Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett

The war-torn far-future is laid bare as Brothers of the Snake follows the exploits of the Iron Snakes Space Marines as they battle against the enemies of mankind. First appearing in the pages of Inferno!, the Iron Snakes Space Marines quickly gathered a loyal following and now they make their debut in a full-blown adventure!

What better way to start The Year of Snake then a review of Dan Abnett’s Brothers of the Snake? The first thing you should know is that unlike other Space Marine novels, Brothers of the Snake is a collection of short stories following the Damocles squad of the Iron Snakes Chapter. The format is a little unusual and I had doubts at first but on the whole I thought it turned out pretty great. It’s essentially a series condensed into one book.

The thing I found fascinating is the culture and traditions of the Chapter and how much they have diverged from their progenitors. Since Iron Snakes is such a little known chapter, this book allows Abnett full rein on making this Chapter truly his own. Just like how different the Mortifators are from the Ultramarines, the Iron Snakes too have their quirks. The Chapter’s homeworld is covered by vast oceans and water from the planet is considered sacred. Before each mission, the marines would hold ceremonies to share and anoint themselves with the sacred water. Also instead of working as a company, each 10 men squad operate independently of each other. Usually a few squads are enough to take care of most situations and only in times of crisis will you find the might of the Chapter brought together.

I’ve always been fascinated by the selection and training processes of the Space Marines. I absolutely loved those parts in Mitchel Scanlon’s Descent of Angels and Ian Watson’s Space Marine. So I was thrilled to read about the “cheese run” that the initiates have to undertake and in order to become a full-fledged squad member, the initiates must first best the existing squad members in one-on-one duels.

Even though Priad was promoted to the rank of Sergeant a little too quickly, he did make a brilliant leader. His unwavering sense of honour and selflessness is very reminiscent of the Ultramarines. Despite suffering from heavy losses which resulted in frequent replacement of squad members, the squad never lost the bond between brothers. Abnett brilliantly conveyed the relationship and camaraderie between battle brothers. New members are welcomed into the squad and given plenty of opportunity to prove their worth.

I love the connection between the short stories; especially how the first and last story wrap things up to give a satisfying conclusion. With each story we learn just a little more about this lesser known Chapter.

This a brilliant one off Space Marine novel with epic action and timeless characters. The Iron Snakes definitely deserve more stories devoted to them.

Reading Resolutions for 2013

According to Goodreads I read 102 books last year, of which around 90 of them are actual books and the rest are comics and audio books. So for 2013, I’m going to aim for a little more at 120 actual books which means I will need to read between 2 to 3 books per week. Pretty doable I think.

I’ve been buying plenty of books during the holiday sales and while my “to read” pile is growing ever larger, I hope this year would be a productive year and I’ll make some progress in clearing the pile. So here’s my target for 2013:

Ps: before starting, I want to say thanks to Sarah, a mom blogger, who gave me many ideas for writing. Let’s visit her blog’s latest article – www.kidfriendlyhome.com/best-outdoor-cat-house-shelter-reviews/

Series to Finish

 

  • Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks – It’s been a while since I finished the first two books but I can never bring myself to finishing the series.
  • The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – Loved the world building in the first book and can’t wait to see how everything will end.
  • Bel Dame Apocrypha by Kameron Hurley – Another great series with fascinating settings and also love the unique magic/science system.


Series to Catch up on

 

  • Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  • Horus Heresy by Various authors
  • Legend of Drizzt by R. A. Salvatore
I love these series. Even though there are a lot of books in these series, I hope I can catch up with the latest release this year.

Series to Start

 

  • Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
  • Space Marines Battles by Various authors
  • Newsflesh by Mira Grant
  • Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
  • Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

These are all great series that I wanted to read last year but for some reason or another I didn’t start them. I already have the first book in Demon Cycle, Farseer Trilogy and Shadows of the Apt sitting on my Kindle already and I hope to tackle them soon.

Series to re-read

 

  • Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

I loved this series when I was younger. I would love to revisit the books and see if I understand the concepts better now that I’m older.

