Very Quick Review: Terry McCaleb in Michael Connelly’s BOSCH Universe (Orion/Little, Brown)

ConnellyM-McCalebNovelsUK

I’ve recently been blitzing my way through Michael Connelly’s excellent novels in the “Heironymous Bosch Universe” — those that star the eponymous detective, and also those starring the characters who have cycled in and out of Bosch’s orbit over the course of the series. I tend to focus my reviews on either upcoming, new or fairly-recently-published books. However, Connelly’s crime novels have so taken over my imagination and reading time this past month (eight since the beginning of June), that I decided I should put something together for CR. In this post, I take a quick look at the novels featuring Terry McCaleb. Continue reading

Quick Review: GODS & MORTALS (Black Library)

Various-Gods&MortalsAn anthology of Age of Sigmar short fiction, which serves very well as an introduction

For too long, the Mortal Realms have suffered under Chaos’ twisted crusade. Tainted lands writhe in agony and once great cities lie in ruins, the hopes of their people extinguished. But the storm winds rise. Sigmar’s greatest creation, the Stormcast Eternals, strike with His vengeance. Their lightning drives the darkness away and their thunder drowns out the screams of the Foul Gods’ acolytes as they fall to sword and halberd. The sons and daughters of the storm know they cannot fail. For now is the time where the fate of a world will be decided. Where Gods and mortals must rise and fight, or face their final damnation.

CONTENTS
The Dance of the Skulls & Obsidian by David Annandale
Blacktalon: Hunting Shadows by Andy Clark
Vault of Souls by Evan Dicken
Bear Eater, Force of Personality, Gods’ Gift & The Hardest Word by David Guymer
Pantheon by Guy Haley
Callis & Toll: The Old Ways by Nick Horth
Pilgrim’s Trial by Robbie MacNiven
Auction of Blood, Eight Lamentations: The Tainted Axe, The Library of Forgotten Moments, Order of the Fly: Tourney of Fate & The Road of Blades by Josh Reynolds
Gravesend Gold & The Witch Takers by C L Werner

The Age of Sigmar is a pretty massive fantasy setting, one that continues to grow. It could be a bit daunting to find a way into it. If you are looking for a way in, this is a substantial collection of short fiction may be your best bet. Including stories featuring some established characters, as well as touching upon many of the myriad facets of the Mortal Realms, reading Gods & Mortals will give readers a nice, broad glimpse of the Age of Sigmar. Continue reading

Very Quick Reviews: THE BLOODIED ROSE by Danie Ware and AURIC GODS by Nick Kyle (Black Library)

Two very good books from Black Library’s first Novella Series

WareD-WH40k-TheBloodiedRoseTHE BLOODIED ROSE by Danie Ware

From the blasphemy of the fallen… Our Emperor, deliver us. At the edge of the Imperium sits the fetid jungle world of Lautis. Amidst the creeping foliage and ancient monuments, a horror is rising. From the depths of a crumbling cathedral come bloodied nightmares, intent on fulfilling their dark purpose by any means necessary. Only one thing stands in their way: the wrathful, holy fire of the Adepta Sororitas. Filled with the light of the Emperor, Sister Superior Augusta and her squad are a force to be reckoned with. They are here to purge the darkness from Lautis with prayer and bolter, and nothing will stop them. But the things that dwell in the darkness aren’t afraid. Augusta must put her trust in her Battle Sisters and lead them into the shadows of the crypts in search of the truth. Faith and fire are powerful weapons, but will they be enough to defeat the sinister powers that lurk in the deeps?

I’ve enjoyed all of Danie Ware’s Black Library fiction to date, and I’m very happy to report that The Bloodied Rose is another fantastic story. It draws on a fair few horror components to make for a sinister, grim WH40k story. The novella plays with some classic WH40k fiction tropes and styles, but updates it to incorporate some grittier elements. I really enjoyed this.

I certainly hope Ware is planning to write more Sisters of Battle stories (and others in general). Great stuff. Recommended for all fans of WH40k, and a must-read for fans of the Adeptus Sororitas.

*

KymeN-WH40k-AuricGodsAURIC GODS by Nick Kyme

For millennia the Adeptus Custodes have stayed true to their sworn duty – defend holy Terra and the God-Emperor to their very last breath. But when the Great Rift tears the Imperium apart, loosing tides of daemons upon mankind, they are faced with a dilemma. Should they continue to guard the Palace and the Golden Throne, or take to the stars to proactively root out the Ultimate Enemy? When Shield-Captain Cartovandis receives a mysterious distress call from the planet Vorganthian, he gathers a band of Custodians to investigate. When they arrive, they find a world in the grip of self-annihilation, overrun by Chaos cultists. In a race against time, the Custodians must find out what has happened, and hunt down those responsible, before the madness has a chance to reach its true target – something much closer to their hearts.

