so, despite my issues deciding what I want to read I’m still hitting the short stories regulary
The first in a related trilogy published in The Carnac Campaign, this story focuses on Illic Nightspear and his eldar exiles attempting to ambush an awakening necron force. Unfortunately it goes wrong and becomes a race back to their webway portal before the Necron Deathmarks kill them all. This story was basically pants. There was no real insight into a major character of the Eldar, no real background or insight into the history of the exiles, Rangers or characters and no actual story. Illic lines up a kill shot, necrons disappear, necrons ambush the ambushers. Beyond that point it became an exercise in introducing an Eldar before having him killed by necrons, there wasn’t even any detail to that. I’m hoping it was acting as a prologue to a meatier story in the other two short stories but I’m not holding my breath.
Sky Hunter by Graeme Lyon. 40k
Well that’s the way to drag me right back into interested. Set fairly soon after Nightspear this story focuses on the pilots of Eldar- the Crimson hunters and the pilots of the hemlock wraith fighters which apparently the Eldar consider to be anything from heretical an abomination, but that have a use against such foes as the Necrons. The story jumps quickly from character to character opening up so many distraught personalities before a segment in which a spiritseer jumps (mentally) from mind to mind of various warriors on the battlefield of Carnac witnessing death and destruction through the eyes and bodies of basically every kind of Eldar warriors in the armies Codex army book. Far better than Nightspear with a large set up for the final story of the noon. However I’m leaving that one for the moment to catch up on a different book.
The Sound that Wakes You by Ben Chessell. Fantasy
A small forgotten village on the outskirts of Bretonnia is ruled by a tyrannical former knight and his henchmen. Everyone accepts this as the norm except the troublesome son of a blacksmith, he gets a bit overexcited and attempts to start a rebellion by burning a rose bush and his father is killed before he realises acceptance isn’t the same as patience. It was ok, no real surprises and the ending was too obvious, but it was an ok little tale of Bretonnia. It feels a bit weird reading these now that The End Times are coming and the relevance will be gone, it’ll be interesting to see where the background is taken.
Spirit War by Rob Sanders. 40k
After reading the previous two stories in the Carnac Campaign book I’d had a poor experience and a better one so was interested to see where a longer ‘short story’ would go. This one sets an army of Wraithguard, Wraithblades and Wraithlords against a Necron invasion force. The ‘dead’ warriors are sent to hold back the Necrons until Eldar civilians can retreat from the world via a Webway portal. This story could have been an interesting conflict between two unliving forces, but instead just seemed to be a blur of action without giving enough detail to actually explain what was happening. When the story reached a ‘last stand’ of the Wraiths I really lost interest.
A geneticist in prison for breaking too many ethical boundaries is freed and whisked off to an obscure tropical island by a rich sponsor who wants him to complete his research, but his motives aren’t purely financial. This was a four page short story (so genuinely a short story) and initially felt a little too much like a standard accusation levelled at big pharmaceutical companies funding research outside of the law, but the twist midway through suggested some additional potential consequences of genetic manipulation. The twist made it very enjoyable.
When you’re trusted with showing a potential donator a good time and he’s assassinated what do you do? Strap him to you and fight through a city of other assassins of course. This one was stupid, but a really fun read- as well as revisiting Dubnitz of Mananns blades.
The Mouth of Chaos by Chris Dows. 40k
An Elysian Imperial Guard force drop into a fortified volcano to take out a rebel force. The idea was very James Bondesque, and it worked well initially as the high speed drop allowed for a fast pace, however the lack of breaks in the text meant it felt too much. Perhaps if I’d read it through in one sitting I’d have enjoyed the non stop pace, but as its a human force I don’t want superhuman stamina. There was a nice Imperial Guard moment at the end as the debriefing leads into the briefing for the next war zone as the survivors are directed into another battle.
The Butchers Beast by Jordan Ellinger. Fantasy
A unit of Imperial Greatswords hold the line against the forces of chaos, post battle a chaos monstrosity rampages through their camp, bringing the attentions of a vindictive Witch Hunter. The story felt too much as though it had been taken from 40k, with the witch hunters replacing the inquisition.
