New Books (February)

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Featuring: Dan Abnett, David Annandale, Col Buchanan, John Connolly, Kris D’Agostino, N.S. Dolkart, C.Z. Dunn, Ben Galley, Guy Haley, Joseph Helmreich, Darius Hinks, Gabe Hudson, Stephen Graham Jones, George Mann, Brian McClellan, David Mealing, Megan E. O’Keefe, Liza Palmer, M.L. Rio, Roslund & Hellström, Adam Sternbergh, Anthony Tambakis, Matt Wallace, Keith Yatsuhashi

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Upcoming in 2017… Gollancz & Orion

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A selection of anticipated novels from Orion Books (and imprints).

Featuring: Joe Abercrombie, Dan Abnett, Mark Alder, Brad Beaulieu, Ezekiel Boone, C. Robert Cargill, Steve Cavanagh, Mason Cross, Aliette de Bodard, R.J. Ellory, Emily Fridlund, John Hornor Jacobs, Ursula K. le Guin, Ian McDonald, Andrew Pyper, Alastair Reynolds, Simon Wroe

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Upcoming: DETECTIVE COMICS #934 (& Some DC Comics Rebirth Thoughts)

DetectiveComics-934-ArtSo, DC Comics is re-branding again. After five years, the New 52 has been brought to an end (judging from the leaked images from the DC Rebirth #1 issue, through an entirely-expected timey-wimey bit of trickery), and the entire DC line-up is, you guessed it, being renumbered again. All but two series are turning back to #1s. The two exceptions? Action Comics and Detective Comics — both of which are turning back the clock even further, and… picking up their numbering pre-New 52. I don’t really understand why, because the continuity of the New 52 is supposedly staying (aside from the aforementioned timey-wimey muddling). The Action Comics storyline sounds interesting (see here), but not as interesting as Detective Comics. Here are the details and synopsis for the first issue, #934:

Writer: James Tynion IV | Pencils: Eddy Barrows | Inks: Eber Ferreira

“RISE OF THE BATMEN” Chapter One

An unknown predator begins outdoing Batman, taking down dangerous threats with military precision. It’s up to the Dark Knight and series costar Batwoman to rally and train the young heroes of Gotham City to end this mysterious threat!

WHAT NOW: Batman and Batwoman begin training Spoiler, Red Robin and Cassandra Cain, but is the villainous Clayface ready for redemption?

This sounds pretty interesting, so I think I’ll be checking this series out, when it’s released on June 8th. What I’ve read of Tynion’s New 52 work, he’s a good writer. The New 52 iteration of Detective Comics was pretty shaky to begin with, but was brilliantly rescued by Gregg Hurwitz (penning three of my favourite Batman stories), and then sadly petered out a bit again afterwards — with the exception of Benjamin Percy’s two-parter, which was excellent. Continue reading

Turn Back 10: HORUS RISING by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

TurnBackTimeClockIn the third instalment of “Turn Back 10”, we take a look at the third review I posted on CR.

Dan Abnett’s Horus Rising is the first novel in Black Library’s long-running, at-one-time New York Times-bestselling Horus Heresy series, chronicling the beginning of what would become the Warhammer 40,000 game and fiction universe. If you’ve been following CR for even a short while, you’ll have seen that I have been an avid, loyal reader of this series — I’ve posted many reviews of the novels, short stories, novellas and audio-dramas. I haven’t reviewed all the books, though, but probably a majority have featured in some way.

The series has experienced some ups-and-downs. The first three novels — Horus Rising, Graham McNeill’s False Gods and Ben Counter’s Galaxy In Flames — form a fantastic opening story-arc that sets the scene brilliantly, and introduces us to some of sci-fi’s most interesting characters. Sadly, the novels afterwards were of varying quality, but the series picked up again with McNeill’s A Thousand Sons, and maintained a very strong run until everything screeched to a halt with the events on Calth…

Anyway, here’s the review…

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HORUS RISING by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

Abnett-HH1-HorusRisingThe seeds of heresy are sown

At the dawn of the 31st millennium, the Imperium of Man has reasserted its dominance over the galaxy. It is a golden age of rediscovery and conquest, and the Emperor’s Great Crusade has placed his superhuman primarch sons at the head of the mighty Space Marine Legions – the most powerful military force ever assembled. Newly promoted to serve as the Emperor’s Warmaster, the idealistic Horus now stands above his brothers, even as the Crusade enters what must surely be its final stages and dark, cosmic truths begin to reveal themselves. Far beyond the alien threat of malignant xenos breeds or rogue human civilisations, a war now looms that could threaten the final extinction of mankind… The first novel in the epic series, detailing the fall of mankind at the peak of the Great Crusade. Warmaster Horus leads his Legion in the name of the Emperor… but for how long?

Horus Rising is the first book in a trilogy from Black Library that chronicles the events of the Horus Heresy, a time when humanity was ripped apart in an intergalactic civil war, under the leadership of Warmaster Horus, one of the Emperor’s Primarchs and formerly the Emperor’s favourite. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE BEAST ARISES Series (Black Library)

Yesterday, Black Library announced their next big event/series: The Beast Arises. Beginning in December, the series will see twelve novels released in twelve months, and is set 1,500 years after the end of the Horus Heresy (the epic, hugely successful series currently ongoing). It will chart the rise (and return?) of the orks as force in the WH40k universe. The first five novels have been unveiled…

AbnettD-BA1-IAmSlaughterI AM SLAUGHTER by Dan Abnett (December 2015)

As the greatest Ork Waaagh! ever seen threatens to engulf the galaxy, the Imperial Fists make their last stand

It is the thirty-second millennium and the Imperium is at peace. The Traitor Legions of Chaos are but a distant memory and the many alien races that have long plagued mankind are held in check by the Space Marines. When a mission to exterminate one such xenos breed on the world of Ardamantua draws in more of their forces, the Imperial Fists abandon the walls of Terra for the first time in more than a thousand years. And when another, greater, foe strikes, even the heroic sons of Rogal Dorn may be powerless against it. The Beast Arises… and it is mighty.

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SandersR-BA-PredatorPreyPREDATOR PREY by Rob Sanders

After centuries of peace, the Imperium is thrown into panic as human worlds everywhere are menaced by orks.

After centuries of peace, the Imperium is thrown into panic as human worlds everywhere are menaced by orks. In a relentless tide of slaughter, ork attack moons destroy planet after planet with gravity weapons of unstoppable power. On Terra, the High Lords are paralysed by the scale of the threat, and fail to take any effective action. With entire Space Marine Chapters missing, or known to have been wiped out, does anyone have the will and the power to rise to the Imperium’s defence?

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ThorpeG-BA-EmperorExpectsTHE EMPEROR EXPECTS by Gav Thorpe

As ork ships lay waste to world after world, heading inexorably towards Terra, Imperial citizens despair

As ork ships lay waste to world after world, heading inexorably towards Terra, Imperial citizens despair. The High Lords become desperate to prove that victory is possible, no matter the cost. A massive Navy fleet is assembled – their mission to make a definitive strike against the orks at Port Sanctus, an area of enemy-held space. But when the Imperial armada arrives, they find themselves outclassed and outmanoeuvred – can human courage and faith possibly prevail against such terrible odds?

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AnnandaleD-BA-LastWallTHE LAST WALL by David Annandale

Despite the Imperium’s best attempts to forestall the ork plague that is wrecking havoc in human space, an ork attack moon now hangs over Terra.

Despite the Imperium’s best attempts to forestall the ork plague that is wrecking havoc in human space, an ork attack moon now hangs over Terra. As its malevolent presence gazes down at the Imperial Palace, terrified citizens run riot in the streets. In a last-ditch attempt to destroy the attack moon, a proletarian crusade is launched. Thousands of ships large and small head to the moon carrying billions of citizens, all eager to take the fight to the enemy. It seems the attack has a chance of success as the invasion force lands safely, but the orks have yet to spring their trap…

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HaleyG-BA05-ThroneworldTHRONEWORLD by Guy Haley

The Imperium’s situation has never been more grim – an ork attack moon hangs over Terra, and ork armadas ravage human space.The Adeptus Astartes, armed with the knowledge of how to defeat the greenskins, must now travel back to Terra through a galaxy teaming with orks.

The Imperium’s situation has never been more grim – an ork attack moon hangs over Terra, and ork armadas ravage human space. To make matters even worse, eldar strike at the heart of the Imperial Palace, forcing humanity’s defenders to fight on two fronts at once. Though it seems nothing can stop the orks – neither brute force, science, nor faith – an unlikely alliance in the furthest reaches of space uncovers the first clue how to defeat the greenskins. The Adeptus Astartes now face an almost impossible task – taking news of this discovery back to Terra through a galaxy teaming with orks.

[For some reason, the cover available through Amazon — the only place so far where I could find an image to include here — has L.J. Goulding as the author, but the listing itself identifies Haley as the author, as does Black Library’s website.]

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I’m quite looking forward to giving this series a try. It’s also nice to know that there will be a finite, clearly-defined number of novels — the Heresy series, while I’m thoroughly enjoying it, is just becoming so vast… Anyone else interested in reading this series?

Review: Black Library Short Stories

Abnett-GG-ForgottenDan Abnett, FORGOTTEN

As they travel between warzones, veterans of the Tanith First and Only gather to tell tales and remember victories past. When it comes to Scout Sergeant Mkoll, his story, reluctantly told, is of a mist-shrouded battlefield in the night and a dangerous presence that lurked in the darkness, preying on the soldiers of the regiment. But just what horror could haunt the Ghosts?

A marvellous return for Gaunt’s Ghosts. Abnett’s (sub-)genre redefining series remains one of my favourites: he managed to update and improve on the established WH40k canon expertly. This short tale reunites us with a handful of fans’ favourite Ghosts, and simultaneously reminds us of how badass Mkoll really is. Forgotten is a perfect example of Abnett’s skill. I can’t wait to read Warmaster, the next novel in the series. It feels like so very long since last we spent any time with Ibram Gaunt and his regiment — Forgotten has completely reignited my interest in and anticipation for the series.

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LeeM-NoneMoreLoyalMike Lee, NONE MORE LOYAL

Crimson Fists Sergeant Galleas and his squad are assigned to aid an inquisitor who hunts a notorious renegade Space Marine. Setting out to entrap the traitor, the Crimson Fists soon find themselves surrounded and in danger – and their enemy may know them as well as they know themselves, as an ancient and deadly secret is revealed.

This was a pretty good short story. The plot is balanced quite well, between action and… not-action (I wouldn’t go so far as to say “peace”). It’s an interesting premise, with a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming (although, looking back on it, one thing is a bit telegraphed — unless it’s just something I missed, being less familiar now with WH40k than I am with the Horus Heresy series). The ending wasn’t bad, but it could have been better, I think. There were a few moments when the pace and momentum dipped precipitously, which ended up robbing the story of some of its impact, so I think this could have been tighter. Nevertheless, a decent read with plenty of the elements that go into a very good WH40k story (or military sci-fi story in general).

*

ThorpeG-HH-ValueOfFearGav Thorpe, THE VALUE OF FEAR

The Raven Guard under Corax continue to gather all leaderless loyalists to their banner, determined to take the fight to Horus and his heretics. In the industrial nightmare of the underhive, the XIXth Legion receive a lesson in terror tactics from the most unlikely of allies – the Night Lords…

This was a very cool short story — uncluttered, focused, and original. I enjoyed the different approach to the story, the mix of Legions involved, not to mention the duelling approaches to war that appear diametrically opposed but could work in concert rather well. Very cool indeed, I wish there was more readily-available Heresy fiction from Thorpe (he’s written a couple of the limited edition novellas, which have yet to make the transition to eBook). Definitely recommended. I’m just sad it was not longer.

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WraightC-HH-BrotherhoodOfTheMoonChris Wraight, BROTHERHOOD OF THE MOON

In the aftermath of the rebellion within his Legion, Jaghatai Khan ordered the trials of his wayward sons to determine whether or not they would atone. The proud Terran legionary Torghun Khan now stands before his accusers, and must account for the events that could have led him into outright heresy…

Picking up the story begun in Wraight’s Scars and Brotherhood of the Storm…, this is a pretty good extension. It doesn’t offer a huge amount of extra detail, nor greater understanding (it’s a little too vague and teaser-esque, really), but it is well-written and engaging throughout. If you’ve read and enjoyed Wraight’s aforementioned Horus Heresy stories, then I think you’ll enjoy this, too.

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These short stories are currently available only through Black Library’s website: ForgottenNone More LoyalThe Value of FearBrotherhood of the Moon,