Review: FABIUS BILE — PRIMOGENITOR by Josh Reynolds (Black Library)

reynoldsj-fabiusbile1-primogenitorThe Clone Lord steps into the spotlight…

He is known by many names — Clonelord, Manflayer, Primogenitor. He is the epitome of deceit and perversion, and feared by man and monster alike. Once the Chief Apothecary of the Emperor’s Children, the madman known as Fabius Bile possesses a knowledge of genetic manipulation second to none. Now a renegade among renegades, he is loathed by those he once called brother, and even the most degraded of Chaos Space Marines fear his name. Exiled for his dark experiments, Bile has retreated deep into the Eye of Terror, leaving a trail of twisted abominations in his wake. But when a former student brings word of the ultimate prize for the taking, Bile is unable to resist being drawn once more into the cauldron of war. For in seizing this prize, Fabius Bile might yet discover the one secret his has been unable to unlock… the secret which will prevent his inevitable doom.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel. I’ve been a fan of Reynolds’s for quite some time, but have predominantly read his shorter fiction. In this, the third series from Black Library to tackle a renegade marine hero, Reynolds turns his attention to the Fabius Bile, former lieutenant commander and chief apothecary of the Emperor’s Children. As it turned out, Primogenitor is an excellent science fiction novel. Continue reading

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Quick Review: AHRIMAN – EXODUS by John French (Black Library)

FrenchJ-AhrimanExodusA collection of short stories set in French’s Ahriman series

Ahriman, exiled sorcerer lord of the Thousand Sons, has many servants who do his bidding. Each has a tale to tell, but few as compelling as that of Ctesias the twice-dead, summoner of daemons. From an encounter with the mysterious Dead Oracle to the perils of the Hounds and Wrath and navigating the Gates of Ruin, Ctesias is a vital link in Ahriman’s grand plan. This is Ctesias’ tale, in his own words, of his trials and the great and terrible deeds he has performed in his master’s name. This is the chronicle of his path to damnation as he leads Ahriman to his exodus from the Eye of Terror.

Each of the short stories contained within this collection are told from the perspective of Ctesias, a member of the fallen Thousand Sons Traitor Legion. A sorcerer particularly gifted at summoning and binding daemons, he has been adopted into Ahriman’s war band, for a particular reason that his new master is keeping hidden. I had already read a few of the short stories contained herein, but the anthology was a nice way to have them all collected in one volume. As I expected, I enjoyed the collection. Continue reading

Review: AHRIMAN – EXILE by John French (Black Library)

FrenchJ-A1-AhrimanExileFirst in a series, good but didn’t live up to expectations

All is dust… Spurned by his former brothers and his father Magnus the Red, Ahriman is a wanderer, a sorcerer of Tzeentch whose actions condemned an entire Legion to an eternity of damnation. Once a vaunted servant of the Thousand Sons, he is now an outcast, a renegade who resides in the Eye of Terror. Ever scheming, he plots his return to power and the destruction of his enemies, an architect of fate and master of the warp.

After reading and loving Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s The Talon of Horus, I was in the mood to read more fiction about the Traitor Legions. I’ve had Ahriman: Exile for quite some time, but just hadn’t got around to reading it. Talon of Horus is told from the perspective of one of Ahriman’s greatest rivals, and because I enjoyed French’s two Ahriman short stories, this seemed like a perfect next read. It was… good. Unpolished, but good. Continue reading

Review: THE TALON OF HORUS by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowden-A1-TalonOfHorusAn excellent start to a new series

When Horus fell, his Sons fell with him. A broken Legion, beset by rivalries and hunted by their erstwhile allies, the former Luna Wolves have scattered across the tortured realm of the Eye of Terror. And of Abaddon, greatest of the Warmaster’s followers, nothing has been heard for many years. But when Horus’s body is taken from its resting place, a confederation of legionaries seek out the former First Captain, to convince him to embrace his destiny and continue what Horus began.

