Review: THE CRIMSON KING by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

The Thousand Sons grapple with their new world and reality…

After the razing of Prospero, Magnus the Red spirited the Thousand Sons away to the aptly un-named Planet of the Sorcerers, deep within the Eye of Terror. Removed from the concerns of the galaxy at large and regarding the Warmaster’s unfolding Heresy with cold detachment, he has dedicated his hollow existence to the preservation of all the knowledge once held in the great libraries of Tizca, should mankind ever seek such enlightenment again. But his sons can see the change in their primarch – he is a broken soul, whose mind and memories are slipping away into the tumult of the warp. Only by returning to the scenes of his greatest triumphs and tragedies can they hope to restore him, and allow the Crimson King to be crowned anew by the Ruinous Powers.

A Thousand Sons, Graham McNeill’s first novel focusing on Magnus the Red’s legion, was the first in what I consider to be the Horus Heresy series’s revival, and the beginning of a hot streak that has continued (pretty much) ever since. In The Crimson King, McNeill continues the story of the Thousand Sons, and looks at how they are coming to terms with not only their new status as traitors, but also their new reality and freedom. It’s an excellent continuation of the series. Continue reading

Quick Review: SHATTERED LEGIONS, ed. Laurie Goulding (Black Library)

Post-Isstvan, the Shattered Legions fight back…

Driven almost to the brink of self-destruction at Isstvan V, the Iron Hands now seek vengeance for the murder of their primarch Ferrus Manus. Gathering survivors from the Raven Guard and the Salamanders aboard any vessels capable of warp travel, these Shattered Legions wage a new campaign of annihilation against the traitor forces across the galaxy – a campaign masterminded by legendary warleader Shadrak Meduson. This Horus Heresy anthology contains ten short stories by authors including Dan Abnett, Chris Wraight, John French and many more. Also, in the novella The Seventh Serpent, Graham McNeill revisits the ragtag crew of the starship Sisypheum as they are drawn into a war of subterfuge against the Alpha Legion.

Warmaster Horus’s push towards Terra has been disrupted. Following the brutal slaughter at Isstvan V, Horus and the other Traitors believed they had neutered the Raven Guard, Salamanders and Iron Hands. They were wrong. Shattered Legion is a collection of eleven stories of varying length, each chronicling actions by members of the three broken legions, as they wage their own war of vengeance on their traitorous former brothers. If you’re a Horus Heresy fan, then this is a must read.

Continue reading

Review: PERTURABO by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HHP4-PerturaboA great new Primarchs novel

Born to a life of political conflict, Perturabo was always considered a child prodigy among the people of Olympia – indeed, his philosophical and scientific works were beyond compare. But then, after his rediscovery by the Emperor and decades of thankless military campaigning on the Great Crusade, the primarch begins to resent his Legion’s place in the Imperium. When word reaches him of turmoil on his adoptive home world, he orders the Iron Warriors to abandon their campaign against the alien hrud and crush this emerging rebellion by any means necessary…

I don’t know much about the Iron Warriors and their grumpy Primarch. The only other substantial bit of fiction I’ve read that featured him prominently was Graham McNeill’s excellent Angel Exterminatus. I was pleased, therefore, that Guy Haley manages to flesh-out Perturabo’s character a great deal in this short novel. Continue reading

Four Quick Audio Reviews (Black Library)

 

BlackLibraryAudioDramas-201706

In each of the stories mentioned below, the performances are excellent, and the production values superb. This has become an always-met expectation for Black Library’s audio-dramas.

Featuring: Dan Abnett, Chris Dows, David Guymer, Ian St. Martin, Joshua Reynolds, Gav Thorpe, Chris Wraight

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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

Review: ROBOUTE GUILLIMAN by David Annandale (Black Library)

The first in a new series focusing on each of the Emperor’s Primarchs

Long before the coming of the Imperium, the realm of Ultramar was ruled by Roboute Guilliman, the last Battle King of Macragge. Even after learning of his true heritage as a primarch son of the Emperor of Mankind, he strove to expand his domain as efficiently and benevolently as possible, with the XIII Legion Ultramarines as his alone to command. Now, facing a rival empire on the ork-held world of Thoas, Guilliman must choose his weapons carefully – otherwise his dream of a brighter future could be lost forever.