Any Others?
I’m sure I haven’t covered all the books that I want to read, so what else do you think I should be reading this year?

Week in Review

Week in Review is a feature that I am bringing to my blog. In this feature I will be posting links to articles or happenings that I found interesting in the past week.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

So I’d start off with one of the most anticipated Urban Fantasy title of the year, which is Jim Butcher’sCold Days. It’s been getting great reviews left, right and centre. I read that Butcher even managed to drop the word “Vajazzle” in the story as well. My 1 year blogversary winner, Cherry Mischievous, called this asatisfying and compelling read. I’ve only just read up to the third book in the series and still have a long road ahead of me to catch up but I look forward to the journey.

Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories

Next we have the Kickstarter project from Bradley P. Beaulieu, author of The Lays of Anuskaya series. The goal of this Kickstarter is to collect Beaulieu’s various short stories into a single collection. For as little as $5, you can get a digital edition of this collection as well as an e-copy of The Winds of Khalakovo. If the next stretch goal at $3000 is met, then an e-copy of the second book, The Straits of Galahesh will be added to all backers. If you’re looking for some interesting fiction to sink your teeth into then be sure to back this project.

Cover Reveals

The folks at The Founding Fields revealed the cover for Chris F. Holm’s third Collector novel, The Big Reap. A superb urban fantasy/pulp crime series about soul collectors, angels and demons. Head over toThe Founding Fields for a Q&A with Chris F. Holm on the third book.

Fantasy Faction also revealed a cover this week. It’s the UK version of Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War, the third book in his Demon Cycle series. This is another gorgeous masterpiece by artist Larry Rostant. The blue is so eye-catching don’t you agree?

2012 Goodreads Choice Awards

The winners of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards were announced this week. Every year I look at the nominees and realise how much more well read I need to be. There are just too many good books out! The book that caught my eyes the most in the winners list is a book that I wouldn’t have discovered if it wasn’t for the Goodreads awards. It’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This looks like a fascinating book that details the contributions introverts have made over the years and the relationships between extroverts and introverts.

Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

I get many hits on my blog looking for awesome book covers and many of them land on the image ofLorgar and Angron fighting back to back which ADB revealed earlier in the year. Well now you can finally read all about this epic story in the next chapter in the popular Horus Heresy series. Visit Black Library to pre-order this book today.

Fulgrim by Graham McNeill

Graham McNeill takes the reader to the 31st millennium, when humanity is at the peak of its powers. As the Great Crusade, led by Warmaster Horus, continues to conquer the galaxy, Fulgrim, the god-like Primarch of the Emperor’s Children Space Marine Legion, leads his warriors into battle against a vile alien foe.

From the blood of this campaign the seeds are sown that will lead this proud legion to treachery, taking them down the darkest of paths to corruption. Leading up to the carnage of the Dropsite Massacre on Isstvan V, this is the tale of Fulgrim’s tragic fall from grace.
Fulgrim is one action packed book with everything that you could possibly want in a Warhammer 40k novel. Primarchs, Xenos, Chaos Daemons and big battles. For me, this was an excellent book only slightly let down by not having a character that I can connect to.

McNeill does a good job describing the changes in Fulgrim as he is slowly corrupted by Chaos but due to the immense plot, not enough time is spent exploring the struggles that the Primarch goes through during his transformation. There are a few characters in the story that are not touched by Chaos but once again not enough focus was spent on them, so I could care less when they died.

What worked exceptionally well for me were the epic battles. McNeill pens with loving details the brutality and horrors of war. The book opens with the raid on Laeran temple where scores of Emperor’s Children are killed but Fulgrim pressed on just to prove that his legion has what it takes to complete the impossible.

Next we have the joint attack with the Iron Hands on the Diasporex, a nomadic group consisting of humans and Xenos. This part makes me realise what a bunch of arses the Space Marines are. All the Diasporex wanted was to be left alone but both Primarchs decided to make an example out of them just to show what happens when humans decide to live with aliens.

