Quick Review: GODBLIGHT by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-DI3-GodblightThe long-awaited, final Dark Imperium novel

The paths of Roboute Guilliman and his fallen brother Mortarion bring them inexorably together on Iax. Once a jewel of the Imperium, the garden world is dying as the plans of the Lord of Death to use it as a fulcrum to drag the stellar realm of Ultramar into the warp come to deadly fruition.

While Guilliman attempts to prevent the destruction of his kingdom, Mortarion schemes to bring his brother low with the Godblight, a disease created in the Cauldron of Nurgle itself, made with the power to destroy a son of the Emperor.

Primarchs clash on the ravaged landscapes of Iax. The gods go to war and the wider galaxy balances on a knife-edge of destruction. As something powerful stirs in the sea of souls, only one thing is certain – no matter who wins the last great clash of the Plague War, the repercussions of victory will echo through eternity…

The long-awaited conclusion to the Dark Imperium trilogy. I’ve been looking forward to this novel for quite some time, eager to learn what happens when Guilliman finally confronts his fallen brother Mortarion. Offering a good balance between world-building, character development, and action, this was worth the wait. I really enjoyed this.
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Quick Review: GATE OF BONES by Andy Clark (Black Library)

ClarkA-WH40k-DoW2-GateOfBonesThe Indomitus Crusade forges ahead

As the Indomitus Crusade begins, fleets of mighty warships leave Terra on a vital quest to stabilise Imperium Sanctus in the wake of the Great Rift. The returned primarch, Roboute Guilliman, leads a huge force towards the shrine world of Gathalamor, where stable warp routes will allow the flotilla to spread across the beleaguered southern half of the Imperium.

But grave tidings reach the Imperial Regent’s ears. Warnings from an ancient race, and eerie silence from the army tasked with holding Gathalamor until his arrival, lead Guilliman to send a reconnaissance mission to the world, at its head, Shield-Captain Achallor of the Adeptus Custodes.

Achallor discovers a world on the brink: a beaten Imperial force and sinister agents of Abaddon the Despoiler who have unearthed an ancient evil – a weapon that when harnessed not only threatens the primarch, but perhaps the holy Throne of Terra itself…

Clark picks up the story where Guy Haley’s Avenging Son left off, and chronicles another early, major engagement of the Indomitus Crusade. Gate of Bones is a solid WH40k novel, one that moves the overall story ahead, but could also work as a stand-alone if you happened to stumble across it. Great characters, good writing. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: AVENGING SON by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-DoF1-AvengingSonGo back to the start of the Indomitus Campaign…

As the Indomitus Crusade spreads out across the galaxy, one battlefleet must face a dread Slaughter Host of Chaos. Their success or failure may define the very future of the crusade – and the Imperium.

A great darkness has befallen the galaxy, and the armies of Chaos are rampant. To survive, humanity must retaliate and take back what they have lost. By the will of the reborn primarch, Roboute Guilliman, is the Indomitus Crusade launched – a military undertaking that eclipses all others in known history. From the Throneworld of Terra does the Avenging Son hurl his fleets, their mission the very salvation of mankind.

As vessels in their thousands burn through the cold void, the attention of Fleetmistress VanLeskus turns to the Machorta Sound – a region under attack by a dreaded Slaughter Host of the Dark Gods. The success of the Indomitus Crusade will be determined by this conflict, and the desperate mission of Battlegroup Saint Aster, led by Space Marine Lieutenant Messinius. Even then it is but a prelude to the forthcoming bloodshed.

Avenging Son is the first novel in a new nine-part series, which tells the story of Roboute Guilliman’s Indomitus Crusade. I was surprised when this series was announced, set as it is prior to Haley’s Dark Imperium novels. Originally pitched as the start of the “new” WH40k meta-story, and set during the Indomitus Crusade, the Dark Imperium novels dropped readers into the action some decades into the Crusade. So, the fact that Black Library commissioned this series, before the Dark Imperium trilogy was completed, was interesting: perhaps they thought they needed to go back, fill in a bunch of details in order to better-situated fans of the franchise? No idea. Regardless, it’s a strong start to a series, and I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Quick Review: FURY OF MAGNUS by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeillG-HHSoTN2-FuryOfMagnusMagnus faces a decision that could tip the balance of the entire Horus Heresy

Of all the Emperor’s sons who fell to Chaos, it is perhaps Magnus the Red whose tale is the most tragic. Sanctioned because of his desire for knowledge, chastised, judged, and shattered to his very elements – there is much for the Crimson King to feel vengeful for.

Yet revenge is not the only thing that draws him to Terra alongside the Warmaster’s besieging armies. He seeks something, a fragment, the missing piece of himself that lies within the most impregnable place on the planet – the inner sanctum of the Imperial Palace. As the greatest conflict of the ages reaches fever pitch, Magnus fights his own inner battle.

