Quick Review: LORDS AND TYRANTS by Various (Black Library)

Various-Lords&TyrantsA substantial, engaging collection of WH40k short fiction — perfect for long-time fans and newcomers

Many are the horrors of the 41st Millennium, from alien tyrants to dark lords in the grip of Chaos. But arrayed against them are champions of humanity, who fight to defend all that is good in the galaxy.

Wracked by the ravages of war, the galaxy has known no peace for untold millennia. To exist is to fight. To thrive is to conquer. Once-proud worlds lie in ruins at the hands of traitorous warlords and vile alien despots. Cowed by the unstoppable march of the Ruinous Powers, humanity stands on the precipice of oblivion. All hope is banished. Yet, there are many who take up arms against these horrors. Noble heroes of the Imperium sally forth to do battle while enigmatic Inquisitors explore the shadowy secrets of this benighted era. In the terror of the 41st Millennium, righteous lords and iron-willed tyrants clash to decide who is worthy of inheriting the galaxy.

Contents:
Argent by Chris Wraight
Lucius: Pride and Fall by Ian St Martin
Whispers by Alec Worley
The Battle for Hive Markgraaf by Justin D Hill
A Brother’s Confession by Robbie MacNiven
Rise by Ben Counter
Flayed by Cavan Scott
A Memory of Tharsis by Josh Reynolds
Left for Dead by Steve Lyons
Unearthed by Rob Sanders
The Aegidan Oath by L J Goulding
Hidden Treasures by Cavan Scott
Carcharodons: The Reaping Time by Robbie MacNiven
The Greater Evil by Peter Fehervari
The Path Unclear by Mike Brooks
Shadows of Heaven by Gav Thorpe

This is a pretty substantial collection of short fiction set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Sixteen stories, drawing together some fan-favourite characters and some new, I think it would serve very well as an introduction for anyone who has not yet delved into the extensive body of WH40k fiction, while also satisfying long-time fans of the IP looking for some quick-hits of sci-fi action and adventure. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE LOST AND THE DAMNED by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HHSoT2-LostAndTheDamnedThe Siege of Terra begins in earnest…

The Solar War is over. The Siege of Terra has begun. As the Traitors unleash their deadliest weapons, the defenders of the Throneworld face nightmare and plague – but Terra must stand.

On the thirteenth day of Secundus, the bombardment of Terra began. With the solar defences overcome through the devastating strength of the Traitor armada and the power of the warp, Horus launches his assault on the Throneworld in earnest. After withstanding a ferocious barrage of ordnance, an immense ground war commences outside the Palace with every inch gained paid for in the lives of billions. The front lines are beyond horrific and the very air is reduced to poison and blood. Bodies are thrown into the meat grinder but the outer redoubts cannot possibly hold for long, even with the loyal primarchs to reinforce them. For Horus has his own generals to call upon. Between the plague weapons of Mortarion and the fury of Angron, the defenders face a losing battle.

The final stages of the Horus Heresy continue, in this engaging second novel in the Siege of Terra series. Haley packs a lot into this novel, as he moves the story forward, fills in some gaps, and sets the stage for the continuing siege. I really enjoyed this. 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

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: THE SOLAR WAR by John French (Black Library)

FrenchJ-HHSoT1-SolarWarThe Siege of Terra as the Horus Heresy draws closer to the end

After seven years of bitter war, the end has come at last for the conflict known infamously as the Horus Heresy. Terra now lies within the Warmaster’s sights, the Throneworld and the seat of his father’s rule. Horus’ desire is nothing less than the death of the Emperor of Mankind and the utter subjugation of the Imperium. He has become the ascendant vessel of Chaos, and amassed a terrible army with which to enact his will and vengeance. But the way to the Throne will be hard as the primarch Rogal Dorn, the Praetorian and protector of Terra, marshals the defences. First and foremost, Horus must challenge the might of the Sol System itself and the many fleets and bulwarks arrayed there. To gain even a foothold on Terran soil, he must first contend the Solar War. Thus the first stage of the greatest conflict in the history of all mankind begins.

This series has been a long time coming. The Horus Heresy series began with Dan Abnett’s Horus Rising, published back in 2006. After 53 more books, countless short stories, audio-dramas and more, the traitor forces of Warmaster Horus are knocking on the doors of the Solar system. This novel covers the opening moves of the end-stage, and French does a fantastic job of portraying this chaotic, brutal siege. If the rest of the Siege of Terra series is as strong (or stronger) than this, fans are in for one hell of a ride. Continue reading

Quick Review: MALEDICTIONS (Black Library)

BlackLibrary-MaledictionsThe first Horror collection from Black Library

Horror is no stranger to the dark worlds of Warhammer. Its very fabric is infested with the arcane, the strange and the downright terrifying. From the cold vastness of the 41st Millennium to the creeping evil at large in the Mortal Realms, this anthology of short stories explores the sinister side of Warhammer in a way it never has been before. Psychological torment, visceral horrors, harrowing tales of the supernatural and the nightmares buried within, this collection brings together a grim host of tales to chill the very blood…

CONTENTS
Nepenthe by Cassandra Khaw
The Widow Tide by Richard Strachan
No Good Deed by Graham McNeill
Crimson Snow by Lora Gray
Last of the Blood by C L Werner
Predation of the Eagle by Peter McLean
The Last Ascension of Dominic Seroff by David Annandale
Triggers by Paul Kane
A Darksome Place by Josh Reynolds
The Marauder Lives by J.C. Stearns
The Nothings by Alec Worley

The first collection of horror stories from Black Library’s recently-launched new imprint. It’s a great collection of dark WH40k and Age of Sigmar stories, each of which brings something new and distinct to the settings. While there are some stand-out stories, the collection as a whole is really good. I enjoyed it. Continue reading