Very Quick Review: SCIONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

HorusHeresy-ScionsOfTheEmperorA short collection of stories to add colour to some of the Primarchs

From their shadowed origins to the desperate battles that ensued when half of them rebelled against their father, the Sons of the Emperor – the vaunted primarchs – were among the greatest of humanity’s champions. They were warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend. From a tale of Ferrus Manus in his earliest days to mysterious murders that lead Rogal Dorn into peril on the eve of the Siege of Terra, the eight tales in this volume lay bare key moments in the lives of these mighty heroes.

CONTENTS
Canticle by David Guymer
The Verdict of the Scythe by David Annandale
A Game of Opposites by Guy Haley
Better Angels by Ian St Martin
The Conqueror’s Truth by Gav Thorpe
The Sinew of War by Darius Hinks
The Chamber at the End of Memory by James Swallow
First Legion by Chris Wraight

Each of these stories adds a bit of colour and depth to what we know about the Primarchs. There are eight stories, so they don’t cover all of the Emperor’s sons, but a good range is featured. I enjoyed these. Continue reading

Review: THE BURIED DAGGER by James Swallow (Black Library)

SwallowJ-HH54-TheBuriedDaggerIn the last novel in the Horus Heresy series, Mortarion finally falls to Chaos…

The skies darken over Terra as the final battle for the Throne looms ever closer… As the Traitor primarchs muster to the Warmaster’s banner, it is Mortarion who is sent ahead as the vanguard of the Traitor forces. But as he and his warriors make way, they become lost in the warp and stricken by a terrible plague. Once thought of as the unbreakable, the legendary Death Guard are brought to their knees. To save his Legion, Mortarion must strike a most terrible bargain that will damn his sons for eternity. Meanwhile, in the cloisters of Holy Terra, a plot is afoot to create sedition and carnage in advance of the Horus’s armies. Taking matters into his own hands, Malcador the Sigillite seeks to put a stop to any insurrection but discovers a plot that he will need all of his cunning and battle-craft to overcome.

It feels like I have been waiting for this novel for a very long time. I first came across the story of Mortarion’s fall to Chaos in Codex: Chaos, way back in 1996 (a book I read many, many times in my early teenage years). Then, in 2007, Swallow’s The Flight of the Eisenstein told the beginning of the Death Guard’s story in the Horus Heresy. Needless to say, my expectations were very high for this novel. I’m very happy to report, then, that The Buried Dagger is a great addition to the series, and exceeded my expectations. Continue reading

New Books (December-January)

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Featuring: Dan Abnett, Preet Bharara, James Brabazon, Robert A. Caro, JoAnn Chaney, Patrick Coleman, Liv Constantine, Jonathan de Shalit, Bret Easton Ellis, Karen Ellis, Sarah Gailey, Neil Gaiman, N.K. Jemisin, Sadie Jones, Nancy Kress, J. Barton Mitchell, Michael Moynihan, Brett Paesel, Chris Riddell, James Swallow, V.E. Schwab, Jean Edward Smith, Didrik Søderlind, Adam Stemple, David Swinson, Sam Sykes, David Szalay, Karen Thompson Walker, David Weber, Jane Yolen

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New Books (January)

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The year’s flood of interesting new and upcoming releases continues! Most of these are high on my must-read (mental) list. Some of these are also not out for a very long time, so reviews won’t appear for a few months. Nevertheless, worth mentioning to whet others’ appetites for the year ahead’s biblio-offerings…

Featuring: Jami Attenberg, Paul Auster, David Bishop, JoAnn Chaney, Andy Clark, John Connolly, Liv Constantine, Ben Counter, Paul Crilley, Rene Denfeld, Alice Feeney, Neil Gaiman, Max Gladstone, L.J. Goulding, Jean Hanff Korelitz, Anthony Horowitz, Danya Kukafka, Victor LaValle, Mark Lawrence, Norman Ohler, B.A. Paris, Sarah Pinborough, Alastair Reynolds, Michael Rubens, Kieran Shea, Jon Skovron, Brian Staveley, James Swallow, Martha Wells

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Excerpt: NOMAD by James Swallow (Zaffre)

SwallowJ-NomadJames Swallow‘s latest novel, Nomad, was recently published in the UK by Zaffre. To celebrate it’s release, the publisher has allowed me to share with CR readers the first chapter. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

Marc Dane is an MI6 field agent at home behind a computer screen, one step away from the action. But when a brutal attack on his team leaves Marc as the only survivor — and with the shocking knowledge that there are traitors inside MI6 — he’s forced into the front line.