After this, Fulgrim is sent to explore the Perdus Region. There he meets with the Eldar Farseer, Eldrad Ulthran who tries to warn Fulgrim about Horus’s betrayal to the Emperor. However the Eldar realises it was already too late, for Fulgrim is already under the corruption of Chaos. Here we have another great scene where Fulgrim gets dirty and do some hand-to-hand combat with an Eldar Wraithlord and Avatar.

At the final battle on Isstvan V we see the final corrupted transformation of the Emperor’s Children and they no longer resemble the proud legion they once were. In their pursuit of perfection, they have allowed themselves to be experimented and changed into an army that lusts for newer and higher stimulations. Fulgrim realises too late what he has done and when he seeks for release, his body is overtaken by a Chaos Daemon who uses the new body to deal a deathblow to Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands.

This book contains plenty of disturbing imagery of Chaos and gives you a really good feel of what Chaos is truly like. Despite the lack of character progress, this book makes it up plenty by the amount of action packed into the story that can satisfy any 40k fan.

Warriors of Ultramar by Graham McNeill

The Ultramarines are, a by-word for courage and honour. They are humanity s fiercest and most devout warriors. Honour and courage are valued above all else, except the God-Emperor himself. They are the stalwart protectors of mankind and the most dedicated of all the Space Marine Chapters.

When asked to honour an ancient debt, Captain Uriel Ventris and the Warriors of Ultramar find themselves standing shoulder to shoulder with brother Marines and local Guard units defending a vital industrial system. The threat they face is as terrifying as it is alien. The tyranids take no prisoners and show no mercy — they consume all in an attempt to stave their unending hunger for bio-matter. Failure is not an option, but success requires the ultimate sacrifice.

In this second book of the Ultramarines series, Captain Uriel Ventris is ordered to defend Tarsis Ultra from the imminent threat of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan. Along with two Imperial Guard regiments, the local Planetary Defence Forces, a company from the Morticators and the Deathwatch, the defensive force wage a bloody war against the invaders.

It’s been a while since I read the first book, Nightbringer and I found Warriors of Ultramar a lot more accessible than the previous book. The plot here is straightforward. You have the good guys defending their world from the bad guys. The Tyranids make an awesome foe here because they don’t think like we do and they don’t have emotions so you don’t have to analyse why they do the things they do. All you need to know is that they are the Great Devourer and will consume everything in their path.

The first part of the story took a while for me to sink my teeth into as I’m not a fan of Void battles but things started getting exciting when the battle moved to planetside. Once on the planet, the Tyranids began to transform the environment of Tarsis Ultra to make it suitable for their species. They then advanced against the defenders by throwing everything they had while the Guards have to use their wits to conserve the number of troops against this insurmountable foe. Despite heavy losses, the valiant Astartes and Guards manage to hold off the invasion in the end. A classic tale of triumph of good over evil.

In this story, we see Uriel Ventris grows as a character and finally coming to his own as he learns not to blindly follow the Codex Astartes to the letter. He chose to go with the Deathwatch on a suicide mission to inject a bio-toxin into the Hive Queen rather than sticking to his company as dicatated by Roboute Guilliman’s teachings. As Uriel’s devotion to the Codex Astartes wavers, we are treated to his comtemplations about what it means to be an Ultramarine and a warrior of the Emperor and his observations on how different the Morticators have become over the centuries despite sharing the same bloodline as the Ultramarines. Uriel Ventris is definitely growing on me and he is slowly becoming one of my favourite loyalist Astartes.

Another character that stood out in the book is the Fabricator Marshal Sebastien Montante. At first he seemed like the typical fool character that you would laugh at because he doesn’t understand the severity of the Tyranid threat and you hope he will die in the most embarrassing way. However as the story unfolds, you realise that even though Montante is not be a warrior like the Astartes or the Guards, his heart is still set in the right place. He uses his logistical skills to ensure the defensive force has the provision it needs in the forthcoming battles. Even with no martial training Montante took up arms to help with the defence of Tarsis Ultra. He was a character that I didn’t expect I would like but end up enjoying very much.

This book packs a ton of action and plenty of heroic moments to boot. McNeill strikes a fine balance between despair and hope as the remaining defenders fight back with everything they have. The moments of downtime in between battles offer readers time to reflect on the sacrifices and costs towards freedom. Warriors of Ultramar can be read on its own so you don’t need to have read Nightbringer to enjoy this book. I would also say this is a good starting point if you have never read any Warhammer 40k books.

Ravenor: The Omnibus by Dan Abnett

In the war-torn future of the 41st millennium, the Inquisition fights a secret war against the darkest enemies of mankind – the alien, the heretic and the daemon. The three stories in this omnibus tell the tale of Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor and his lethal band of operatives, whose investigations take them from the heart of the Scarus Sector to the wildest regions of space beyond, and even through time itself. Wherever they go, and whatever dangers they face, they will never give up until their mission succeeds.

Contains the novels Ravenor, Ravenor Returned and Ravenor Rogue, plus two short stories and an introduction by the author.

In my previous review of the Eisenhorn omnibus I likened Gregor Eisenhorn to Jack Bauer of the 40k universe. Well Gideon Ravenor would definitely be Professor X of the universe. That is because like Xavier, Ravenor is a crippled but talented psyker and of course a natural leader of his retinue. However I did feel that sometimes Ravenor is too powerful and nothing seems to challenge him much in the stories.

Unlike the Eisenhorn books, the stories in the Ravenor omnibus all take place in the same time period dealing with the birth of a powerful daemon named Sleet, which Eisenhorn warned Ravenor about in the audio drama Thorn Wishes Talon. Thankfully this story also appears in the omnibus so you won’t be missing out if you have not heard the audio drama.

Having read this series after finishing the amazing The Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, I was dying to see what role Zael Efferneti plays in the story. Even though Zael doesn’t appear much in the second and third book, I think it’s great to see how such an important character began his life.

I’m also glad to see the other references to Ravenor in The Emperor’s Gift, especially the psychic gift possessed by Hyperion where he reaches down to the planet’s inhabitants and feels what they feel.

Ravenor
The omnibus begins with the Inquisitor and his team investigates a new Warp tainted drug that is quickly gaining popularity within the Imperium in Ravenor. As the investigation deepens, Ravenor discovers that there is a far more nefarious plan afoot and he and his team must do everything they can to save the Imperium.

Like the Eisenhorn stories, what started off as a routine investigation quickly goes out of control as the Inquisitor unravels the real puppet master that is behind the scenes. So the twists in the story aren’t that surprising but entertaining enough to keep you reading on.

Despite being disabled, Ravenor has the ability to ware other people, that is control them and often enhances their ability to give the people he controls more mobility and faster reflexes. He also uses his powerful mind to fight psychic battles with other psykers. Even though these psychic battles are lovingly described, I still prefer to read about fights involving real blood and sweat.

Ravenor Returned
Having surviving the plot to eliminate his entire team in Ravenor, the Inquisitor now returns to Eustis Majoris in secret to destroy Contract 13 and rid the corruption in the planetary government. In this book, Ravenor also knows that a powerful daemon will be born and one of his team will somehow be involved.

The story is a great continuation of the first book and the stakes are now much higher with the entire planet at risk. The pace is fast and unrelenting, and you can feel the urgency all the way through.

Even though the 40k universe as described by Abnett is vastly different to the lore that I know, I think the author did an excellent job putting his unique mark into this shared universe.


Ravenor Rogue
The final book of the series and things get pretty weird as Ravenor chases his arch-nemesis Molotch across space and time. This is truly a fantastic ending to another great series by Abnett.

One of the great things about this finale is the unpredictability of story and it keeps you guessing what is going to happen when Ravenor and his team enters through that door.

Maybe I’ve played too much Diablo 3 lately but the description of Sleet as he is coming into the material world reminds me of the Dark Thrall. What do you think?

On the whole the series offer another fascinating look into the operation of the Inquisition in the 40k universe. I found Ravenor to be too uptight and not as complex as Eisenhorn but still nonetheless interesting in his own way.

As for Ravenor’s team, both Harlon Nayl and Kara Swole are the more well rounded characters of the lot. I wouldn’t mind reading further novellas involving these characters. In fact, I want to know more about what happened after Ravenor was involved in that tragic accident at Thracian Primaris and how he overcame his disabilities to become the renowned Inquisitor that he is. Patience Kys has her own short story featured in the omnibus but she still remain pretty much an enigma and it would be great to see her develop more in the future.

Having read both these Inquisition stories, I am extremely psyched to learn that there will be a new novel titled Pariah coming out that will pit Ravenor against Eisenhorn. I can’t wait to see how Ravenor will deal with his old mentor. I will be even more thrilled if the story completes the connections and Hyperion makes an appearance in the novel.

The Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons…

If you’re a fan of the Warhammer 40k universe then you don’t need an introduction for this book. Just the phrase “First War for Armageddon” is enough for you to buy this book. However this book is much more than just the war on Armageddon. It’s about the events leading to the Grey Knights deployment on the planet and the aftermath between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves.

This story simply put is just epic! Dembski-Bowden is really on top of his game right now. Just when you thought his stories couldn’t get any better, he would come up with something like this to surprise you. The description and mannerisms of the Astartes cannot be more apt. Dembski-Bowden has really captured that slightly autistic, can’t read human emotion thing that Space Marines do down to a tee.

I found both Hyperion and Inquisitor Annika Jarlsdottyr to be interesting characters. Hyperion is the newest member in his squad and also has the potential to be the strongest amongst them. However he is often over-confident in his abilities and reckless in his decisions which resulted in the death of a fellow brother. It is in Hyperion’s reflection on his guilt that we realise these genetically enhanced beings aren’t that different to us.

As for Annika Jarlsdottyr, a Ferisian born Inquisitor, she must decide between upholding her task as part of the Inquisition or siding with her homeworld when the Wolves decide to go against the orders of the Inquisition and harbour the survivors of Armageddon.

The last third of the book deals with the fallout of the war on Armageddon. The Inquisition wants to eliminate the entire population to stop any knowledge of Chaos from spreading, whereas the Space Wolves want them to live on so not to waste the lives of all the warriors that died protecting the civilians. Debmski-Bowden does a great job portraying all the different views involved and it makes you question what is a fair price to pay to save further lives?

If you are new to 40k lore or casual fan, you will appreciate the story for what it is. For the more avid fans, the appearance of Daemon Prince Angron, Logan Grimnar and even just the mere mention of Ravenor will make you squeal with excitement. In fact, after reading this book, the Ravenor trilogy will be the next Black Library book that I would read so I can see how Hyperion ties in with that story.

Simply put, you should read The Emperor’s Gift if you meet any of the following:

  • You’re already a follower of 40k lore or a Black Library reader
  • You’re looking for a Black Library novel that you can start with
  • You have never read anything by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • You want to support charities as a portion of the book’s proceeds go to Cancer Research UK and the SOS Children’s Villages charity.

Void Stalker by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The hunters have become the hunted. The Night Lords flee to the dark fringes of the Imperium to escape their relentless pursuers – the eldar of Craftworld Ulthwé. Their flight takes them to the carrion world of Tsagualsa, where their primarch died and their Legion was broken. There, history will repeat itself as a deadly assassin stalks the shadows, and the Night Lords are drawn into a battle they are destined to lose.
Hopefully if you’re reading this review you should have at least read Soul Hunter and Blood Reaver. If not, why haven’t you picked up a copy yet? There’s a lot of reviews of Void Stalker out there on the internet already so I will instead focus on the parts that I enjoyed the most.

Void Stalker brings an epic end to what has been a fantastic set of trilogy from Black Library. I don’t think there are many authors who can write complex and engaging characters quite like Aaron Dembski-Bowden. The Night Lords 10th Company contains some of the vilest and most sadistic bastards alive but somehow Dembski-Bowden still manages to humanise them into characters that you care about.

Just look at the First Claw. Each of them is a cold blooded killer that revels in the fear of those they kill but at the same time they each have a character flaw that readers can connect with. In this book, the Night Lords do some awful things to the citizens of Tsagualsa to draw attention to themselves but I find myself forgiving these traitor marines even after the monstrosity they caused.

While I’m on the subject of cold blooded killers that you can sympathise with, I’m sure anyone who reads this book will see Uzas in a new light. In this ultimate book Uzas finally snaps out of his bloodthirst to reveal what truly happened that night with the Void Born’s father. Dembski-Bowden really knows how to tug your heartstrings even with the most despicable criminal.

Talos remains one of my favourite characters in the 40k universe. He is still the reluctant leader of his warband in this book but has stepped up nicely to fill the void left by the Exalted. You think you understand Talos but he suddenly does something so shocking that makes you reevaluate his character. I like it that there’s still something new to discover about Talos even after finishing the previous two books.

Septimus and Octavia’s relationship also takes a step up to the next level. I know Black Library frowns upon romances but this love between Septimus and Octavia shows that there is still hope for mankind no matter how dire a situation is. Who knows, maybe Black Library will relax now and let ADB do his Eldar love story.

Besides the amazing character build up, this novel contains plenty of thrilling battle scenes. Xarl engages in one of the longest and bloodiest duels and proves once again why he is the best fighter in First Claw. There’s also the brutal battle between the 10th Company and Void Stalker, the eponymous character of the book.

I can keep praising ADB in this review but everyone by now knows how great a writer he is already. To sum it up the Night Lords trilogy have given me new insights into the traitor legions and remind me that they are not all Chaos worshipping maniacs. This trilogy will always be one of my favourite series from Black Library.

Night Lords: Soul Hunter and Blood Reaver

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 16

Descent of Angels by Mitchell Scanlon

The next instalment in the ground-breaking Horus Heresy series by Mitchell Scanlon, telling the tale of the civil war that nearly tore the human Imperium apart, ten thousand years ago. The novel explores the dark and mysterious history of the Dark Angels Legion and their Primarch Lion El’Jonson.

When the Imperial fleet rediscovers the planet Caliban, the Emperor is reunited with his missing son the Primarch Lion El’Jonson. As Dark Angels old and new join the Great Crusade, a chain of events is set in motion that will change Caliban, its people, and the Legion forever.

I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book and I think I know why. As one of the books in Horus Heresy, Descent of Angels really doesn’t deal a lot with the Heresy itself. I think it would be more apt to call this a pre-Heresy novel.

Maybe at that point in time, Black Library wanted to do something different and decided to show what a pre-Imperium world would look like. For fans coming to this book with the expectation to read all about the Dark Angels’ role in the Heresy, I understand the disappointment. Whereas for me, I’ve always been fascinated by what the Primarchs were like before they met the Emperor so I’m pretty happy with the setting of this book.

The first two thirds of this book depicts what life was like on Caliban before the Emperor arrived. It’s basically a Feudal world with a collection of knights to protect its inhabitants from the vicious beasts in the forests. The book follows Zahariel and his cousin Nemiel as they join The Order and partake in quests to rid every beast from Caliban. Lion and Luther make an appearance here but we are mostly told how great they are through heresay and from Zahariel’s idealisation of those two characters. It would have been more rewarding if the book showed us more of the relationship between the Lion and Luther rather than so much time on the young initiates themselves. Even after reading this book, I couldn’t say I know Lion any better than before.

The last third deals with Caliban’s intergration into the Imperium and the Crusade. Zahariel and the other initiatives are now promoted to full Astartes while some of his older brothers still join the legion but without the full power of a real Astartes. I found it fascinating that fully grown adults can still become part of the legion. I guess Lion just couldn’t abandon some of his most trusted battle brothers.

In the last section we finally get to see some real action from the Dark Angels as a legion. If only this happened sooner, the book might yet be saved from all its scathing attacks!

I’m not sure if Black Library always wanted to tell the Dark Angels’ story in two parts but I feel that it just went too far back and left all the juicy details till the last minute. I think the story would have worked better in a non-linear way with the first section as Zahariel’s flashbacks.

As for the ending, I still don’t quite understand why Lion decided to take Terran born warriors with him on the crusade instead of his Caliban brothers. This book doesn’t make it clear what Lion is thinking most of the time.