To be whole once more, he must not only overcome the fiercest of defences, but also face the one being whom he loves and hates with equal fervour more than any other – his errant father, the Emperor of Mankind.

In Fury of Magnus, his second novella set during the Siege of Terra, Graham McNeill brings Magnus the Red’s story to an end, of sorts. A story the author has been telling for a few years, now (starting with the superb A Thousand Sons), this final chapter contains some surprises, some great action, and ultimately a devastating choice. Magnus remains one of the most interesting characters in the Horus Heresy, and I think McNeill has done him justice. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: VALDOR by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-HH-ValdorOne of the most important characters from the Horus Heresy series, and also an illuminating glimpse at the early Imperium

Explore the history of one of the most well known heroes of the Imperium…

Constantin Valdor. It is a name that brings forth images of heroism, honour and peerless duty. For it is he who commands the will of the Legio Custodes that most esteemed and dedicated cadre of elite warriors. He is the Emperor’s sword, His shield, His banner and he knows no equal. Clad in shining auramite, his fist clenched around the haft of his Guardian Spear, he is the bulwark against all enemies of the throne, within or without.

Nearing the end of the wars of Unity, Valdor’s courage and purpose is put to the test as never before. The petty warlords and tyrants of Old Earth have been all but vanquished, and the Emperor’s armies are triumphant. What now for the nascent Imperium and what fate its forgotten soldiers, its Thunder Warriors and armies of Unity? A new force is rising, one which shall eclipse all others and open the way to the stars. But change on Terra is seldom bloodless and for progress to be ensured darker deeds are necessary.

This is the first in Black Library’s Horus Heresy Character series — a series of novels that expands the overall Horus Heresy series in some way. Focusing on Constantin Valdor, the commander of the Legio Custodes, the Emperor’s personal guard. It’s a novel that not only gives us some more insight and background to the character, but also an interesting and illuminating (to a point) glimpse at the early years of the Imperium, before mankind had set out once again for the stars. A quick, interesting and engaging read. Continue reading

Upcoming: PARIAH and PENITENT by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

AbnettD-B1-Pariah2021Back in 2012, Black Library published Pariah by Dan Abnett. The first novel to focus predominantly on Alizebeth Bequin, a beloved character from the author’s other Inquisition series — Eisenhorn and Ravenor. Fans of the series have long been waiting for the conclusion to the story, and this March Dan and Black Library are going to deliver the highly-anticipated Penitent. The first novel will also receive a new cover in the (superb) style of the new book.

Here’s the synopsis for Pariah:

In the city of Queen Mab, nothing is quite as it seems. Pariah, spy and Inquisitorial agent, Alizebeth Bequin is all of these things and yet none of them. An enigma, even to herself, she is caught between Inquisitors Gregor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor, former allies now enemies who are playing a shadow game against a mysterious and deadly foe. Coveted by the Archenemy, pursued by the Inquisition, Bequin becomes embroiled in a dark plot of which she knows not her role or purpose. Helped by a disparate group of allies, she must unravel the secrets of her life and past if she is to survive a coming battle in which the line between friends and foes is fatally blurred.

AbnettD-B2-PentitentAnd, for those who have been eagerly awaiting Penitent, here’s the synopsis:

In the mysterious city of Queen Mab, the forces of light and darkness are locked in a murderous struggle for truth. The dedicated agents of the Holy Inquisition battle with their shadowy counterparts, the infamous Cognitae, to discover the encrypted identity of the enigmatic, all-powerful King in Yellow. Caught at the heart of this struggle is the pariah Alizebeth Bequin. Will she stand with the Inquisition, or with the Cognitae that raised her? And if she chooses the Inquisition, will it be the wise but ruthless Ravenor, or his rival, the denounced heretic Eisenhorn? Bequin must withstand an onslaught of angels and daemons, and even the monstrous warriors of the Traitor Legions, to unpick the greatest riddle of her life.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read Abnett’s Inquisition fiction, both the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies have bee released as omnibus editions. The new editions of Pariah and Penitent are due to be published by Black Library in early March 2021.

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Quick Review: CITY OF LIGHT by Darius Hinks (Black Library)

HinksD-Mephiston3-CityOfLightThe concluding volume in Hinks’s Mephiston trilogy

Deep in Imperium Nihilus, Blood Angels Chief Librarian Mephiston and his comrades are drawn into battle with a cabal of Thousand Sons sorcerers – with worlds at stake and hidden truths threatening to overwhelm him, this is Mephiston’s darkest hour…

Having fought during the devastation of Baal, Mephiston and a cohort of Blood Angels are drawn by cryptic visions to a war-torn world on the cusp of the Great Rift. Here, the sorcerers of the Thousand Sons seek to unite nine Silver Towers and bring about a ritual that will empower their master, the daemon-primarch Magnus. The ritual must be prevented, lest the entire sub-sector be cast into Chaos. Mephiston faces a challenge like no other, of his strength and his will, confronting a hidden truth that threatens to expose him to his darkest fears.