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, alongside a variety of books (I have three or four on the go at the moment) and in between the various series I want to finish Iv been reading more short stories too
Night too long by James Wallis Fantasy
A really enjoyable half mystery half adventure as two detective style individuals investigate a bombing in a tavern whilst the majority of the city of Altdorf prepare for witches night. Whilst they hunt the culprits they become aware that far more gunpowder has been snuck into the city than has been used so far.
I liked this a lot, similar to some previous ones, it’s nice to see almost normal events occurring in the warhammer world, not just huge wars and daemonic incursions (though those are of course frequent too).
Grunnson’s Marauders by Andy Jones . Fantasy
After my last short story summary Gav Thorpe of games workshop fame tweeted me to inform me of the background of Grunnson’s marauders- they were the testing group for warhammer quest, so now I can read the stories with a little more understanding. The group get a quest to recover an ancient relic in exchange for all the gold they can carry. Too good to be true? Maybe.
This was an ok read, if a little formulaic- get quest, go on quest, have trouble, resolve.
the man who stabbed Luther van groot by sandy Mitchell Fantasy
This was a strange one, the man famed for killing the owner of a protection racket hires a halfling detective after recieving threatening letters. The halfling is then nearly assassinated and hunts for various criminals.
It was strange not because of the story, more for the use of a halfling, it just didn’t feel necessary or add anything to the story.
Additionally the story didn’t really go anywhere until the final page when the attempt for a twist was a bit overdone and wasted
Watching trees grow by Peter F Hamilton. Science fiction
This was a weird one- part of a short story compilation (by the same author) gifted to me at christmas by my mother in law I finally got around to it. The stories odd, it started out well with a murder in 1832. Except that it’s not 1832. It’s 1832 with the Roman Empire not having disappeared. Times moved on as has progress and technology with phones, cars and medical Labs in existence- it’s essentially modern times but with less crime and more social structure. The next few pages are dialogue- summarised transcripts of suspect interviews with some enjoyable introspection before the story jumps forward a few decades. At this point I was a little lost, but as the time jumped a few decades with each segment (and technology advancing) I just settled to enjoying the commentary on a technological society.
The ending of the story was a bit of a disappointment as a decent mystery became an aside from inventive technological advances. I did however like the creation of the world (Iv written about the trouble with this before) and the jumps allowed for a far broader setting of scenes. Additionally the use of a first person thoughtful character allowed for explanations where ordinarily there would be none.
The Talon of Khorne by Frank Cavallo. Warhammer fantasy
A bit of a background story for Scyla Anfingrimm, a Chaos army arrives in a village to recruit some marauders only to find the men away on raids in Bretonnia. The citizens of the village stand up to them and predicable are slaughtered before a single survivor informs them of the location of the legendary Scyla, a legend who has disappeared. Quite enjoyable as I knew nothing of Scyla but because I’d seen the model there was a little bit of predictability in the story.
Footvote by Peter F Hamilton. Science fiction
Another from the Christmas present from the in laws, And it was an interesting one. A genius has opened a wormhole to an earth equivalent planet and is allowing people to join him there based on certain rules and restrictions. Meanwhile a divorced couple are getting on with their lives, one struggling, the other planning to move to the new earth. The problem with one mans rules is that they inevitably are exclusivist and essentially bigoted and racist. Whilst reading the restrictions they initially made sense before becoming ridiculously over controlling, but we’re a good alternate to political processes.
A Mug of Recaff by Sandy Mitchell. 40k
A very short (two pages) story focusing on Jurgen of Ciaphus Cain fame. The chaos that normally follows the duo around has passed over Jurgens head and he’s just looking for a drink for the Commissar when he encounters a dangerous psyker. Luckily his ‘special skills’ kick in and he doesn’t need to worry. The stories not really long enough to judge but it was a good quick reminder of how obliviously useful Jurgen is.
The Faithful Servant by Gav Thorpe. Fantasy
A warrior priest awakens as the only survivor of a battle against the forces of chaos and calls out for help. It arrived in the form of a Chaos warrior who isn’t planning to kill him but to subvert his soul to the gods of chaos. This was a really good insight into a warrior priests faith as well as giving some character and voice to a chaos warrior beyond mindless destruction.
Lords of the Marsh by Josh Reynolds. Fantasy
Erkhart Dubnitz appears again in a fantasy short story escorting some trade merchants to a trade deal before pirate ambush on the Reikland river endangers them. But all is not as it seems as the most seems to be hiding something truly awful. Pretty good story, yet it felt a little too easily finished and there was no real surprise to the plot.
If at First… By Peter F Hamilton. Science fiction
A patterns establishing, Hamilton throws advanced technology into the real world and develops the themes. In this one a police detective investigates a stalking only to be told the stalked is a time traveller constantly going back in time to enhance his own knowledge. This felt like a more serious rewrite of a red dwarf episode but was still enjoyable.
So, after a few poo related short stories I was tasked with writing a story without the girl suffering
The Sad Story of Fred
This is Fred. Fred is a clown. He isn’t a very happy clown, in fact he’s a very sad clown.
He is sad because he cannot get a job.
He went to work at a bank, but sprayed the manager with his flower.
He went to work on a farm, but the pigs kept stepping on on his clown shoes.
He got a job on a lifeboat but the waves kept washing off his make up.
He tried to be a mechanic but clown cars always fall apart.
Fed up and sad he went to see his friend Eleanor. Eleanor was a stinky monkey so she didn’t need a job, she just lived in the zoo with the other animals.
“I can’t do any jobs Eleanor,” cried Fred.
“Ooh ooh aah aah!” Replied Eleanor (because monkeys can’t speak English of course). Then she threw some poo at him.
“Oh no, I can’t even visit the zoo,” wailed Fred.
“HAHAHA, HEEHEEHEE!” Laughed a man in a funny jacket, “that was funny, are you a clown?”
“Yes,” sobbed Fred, “but I can’t get a job.”
“Have you tried working for the circus? I am the ringleader of one.”
“I have now, can I have a job?”
Fred went to work at the circus where he made lots of friends and had lots of fun.
This one surprised her, the use of her name initially made her very grumpy, until she realised I was tricking her.
Had it not been for the poo throwing then all would have been good
Unfortunately it was another negative comment
I do not like this story
So, after the negative comments I received from the girl following my previous short story, I put a little actual thought into it and tried harder for her.
There once was a bridge.
This was the home of a troll called Smudge. He was a very sad troll because his bridge was over a smelly river.
Everyday Smudge and his toad friends saw poo float past. Smudge decided that enough was enough and he packed a suitcase to find out where the poo was coming from.
After a long journey with a few adventures (which you will hear about another time) he discovered the poo was coming from Eleanor the Smelly One’s house. Smudge made a plan.
One night he snuck into Eleanors bedroom and stuck a cork in her bottom, then he returned home to his bridge.
A few weeks later there had been no poo and Smudge was much happier. One day he heard a loud explosion and wondered what it was so he bought a newspaper.
Eleanor had not been able to poo and so her belly had burst like the Hoover in Mousehunt. Hazel and Pete had been visiting and got covered in poo.
Pete ate some.
This time I got another
not well done
But she was enjoying it far more, at least until she realise it was her that was the disgusting one.
So, over Christmas the girl became obsessed with Enid blyton after reading the faraway tree, personal favourite of mine when I was younger. She then kept nagging for us to write her stories, so I did.
Once upon a time there was a strange man called Pete. He was a bit weird.
One day he was loading some boxes into his van and scratching his bottom when he tripped over and got his finger stuck up his bum.
Hazel the Witch thought this was so funny that she weed her pants. Pete was being weird and tried to drink it so Hazel kicked him in the bottom.
This made his whole hand get covered in poo. He was still being weird and ate some of it.
Hazel thought he was disgusting and was sick on his head. Pete started to cry and then pooed his pants.
The girl did not approve, and gave me the following comment
not well done
Another of her obsessions being marking things like her teachers.
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, 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