This is still an enjoyable book and provides some interesting history of the Dark Angels. The problem is that it just doesn’t fit into the Horus Heresy series. Skip this if you’re looking for a Heresy story but definitely read this if you want to understand the worlds in 40k better.

Awesome Cover for Betrayer

Are you following Aaron Dembski Bowden on Facebook? If not, then you should be doing it right now. To celebrate the fan page reaching 2,000 fans, Aaron has released the cover for the upcoming Horus Heresy story, Betrayer on his blog.

Betrayer cover art by Neil Roberts

I’m really loving the details and the expressions on Lorgar’s and Angron’s faces. Also, who knew the Ultramarines can spill so much blood?

This is going to be another epic Horus Heresy novel to look forward to!

Eisenhorn Omnibus by Dan Abnett

In the grim far future, the Inquisition moves amongst mankind like an avenging shadow, striking down daemons, aliens and heretics with uncompromising ruthlessness.
This is my second year reading Black Library novels and I consider myself still very inexperienced in the 40k lore. So to broaden my perspective, I decided to visit one of the all-time classics, the Eisenhorn Omnibus by Dan Abnett.

For those who don’t know already, the Eisenhorn Omnibus is about the exploits of Gregor Eisenhorn, Imperial Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos. Eisenhorn was originally just a character in Games Workshop’s Inquisitor game but Dan Abnett found the concept artworks and liked them so much that he decided he must write the backstories for the character.

The omnibus consists of three books and two short stories. The books are all named after the three major orders of the Inquisition, Ordo Xenos; Ordo Malleus and Ordo Hereticus and the general theme of each book echoes its title.

Before I get into the details of each story, I must say that this omnibus is an absolutely amazing and exciting piece of work. I don’t know why I waited so long before I picked up this series. There are explosions, plenty of deaths and battles with Chaos Marines, daemons and even a Titan! I can see why it is held in such high regards by the fans.

After giving some time to reflect on these stories, I came to the conclusion that Eisenhorn is the Jack Bauer of the 41st millennium. Eisenhorn and Bauer are alike in that they have both given their lives to serve a greater purpose, which is to protect the lives and stability of those around them. They both have to make morally ambiguous choices and plenty of people die along the way but everything they do is for the greater good. Also they both suffer a fair amount of brutal injuries but still manage to pull through in the end.

Coincidentally, Eisenhorn’s retinue is like the CTU. He always has someone with the right skills close-by and the members rotate like clockwork. If they die, Eisenhorn will just pick someone else to do the job and continue with his mission. So as a word of warning, don’t get too attached to Eisenhorn’s crew.

The pacing of the entire omnibus is excellent, fast and action-packed, and never a moment that left you feeling bored. All three books begin with a scene that leaves thousands dead and the stories follow Eisenhorn’s journey as he gathers the clues and searches for the masterminds behind each of the mass destructions.

In Xenos, we are introduced to Inquisitor Eisenhorn, young and in his prime. During his investigation on Gudrun, Eisenhorn is captured and the torture leaves him permanently expressionless. The subsequent chase leads Eisenhorn to an alien world where he realises that there’s more at stake than he imagined and even Chaos Marines are involved.

I think it’s an excellent touch to add Chaos Marines in this story. Reading about the fear induced by the Chaos Marine on Alizebeth Bequin reminds me just how truly fearsome and terrifying these creatures of Chaos are.

In Missing in Action, the short story that follows, Eisenhorn investigates a series of ritual murders on Sameter. The story again is wonderfully written and tells the horrors of war and the lasting effects it can have on you.

After this we come to Malleus, the Inquisition thinks that Eisenhorn is consorting with daemons and declares him Heretic and Extremis Diabolus. Eisenhorn decides to go rogue in order to gather the evidence needed to prove his innocence.

This story surprised me in a few ways. First the story begins ninety eight years after the events of Xenos, which is a pretty big time jump and somewhere in the middle one of the crew members have died but not much is said of that particular event. Second, in this book we also meet Eisenhorn’s protégé, Interrogator Gideon Ravenor. I know there is another set of trilogy featuring Ravenor and thought he would play a bigger part in the story but didn’t expect him to be taken out so quickly. Maybe it was done on purpose but I felt there wasn’t enough time to become familiar with him and the other new characters and their dismissal doesn’t have that much of an impact on the story.

