now his body functions barely function and his brain activity is negligible, enough to keep his heart beating and his lungs breathing.
With the Workd Eaters dying a power struggle ensued and an anonymous warrior arranges an assassination attempt on Khârns corpse. This is at the midway point of the book.
Something happens and Khârn lives and wakes up, just in time to encounter the remainder of the Emperors Children legion and be involved with the tensions between the legion.
The book didn’t do much to reinvigorate my 40k excitement, I had hoped for a book of Khârn slaughtering anything and everything, but instead got a book in which he plays barely more than a bit part role, and instead focusing on his lackies and hangers on. Even the battle towards the end of the book (two chapters worth) was from the perspective of others, barely hinting at Khârn doing anything.
In addition, SPOILER ALERT AHEAD…
The idea that Khârn would reunite the World Eaters had potential- who better to lead an out of control Warband of berserkers- the first thing he did was lead them into a war against the Emperors Children- equal in stature yet far outnumbered, so the hoped for prevention of them killing each other instead led to them losing far greater numbers against a superior foe, further restricting their capabilities. Given the lack of new recruits and apothecaries replenishing the force seems unlikely.
So, as you may be aware I’ve been unable to avoid starting series’ of books whilst leaving others unfinished. It’s now at a point where I want to get them finished in order to move on to even more books.
These are the next in line of the series of books Iv got in my pile at the moment.
Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe. Dark Angels. One do my favourite chapters of space marines, partly because they’re clearly not as ‘good’ as they’d suggest but also because of the secrecy in which they operate as nobody knows anything until they reach trusted levels and a closely monitored revealing of the truth is allowed to them. It’s a real reminder of working for games workshop. I read the first book of the trilogy Ravenwing about 18 months ago and whilst the story has largely gone from my memory I do remember the focus being on a new member of the Dark Angels vanguard force dealing with the revelations his new position has revealed to him, whilst having to hunt down chaos marine forces and fighting Orks. I also remember a cool vision of bikes racing around a space station as the mysterious dark angel Cypher evades capture or lays a trail depending on point of view.
Men from the Boys by Tony Parsons. If you read my previous posts on Tony Parsons books you’ll know that whilst i empathised slightly with being a new dad I was outraged by the characters attitudes and bitterness. The second book was worse than the first and honestly I have low expectations of the third. I do however have a curiosity as time has moved on faster than my life has so there may be some insights for me to prepare for.
Nagash the Unbroken by Mike Lee. Warhammer fantasy books about the undead invariably follow the same plot- undead army devastates all before them before the leader is destroyed or incapacitated and everything crumbles. The first in the Nagash trilogy wasn’t much different yet I know Nagash becomes more powerful than at any point previously. Again it’s curiosity that means I’ll be reading this one soon.
The Doom of Dragonback by Gav Thorpe. Another origin of the Warhammer world, this one isn’t strictly speaking part of a series (aside from the large time of legends books) but it ties in very closely with the war of vengeance books of which Iv read two and am waiting for the third and final one later this year. These books establish the reasons for the hatred between the dwarves and elves and so are an important background to the major races of the Warhammer world.
Gotrek and Felix book 2 by William King. I’m actually halfway through this one so I suppose I should really list book 3, but as the pair have a big hand in the end times I feel it’s one of those series I need to get through sooner rather than later.
Lord of ruin by Dan abnett and Mike Lee. A Malus Darkblade book- the last of the series. Except it’s not, the end times has added a sixth (and potentially final) darkblade book, so I’m going to need to get to this one in order to read that one. So far alls gone Malus’ way- not at all as planned but he’s recovering what he needs to and has killed off a good number of his enemies at the same time, so this one will be interesting as a conclusion (even if it’s no longer the conclusion.
The Devils Graveyard by Anonymous. The anonymous books so far have been really enjoyable- the first was theBook with No Name followed by The Eye of the Moon. Known as the Bourbon Kid series there are now four books and I have the third to read. The books aren’t linked beyond a few crossover characters and locations but they’re really enjoyable.
Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F Hamilton. This is the short story anthology I got from the in laws at Christmas, you’ll have seen previously Iv been working through it and have been enjoying them. I think because he’s keeping it simple by using the current world and changing minor things before exploring what that would do to society rather than attempting to create a whole new world.
Tales of the Old World by various authors. A fairly old anthology of Warhammer fantasy stories from a variety of settings. Being a large collection from a variety of authors the stories vary in content and quality but there have been some good reads in there so far. It’s interesting to read them because they’re from a time before there was any concerted effort to link stories and establish a timeline so it becomes something of a free for all with regards the themes and settings.
