Review: AZRAEL by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

ThorpeG-SML-AzraelPBThe Chapter Master’s ascension, and the secrets of the Dark Angels

The Dark Angels Chapter sprang from the First Legion of Space Marines to fight and die at the Emperor’s side. But over ten thousand years, even the most staunchly loyal warriors of the Imperium can fall from grace, and the Dark Angels guard their own murky secrets most carefully — only Supreme Grand Master Azrael knows them all. A legend among Space Marines, he has fought for centuries and ever at the forefront of battle. Now, with the enigmatically alien eldar as his uneasy and unlikely allies, he must tread the fine line once more between the pursuit of victory, and keeping the Chapter’s past safely buried…

Continuing my new-found interest in loyalist Space Marine fiction, after thoroughly enjoying Guy Haley’s Dante, I dove into Azrael with pretty high hopes. It is, after all, written by Gav Thorpe — a long-time, excellent author of Black Library and, especially, Dark Angels fiction. This novel has a lot to offer fans of the chapter and setting as a whole. Continue reading

Guest Review: CALGAR’S FURY by Paul Kearney (Black Library)

KearneyP-WH40k-CalgarsFuryThe Ultramarines Chapter Master steps into battle

The Realm of Ultramar stands as a shining beacon of order and strength in a galaxy wracked by war and torment. Custodian of this realm, and Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, Marneus Calgar has fought many foes and won countless wars to ensure its borders remain safe. But when an immense space hulk emerges into the Ultramar system, carrying with it the threat of something ancient and terrible, it is Calgar once again who stands in defence of his realm, prepared to meet whatever horrors are aboard and discover the mystery at the heart of the ship dubbed Fury.

Reviewed by Abhinav Jain

The Ultramarines have been the poster-child for WH40k’s various Space Marines Chapters for multiple years. The blue-armoured warriors can be seen on most of the primary packaging for the tabletop models and rulebooks as well. As the typical example of Space Marines, over the years their image has morphed into one that says, “These are the boring old Space Marines who do everything and are just perfect little warriors.”

While true to some extent, this is also wildly generalistic. Graham McNeill, especially, has done a lot over the years to change that image with his various Captain Uriel Ventris stories. Now, Paul Kearney offers a distinctive look at Marneus Calgar, the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines. Calgar’s Fury is a no-holds-barred action story, set on a derelict space hulk, the most classic of all 40k settings, and really delves into the psychology of the Chapter’s warriors at all levels of command. Continue reading

Review: DANTE by Guy Haley (Black Library)

haleyg-sml-danteThe history of the Blood Angels Chapter Master

Dante is Chapter Master of one of the noblest but most troubled Chapters of Space Marines in the Imperium: the Blood Angels. From the time of his birth in the rad-scarred wastes of Baal Secundus, he was destined for glory and strife. From his apotheosis to Scout, to the hive cities of Armageddon and the alien menace of the Cryptus system, Dante has waged war against all the enemies of the Imperium. He has witnessed the divine, and struggled against the darkness within all sons of Sanguinius. Longer lived than any other Chapter Master, this is his chronicle, his great and storied legend.

This is a really good novel. I hadn’t read any of the other novels in the Space Marine Legends series before this one (I have since, so keep an eye out for those reviews over the next couple of weeks), so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, though, and Dante offers a glimpse into the life and ascension of the “oldest living Space Marine”, the Chapter Master of the perennial favourites, the Blood Angels. Continue reading

Four Quick Audio Reviews (Black Library)

 

BlackLibraryAudioDramas-201706

In each of the stories mentioned below, the performances are excellent, and the production values superb. This has become an always-met expectation for Black Library’s audio-dramas.

Featuring: Dan Abnett, Chris Dows, David Guymer, Ian St. Martin, Joshua Reynolds, Gav Thorpe, Chris Wraight

Continue reading

Review: MAGNUS THE RED by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeillG-HHP3-MagnusTheRedOn a fracturing world, Magnus and his Sons’ powers are unleashed…

Lord of the mystical and uncanny, Magnus the Red has long studied the ancient crafts of sorcery. A psyker without peer, save only for the Emperor himself, he commands his loyal followers of the Thousand Sons Legion in the Great Crusade, though also vigilant for any lost knowledge they might recover from the remains of dead human civilisations.