It’s no surprise to regular readers of CR that I’m quite fond of the Horus Heresy series. I was both surprised and pleased, therefore, when Black Library announced a companion series — one that would comprise one novel for each of the Primarchs, loyal and traitor, set before the Heresy. Given recent developments in the WH40k game universe, it’s perhaps not surprising that the series would kick off with Roboute Guilliman. And it’s a very strong start, too. Continue reading

Quick Reviews: Two Black Library Audiodramas

David Annandale, THE BINARY SUCCESSION

Even as the Imperium faces the renegade Legions of the Warmaster, the ruling Council of Terra is becoming paralysed from within by increasingly petty bureaucracy. Fabricator General Kane has seen his fellow Mechanicum adepts dismissed again and again by the High Lords – with his traitorous predecessor Kelbor-Hal still at large on the Red Planet, the political status of the tech-priesthood remains ambiguous. New alliances must be forged from the old, if Mars and Terra are to survive the final battle.

Performed by: Gareth Armstrong, Steve Conlin, Penelope Rawlins, Toby Longworth, Ian Brooker, John Banks, Luis Soto, Antonia Beamish, Cliff Chapman.

This was pretty cool. I wasn’t sure what to expect, not usually going for titan-focused fiction. The first thing one notices is the quality of the production: an excellent, fairly large cast, all of whom deliver great performances; and the plentiful, good sound-effects and music do a great job of enhancing, not distracting from the story. (This is a real strength of BL’s audio-dramas in general.) I think the only things that took some getting used to were the voices of the members of the Mechanicum — a couple were so tech-distorted that they came across like irate Daleks. It does fit, though.

As for the story? Very good. I enjoyed seeing the politics behind the Mechanicum, as they maneuvered for better status among the High Lords. The characters are interesting, their interactions realistic even if they themselves are so (mechanically) alien. I’d certainly be interested in listening to more audio-dramas featuring them, or reading about them in ‘regular’ fiction formats.

If you’re a fan of the Horus Heresy series (especially the Mechanicum-related fiction), then I’d certainly recommend this. A very good Black Library audio-drama.

The Binary Succession is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with David Annandale (2012); Guest Post on “My Favourite Novel”; Reviews of The Carrion AnthemThe Damnation of Pythos

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Gav Thorpe, ASURMEN: THE DARKER ROAD

It is said the Phoenix Lords arrive on the eve of great moments… Guided by fate, Asurmen the Hand of Asuryan comes to the craftworld of Ulthwé. At the behest of the head of the seer council, he joins the warriors of Ulthwé and the young seer Eldrad on a quest to the Crone Worlds in search of the oracle Hiron-athela. It is believed that this being holds an artefact that could safeguard Ulthwé’s future, but in order to obtain it the eldar must travel a dark road…

[Performed by Gareth Armstrong, John Banks, Steve Conlin, Toby Longworth, Penelope Rawlins and Genevieve Swallow.]

I keep forgetting to read Asurmen: The Hand of Asuryan, which I’ve had for years. The Eldar were the first WH40k army I thought was interesting. I remember reading the Codex multiple times, back in the day, and the Phoenix Lords in particular caught my imagination and attention. The Darker Road is a really interesting short story, and I enjoyed seeing how the Elder “work” together. Thorpe’s done a great job of writing interesting, alien characters who are nevertheless relatable. He includes plenty of Eldar-traits, without info-dumping, as well as some good Chaos shenanigans.

As in The Binary Succession, though, there were times when the voices came across as a little too-techno-distorted (for my taste). Not a major issue, but I think it could have been toned down a bit without ruining the story.

If you’re a fan of the Elder, then I highly recommend you check out this audio-drama. Interesting, well-performed. It also reignited my interest in reading The Hand of Asuryan. The second novel in the Phoenix Lords series, Jain Zar: The Storm of Silence, is due out in May 2017.

Asurmen: The Darker Road is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interviews with Gav Thorpe — 2011 and 2016; Reviews of The Curse of KhaineDeliverance LostAngels of Caliban

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter