Interesting Open Road eBook Sale – “Growing Up Magical”

I received the information about this sale from Open Road Media yesterday, and I thought it was an interesting selection of titles. So, I decided to share it here. Click on the image to go through to the publisher’s page:

OpenRoad-GrowingUpMagicalAd

Titles on sale:

I hope to have a couple of excerpts from these titles to share on here in the coming weeks.

Short Review: THE FINAL COMPLIANCE OF SIXTY-THREE FOURTEEN by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HH-FinalCompliance6314A great new Horus Heresy short story

As Horus grinds the Imperium beneath his boot, emissaries from the XVIth Legion return to worlds sworn to the Warmaster during the Great Crusade to have them renew their fealty. With the Sons of Horus already at battle readiness over Sixty-Three Fourteen, a grim decision must be made…

As is always the case with short stories, it’s tricky to review them at great length. In short, this is a great short story — it feels like an aside, of sorts, presented from the perspective of an Imperial governor and his aide, as they discuss how to deal with the Warmaster’s request for fealty. Well, “demand” would be a better word.

It’s an interesting story — not exactly essential reading, but I welcomed the different type of story, the alternative perspective, and also the tension at the end. The final paragraph was good, speaking volumes in just a few well-chosen words. If you’re a fan of the series, and want a quick fix to fill a half-hour or so, then this should suit very well.

Quick Review: MARRIAGE OF MOMENT by Josh Reynolds (Black Library)

ReynoldsJ-G&F-MarriageOfMomentA fun, classic-style Gotrek & Felix short story

Long before the End Times, when Gotrek Gurnisson’s doom was still many years away, he and his Rememberer Felix Jaeger found themselves in all manner of adventures and scrapes. Here is one previously untold story… As the heroic duo travel through the Border Princes, a drunken night coupled with Gotrek’s dwarfish lust for gold leads to him agreeing to a marriage – for Felix. With a halfling. Gotrek is determined that this will be a “marriage of moment”, allowing an unamused Felix to abandon his diminutive wife afterwards, but will she see it that way? And just what is the mysterious Jabas that the villagers are so scared of? Will hilarity ensue from this wedding… or horror?

This doesn’t really need a very long review, but I read and enjoyed it and therefore wanted to give it a mention. The story opens with Felix and Gotrek on a wagon, on their way to a keep in the mountains. Felix is nursing a hangover, and he learns that Gotrek manipulated him into taking part in a contest for suitors… He is less than pleased. What follows is a fun short story, one that felt like the early stories by William King: it’s a complete adventure, with some great action, a couple of twists, a gribbly beastie in need of besting, and decent banter between the two main protagonists. As with other stories in the series, the beastie is also not the primary antagonist: the schemes of man (and halfling) are oh-so-often at the core of sticky situations…

If you’re a fan of the series, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this diversion. It’s another tale disconnected from the ‘main’ Gotrek & Felix timeline, very much a complete story.

***

Marriage of Moment is only available through Black Library’s website as an eBook. Josh Reynolds is also the author of, most recently, The Return of Nagash, part of the End Times series, which I’ll be reading hopefully very soon.

Short Story Review: THE DEVINE ADORATRICE by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeill-HH-TheDevineAdoratrice2014A prequel to Vengeful Spirit

Decades before Horus’s civil war sunders the Imperium, Raeven Devine, ruler-in-waiting of the world of Molech, prepares for his Becoming, the rite that will elevate him to the rank of Knight and bond him with the mighty war machine that will be his steed for years to come. But traitors within the Sacristans have other ideas and a shocking act of betrayal sets the stage for one of the bloodiest battles of the Horus Heresy…

This is a really good short story. McNeill has always been one of Black Library’s best authors, especially when it came to the Horus Heresy series. In this short story, he tells of the Becoming ritual of the Knight family on Molech. The two sons of the world’s ruler are given a parade that will lead to their bonding with a massive, lethal war-machine. However, unseen forces on the planet – remnants of the pre-illumination period – have other plans, and attempt to disrupt the ceremony.

What really stood out for me was how well it was written. McNeill, a skilled author, can often succumb to florid prose (especially at the start of his novels and short stories, which is interesting…). Here, however, he is far more focused and disciplined. As a result, the pacing and narrative flow are excellent. The characters feel realistic and well-rounded from very early on.

Certainly, I think this is one of the author’s best short stories, and bodes very well for Vengeful Spirit, his latest Horus Heresy novel. (Which I already have, and will be starting in the next week or so.) Very highly recommended for all fans of the Horus Heresy series.

Horus Heresy Short Reviews: CENSURE and WOLF OF ASH AND FIRE (Black Library)

Just wanted to flag up two Horus Heresy short stories I’ve read recently, as they were both very good, and well worth an enthusiast’s time.

Kyme-HH-CensureCENSURE by Nick Kyme

In the depths of Calth’s arcology network, the Underworld War has raged for years. Aeonid Thiel, previously an honoured sergeant of the Ultramarines, once again finds himself in trouble – pitted against the daemonic forces of the Word Bearers, he has no choice but to venture back to the ravaged surface and brave the deadly solar flares that have scoured all life from this world. With a lowly Imperial Army trooper as his only companion, it falls to him to drive the maniacal Dark Apostle Kurtha Sedd and his warband from the overrun XIIIth Legion stronghold.