City of Light brings Darius Hinks’s excellent Mephiston trilogy to a close. The series has been woven around the ongoing events in the WH40k story, pairing nicely with Guy Haley’s Blood Angels novels, which feature some of the same characters. Picking up the story shortly after the events of Haley’s Darkness in the Blood, the titular hero sets out to thwart a dire threat looming over Imperium Nihilus. It’s an enjoyable, action-packed novel. Continue reading

Quick Review: DARKNESS IN THE BLOOD by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-WH40k-BA3-DarknessInTheBloodDante settles into his role as Imperial Regent, while Mephiston’s powers threaten to overtake him… and everyone else

The galaxy is in flames. Chaos is in the ascendant across the stars. The Great Rift has split the holdings of the Imperium in twain, isolating entire sectors from the light of Holy Terra.

But all hope is not lost. The Primarch Roboute Guilliman has returned from deathless sleep, and appointed Commander Dante, lord of the Blood Angels, as Regent and Warden of the newly dubbed Imperium Nihilus.

In the Baal system, the shattered holding of the Chapter is being rebuilt, and Dante plans the greatest campaign of his long life, to retake half an empire. And yet at this moment of rebirth there are dangers close to home that could overwhelm all those who carry the blood of Sanguinius in their veins, stopping Dante’s noble endeavour before it has even begun.

The Flaw in Sanguinius’ sons is growing. As the twin curses of the Red Thirst and the Black Rage threaten everything, the hardest ordeal will fall upon Mephiston, twice-born Lord of Death and Chief Librarian of the Blood Angels. Among the mighty lords of Baal, perhaps only he can save them all, by mastering the darkness in the blood…

First released as a special edition, I’ve been looking forward to Darkness in the Blood for some time. Continuing the story of the Blood Angels begun in The Devastation of Baal and in Darius Hinks’s Mephiston trilogy, it presents an important piece in the puzzle that is the Angels’ place in the changed universe. With new allies, technology, and challenges, it has plenty of action as well as quieter moments that really add to our understanding of the Blood Angels and their heroes. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: VAULTS OF OBSIDIAN (Black Library)

BlackstoneFortress-VaultsOfObsidianA collection of stories set on and around the Blackstone Fortress

For uncountable ages the Blackstone Fortress has kept its watchful silence. It patiently waits, willing those brave enough to gamble everything exploring its halls. Only the most determined of adventurers will return with riches – the unworthy are never seen again. But to many, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Among the denizens of Precipice, ratlings, robots, and rogue traders all pursue their own agendas, pitting themselves against the myriad forces of darkness that have claimed the fortress as their own. Deadliest of all is Obsidius Mallex, who aims to twist another Talisman of Vaul to Chaos’ unholy cause. Unless this traitor is stopped, the galaxy will burn beneath the wrath of the Ruinous Gods.

CONTENTS
Talisman of Vaul by Darius Hinks
Shapes Pent in Hell by Josh Reynolds
Fates and Fortunes by Thomas Parrott
Past in Flames by J C Sterns
Negavolt by Nicholas Wolf
The Three-Edged Blade by Denny Flowers
Motherlode by Nick Kyme
Purity is a Lie by Guy Haley
The Oath in Darkness by David Annandale
Man of Iron by Guy Haley
The Beast Inside by Darius Hinks
The Last of the Longhorns by Nick Kyme

I recently read Darius Hinks’s Blackstone Fortress, which served as a great introduction to this setting. Naturally, I was interested in reading more, and Vaults of Obsidian was available for review. It’s an interesting collections of stories, offering a variety of perspectives on the Blackstone Fortress and its unusual place in the WH40k setting. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: SCIONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

HHP-ScionsOfTheEmperorA short collection of stories to add colour to some of 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. They were warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend. From a tale of Ferrus Manus in his earliest days to mysterious murders that lead Rogal Dorn into peril on the eve of the Siege of Terra, the eight tales in this volume lay bare key moments in the lives of these mighty heroes.

CONTENTS
Canticle by David Guymer
The Verdict of the Scythe by David Annandale
A Game of Opposites by Guy Haley
Better Angels by Ian St Martin
The Conqueror’s Truth by Gav Thorpe
The Sinew of War by Darius Hinks
The Chamber at the End of Memory by James Swallow
First Legion by Chris Wraight

Each of these stories adds a bit of colour and depth to what we know about the Primarchs. There are eight stories, so they don’t cover all of the Emperor’s sons, but a good range is featured. I enjoyed these. Continue reading