Review: MAGNUS THE RED by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeillG-HHP3-MagnusTheRedOn a fracturing world, Magnus and his Sons’ powers are unleashed…

Lord of the mystical and uncanny, Magnus the Red has long studied the ancient crafts of sorcery. A psyker without peer, save only for the Emperor himself, he commands his loyal followers of the Thousand Sons Legion in the Great Crusade, though also vigilant for any lost knowledge they might recover from the remains of dead human civilisations.

Now, fighting alongside his brother Perturabo of the Iron Warriors, Magnus begins to foresee an approaching nexus of fate — will he remain true to their mutual aims, or divert his own efforts towards furthering his own mastery of the warp?

This third novel in Black Library’s Horus Heresy: Primarchs series offers readers a glimpse of insight into Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion. Framed as a reminiscence of Magnus, it tells the story of a particular campaign and the terrible foe the Thousand Sons and Iron Warriors faced together in the early years of the crusade. Continue reading

New Books (March-April)

Featuring: David Annandale, Neal Asher, J.D. Barker, Giacomo Bevilacqua, Edward Carlson, Don Carpenter, Jonathan Dee, William C. Dietz, Omar El Akkad, Michael R. Fletcher, L.R. Fredericks, L.J. Goulding, David Grann, Richard Kadrey, Paul Kearney, Jardine Libaire, Leena Likitalo, Sarah Lotz, Melissa Scrivner Love, Robbie MacNiven, Graham McNeill, Sarah Menkedick, Peter Newman, Tom Perotta, Ivy Pochoda, Ben Sanders, John Scalzi, Anna Stephens, David Swinson, Marcus Thompson II, Karen Tidbek, C.L. Werner, Timothy Zahn

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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

Review: LEGACIES OF BETRAYAL (Black Library)

Various-HH-LegaciesOfBetrayalThe 31st Horus Heresy book

Only from out of great conflict can true heroes arise. With the galaxy aflame and war on an unimaginable scale tearing the Imperium apart, champions of light and darkness venture onto countless fields of battle in service to their masters. They ask not for remembrance or reward – simply to meet their destiny head-on, and only by embracing that destiny will they come to learn what the unseen future may yet hold for them.

This anthology pulls together a number of short stories that have appeared elsewhere — either as eBook shorts, or as audiodramas, or included in previously limited edition anthologies (from the Black Library Horus Heresy Weekender, for example). I had already read (or listened to) seven of the 18 stories herein. Instead of re-reviewing these, I have included links to my earlier blog posts. For all the stories (save two), I have included synopses, and also the original covers. Overall, this is a very good anthology. Continue reading

Review: VENGEFUL SPIRIT by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeill-HH-VengefulSpiritThe Traitor Horus returns…

Once the brightest star in the Imperium and always first among his primarch brothers, Horus has dragged the Space Marine Legions into the bloodiest conflict that the galaxy has ever seen. While their allies wage war on a thousand different fronts, the XVIth Legion descend upon the Knight world of Molech – home to the ruling House Devine, and a principal stronghold of the Imperial Army. The forces loyal to the Emperor stand ready to defy the Warmaster, but just what could have drawn Horus to attack such a well defended planet, and what might he be willing to sacrifice to fulfill his own dark destiny?

With its 29th instalment, the Horus Heresy series continues to entertain and impress. McNeill is probably the most skilled of the ‘old hands’ still working on the series, and with Vengeful Spirit he brings Horus himself back into the spotlight. It’s an epic, engaging novel, with just a couple of minor niggles, but also a few welcome surprises. Continue reading

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.