This was originally released as an audio-drama. When it was released as an eBook, however, I picked it up right away. Kyme is really growing as an author – each new story of his that I read, I can see that he’s just getting better and better. This story is set (once again) on Calth, the planet at which the Heresy and the extent of the betrayal truly exploded out into the open. After the battle of Calth, there could be no denying that the galaxy had indeed been set on fire. Censure is set some years after the events of Mark of Calth and Know No Fear, and Aeonid Thiel has returned to the ravaged world to fight against the Word Bearers and support the remnant loyalists. It focuses on a specific mission and conflict, and is fast-paced, nuanced, and expertly paced. Quite excellent, and very highly recommended.

*

McNeill-HH-WolfOfAshAndFireTHE WOLF OF ASH AND FIRE by Graham McNeill

The Wolf of Ash and Fire is a Horus Heresy short story that takes place during the Great Crusade, before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. The Wolf of Ash and Fire follows Horus Lupercal, fighting alongside the Emperor Himself, as the Luna Wolves fight for control of the Ork-held planetoid of Gorro. The Wolf of Ash and Fire was released as a free e-book with every copy of Macragge’s Honour.

This short story was released free through the Black Library website some time ago. It’s a quick, battle-filled tale of Horus’s strategic expertise, battlefield fury, and pre-Heresy devotion to the Emperor. It is also one of the few stories that features both the Emperor and Horus on the battlefield together – and it is epic. The battle scenes are great, swirling and furious. I’d really like McNeill (or any of the Heresy writers, actually) to revisit this campaign, or just write some more stories like this. As with Censure, this is highly recommended for all fans of the series. I can’t wait for McNeill’s next Heresy novel, Vengeful Spirit (out later this year).

“Stormseer” by David Annandale (Black Library)

AnnandaleD-SMB-StormseerWhite Scars vs. Orks, with a dash of Eldar…

The green-skinned hordes of the Overfiend of the Octavius system have long been a thorn in the Imperium’s side – and now, with human worlds caught in the crossfire between the orks and eldar, that thorn will be removed. Temur Khan and his brotherhood descend upon Lepidus Prime to cleanse it of the green taint. The swift and brutal hammer to the Imperial Guard’s anvil, the White Scars strike hard and fast – but when the orks reveal a super-weapon, it may take more than just power to win the day?

I’m a big fan of Annandale’s Black Library fiction, and Stormseer is a great example of just why I think he’s so good. This is the first of three novellas in the Space Marine Battles series, all of which are connected to the same campaign. Fast and furious, excellently written and well-paced, this is an excellent novella. A must-read for fans of the White Scars and Warhammer 40,000 in general.

The story starts off with an excellent battle scene, which is a perfect example of the White Scars’ rather headlong approach to warfare. The action on the battlefront is only half the story, however, and we alternate between there and a lone Stormseer’s mission behind enemy lines. Accompanied by some scouts, and driven by a vague psychic vision, he infiltrates and investigates an ork manufacturing plant, joined by some mysterious Eldar. What they find explains the orks’ mysterious ability to be everywhere on the battlefield.

The story was less battle-heavy than I was expecting, but of course Annandale does not skimp on the action, which is well-presented and described (without going over the top). He does an excellent job of providing a proper story, rather than just an excuse to kill some orks in ever more brutal fashion (or “bolter-porn”, as it’s known).

There’s some mystery, and also allusion to what else is going on elsewhere in the wider campaign, with a mention of the Salamanders and Raven Guard (who, I assume, are the stars of the other two novellas). Despite the brief length, Annandale’s characters are well-rounded and believable (as super-humans and aliens go). His prose is fluid and well-constructed.

David Annandale is one of Black Library’s best new(ish) authors. If you haven’t read any of his stuff yet, you really should. Stormseer is a great place to start.

Review: BROTHERHOOD OF THE STORM by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

Wraight-HH-BrotherhoodOfTheStormA White Scars Horus Heresy Novella

As word of Horus’s treachery spreads to fully half of the Legiones Astartes, Terra looks to the remaining loyalist Space Marines to defend the Imperium. One group, however, remains curiously silent in spite of apparent efforts from both sides to contact them – the noble Vth Legion, Jaghatai Khan’s fearsome White Scars. In the ork-held territory of Chondax, a bitter war has been raging since the Triumph at Ullanor, and only now do the sons of Chogoris return their gaze to the heavens…

Originally published as a limited edition, Black Library has finally released Brotherhood of the Storm for a wider audience, in both hardcover and eBook. It’s well timed, as the characters within feature prominently in the latest full-length Horus Heresy novel, Scars. And, happily, this does not disappoint – Wraight has really upped his game with his Heresy fiction. While this novella was not quite as good as Scars, it was still a cracking story, filled with a good balance of furious action and away-from-the-battlefront context and character development. Continue reading