The Fall of Altdorf by Chris Wraight. The End Times books were a series I was resisting but I finally gave in and read the first one after seeing a few spoilers as well as knowing that the new edition of Warhammer fantasy this summer will require me to know what’s been going on if I’m to have any hope of continuing to read the books, let alone collect a new army. The first book The Return of Nagash was intense ade major characters started dying and major events in the future were alluded to, such as the fall of the imperial city of Altdorf, so the name of this book suggests we’ll be seeing some of this events first hand.
Hammer and bolter volume 2 by various authors. Similar to the Tales of the Old Times anthology this gives a selection of stories from both the Warhammer World and the Warhammer 40,000 universe, but from a slightly more recent selection meaning the stories aren’t so loose and are (mostly) written within a framework.
So I’m interested in your opinion, what should I read next?
Because of course Iv got these to get through too
So, Iv again been flying through short stories. I like them because it allows for a broad variety of reading and also it means I can get through them quickly whilst on the toilet (where I do most of my reading)
birth of a legend by gav Thorpe fantasy
An origin story, which are so often dull. This one was ok, it was for a major character but used him as a normal character growing into a role. It was a little dated as a story, but still enjoyable.
haute cuisine by robert earl fantasy
A ship returns from lustria- home of the lizardmen- and throws an egg overboard. A year later lizardmen are roaming the sewers and scavenging and killing bretonnians. The stories not original, but the focus on the two individuals sent to find the source rather than the killings at least gave it a different edge.
paradise lost by andy jones fantasy
Apparently grunssons marauders are a big deal, I’d not heard of them and I didn’t see the fuss. It was an ok story really, a band of warriors from a variety of races and backgrounds are lost at sea and down on their luck before encountering a pirate who makes them suffer and then they wash up on an island teeming with lizards. This was clearly written about the time lizardmen were introduced to the world as they aren’t really unique, instead being fairly humanised.
the shadow in the glass by Steve Lyons 40k (sort of)
I thought I’d written about this one, so just in case I’ll keep it short. This was a backwater planet with no technology so it barely fits into 40k, but I enjoyed it more because it showed the overpowering nature of the inquisition. It’s a story Iv heard before but setting and style in the warhammer universe gave it an original edge.
vermillion by ben counter 40k
A space marine detachment arrives at an inquisitorial facility too late and discover no answers. One surviving alien is found and a librarian tries to find out what happened. It was a simple concept, but it spend a lot of time developing the format of mind to mind communication. More of a background piece than an actual story
Stromfels teeth by josh Reynolds fantasy
Citizens of the empire start turning into monstrous shark creatures and wreaking havoc so a knight and a priestess hunt out the cause. Lots of violent blood, and a few names that Iv heard before (in dead calm I believe). Somewhere I believe I have full books with the same characters so I’ll be interested to get to them
Irixa by Ben Counter 40k
Lysander of the imperial fists speaks to some potential scouts about marines making choices that could affect lives and worlds. It leaves both retrospectives open to a ‘right or wrong’ argument before providing another without an answer, before then revealing the choice that was made in the last few lines. To be honest this was a bit dull- partly because nothing actually happened and partly because generally the imperial fists feel to me to be a little characterless. However it seems to follow on directly from the invasion of the phalanx by a daemonic force during the soul drinkers series
Thunder from Fenris by Nick Kyme 40k
I’d read this before, all the way through I knew it but couldn’t remember the ending. A small number of space wolves thunderwolf cavalry are preparing to leave a world they have been involved in liberating from a zombie invasion, but first they must track down a rogue brother who has turned wulfen. What they can’t decide is whether he is running or leading them to something. Normally I’m not a fan of the space wolves, but I did enjoy this, probably because it dealt with their imperfections and the aspects of their chapter that suggest they are a far from safe ‘good guy’
In Hrondirs Tomb by Mark Clapham 40k
More space wolves. The story starts with some wolves in a battle against Tau, which I figured would be quite dull (either the wolves get close and slaughter the Tau or they don’t and get shot). Instead the wolves run away from a Hammerhead and end up trapped in a large tomb to a Space Marine Terminator and working alongside the Inquisition to fight a Daemon. Given the mutual distrust between the two there was a little tension, though I feel it could have been heightened slightly more before moving on. Still there were some good moments, even if it ended rather abruptly.
That’s it for short stories for now as the Ahriman sequel is finally here and will be next in my hand.
So, book three of Graham McNeill’s Mechanicum series Gods of Mars. A year ago I finished the second book. To summarise, book one saw a group of outcasts on a mechanical miracle ship heading to the edge of the Galaxy, book two saw them leave the Galaxy and seek the ships creator.
At the end of book two they found the creator and he was somehow still alive.
Book three begins at the end of book two with the story moving forward as Telok takes the mechanicum and friends deep into the planet and reveals he’s insane.
What follows is a lot of battles within electricity, ice monsters, a running imperial guard war, loads of tanks, space marines, eldar and more ice monsters smashing each other to bits.
The book was enjoyable, as has been the series on the whole. It’s been interesting to read about the mechanicum as a progressive force, not just as an overseer of technological decline.
It was also nice that Graham McNeill added in previous characters of his or made reference to events that tied his stories within the universe together. The only issue I had was in the forced alliance between eldar and black Templars, whilst I felt the tension and clear antipathy for each other, the black Templars were probably a poor choice, given their hatred for psykers and aliens, not to mention psyker aliens, but it evolved well and grudging respect was well placed amongst lingering mistrust and hatred.
My first ‘famous person’ tweet came from Graham McNeill himself as he confirmed (ahead of my reading this book) that an idea had spawned during his writing for potentially more of the story. Clearly this would be some way out but I’d definitely pick up future elements of this series- even if I can’t see exactly where he’d go with it,
So, another batch of the short stories Iv been getting through really quickly.
redeemed by james swallow 40k
Blood angels, vampires in space etc etc. I’m not really a fan of them, but I did enjoy this one, probably because astorath the grim is such a bastard he’d kill a brother marine just in case. The story itself though felt like it was unfinished. I may look into the blood angels trilogy at some point to find out where it fits
the shadow in the glass by Steve Lyons 40k
This one was brilliant. It didn’t focus on any imperial armies or wars or any real 40k lore (aside from a brief inquisitorial moment) but instead on the hopes and dreams- and pathetic lives- of ordinary civilians on underdeveloped backwater worlds, far from the war zones. It read almost as a short horror story and was really really good.
freedoms home or Glorys grave by graham McNeill fantasy
Bretonnians stories tend to be dull, and this one was not an exception, I don’t know what it is because I really like the idea of knights and peasants and the honour system they have, but the stories just don’t do it for me. However, it’s one did at least have a lot of action, plus a huge part of the story was knight and page questioning their roles and relationships with each other.
ancestral honour by gav Thorpe fantasy
Any story with a dwarf slayer has the potential to be enjoyable, this one cleverly eased off on the danger in order provide some character depth to one. He wasn’t just a crazed dwarf desperate to die, but instead still suffered for his shame. The use of a potential slayer also helped this as the slayer seemed to be steering him away from taking the oath, almost as if he regretted it.
a gentlemans war by neil Rutledge fantasy
Another good one, more for putting characters out of their comfort zones. A proud lord joins his fathers army and immediately finds himself dumped in with scoundrels and vagabonds in a pistoliers and conscripts regiment. Despite his best efforts to get himself killed he suspects the men around him of ruining the war efforts, when in fact he has a lot to learn himself. As I said, good because it puts a character right where he doesn’t want to be. Plus it uses stirlanders, my favourite imperial force.
the doorway between by rjurik Davidson fantasy
Imperial witch hunters that hate each other forced to work with each other. Yep, more good stuff. It’s a fairly standard story of them hunting out chaos forces and worshippers, but the dislike of each other adds a nice edge to the story.
And that’s it for now, Iv moved onto the second Malus Darkblade book, so expect a follow on from the first soon enough
So, I’m still reading primarily warhammer stuff from black library, but had a break from the novels to get through hammer and bolter volume two. I haven’t finished, as I have now moved onto a novel, but some of the stories so far have been quite good
reparation by andy smilie 40k
This one had a space wolf in a dark eldar gladiatorial cell. I didn’t think I’d like it, but once the dark angels had been introduced it picked up with some good grudging respect yet distrust between the two characters
dead calm by josh Reynolds fantasy
Pirates, knights, vampires, zombies, magic, swords. This was a decent story that covered all bases. I do like small numbers of participants, but this ended up making the few humans overly powerful in the face of the undead
lesser evils by tom foster 40k
Another small team insertion as four humans enter a sisters of battle monastery. Spoiler alert- none died. The action was good, but the survival was just a little too inconvenient.
hunters by braden campbell 40k
Catachans versus tau. This was interesting, it jumped an hour or so forward and backward from it’s primary timeline. I don’t think it gained anything from doing so, but it did distract a little from assuming there was a twist coming. Oh and it was a small team insertion in which people died.
the tileans talisman by david guymer fantasy
A short gotrek and felix story from the eyes of a skaven clanrat. At least as long as the clanrat can stay alive….
