Quick Review: THE EMPEROR’S LEGION by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-WotT1-EmperorsLegionPolitics on Terra as the galaxy burns

The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s praetorian guard, the defenders of Terra and watchers over the Golden Throne. But when a threat arises, they and their Sisters of Silence allies may find themselves pressed almost beyond endurance…

The Custodian Guard have stood watch over the Emperor’s Palace on Terra since the foundation of the Imperium. Charged with protecting the Master of Mankind from all threats, within and without, their fearsome resolve is renowned throughout the galaxy, and their golden armour is the last thing that a would-be assassin or saboteur will ever see. Alongside the Null-maidens of the Sisters of Silence, who are anathema to psykers and sorcerers alike, there is no threat to the Golden Throne that they alone cannot vanquish… until now.

The Emperor’s Legion is a novel that takes a look at the politics of the Imperium, and the ways in which recent events in the larger WH40k meta-story have changed… well, almost everything. While it has plenty of action, it felt quite different to many other Black Library novels. An interesting and illuminating shift in focus and perspective, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE WOLFTIME by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

ThorpeG-WH40k-DoF3-WolftimeThe Indomitus Crusade reaches Fenris

Discover how the Cicatrix Maledictum affects even the most stubborn and steadfast of the Imperium’s warriors, as traditions the Space Wolves hold dear may be stopping them from defending the Imperium to the best of their abilities.

The Indomitus Crusade has brought the Emperor’s vengeance to thousands of star systems. The fleets and armies under the leadership of Roboute Guilliman fight for the survival of humanity against the forces of the Chaos Gods. But the traitors and heretics are not the only foe looking to destroy the rule of Terra.

Xenos prey on human worlds in numbers not seen for millennia. Worst amongst them are the rampaging orks, whose migration conquests threaten to reverse the many gains of Fleet Primus. And their throaty bellows carry a name not heard in years, of destruction made flesh, a bestial warlord without peer: Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka.

In the midst of this brutal tide is Fenris, the world of the Space Wolves. Depleted by ever-greater demands on their warriors, called upon by the Legion-breaker Guilliman, the Wolves of Fenris face a momentous decision. Grimnar and his counsellors must choose whether their fate is to ally themselves with an ancient rival and risk all that makes them the Vlka Fenryka or to accept their demise and wait for the return of their own primarch and the coming of the Wolftime.

I’ve very much enjoyed the recent batch of WH40k releases — in particular, those novels and stories that have expanded fans’ understanding of what has happened since the fall of Cadia and the opening of the Cicatrix Malediction. In Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium trilogy, and the first two books in the Dawn of Fire series, we’ve come to learn a fair bit about this “present” of the WH40k universe. In this novel, Thorpe does a great job of giving us a narrower, though no less illuminating look at how the changes in the universe have affected one of the most popular factions: the Space Wolves. I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: WARHAWK by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-HHSoT5-WarhawkOne of the most-anticipated battles of the Horus Heresy finally comes to pass

The Inner Walls are breached.

Traitor vanguards tear towards the heart of the Palace, sensing victory. Desperate gambits are attempted: an unwilling saint is released into the ruins, as well as an enthusiastic sinner. A black sword rises, forged from spite, ready to create a legend. But amid the slaughter, Jaghatai Khan, Warhawk of Chogoris, prepares to launch the most audacious strike of the conflict. His goal is nothing less than the liberation of the Lion’s Gate space port. Cut off from any help, he stakes everything on one desperate counter-offensive, launched against an old enemy who has been made far greater than he ever was before. As the White Scars ride out against the newly crowned lords of life and death, they know that defeat for them dooms not only the Legion, but Terra itself.

And so we come to the penultimate book in not only the Siege of Terra series, but the Horus Heresy over all. It’s been quite a journey, with many twists and turns of the story along the way. In Warhawk, fans will finally get to read about a particular confrontation that has been a long time coming. It’s one of the most epic duels I’ve read in Black Library fiction (or any other), and Wraight has done a fantastic job of realizing it on the page. I very much enjoyed reading this. Continue reading

Upcoming: GOTHGUL HOLLOW by Anna Stephens (Black Library)

StephensA-WHH-GothgulHollowAnna Stephens is perhaps best known for her Godblind Trilogy and latest novel, The Stone Knife. The author has also been writing a fair number of short stories for Black Library, and next year her first will arrive: Gothgul Hollow is part of the publisher’s Warhammer Horror series. Set in the Age of Sigmar, I’m rather looking forward to reading this. You can read a little bit more about it (and some other upcoming Warhammer Horror titles, here.)

The Hollow. A lonely Shyishan town, obscured amongst wild moorland, inhabited by folk of vigilant routine. What remains of the once illustrious Gothghul family endures season upon season of monastic isolation in their castle on the hill. Aaric Gothghul, made callous by loss, shuts himself in his study and broods over arcane texts, while his strange and formidable daughter wanders the forests alone.

But when the town is threatened by a spate of sinister manifestations, the quiet formality of their days end. Worse still, the upheaval disturbs a terrible family secret – a chilling memory that Aaric has kept buried for twenty-five years. Now, father and daughter must set aside their differences and search for answers to an ancient curse that is somehow linked to their past. Aided by a straight-talking sharpshooter and a shrewd man of faith, they seek to fathom the forces that assail the Hollow.

Scholar. Sorceress. Killer. Priest. Four people divided by their secrets and lies, bound together by horror, must unite their strengths to uncover a diabolic mystery – the clue to which they have but one incomprehensible word: Mhurghast.

Gothgul Hollow is due to be published by Black Library in North America and in the UK, in February 2022.

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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.
Continue reading

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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