Black Library Novella Series 1

A book review of the new NOVELLA series by Black Library.

Recently Black Library published the first ten books of a new run of novellas which span their range of worlds. From the dark and polluted ruins of the Underhive of Necromunda, to the vast magical peaks of the 8 Realms of the Age of Sigmar, these books take you on a wild series of adventures. They are a nice length for an evening read each and whilst they don’t have the length of a full novel, they still have room to develop characters and give you far more flavour of the worlds they take part in.

The Bloodied Rose by Danie Ware – Sisters of Battle (40K)
Steel Daemon by Ian St Martin – Imperial Guard (40K)
Auric Gods by Nick Kyme – Custodes (Space Marines – 40K)
Spear of Ultramar by David Annandale – Horus Heresy (prequel to Siege of Terra series)
Dreadwing by David Guymer – Horus Heresy (prequel to Siege of Terra series)
Wanted: Dead by Mike Brooks – House Escher (Necromunda)
Warqueen by Darius Hinks – Dark Oath (Age of Sigmar)
The Red Hours by Evan Dicken – Sigmarites (Age of Sigmar)
The Bone Desert by Robbie MacNiven – Gotrek Gurnisson (Age of Sigmar)
Heart of Winter by Nick Horth – Scourge Privateers (Age of Sigmar)

As you can see there’s a fair smattering of stories from the fantasy and the futuristic. Some are clearly tied to major recent publications and soon to be publications, such as Horus Heresy and Gotrek; whilst others are more free form stories set within their respective worlds. As they are shorter books I will provide a short summary review for those I’ve read below.

WARQUEEN by Darius Hinks. This is a powerful story that presents a fresh angle on worshippers of the Chaos gods and focuses on the lesser known Dark Oath factions. Brave and mighty barbarian tribes that worship the Chaos Gods. If any reading have ever read any of the Conan stories/comics or seen the various films (esp the classic with Arnald) then the Dark Oath feel lifted right out of the Hyborean age. Whilst with more trust to magic than your average Cimmerian, they are still akin to that classic warlike wild image. These are not crazed nor mindless characters and they retain a stronger sense of their humanity and emotions.

Within this story is war, betrayal and discovery. Follow a mighty warqueen as she seeks to unite her people under a single banner, to forge them into a single army that can carry them beyond the plains they have warred over for generations in the Age of Chaos. To bring them into the Age of Sigmar and make them a threat for all the world to fear. I would say of all those I’ve read thus far this is my favourite of the series.

 

HEART OF WINTER by Nick Horth. This story is cold. Not just from the frigid lands in which it takes place, where biting winds, ice slick surfaces and frostbite are around every corner; but with the characters that fill the story with their taste for blood, slavery, betrayal and revenge. Aelf pirates without equal, who are the literal scourge of the high seas. Those who have a passing understanding of the Old World (or who have been playing Warhammer Total War 2) will recognise some mighty icons from the past appear again within the Realms as a mighty Black Ark features prominently in this tale.
Of interest this story also ties strongly into the development of the Realms and the Age of Sigmar and is perhaps one of the stories that is the most “recent” in the time line. Whilst it does not focus upon those golden warriors from Sigmar, it does show how their society and the new Order is going. Giving us an idea of the rebirth, the rebuilding and the political shifts that are taking place within the Realms. It’s a view of the world generations beyond the end of the Age of Chaos; where only aged Aelves might remember the Cursed blight that was upon the land. This adds greatly to the story and makes it a fascinating read beyond the development of the background of another faction. Those who are fans of the Daughters of Khaine would also find this story of interest, for its not just scourge Aelves who inhabit the bloody pirate strongholds. Places of slavery, death, blood and fighting attract those piests and worshippers of the bloody God of Murder.

WANTED: DEAD by Mike Brooks. Necromunda lends itself well to the short story market and this tale does not disappoint in the least. We see the classic Necromunda battle between Houses Escher and Goliath, but things are not always so simple as the might appear on the surface in this dark, dank world of the Underhive. There’s also a tale of love woven into this and of loyalties which are fine additions to the lore of Necromunda, where betrayal and selfish interests can often appear to rule much of the action. It adds to the rich tapestry of the world and shows that the Underhive, for all its lack of education and structure, is possibly one of the most varied settings in the 41st millennium.
We also get a sense of how individual each gang within a Great House is, how they are almost alone as they carve out their own little corner of the Underhive and defend it to the last against any competition.