However the evidence seems to point towards Marc as the perpetrator of the attack. Accused of betraying his country, he must race against time to clear his name.

With nowhere to turn to for help and no one left to trust, Marc is forced to rely on the elusive Rubicon group and their operative Lucy Keyes. Ex US Army, Lucy also knows what it’s like to be an outsider, and she’s got the skills that Marc is sorely lacking.

A terrorist attack is coming, one bigger and more deadly than has ever been seen before. With the eyes of the security establishment elsewhere, only Lucy and Marc can stop the attack before it’s too late.

Read on for the excerpt… Continue reading

Guest Post: “The NOMAD Soundtrack” by James Swallow

SwallowJ-AuthorPicI’m always in two minds about music when I’m writing. Some days, when my focus isn’t where it needs to be, I have to have as near to absolute silence as I can get in order to zero in on what I want to get down on the page. Other times, a little musical accompaniment is exactly what I need to prime the pump and get me writing.

I tend not to listen to songs when I’m writing scenes, because I find myself paying too much attention to the lyrics, and sometimes subconsciously assimilating the words into my own work. Orchestral and thematic stuff works a lot better. I have a massive collection of classical music and soundtracks that I will queue up into five-hour-long playlists. For example, working on my new thriller novel NOMAD, my working score included Salt (James Newton Howard), Inception (Hans Zimmer), Tron Legacy (Daft Punk), The Sweeney (Lorne Balfe), Watch Dogs (Brian Reitzell), Bangkok Dangerous (Brian Tyler) and The International (Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil). Continue reading

Books Received (April)

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Featuring: Andrew Bannister, Stephanie Burgis, Lee Child, Myke Cole, Sebastien de Castell, A.A. Dhand, N.S. Dolkart, Steven Erikson, Christie Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, Jessica Grose, Guy Haley, Peter Hanington, Samantha Hayes, Kaui Hart Hemmings, D.L. Hughley, Kij Johnson, Emma Kavanagh, Laura Lam, Owen Laukkanen, Ken MacLeod, Laurence MacNaughton, Jay McInerney, Barney Norris, Daniel O’Malley, Ann Patchett, Ben Peek, Leif G.W. Perrson, Gae Polisner, Adam Rakunas, Chris Roberson, J. Todd Scott, Helen Sedgwick, J.P. Smythe, Brian Staveley, James Swallow, Michael Swanwick, David Swinson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Matt Wallace, Robin Yocum

Above Picture: Crop of Injection #7, by Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (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: DEATH AND DEFIANCE by Various (Black Library)

Various-Death&Defiance(HH)A collection of Horus Heresy novellas

Words alone can no longer convey the horrors of the war that now grips the Imperium. In what should have been an age of enlightenment and glorious triumph, instead warriors on both sides reel from the twin agonies of betrayal and bloodshed. The hatred of a sworn foe, the ire of a primarch, or the unholy wrath of a daemon-lord – none but the mighty Space Marines can hope to weather such torments unscathed…

Death and Defiance is the latest anthology from Black Library – originally, it was only available as a hardcover (possibly at the Black Library Weekender?). The short stories it contained were recently made available through the publisher’s website as individual eBooks. Naturally, given my addiction to Horus Heresy fiction, I snapped them up right away. On the whole, it’s a very good collection. Surprisingly, though, my favourite author featured did not deliver the best story (in fact, it was by far the weakest). Continue reading

Four HORUS HERESY Short Stories by Graham McNeill, Rob Sanders, James Swallow & Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

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Near the end of July, Black Library released four Horus Heresy short story eBooks through their website. Naturally, as a real Heresy junky, I gobbled these up ASAP. All four are pretty different, offering alternative perspectives on different events and times during the galaxy-spanning civil war that dictates much of how mankind operates in the 41st Millennium (the ‘present’ for the game and system). So, here are four mini-reviews of these excellent stories… Continue reading