My overall thoughts for Malleus is that it’s a little too predictable and the ending wrapped up too perfectly but it’s still a satisfying and exciting story.

Afterwards we have another short story, this one titled Backcloth for a Crown Additional. Eisenhorn investigates the mysterious death of an old friend which appears to be a simple open and shut case. However with further inspection, Eisenhorn and his retinue finds that there is a certain pattern leading to the death. This is another entertaining short story, one with a little less action but more than makes up for it with its eeriness.

Last but not least, we have Hereticus. In this book we witness Eisenhorn’s change to radicalism, almost crossing over to becoming heretical as he goes against the very thoughts he once believed in and uses the power of the Warp against agents of the Warp. We see him struggle with his choices and the decisions over the use of the tainted knowledge. His organisation is destroyed and is hunted by a man know as Khanjar the Sharp. To make things worse, Eisenhorn is once again declared as a Heretic by the Inquisition for his involvement with the Malus Codicium.

There is great deal of emotion in this book, we see a man who is pushed too far and finally breaks because of it. Eisenhorn finally gets his revenge but at what costs? His former friends and allies are now gone or dying and he no longer has a place he can call home. A sad but satisfying ending that fits well with the grim dark future setting of the 40k universe.

This omnibus is really a great solid piece of work and once again shows why Abnett is considered one of the best writers at Black Library.

Finally I leave you with this wonderful drawing depicting Eisenhorn’s past and present retinue by Nicolas R. Giacondino aka Aerion-the-Faithful.

The Past Recedes by Aerion-the-Faithful

Awesome Artworks from Black Library and Early Christmas Presents

One of the reasons why I love Black Library books so much is because of their awesome covers and recently I spotted these great pieces by Jon Sullivan for the forthcoming novel Wrath of Iron. I think these are some fantastical pieces that realy capture the mood of epic battles led by the superhuman Space Marines.

 

While browsing through Jon’s gallery, I realise that he is also the artist behind many of the book covers that have caught my eye in the past few years, such as The Sea Watch by Adrian Tchaikovsky and The Technician by Neal Asher. He surely is a very talented and busy man.

And today I received some early Christmas presents from my fiance and surprise surprise, they are all Black Library books!

I’ve heard a lot about the Night Lords series from Stefan at Civilian Reader, and I’m looking forward to reading these. As for the Nagash books, these will be my first foray into the Time of Legend series, hope they’ll be a good start for me.

I’m really excited about these presents. Will you be getting any books this Christmas?

My copy of Aurelian is finally here!

This took a while but my copy of Aurelian and Hive of the Dead are finally here! Look forward to reading them both.

Aurelian by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Aurelian by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

After the destruction of Monarchia and the Emperor’s reprimanding of the Word Bearers Legion, the primarch Lorgar spent many long years searching the stars for the universal truths of the cosmos – when he finally came to gaze deep into the Eye of Terror, with grim inevitability he found that the Eye stared back. Now, guided by the daemon Ingethel, he undertakes a spiritual journey into the heart of Chaos itself and sees that the entire destiny of mankind and the Imperium could rest upon just a few nexus events. As the Great Crusade burns itself out in treachery and deceit, Lorgar weighs the cost of his ambitions, and sets his course for eternal damnation.

Hive of the Dead by C Z Dunn

Hive of the Dead by C Z Dunn

The forces of Chaos are moving against the Imperium once more, and only YOU can stop them! The first in a new series of Warhammer 40,000 adventure game books, Hive of the Dead casts you in the role of an Imperial Guardsman, fighting for survival upon the plague-ridden world of Subiaco Diablo at the beginning of the Thirteenth Black Crusade. Face all the horrors of Abaddon’s legions, including Death Guard Chaos Space Marines, the walking dead, and foul warp-spawned daemons. Will you make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of mankind, or will your name be forgotten with the rest?