The Talon of Horus is the first novel in a brand new series from Aaron Dembski-Bowden, author of the Night Lords trilogy and two of the best Horus Heresy novels (The First Heretic and Betrayer). Not only is he one of my favourite authors, but this series will chronicle the rise of one of my favourite characters: Abaddon. On the strength of this novel, it’s going to be just as good (if not better) than his Night Lords novels. This is an excellent novel. Continue reading

A Pair of Upcoming Black Library Novels

It feels like quite some time since I read a Black Library novel. Nevertheless, they keep publishing (or announcing) more that I would like to read. There’s more Gotrek & Felix on the way and also plenty more Horus Heresy fiction coming. Below are new novels in two other series that maybe don’t get as much attention as they deserve…

AHRIMAN: SORCEROR by John French

FrenchJ-A4-AhrimanSorcerorI recently read and reviewed the second Ahriman short story, The Dead Oracle. This despite still not having read the first novel, Ahriman: Exile. Nevertheless, I think French has done a great job of bringing this character to life on the page – at least, this post-Horus Heresy iteration of this character.*

Ahriman, greatest sorcerer of the Thousand Sons and architect of the Rubric that laid his Legion low, continues to walk the path towards salvation, or damnation. Searching for a cure for his Legion, he is forced to consider – was the great ritual somehow flawed from the very beginning? The answer may lie within the mysterious artefact known as the Athenaeum of Kallimakus, a grimoire of forgotten lore which is reputed to contain the exact words of the lost Book of Magnus… or, perhaps, even a transcription of the primarch’s deepest and most secret thoughts.

Ahriman: Sorceror is due to be published in early 2015.

* He first appeared in Graham McNeill’s excellent, New York Times-bestselling A Thousand Sons.

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DEATHBLADE: A TALE OF MALUS DARKBLADE by C.L. Werner

WernerCL-D-DeathbladeMalus Darkblade made his first appearance in the pages of Inferno!, Black Library’s once-bi-monthly magazine of short fiction and comic strips. It was a comic series written by Dan Abnett. Abnett later adapted the comic into prose, which was later taken on by Mike Lee. Now, C.L. Werner, one of BL’s best writers of horror-tinged Warhammer fantasy fiction, has stepped up to the plate. I’m quite looking forward to this novel, despite not reading many of the Darkblade novels. Maybe this is a good excuse to catch up with them…?

Darkblade must decide where his loyalties lie – will he follow Malekith to the death, or will he finally rise up and try to claim the throne of Naggaroth for himself? And either way, will he survive?

It has taken decades, but Malus Darkblade has finally plotted, schemed and murdered his way to power, as the ruler of the city of Hag Graef and general of the Witch King Malekith’s armies. But his position is imperilled when Malekith orders an all-out assault on Ulthuan – with Darkblade in the vanguard. As he wages war on the high elves, Darkblade must decide where his loyalties lie – will he follow Malekith to the death, or will he finally rise up and try to claim the throne of Naggaroth for himself? And either way, will he survive?

Deathblade is due to be published in February 2015.

Short Story Reviews: RIVEN and HAND OF DUST by John French (Black Library)

Two short stories by one of Black Library’s up-and-comers

FrenchJ-Riven(HH)RIVEN (Horus Heresy)

As one of the vaunted Crusader Host, Brother Crius stood as the representative of the X Legion upon the soil of Holy Terra, but when he learns of the death of his beloved primarch Ferrus Manus at the hands of the traitors, his stoic, mechanical grief imbues him with the strength and resolve to undertake a special mission on behalf of Rogal Dorn himself. Striking out into the stars, he searches for any signs of his lost Iron Hands brethren, hoping to bring them back to Terra to aid in the final defence of the Palace. The question remains – just who has survived the slaughter on Isstvan V, and what yet remains of them?

