Quick Review: A Pair of Emperor’s Children Novels by Josh Reynolds (Black Library)

A pair of novels that look at the Emperor’s Children Legion at two very different times in their history

Josh Reynolds, who must be Black Library’s hardest working author, recently wrote two novels about the Emperor’s Children Legion: one is part of the Horus Heresy: Primarchs series, and the other set during the ‘current’ WH40k era. Together, they offer a nice look at how far the Legion fell.

ReynoldsJ-HHP-FulgrimFULGRIM: THE PALATINE PHOENIX

Seeking a new challenge and a mighty triumph, Fulgrim – prideful primarch of the Emperor’s Children – sets out to conquer a world with just seven warriors by his side…

Lord of Chemos and bearer of the Palatine Aquila, Fulgrim, primarch of the Emperor’s Children, is determined to take his rightful place in the Great Crusade, whatever the cost. A swordsman without equal, the Phoenician has long studied the art of war and grows impatient to put his skills, and those of his loyal followers, to a true test. Now, accompanied by only seven of his finest warriors, he seeks to bring a rebellious world into compliance, by any means necessary. But Fulgrim soon learns that no victory comes without cost, and the greater the triumph, the greater the price one must pay…

In Fulgrim, the eponymous Primarch attempts to prove himself to his father and brothers, after he feels his reputation and stature threatened by his more-accomplished brothers. It is a story of arrogance, certainly, but also one that shows us how skilled Fulgrim actually is — long before his descent into Chaos and ultimate apotheosis. An interesting novel. Continue reading

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Quick Review: EXIT STRATEGY by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-MB4-ExitStrategyAn antisocial AI learning to care, in the fourth Murderbot Diaries novella

Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah — its former owner (protector? friend?) — submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it’s caught?

I blitzed through the first three novellas in this series. The main character is endearing and amusing, and the story is engaging and often thought-provoking. Exit Strategy, the final novella in the series, is another excellent addition to the series. Fans of the first three will, no doubt, love this one as well. Continue reading

Upcoming: CHILDREN OF TIME and CHILDREN OF RUIN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit/Tor)

Tchaikovsky-CoT1-ChildrenOfTimeUSWait, what? Didn’t Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s Children of Time come out back in 2015? Why yes, yes it did… in the UK, published by Tor Books. This December, though, Orbit Books are due to publish a North American edition! Great news for sci-fi fans who maybe haven’t had the chance to read this spectacular novel! I read it a couple of years ago and, inexplicably, never reviewed it… (I am convinced that I did write a review, however, which means I managed to lose the review.) It was one of my favourite novels of the year, and I was hooked from very early on. Tchaikovsky’s prose is superb, and his world-building was exceptional, brilliantly realized on the page, and both fascinating and original. It is no surprise to me that it won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Here’s the synopsis, in case you haven’t clocked it yet:

The epic story of humanity’s battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

Also on the way is Children of Ruin, the eagerly-anticipated sequel! Due to be published by Orbit in North America (May 2019) and Tor in the UK (May 2019), there’s no cover just yet, but here’s the synopsis:

Long ago, Earth’s terraforming program sent ships out to build new homes for humanity among the stars and made an unexpected discovery: a planet with life. But the scientists were unaware that the alien ecosystem was more developed than the primitive life forms originally discovered.

Now, thousands of years later, the Portiids and their humans have sent an exploration vessel following fragmentary radio signals. They discover a system in crisis, warring factions trying to recover from an apocalyptic catastrophe arising from what the early terraformers awoke all those years before.

One of my favourite authors of SFF, Tchaikovsky has so many other excellent books to read while you wait for Children of Ruin. His backlist includes: the excellent Shadows of the Apt 10-novel fantasy epic (Tor UK); the Echoes of the Fall fantasy trilogy (Tor UK); the superb stand-alone novels Guns of the Dawn (Tor UK), Spiderlight (Tor.com), and Dogs of War (Head of Zeus); the novella Ironclads (Solaris) and The Expert System’s Brother (Tor.com); and the first novel in the After the War series, Redemption’s Blade (Solaris).

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing”, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places” and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire in Black & Gold, Guns of the Dawn, Spiderlight, and Ironclads

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: REJOICE by Steven Erikson (Gollancz)

EriksonS-RejoiceUKSteven Erikson is one of SFF’s modern luminaries — he is, after all, the author of the beloved Malazan series (which began in the late-1990s). I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I’ve read nothing of his… This oversight looks like it’ll be remedied this year, however. His next novel is Rejoice, which sounds really interesting:

A story of mankind’s first contact and a warning about our future.

An alien AI has been sent to the solar system as representative of three advanced species. Its mission is to save the Earth’s ecosystem — and the biggest threat to that is humanity. But we are also part of the system, so the AI must make a choice. Should it save mankind or wipe it out? Are we worth it?

The AI is all-powerful, and might as well be a god. So it sets up some conditions. Violence is now impossible. Large-scale destruction of natural resources is impossible. Food and water will be provided for those who really, truly need them. You can’t even bully someone on the internet any more. The old way of doing things is gone. But a certain thin-skinned US president, among others, is still wedded to late-stage capitalism. Can we adapt? Can we prove ourselves worthy? And are we prepared to give up free will for a world without violence?

And above it all, on a hidden spaceship, one woman watches. A science fiction writer, she was abducted from the middle of the street in broad daylight. She is the only person the AI will talk to. And she must make a decision.

Rejoice is due to be published by Gollancz on October 18th, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: SLAVES TO DARKNESS by John French (Black Library)

FrenchJ-HH51-SlavesToDarknessThe traitors gather for their final push towards Terra…

After a long and gruelling conflict, the traitors at last close upon Terra. But time is dwindling for an attack. Both Guilliman and the Lion are returning with all haste, and their armies could turn the tide. The hosts of the Warmaster must unite, for only then can they attack the Throneworld itself. While Mortarion is sent on ahead as the fleet’s vanguard, it falls to Lorgar and Perturabo to marshal Fulgrim and Angron, both now elevated to daemonhood and perhaps beyond even the will of the Warmaster to command. But Horus lies wounded and as the greatest battle the galaxy has ever know looms, it is up to Maloghurst to hold his fractious Legion together and to wrench Horus himself from the edge of oblivion.

The Traitor legions are preparing for their final push to Terra. At least, that is the plan. After the events of Wolfsbane, Horus is grappling with the wound he received from the Emperor’s Spear, wielded by his loyalist brother Leman Russ. The time has nevertheless come to assemble the Traitor legions and bring the campaign to a close. However, this is easier said than done: all is not well among the Traitors, and with Horus’s status unclear, stresses and fractures appear not only between the legions, but also amongst Horus’s closest aides and commanders… Continue reading

Quick Review: WOLFSBANE by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HH-WolfsbaneLeman Russ tries to put down Horus before the traitors march for Terra…

The time has come for Leman Russ, primarch of the Space Wolves, to fulfil his vow and attempt to stop Warmaster Horus before he breaks through to the Segmentum Solar. In the face of opposition from three of his brother primarchs, Russ withdraws the Space Wolves legion from Terra and makes all haste for Horus’s position. Reports from Malcador the Sigillite’s agents suxggest that Horus is utterly changed, and infused with a diabolical power so great that no man can stand against him. A warrior of Fenris would never willingly abandon his oaths, but with Horus beyond the touch of mortal blades, the Lord of Winter and War may have doomed himself for the sake of honour…

The Horus Heresy, Black Library’s decade-plus-running series chronicling the “history” of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, is finally entering the final stretch. It’s been a long, circuitous journey, but one that has been very rewarding so far. (Save for a slight wobble after the first five novels or so…) In Wolfsbane, Haley tells the story of Leman Russ’s attempt to put down Horus before he is able to marshal the Traitor forces and make a final push to Terra. An interesting novel, it offered a fair amount of insight into the primarchs, the relationship between Russ and Horus, and much more. I really enjoyed this one. Continue reading

Quick Review: WAR CRY by Brian McClellan (Tor.com)

McClellanB-WarCryAn intriguing, entertaining new novella from the author of the Powder Mage series: a new universe, new armies, and new monsters…

Teado is a Changer, a shape-shifting military asset trained to win wars. His platoon has been stationed in the Bavares high plains for years, stranded. As they ration supplies and scan the airwaves for news, any news, their numbers dwindle. He’s not sure how much time they have left.

Desperate and starving, armed with aging, faulting equipment, the team jumps at the chance for a risky resupply mission, even if it means not all of them might come. What they discover could change the course of the war.

Despite falling behind on his ‘main’ fantasy series, the Powder Mage trilogy and the new Gods of Blood and Powder, McClellan is one of my favourite (fantasy) author working today. When I heard that he had a novella on the way from Tor.com, I immediately put it on my must-read list. Due out in a couple of weeks, War Cry lived up to my expectations: it’s really good. Continue reading