New Books (April-May)

Featuring: James Abbott, Nina Allan, Fredrik Backman, Bandi, Paul Beatty, Robert Jackson Bennett, Marie Brennan, Jesse Brown, M.R. Carey, Don Carpenter, Ben Coes, Jenny T. Colgan, Mason Cross, Cory Doctorow, Alan Drew, Amy Engle, Steve Erickson, Nigel Foster, David Guymer, John Gwynne, Tom Holt, Christopher Husberg, James Islington, Howard Jacobson, Stephen King, Andrew Lane, Dale Lucas, Grace O’Connell, Sam Peters, Eliza Robertson, Vivian Shaw, Michael Farris Smith, Brian Staveley, Allen Steele, Stephan Talty, Gav Thorpe, Alison Umminger, Jeff Vandermeer, Paul Vidich, Chris Wraight

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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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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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

Quick Reviews: EXTINCTION and FATESPINNER (Black Library)

Two new Chaos Marine short stories.

EXTINCTION by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Sons of Horus are hunted by their brothers…

The Horus Heresy is over. The traitorous Warmaster is dead, his allies defeated, and the Sons of Horus are a dying Legion, fled now to the furthest reaches of the galaxy… and beyond. First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon, always among the most devoted and bellicose of his brethren, is now set adrift – who will rise to claim the title of Warmaster? Who will lead them in their long war for vengeance? And will that hallowed champion of the Ruinous Powers be able to reunite the old XVIth before they embrace extinction?

This is an interesting short story, continuing Dembski-Bowden’s growing Black Legion story. This one is set shortly after the collapse of the Horus Heresy, and is made up of a series of vignettes: in each, Sons of Horus legionnaires are being hunted down by their former brothers (traitors and loyalist). Abaddon doesn’t feature as much as I had expected, but he makes an interesting appearance at the end. Extinction doesn’t move the story along too much, but it’s a good piece to keep our interest high in advance of the next novel in the series, Black Legion. [If you haven’t already, I’d recommend reading The Talon of Horus, which started the series with a bang.]

Extinction at Black Library, Amazon (UK)

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wraightc-wh40k-fatespinnerFATESPINNER by Chris Wraight

The Thousand Sons be tricksy…

In the underhive depths of Rigo V, the Sorcerers Ramon and Phaelius of the Thousand Sons seek proscribed knowledge. They are hunted, these witches, by the Rune Priest Thorskir who has tracked them across the length and breadth of the galaxy. At last after an arduous search, Thorskir has found where his prey will be and means to end them. But the plans of those allied to the Great Architect of Fate are not so easy to unbind and a secret lurks beneath Rigo V, one that has been long in the devising, a twist of fate and a plan so foul it is worthy of Tzeentch itself.

This is an interesting story. I’ve always liked the Thousand Sons Legion, and Fatespinner has everything one could want from them: daemons, sorcery, a great twist. Wraight’s writing continues to get better, and this is perhaps one of his best short stories. I would certainly be interested in reading more stories (short or novel-length) featuring Ramon and Phaelius. An excellent, highly recommended story — all fans of WH40k fiction should read it, and it’s a must for fans of Tzeentch and the Thousand Sons.

Fatespinner at Black Library, Amazon (UK)

New Books (January 2017)

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I had anticipated a slow month, but the first couple of weeks of January have seen a flood of new ARCs and eARCs come in, as well as a few that I’ve picked up myself. So, this is the first of probably two such posts this month. Any of the below catch your attention? Have you read any already? Feel free to leave a comment.

Featuring: Sara Blaedel, Barbara Bourland, Jordanna Max Brodsky, Titus Chalk, Susan Dennard, Nicky Drayden, Nicholas Eames, Robert Elegant, Gavin Extence, N.J. Fountain, Zoe Fraade-Blanar, Alexander Freed, Sarah Gailey, Aaron M. Glazer, Joe Haldeman, Jack C. Haldeman, Jaroslav Kalfar, Cassandra Khaw, Jennifer Kitses, Tim Lebbon, Mahvesh Murad, Mindy Mejia, K.M. McKinley, Julianne Pachico, Thomas Perry, Michael Ponsor, Brian Platzer, Matthew Quirk, Steve Rasnic Tem, Emily Ruskovich, Jared Shurin, Graeme Simsion, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Strout, Corey J. White, Deborah A. Wolf, Chris Wraight

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Review: THE PATH OF HEAVEN by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-HH-PathOfHeavenThe White Scars decide their part in the Heresy

For too long had the Vth Legion ranged out beyond the sight of the wider Imperium, remaining ignorant of the Warmaster’s rebellion and the war that inevitably followed. Only once their primarch, Jaghatai Khan, had satisfied himself that the path before them was just and true did the White Scars choose a side, taking the fight to the traitors on every front. But, four years later, the Legion’s unfettered spirit has been broken by relentless attritional warfare against the Death Guard and the Emperor’s Children – the Khan’s Stormseers must find a clear route to Terra if they are to take part in the final, apocalyptic battle.

This novel follows on from Wraight’s Scars, finally bringing the White Scars back front-and-centre. There’s a lot going on in the story, on both sides of the Heresy, and, true to the White Scars’ nature, it’s fast-paced. I enjoyed this a great deal, and it may be Wraight’s best novel to date. Continue reading

New Books (April-May)

Saga-36 crop

Featuring: Gillian Anderson, Neal Asher, James Bennett, Ezekiel Boone, Brom, Terry Brooks, Lily Brooks-Dalton, Karl Brown, Caleb Carr, Blake Charlton, Paul Cornell, Paul Crilley, Jan Fedarcyk, Jenni Fagan, Mike French, Teresa Frohock, Frank Gardner, Claudia Gray, Grady Hendrix, Lindsey Lee Johnson, Jo Jordan, Richard Kadrey, Guy Gavriel Kay, Paul Kearney, Taylor Larsen, Edward Lazellari, Yoon Ha Le, Ava Marsh, Michael J. Martinez, Imbolo Mbue, Andy McNab, Graham McNeill, Sylvain Neuvel, Paige Orwin, Daniel Polansky, Terry Pratchett, Tarn Richardson, Gene Riehl, Jeff Rovin, John Sandford, Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin, Anne Valente, Ben Winters, Chris Wraight

Above Picture: Crop of Saga #36, by Fiona Staples (Image)

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Review: Recent HORUS HERESY Short Fiction

HorusHeresy-2016eBooks

It’s been a while since I read anything set in Black Library’s ongoing Horus Heresy series — even longer when you just consider novels (I’m now two behind). I’m also having a rather long, frustrating bout of reader’s block. Over the past week or so, BL released a handful of new eBooks, and I thought the familiarity of the series and the slim length of the stories might help knock me back into a reading rhythm. Some of these stories were published before in other formats (as audio-dramas, for example).

Featuring: John French, Graham McNeill, James Swallow, Gav Thorpe, Chris Wraight Continue reading