Yeah it was quite fun to see a different perspective, without losing the key elements of a gotrek and felix story
in the shadow of the emperor by chris dows 40k
A fleet get hit by a space hulk as it smashes out of the warp. Survivors land on the nearest planet closely followed by the orks from the hulk. Fairly standard story, with a commissar who wants to kill the captain adding additional plotlines, but with the commissar acting a little out of character.
torment by Anthony Reynolds 40k
A close look at the procedure behind interring the remains of a space marine into a dreadnought, with the twist being the space marine is a devotee of chaos and not remains, just being cruelly tortured. Oh and the chaos elements inside the chosen warrior are less than keen
the pact by s p cawkwell 40k
The silver skulls space marines return to their long abandoned home world to find eldar fighting nurgle daemons. They are forced to ally to win. A fairly standard story again, with heavy emphasis placed on the imperiums resistance to the greater good of the galaxy over working alone.
I’ll leave it there, part 2 coming soon…
So, I haven’t don’t a book post in a while, I didn’t get round to one after reading and had moved on before I caught up, so here’s an update on the books Iv been reading
I may have covered this one already, I can’t remember, but it’s a collection of short stories from black library and warhammer 40k of planets being destroyed by war. As with many of the older compilations of stories that black library have churned out it’s a bit hit and miss, but it covers a good range of subjects from imperial armies being sacrificed in a retreat to the life of a planet moving through the eye of terror and suffering for it.
My highlight of the book was mercy run by steve parker because it acts essentially as a prologue for gunheads which was one of my favourite imperial guard books
yarrick imperial creed by david Annandale
A year ago there was a short story released about commissar yarrick which was to lead into the end times Armageddon battle, this is in the same series but set in yarricks distant past when he was a junior commissar. The story actually was really enjoyable, with good twists and a constant stream of battle. My only real issue was that it could have been the start of a new commissars story, the use of yarrick himself was somewhere between pointless and a way to guarantee people would buy it. But there was a nice touch as yarrick got a vision of future injuries he would suffer at the hands of a certain ork war boss
commissar by andy hoare
Fresh from my enjoyment of the yarrick book I moved straight onto a new commissar (which is what I had felt would have been a good idea with the yarrick book anyway) and I ended up a bit deflated. The stories good, the plot works nicely and the focus on a small infiltration team as opposed to a full army was a nice change of pace, however the commissar in question seemed to be in far more of a command role than a commissar. Now, I have no issue with this, the commissar is a leader, but I would have wanted more focus on the morale boosting (and skull blasting executions) than just another pretty intelligent imperial commander
tales of the old world part 1 tales of honour and heroism
After so much 40k I needed a change of pace, so read some warhammer fantasy short stories. I picked up the short story book and read the first section. Lots of bretonnians and empire heroes fighting an ‘honourable’ war against foes that aren’t honourable. Yeah, it doesn’t work all that well. I stopped after this section of the book a little bored of the predictable plotlines- honourable knight, fooled by dishonourable foe, works it out, wins, has a new approach to being honourable.
salvations reach by dan abnett
I love gaunts ghosts. Everyone loves gaunts ghosts. Iv yet to meet anyone that has read them and not enjoyed them. They would also admit the series has it’s ups and downs and that the constant reinforcement of a wiped out force at the start of every book gets a little dull. It’s realistic of course, that’s how the imperial guard work. But at the same time the characters we’re used to linger on against insurmountable odds over and again. But still the series is fantastic. This one however felt as though it has gone on a little too long. I believe it’s almost over, with one more planned book next year, but still, by this point the main characters are ageing, and it’s getting a bit too much for them to survive. It’s also a little bit too heavy on the introduction of new characters that later die, like red shirts gone made. However, it was an enjoyable read, the space marines inclusion worried me, but it was kept subtle and small so the human element remained the focus. It was also nice for dan abnett to use an iron snake (a chapter he wrote back when black library was in it’s infancy). This one was enough to make me excited for warmaster to finish the series at least
the blood price and the daemons curse by dan abnett and mike lee
Back to fantasy with malus darkblade, I read the blood price, essentially a prologue first, which was entertaining as a short read but didn’t establish any differences between dark elves and humans, but it did introduce characters that were key to the first real book the daemons curse. This was better, whilst it still didn’t highlight any real differences between humans and dark elves it did at least highlight the political differences, with a focus on a constant internal war between powerful factions. It then led to a long adventure through the chaos wastes before malus was cursed by a daemon and took on a beastman army. Again, the differences between beastmen, humans and dark elves were solely physical, with no difference really created. Additionally I was a little disappointed that malus seemed to take a constant beating, with his body being close to death on numerous occasions before recovering enough for another key challenge which he’d win whilst coming close to death. Maybe dark elves have incredible healing powers, but it felt a little overdone.
The problem I guess is the use of a small force up against the occupants of the chaos wastes (an effectively infinite force), you end up in constant danger but have to survive, without being unbeatable, and so your main character gets hurt constantly but somehow doesn’t die.
Overall the book was enjoyable, but I hope for more when I get onto the next one.
My next read will likely not be a black library novel, though gotrek and felix and ravenor are also appealing to me at the moment