Quick Review: SONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

Various-HHP-SonsOfTheEmperorAn anthology of short stories about the Primarchs

From their shadowed origins to the desperate battles that ensued when half of them rebelled against their father, the Sons of the Emperor – the vaunted primarchs – were among the greatest of humanity’s champions, warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend.

From the Angel Sanguinius, who took the sole brunt of his Legion’s most brutal acts, to Vulkan, whose humanity made him unique amongst his brothers, and from dour Perturabo, architect, inventor and murderous warlord, to Horus, whose shining light was eclipsed only by the darkness that grew within his soul, this anthology covers eight of the primarchs and their greatest – or darkest – deeds.

Contents:
The Passing of Angels by John French
The Abyssal Edge by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Mercy of the Dragon by Nick Kyme
Shadow of the Past by Gav Thorpe
The Emperor’s Architect by Guy Haley
Prince of Blood by L J Goulding
The Ancient Awaits by Graham McNeill
Misbegotten by Dan Abnett

This is a great anthology. Originally released as a special for the Black Library Weekender in 2018, it collects eight stories by some of the best authors working on the Horus Heresy series. Each of them offers something new and interesting, alternative and original impressions and glimpses of some of the Primarchs. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

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

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

Quick Reviews: EXTINCTION and FATESPINNER (Black Library)

Two new Chaos Marine short stories.

EXTINCTION by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Sons of Horus are hunted by their brothers…

The Horus Heresy is over. The traitorous Warmaster is dead, his allies defeated, and the Sons of Horus are a dying Legion, fled now to the furthest reaches of the galaxy… and beyond. First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon, always among the most devoted and bellicose of his brethren, is now set adrift – who will rise to claim the title of Warmaster? Who will lead them in their long war for vengeance? And will that hallowed champion of the Ruinous Powers be able to reunite the old XVIth before they embrace extinction?

This is an interesting short story, continuing Dembski-Bowden’s growing Black Legion story. This one is set shortly after the collapse of the Horus Heresy, and is made up of a series of vignettes: in each, Sons of Horus legionnaires are being hunted down by their former brothers (traitors and loyalist). Abaddon doesn’t feature as much as I had expected, but he makes an interesting appearance at the end. Extinction doesn’t move the story along too much, but it’s a good piece to keep our interest high in advance of the next novel in the series, Black Legion. [If you haven’t already, I’d recommend reading The Talon of Horus, which started the series with a bang.]

Extinction at Black Library, Amazon (UK)

*

wraightc-wh40k-fatespinnerFATESPINNER by Chris Wraight

The Thousand Sons be tricksy…

In the underhive depths of Rigo V, the Sorcerers Ramon and Phaelius of the Thousand Sons seek proscribed knowledge. They are hunted, these witches, by the Rune Priest Thorskir who has tracked them across the length and breadth of the galaxy. At last after an arduous search, Thorskir has found where his prey will be and means to end them. But the plans of those allied to the Great Architect of Fate are not so easy to unbind and a secret lurks beneath Rigo V, one that has been long in the devising, a twist of fate and a plan so foul it is worthy of Tzeentch itself.

This is an interesting story. I’ve always liked the Thousand Sons Legion, and Fatespinner has everything one could want from them: daemons, sorcery, a great twist. Wraight’s writing continues to get better, and this is perhaps one of his best short stories. I would certainly be interested in reading more stories (short or novel-length) featuring Ramon and Phaelius. An excellent, highly recommended story — all fans of WH40k fiction should read it, and it’s a must for fans of Tzeentch and the Thousand Sons.

Fatespinner at Black Library, Amazon (UK)

Review: THE MASTER OF MANKIND by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

dembskibowdena-hh41-masterofmankindThe battle for the Webway

While Horus’ rebellion burns across the galaxy, a very different kind of war rages beneath the Imperial Palace. The ‘Ten Thousand’ Custodian Guard, along with the Sisters of Silence and the Mechanicum forces of Fabricator General Kane, fight to control the nexus points of the ancient eldar webway that lie closest to Terra, infested by daemonic entities after Magnus the Red’s intrusion. But with traitor legionaries and corrupted Battle Titans now counted among the forces of Chaos, the noose around the Throneworld is tightening, and none but the Emperor Himself can hope to prevail.

This was probably one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. Each of Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s contributions to the ever-expanding Horus Heresy mythos to date has been superb: The First Heretic and Betrayer are particularly stand-out novels in an overall-excellent series. So, when it was first announced that Mr. D-B would be taking on the story of the Emperor himself…? Well, how could I not be excited? Unfortunately, this novel didn’t work for me on almost every level. Continue reading

Review: DEATH AND DEFIANCE by Various (Black Library)

Various-Death&Defiance(HH)A collection of Horus Heresy novellas

Words alone can no longer convey the horrors of the war that now grips the Imperium. In what should have been an age of enlightenment and glorious triumph, instead warriors on both sides reel from the twin agonies of betrayal and bloodshed. The hatred of a sworn foe, the ire of a primarch, or the unholy wrath of a daemon-lord – none but the mighty Space Marines can hope to weather such torments unscathed…

Death and Defiance is the latest anthology from Black Library – originally, it was only available as a hardcover (possibly at the Black Library Weekender?). The short stories it contained were recently made available through the publisher’s website as individual eBooks. Naturally, given my addiction to Horus Heresy fiction, I snapped them up right away. On the whole, it’s a very good collection. Surprisingly, though, my favourite author featured did not deliver the best story (in fact, it was by far the weakest). Continue reading

Review: LEGACIES OF BETRAYAL (Black Library)

Various-HH-LegaciesOfBetrayalThe 31st Horus Heresy book

Only from out of great conflict can true heroes arise. With the galaxy aflame and war on an unimaginable scale tearing the Imperium apart, champions of light and darkness venture onto countless fields of battle in service to their masters. They ask not for remembrance or reward – simply to meet their destiny head-on, and only by embracing that destiny will they come to learn what the unseen future may yet hold for them.

This anthology pulls together a number of short stories that have appeared elsewhere — either as eBook shorts, or as audiodramas, or included in previously limited edition anthologies (from the Black Library Horus Heresy Weekender, for example). I had already read (or listened to) seven of the 18 stories herein. Instead of re-reviewing these, I have included links to my earlier blog posts. For all the stories (save two), I have included synopses, and also the original covers. Overall, this is a very good anthology. Continue reading