Now, fighting alongside his brother Perturabo of the Iron Warriors, Magnus begins to foresee an approaching nexus of fate — will he remain true to their mutual aims, or divert his own efforts towards furthering his own mastery of the warp?

This third novel in Black Library’s Horus Heresy: Primarchs series offers readers a glimpse of insight into Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion. Framed as a reminiscence of Magnus, it tells the story of a particular campaign and the terrible foe the Thousand Sons and Iron Warriors faced together in the early years of the crusade. Continue reading

Review: ROBOUTE GUILLIMAN by David Annandale (Black Library)

The first in a new series focusing on each of the Emperor’s Primarchs

Long before the coming of the Imperium, the realm of Ultramar was ruled by Roboute Guilliman, the last Battle King of Macragge. Even after learning of his true heritage as a primarch son of the Emperor of Mankind, he strove to expand his domain as efficiently and benevolently as possible, with the XIII Legion Ultramarines as his alone to command. Now, facing a rival empire on the ork-held world of Thoas, Guilliman must choose his weapons carefully – otherwise his dream of a brighter future could be lost forever.

It’s no surprise to regular readers of CR that I’m quite fond of the Horus Heresy series. I was both surprised and pleased, therefore, when Black Library announced a companion series — one that would comprise one novel for each of the Primarchs, loyal and traitor, set before the Heresy. Given recent developments in the WH40k game universe, it’s perhaps not surprising that the series would kick off with Roboute Guilliman. And it’s a very strong start, too. Continue reading

Reviews: A MEMORY OF THARSIS and ARGENT (Black Library)

Josh Reynolds, FABIUS BILE: A MEMORY OF THARSIS

Seeking fresh resources for his experiments, Fabius Bile ventures to the forge world of Quir to trade with its ruler. Lady Spohr demands unusual tribute, however, and not only the deal but also Bile’s very existence could be forfeit if he fails to please her.

Reynolds has been doing a fantastic job bringing Fabius Bile to life on the page. Among the most established of WH40k Chaos champions, there were times when he seemed a little bit of a cartoon. Reynolds’s version, however, is anything but — and A Memory of Tharsis is a great introduction to the character.

Reynolds manages to do two things with this short story, and he does them very well. First, he clearly and effectively locates Bile in the overall renegade/traitor ‘society’: he is an outcast amongst outcasts, reviled and respected, his talents feared and highly sought-after. Second, Reynolds reminds us that Bile is still an Astartes. Despite his physical ailments and weaknesses, he is still a martial force to be reckoned with (even if it is with the aid of a bespoke cocktail of battle stimulants). Best of all, the author does this without resorting to clunky info-dumping, and allows the events and story to show the reader why Bile’s reputation is justified.

This is a great short story, and a fantastic addition to Bile’s growing story. I really hope there is more to come. A Memory of Tharsis is out now, as is the excellent first Fabius Bile novel, Primogenitor.

Also on CR: Reviews of Fabius Bile: PrimogenitorEnd Times: The Return of Nagash and End Times: The Lord of the End Times

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Chris Wraight, VAULTS OF TERRA: ARGENT

Interrogator Luce Spinoza’s hunt for a traitor brings her to Forfoda and into the company of the Imperial Fists. Unearthing a den of corruption, Spinoza learns what it means to fight alongside the Emperor’s Angels, and vows to prove herself worthy of this honour or die in the attempt.

Argent is the first story in Wraight’s Vaults of Terra, a new series focused on the work of the Inquisition. It introduces readers to Interrogator Spinoza, a character who promises to be an interesting guide to the shadowy operations of the Imperium’s ruthless enforcers. The tale is framed very nicely, as a post-battle report. Spinoza is recounting to her boss the events of a recent raid conducted alongside the Imperial Fists, and explaining how it is she came to be incapacitated with two shattered arms. As Reynolds managed in A Memory of Tharsis, so too does Wraight, who packs in a lot of information and colour into a pretty short story. We get a good feel for the characters, their place in the WH40k universe, as well as how they see their roles. The action is very well written, and supports the story perfectly.

After finishing this, I can definitely say that I am looking forward to the first novel in the series even more than I already had been. Argent is out now. The first full-length novel in the Vaults of Terra series, The Carrion Throne is out next month.

Also on CR: Interview with Chris Wraight (2011); Reviews of Battle of the FangScars and The Path of Heaven

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter