Review: BLACK LEGION by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowdenA-A2-BlackLegionThe long-awaited sequel to The Talon of Horus

Ezekyle Abaddon and his warlords strive to bind the newborn Black Legion together under threat of destruction. Now Khayon, as Abaddon’s most-trusted assassin, is tasked with ending the threat of Thagus Daravek, the self-proclaimed Lord of Hosts — a rival to the Ezekyle’s final fate. Fighting the vile whispers of the Dark Gods within his mind, Abaddon turns a fevered gaze back to the Imperium, where his destiny awaits. Yet the Emperor’s Champion and his Black Templars stand guard at the gates of Hell, and Sigismund has waited centuries to face Abaddon in battle.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is one of my favourite sci-fi authors. His work for Black Library has been, for the main, outstanding — especially the Night Lords trilogy, The First Heretic and Betrayer. He hasn’t been writing at the same pace as many of his peers at BL, but each of his new novels is met with quite some fanfare. Despite something of a wobble with his previous novel, The Emperor of Mankind (part of the Horus Heresy series), Black Legion sees him returning to form quite nicely. The sequel to The Talon of Horus, and picking up the story a short while after that novel, it’s a short novel, but one that manages to pack in quite a bit of story. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: AFTERLIFE by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer)

SakeyM-AfterlifeAn intriguing, cinematic action thriller

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

I’ve been aware of Marcus Sakey’s work for many years, and have faithfully bought a fair number of his novels. For some strange reason, though, I keep forgetting I have them on my Kindle… I started to see many thriller authors whose work I very much enjoy sharing praise for Afterlife not so long ago, so I snapped it up and started reading right away. I was certainly an entertaining read. Continue reading

Quick Review: WONDER WOMAN Vols. 2-3 (DC Comics, Rebirth)

A new origin, and a conspiracy to discover the location of Themyscira…

Writer: Greg Rucka | Art: Liam Sharp, Renato Guedes, Bilquis Evely, Laura Martin, Romulo FajardoJr., Hi-Fi

The definitive and shocking tale of Diana’s first year as Earth’s protector. Paradise has been breached, Ares stirs, and the Amazons must answer with a champion of their own…one who is willing to sacrifice her home amongst her sisters to save a world she has never seen. Wonder Woman’s journey begins in this epic origin story!

Collects: Wonder Woman #2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #14

In Volume 2 of DC Comics’ latest Wonder Woman reboot, Greg Rucka takes a break from the storyline seeded in the first collection. Instead, he and his colleagues on the art-side pull out all the stops for (yet another) origin-type story. Subtitled “Year One”, it re-introduces us to the two main characters (Diana and Steve), updated for a modern setting. There are some parallels between this book and the recent Wonder Woman movie (if you haven’t see it yet, do so — it’s great), but it is by no means slavish or engaging in recycling. I was just frequently put in mind of certain elements of that movie while reading. Continue reading

Books Received (July-August 2017)

Featuring: Stephen Barnes, R.S. Belcher, Simon Berthon, Christopher Bohjalian, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Robert Dickinson, Kate Ellis, Christie Golden, Nick Harkaway, Rebecca Harrington, Michael F. Haspil, Grady Hendrix, Joe Ide, Jay Kristoff, Stina Leicht, Eugene Lim, Jonathan Lyon, Jeannette Ng, Ross Raisin, Greg Rucka, Marcus Sakey, Steven T. Seagle, Charles Soule, Matt Taibbi, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Roma Tearne, Sage Walker, Matt Wallace, Zeni Zumas Continue reading

Review: AHRIMAN: UNCHANGED by John French (Black Library)

Ahriman’s reaches the end of his journey, and executes his second Rubric…

It has taken many long years and countless sacrifices, but finally Ahriman, former Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons, now exile and sorcerer, is ready to attempt the most audacious and daring feat of his long life. His quest for knowledge and power has all been for one purpose, and he would now see that purpose fulfilled. His goal? Nothing less than undoing his greatest failure and reversing the Rubric that damned his Legion…

This is the final book in John French’s Ahriman trilogy, and it is epic. If you’re a fan of the Thousand Sons legion, in WH40k or in the Horus Heresy series, then this trilogy is a must read. Ahriman: Unchanged details the culmination of Ahriman’s long quest to fix the damage he wrought with his first Rubric. He faces a long journey home, multiple forces arrayed against him, and potentially the wrath of his father… Overall, this is a fantastic conclusion, and I very much enjoyed it. Continue reading

Quick Review: BLACKWING by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

A promising debut grimdark fantasy

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet…

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery — a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is one of the most hotly-anticipated debut fantasy novels of the year. Social media and the blogosphere have been filled with glowing reviews, squees and other evidence that suggests the hype has been entirely justified. There’s a lot in here that will certainly appeal to plenty of fantasy fans. However, I ultimately came away from this novel underwhelmed. Continue reading

Review: THE CRIMSON KING by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

The Thousand Sons grapple with their new world and reality…

After the razing of Prospero, Magnus the Red spirited the Thousand Sons away to the aptly un-named Planet of the Sorcerers, deep within the Eye of Terror. Removed from the concerns of the galaxy at large and regarding the Warmaster’s unfolding Heresy with cold detachment, he has dedicated his hollow existence to the preservation of all the knowledge once held in the great libraries of Tizca, should mankind ever seek such enlightenment again. But his sons can see the change in their primarch – he is a broken soul, whose mind and memories are slipping away into the tumult of the warp. Only by returning to the scenes of his greatest triumphs and tragedies can they hope to restore him, and allow the Crimson King to be crowned anew by the Ruinous Powers.

A Thousand Sons, Graham McNeill’s first novel focusing on Magnus the Red’s legion, was the first in what I consider to be the Horus Heresy series’s revival, and the beginning of a hot streak that has continued (pretty much) ever since. In The Crimson King, McNeill continues the story of the Thousand Sons, and looks at how they are coming to terms with not only their new status as traitors, but also their new reality and freedom. It’s an excellent continuation of the series. Continue reading