Review: BLACK LEGION by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowdenA-A2-BlackLegionThe long-awaited sequel to The Talon of Horus

Ezekyle Abaddon and his warlords strive to bind the newborn Black Legion together under threat of destruction. Now Khayon, as Abaddon’s most-trusted assassin, is tasked with ending the threat of Thagus Daravek, the self-proclaimed Lord of Hosts — a rival to the Ezekyle’s final fate. Fighting the vile whispers of the Dark Gods within his mind, Abaddon turns a fevered gaze back to the Imperium, where his destiny awaits. Yet the Emperor’s Champion and his Black Templars stand guard at the gates of Hell, and Sigismund has waited centuries to face Abaddon in battle.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is one of my favourite sci-fi authors. His work for Black Library has been, for the main, outstanding — especially the Night Lords trilogy, The First Heretic and Betrayer. He hasn’t been writing at the same pace as many of his peers at BL, but each of his new novels is met with quite some fanfare. Despite something of a wobble with his previous novel, The Emperor of Mankind (part of the Horus Heresy series), Black Legion sees him returning to form quite nicely. The sequel to The Talon of Horus, and picking up the story a short while after that novel, it’s a short novel, but one that manages to pack in quite a bit of story. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: AFTERLIFE by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer)

SakeyM-AfterlifeAn intriguing, cinematic action thriller

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

I’ve been aware of Marcus Sakey’s work for many years, and have faithfully bought a fair number of his novels. For some strange reason, though, I keep forgetting I have them on my Kindle… I started to see many thriller authors whose work I very much enjoy sharing praise for Afterlife not so long ago, so I snapped it up and started reading right away. I was certainly an entertaining read. Continue reading

Review: AHRIMAN: UNCHANGED by John French (Black Library)

Ahriman’s reaches the end of his journey, and executes his second Rubric…

It has taken many long years and countless sacrifices, but finally Ahriman, former Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons, now exile and sorcerer, is ready to attempt the most audacious and daring feat of his long life. His quest for knowledge and power has all been for one purpose, and he would now see that purpose fulfilled. His goal? Nothing less than undoing his greatest failure and reversing the Rubric that damned his Legion…

This is the final book in John French’s Ahriman trilogy, and it is epic. If you’re a fan of the Thousand Sons legion, in WH40k or in the Horus Heresy series, then this trilogy is a must read. Ahriman: Unchanged details the culmination of Ahriman’s long quest to fix the damage he wrought with his first Rubric. He faces a long journey home, multiple forces arrayed against him, and potentially the wrath of his father… Overall, this is a fantastic conclusion, and I very much enjoyed it. Continue reading

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

Guest Post: “I am Not in Control” by Joshua Palmatier

PalmatierJ-AuthorPicI’m certain nearly everyone who loves to read books and follows their favorite authors has heard those authors at some point say, “The character took control.” This is extremely common. In fact, with my own writing, if the characters don’t at some point take control and do unexpected things, then the book isn’t succeeding. The characters need to take on their own life for the author. If they aren’t doing that for the author, then they certainly aren’t coming to life for the reader. And that means the book has failed.

However, I want to talk about something a little more significant than a character suddenly revealing a lifelong passion for poisons, altering the plot and bringing in an added extra (darker?) layer to the character that you’d never considered. What I want to talk about is when the book takes control. Not just a character or set of characters, but the entire book. 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

SDCC: First teaser for READY PLAYER ONE movie!

I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One in two sittings, separated only by a few hours of sleep. I loved it — it was maybe the first time I would describe a reading experience as “joyous”. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the movie ever since it was announced — even though I was a little concerned about how they might translate from page to screen. The new trailer, below, suggests that the adaptation is going to be awesome!

Warner Bros. is due to release the Steven Spielberg-directed movie in March 2018, and I can’t wait! In case you’re unfamiliar with the novel, it’s published by Arrow in the UK and Crown in North America. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS — and his massive fortune — will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions — and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

You can read my 2011 review of the novel here. I think I’m due for a re-read soon…

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