 

THE BLOODIED ROSE  by Danie Ware. Welcome to the world of the Sisters of Battle, women monks of a powerful militant order who are bound to serve the one true Emperor of Mankind and protect humanity from the threats of the heretic, the mutant, the xeno and the corrupt. The story here touches at the very foundation of the war of mankind vs the darkness of the universe and follies of the long forgotten past of mankind when they originally spread through the stars in ages past.

The religious element is woven into this story well and builds a fantastic mental picture of the churches and religious order of the Sisters. Of how they worship in battle, of how prayer and unity with their sisters armours them against the darkness of the universe and how those dark forces might see to corrupt and tempt them.

The story starts off building a fantastic sense of mystery, touched with the edge of horror. Carrying the reader forward eagerly with page after page as one seeks to uncover the truth of an abandoned settlement and the dark forces that have led to its twisted, macabre end.

 

If you are interested in reading these stories and others in the series, then they are up for sale now. At £3 each for print or digital, or if you get them direct from the Black Library website there’s a £3 discount if you get the whole series of 10 in one go (digital or print). The price is well worth it and this series makes the fantastic in-fill whilst you’re waiting for that next reprint of Inferno Classic or the upcoming New Inferno issue 2

Print Collection

Digital Collection

Inferno – the Classic Era

A review of the reprints of INFERNO by Black Library

Last month Games Workshop started doing print on order of the first run of 5 issues of their classic Inferno series magazine. This was run biomonthly from 1997 to 2004 and features short stories from all the worlds of Games Workshop of the time – Warhammer Classic, Warhammer 40K, Necromunda and others – as well as comics, artwork, cutways, maps and other similar content.

As such they are a fantastic eye into the grim dark worlds that Games Workshop has created, giving you a touch of flavour and adventure as well as a bit more background.

These are high quality reprints made identically to their original versions, even down to the page of advertisements, addresses, prices and even the questionnaire on the last page of the first edition. It’s all here 100% authentic in beautiful black and white (within the pages) as it was when it was first hot off the printers all those years ago.

I was originally on the fence and found it hard to find much info on these and the stories they contain, however as GW was selling them at £5 each and £25 for the set I figured I’d take a leap and give them a try, esp since searching around Ebay showed that the original copies were selling for around those prices anyway. The first series of 5 has now finished its order run (sorry I didn’t get mine till the last days so couldn’t write this any sooner); however they are planning to return to print the entire series from start to finish. Each coming as a set of 5 for a month on print on demand (which is typically pretty fast turn around).

I couldn’t be more pleased with these, high quality printing and some great material and background to really immerse yourself in the lore and settings. The stories are well written and fun adventures. Note that some do appear in later collected editions (eg the Necromunda Story “The Demon Bottle” Also features in Status Deadzone collection), however others are fully stand alone and have not been reprinted by the Black Library. The comics, cutaways and other content have also, again, mostly never been reprinted outside of Inferno.

The stories are well written and have all that punch and wild fun that one would expect from adventure stories set within grim dark settings. From tales of Space Marines against Monstrous first generation Tyranids (the classic Screamer Killer and the old “Alien movie” style hormagaunts); to demonic incursions into the Underhive of Necromunda through to swords and spells as adventurers quest for ancient magical artifacts in dark caves (who also features a barbarian who sounds like he’s right out of the 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger era of films – accent and all). Some of these one off stories stand alone, others are the very early days and adventures of some heroes who later became big names in their own right, such as the mighty Gotrek and Felix!
The authors are wide ranging, some who have come and gone others who have remained with Games Workshop and Black Library for decades – Andy Jones, Jonathan Green, Gav Thorpe and so many more.

The comics vary in their styles of the artist and in what they are conveying, from short one offs to longer running series such as Obvious Tactics. Again another great way to look into the dark world of the 41st Millennium or the deep gothic mystical world of Fantasy.

 

If you were on the fence before I’d encourage you  to take the leap and get into this series if you can, even if you only pick up a few direct from Games Workshop. Quite a few are still lurking around on ebay and other secondhand book stores – so if you’ve missed the start its not too late. Meanwhile anyone who already has a collection with a few gaps this is a perfect situation to pick up those issues that you missed out on.

Tales from the Underhive

A book review of the TALES FROM THE UNDERHIVE by various.

Books in the series:
Death’s Head by Josh Reynolds
Burned by Darius Hinks
Emp-Rah’s Eye by Guy Haley
Scar Crossed by Nick Kyme
Once a Stimm Queen by Robbie MacNiven
Dirty Dealings by Rachel Harrison

As this is a series of short stories I’ve decided to review them as an overall block instead of one by one. With the range of authors and styles presented there’s a little bit for everyone and each author puts their own twist on the grim gloomy world of the Underhive of Necromunda. The toxic, radioactive industrial wasteland that exists beneath the great industrial machines and megacity of the Hive above. These stories focus on short adventures by gangers as they attempt to survive within this hostile environment. Showing how some prevail and some fail against betrayal, cunning traps, the twists of fate and of love, the lust for greed and to escape and more.