Tense moments, claustrophobic and intense action, and some suitably crazy Chaos shenanigans and beasties — this was a very interesting WH40k story. The story plays around with what we know about members of the Adeptus Custodes, and also what it means to leave an organization like this. (In fact, I had no idea that was even possible, before reading this.) I enjoyed seeing the Custodes differently — rather than the single-minded, utterly sure guardians of the Throne, in this story there is some uncertainty. One of the characters is not so polished. There are cracks in that golden armour, if you will.

If you’re a fan of the Custodians, and have been wondering how they operate post-Horus Heresy, then this novella is definitely recommended (as is Chris Wraight’s The Emperor’s Legion, which is climbing my TBR mountain).

*

Both The Bloodied Rose and Auric Gods are out now, published by Black Library. The paperback editions have now been discontinued, but they are available individually as eBooks. Both stories will appear in the forthcoming collection, Servants of the Imperium.

Also on CR: Interview with Nick Kyme (2011); Interview with Danie Ware (2013); Excerpt from Danie Ware’s Ecko Endgame

Follow the Author (Ware):Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Kyme):
Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Very Quick Review: DESTINATION SHANGHAI by Paul French (Blacksmith Books)

Destination Shanghai_18mm spineA fascinating collection of short biographies

18 true stories of those who went…

For the privileged a cosmopolitan pleasure ground; for the desperate a port of last resort.

A pot of gold at the end of an Oriental rainbow; a thick slice of hell denounced from the pulpit.

The start of a journey for many; the end of the road for some.

A place to find fame, or to seek anonymity; rogues, chancers, showgirls, criminals…

For so many people from so many lands, there was one phrase that sent a tingle of hope or a shiver of anticipation down every spine: “DESTINATION SHANGHAI”

Ever since I read his contributions to Penguin’s series of short China Specials, I’ve been a big fan of Paul French’s books. He has a gift for bringing history alive, and writes in an engaging style. In Destination Shanghai, the author offers a collection of short biographies of people who found themselves in Shanghai at one point or another. Destination Shanghai is an excellent, illuminating read. Continue reading

(Very) Quick Review: THE SURVIVAL OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE by Tade Thompson (Tor.com)

ThompsonT-MS2-SurvivalOfMollySouthbourneUSMolly Southbourne returns: on the run, and maybe carrying another secret…?

Who was Molly Southbourne? What did she leave behind?

A burnt-out basement. A name stained in blood. Bodies that remember murder, one of them left alive. A set of rules that no longer apply.

Molly Southbourne is alive. If she wants to survive, she’ll need to run, hide, and be ready to fight. There are people who remember her, who know what she is and what she’s done. Some want her alive, some want her dead, and all hold a piece to the puzzles in her head. Can Molly escape them, or will she confront the bloody history that made her?

In this second novella featuring Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson expands offers another entertaining, twisty and intriguing mystery. It’s very difficult to review this without spoiling the whole story of The Murders of Molly Southbourne. I think I want to avoid that, so I’m going to keep this review very short and to-the-point. Continue reading

Review: KONRAD CURZE — NIGHT HAUNTER by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HHP12-KonradCurzeA look at the Night Haunter’s spiral into madness, and his last hours

Of all the Emperor’s immortal sons, the primarchs, it is Konrad Curze whose legend is the darkest. Born in the shadows of Nostramo, a world of murderers, thieves and worse, is it any surprise that he became the figure of dread known only as the Night Haunter?

Heed now the tragic story of the creature Konrad Curze, master of the Night Lords Legion, of how he became a monster and a weapon of terror. He who once served the Imperium saw the truth in a maddening universe and the hypocrisy of a loveless father. From the blood-soaked gutters of his hiveworld upbringing, to the last days of his ill-fated existence, Curze is a primarch like no other and his tale is one to chill the very bone…

In this, Guy Haley’s third Primarchs novel, readers get a fascinating look at Konrad Curze: the Night Haunter, and gene-father of the Night Lords, the Emperor’s terror troops. A nuanced examination of Curze’s place in the expanding Imperium, as well as an account of his final hours — lost to madness, despair and bitterness. Continue reading

Quick Review: ONE WORD KILL by Mark Lawrence (47 North)

LawrenceM-IT1-OneWordKillThe first in the Impossible Times series

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange — yet curiously familiar — man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help — now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

Mark Lawrence is best known for his three excellent grimdark fantasy series — The Broken Empire, The Red Queen’s War, and Book of the Ancestor. I’ve been a fan of his work since Prince of Thorns, which I was able to get as a review copy. One of the first things that struck me was how good a writer Lawrence is — something that is immediately apparent in everything he writes. In One Word Kill, the author shows that he’s just as adept writing in the real world as he is in his dystopian and fantasy settings. This was a lot of fun. Continue reading