I’m always happy when a new piece of Horus Heresy fiction is released, and this one is by an author I have not read much by, before. The story follows Brother Crius, a member of the Iron Hands, struggling with the loss of his Primarch, Ferrus Manus. He is tasked by Sigismund, the First Captain of the Imperial Fists to seek out any other survivors of the Isstvan V massacre, and bring them back to Terra to bolster the defence against the eventual attack by Horus’s forces. Heading out, with the support of an Imperial Fists captain, what Crius and his companions discover is not at all what they were expecting – nor, actually, what I was expecting.

I like what French has done with this story. While I wasn’t entirely clear as to why Crius was incarcerated at the start of the story, the author nevertheless has written a pretty great story. We see a little bit more of what makes the Iron Hands tick, and also a little bit of the psychological damage that the death of Ferrus has caused. True, it’s still a relatively short story, so there isn’t too much of this, but I would certainly like to read more about the Legion pre- and post-Ferrus’s death. The final battle is pretty intense, and not over-described (which was certainly welcome to me). Overall, this is a recommended addition to the growing Heresy story.

*

French-AhrimanHandOfDustAHRIMAN: HAND OF DUST

On Prospero, a solitary living soul walks across the shattered world. Beneath the ruined spires, Ahriman, exiled son of Magnus the Red and destroyer of his Legion, contemplates what once was, what is, and what may yet be. And amidst the dust of the long-lost paradise world, the sorcerer faces his mistakes and decides his destiny.

This (very) short story is part of Black Library’s Advent Calendar series of eBooks. It is also the second by French featuring the Thousand Sons (All is Dust, another micro-story, was released early last year). Hand of Dust follows one of the greatest sorcerers of the Thousand Sons traitor legion – Ahriam, the architect of the Rubric that ‘froze’ his fellow legionaries, in an attempt to rescue them from the fate that has plagued the sons of Magnus for centuries.

Hand of Dust is perhaps too short to really have much to write about it. The premise is interesting, and I think it could (and, perhaps, should) have been extended. It’s like a teaser for French’s writing and also his Ahriman fiction. It’s a good one, too. As with Riven, above, French’s writing is pretty solid and well-crafted. It is perhaps not as streamlined and fluid as some of the other, more-established Black Library authors, but it’s still very good. It will certainly be interesting to see how he develops over time.

French also wrote the first Ahriman novel, Ahriman: Exile (cover below), which is out now, and has now been bumped up my tottering TBR mountain. Ahriman also features in Rob Sanders’s Atlas Infernal and Graham McNeill’s superb A Thousand Sons (and a handful of other Horus Heresy novels). French will also be writing a follow-up to Exile, Sorcerer, which is due for publication in 2014.

French-AhrimanExile

Upcoming: “Abaddon: The Talon of Horus” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowden-A1-TalonOfHorus

I had no idea this cover had been released, yet, but while on Goodreads adding my latest read to my Currently Reading shelf (Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Helsreach), I saw this listed among his novels. Complete with a cover. So I did some more digging/Googling, and this post is the result.

Abaddon: Talon of Horus is the first in a new series of novels focussing on the Black Legion and their leader – former first captain of the Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus (who will be familiar to readers of the Horus Heresy series). Naturally, I’m extremely excited about reading this. The author is one of my favourites, period. (Although, that being said, I’m struggling a bit with Helsreach…) Also, as a more personal aside, Abaddon was my favourite model from the Warhammer 40,000 range, when I was younger and paid more attention.

Can’t wait for this. I’m ready for it to be April 2014, now!

Here’s an early synopsis, which I found on Simon & Schuster Canada’s catalogue…

The rise of Abaddon, successor to Horus and Warmaster of the Black Legion.

When Horus fell, his Sons fell with him. A broken Legion, beset by rivalries and hunted by their erstwhile allies, the former Luna Wolves have scattered across the tortured realm of the Eye of Terror. And of Abaddon, greatest of the Warmaster’s followers, nothing has been heard for many years. But when Horus’s body is taken from its resting place, a confederation of legionaries seek out the former First Captain, to convince him to embrace his destiny and continue what Horus began.

Aaron is also the author of brilliant The First Heretic (Horus Heresy), and the superb Night Lords trilogy (Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver, and Void Stalker), among others.