As each one is short they take only around 10-20mins or so (on average) to read and thus present a neat bit of flavour to the Underhive. You don’t need much background to get into them, just a general awareness of the dark gritty world; yet if you know more you can see some of the links to the greater Warhammer 40K world. Each of these stories also follows a different gang, giving you a taste of the difference between the primitive Ratskins, the light and agile Eschers and the heavy, stim heavy Goliaths and others.

I found these enjoyable and a nice quick read and more than worth their price. That they are easy to get into without much background awareness makes them an ideal item for those new to the setting and for long time fans.

Buy now on Black Library as a set of 6 with one free
Also on sale as individual stories and on Amazon Kindle store.

Survival Instinct by Andy Chambers

A book review of the novel SURVIVAL INSTINCT by Andy Chambers.

Welcome to the Underhive! My first foray into the world of muck, steel, slag and sump and I feel like I’ve made a very good choice with this book. The story follows the adventure of Mad Donna, a ganger with ties to House Escher who is trying to go it alone in the Underhive, whilst also trying to lose herself from ties to one of the Great Houses of the Spire – the vaulted top of the Hive City where all is clean, bright, airy and a tiny bit safer. The story focuses on one key adventure in her life and brings the Underhive to life with sight, sound and smell. You get a strong sense not only of how variable and rich with lore the Underhive is, but also how utterly vast it is when on the hunt and yet, at the same time, how small it can feel when your character is being hunted.

Each chapter begins with a short background snippet, which early on focus on records of events and places. General snippets that add flavour and a wider view on the world which helps remind the reader that this is but one story in a vast place. As the story progresses those snippets get more focused on the back story of our lead character, a neat way to fill in the growing desire from the reader to know more of her history that neatly slots answers into place. It’s a powerful story telling method that is very well put to use in this book.

The book runs at a good fast pace and is heavy on action, but not at a cost of losing sight of building a story. There are slow sneaky periods; restful moments of calm and then mad moments of action.

All in all a very enjoyable read and a book that works totally as a stand alone read even if you’ve never read a single bit of Necromunda lore or background before.

Buy now on Black Library
Also for sale on Amazon and second hand in paperback on secondhand book sites.

Small steps first day

So new blog new project and right now that project is a Slaanesh army which is likely to dominate these early postings as I get some self motivation to put the army together and learn to paint it up (and I will paint this army – I will I really really will – – – – – well I’ll undercoat it at least!)

 

So thus far the collection page shows all that’s in the Slaanesh force and should remain up to date if I can keep off ebay and nabbing neat older sculpts and metal models here and there. Even in the smaller (than the USA) market of UK ebay there is a surprising amount out there if you look around and wait; even a lot of older unpainted and unassembled models (though it seems that the older 2boobied daemonettes are hard to come by :P). I am, however, most glad that I got hold of 5 of the older seeker riders which along with my mounted herald will be a nice little troop of unique models in the force. I’m also generally keeping an eye out for more of those older seeker riders – I’ll probably end up with quite a few to put on the table (full seeker cavalry charge!).

 

So project objectives for the moment are:

1) Assemble everything – cleaning models (even GW plastic which is the most easy thing to clean there is) takes forever. I’ll also have to leave some models in parts until they are painted because of getting access to details – the Bloodthrone/Skull Cannon is a nightmare of parts that cover other parts and most of the engine and wheel sections will have to be done on their own.

Riders for the seekers and for the bloodcrushers are also going to be done in parts along with the seekers and riders for the chariots.

2) Get some movement trays and modify them – with some greenstuff and work I can modify the movement trays to hold the circular based models so I can use them in 40K or fantasy. I might use magnets as well, some small flat ones to just slip under the base. If I do I’ll also go for a metal sheet over or for the movement tray or be really careful with the magnet positions otherwise.

3) Conversions – thus far I’ve got a herald on a mount to convert (based around the slaanesh warriors of chaos commander rider) – a khorne herald (from the blood throne which isn’t being used – honestly I can’t understand why GW didn’t make him optional on his own as they’ve done with some other kits).

I’m also toying with the idea of going over all (30 at present) deamonettes and adjusting their chests to be more “balanced”. It’s my view that you can’t be an elite death dealing monster with such inbalance upon one’s chest (which means I have to make lots of boobies and armour for the boobies).