book review · miniatures.

Review: Soul Hunter – Aaron Dembski Bowden

Soul Hunter

Several friends of mine pestered me to read this for a while. One of them loaned me the physical copy, another loaned me a digital copy and eventually I relented. I do not get a lot of time to read books, and I do not like to waste my time on bad ones. This book is not a bad book.

This book is in fact, a very good book.

I knew within the first couple of pages that I was going to like the Night Lords due to one incident. One of the characters gets shot in the middle of a discussion and his so called friend had to switch his vox off because he was laughing so hard about it.

The book is full of gems like this. You quickly come to realise that the Night Lords all hate each other. It is the typical dynamic however that as soon as an outsider starts to hate on the individuals, that they pull together and deal with problems – mostly.

I never like to write spoilers in my reviews and I do not plan to start now. Some key players appear in the book, and they are all true to their character. The novel provides another perspective on these characters which is insightful and interesting.

The story is well constructed, cleverly written and easy to read. Some of the fight scenes it contains were so good my coffee went cold as I was so engaged. There is no abundence of overly floral language, though there is no lack of description either. Some of the scenes push the boundaries of what is ‘sensible’ (I know, it’s 40K but…) however, they are not ludicrous and are certainly exciting.

I really look forward to Blood Reaver, and enthusing about this awesome read to those who encouraged me to read them in the first place.

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40K · book review · Warhammer 40000

Review: Dark Imperium – Guy Haley

815M7vUNz+L Talk about late to the party! This was released a while ago now and I’ve only just gotten around to ‘reading’ it. Bit of a confession, I listened to it on Audio Book instead. This was a new venture for me, and after I got over the voices and overly English accent of the reader, I found it enjoyable. I was able to paint and listen at the same time. Who knew…

I’ll start with the good. There are some really well constructed scenes in this story that enable the characters to show their core values well. For example, there is a part of the tale where Calgar and some of his cronies are dealing with an uprising. The opponents are mainly youths who are being used by adults because they are impressionable. The Ultramarines quickly realise how shoddy the work is but instead of just wading in to kill them, they decide to capture them and re-educate them so next time they can do a proper job of it. It made me laugh, could anything be more Ultramarine?

There are other interactions as well, Mortarion, Typhus and a daemon prince are talking via phychic ‘phone’, to which the Death Guard Primarch is outraged. The part where Uriel Ventris introduces himself to Guilliman is also marginally hilarious. All the characters play to themselves and are enjoyable in one way or another. The internalisation of Guilliman’s thoughts are also interesting and the contrast between the modern Imperium and what he knew are good to read. His frustrations are very relatable too. The language used to convey the characters, and the setting as well, is easy to follow.

Description wise, I think there are good and bad parts. The language used to describe the Death Guard and the Nurgle aspects of the novel are exceptionally well done. I had no idea there were that many words for guts. It allows the reader to really picture what the disgusting creatures look like. Some of it is quite nauseating and I liked that part. When it came to describing arches and other such things, I was less bothered. Some of the pacing of the novel is lost due to long descriptive passages or history lessons, which while vital for the background, I found rambly. There are some that enjoy such aspects, I am not one of them. I like to read the action and I like it to be fast paced.

There is also a lot of information on the Primaris marines and how much superior they are to the older spec of marine as well. It was when they had first been released however and I suppose they needed to be bigged up to the readership. They are fine by me and I rather liked the characters, especially when they they were relaxing in the mess hall lamenting that there was no booze to toast with. It made them seem human in many ways and I have always enjoyed reading about the human side of Space Marines.

This novel ambles, rather than surges, along and I am sure that if I was to tackle this as a read rather than a listen, I would have struggled with it. Still, it is worth reading all the same to get an insight into the mind of Guilliman. The other characters are no less engaging either and are certainly interesting.

40K · book review

Review: The Ahriman Series

Some of you may have noticed that I have a little* bit of a soft spot for Ahriman so, I thought it would be a good idea to actually give the books by John French a read. I looked up his blog for the reading order, loaded up the kindle and off I went. I will try and do this without too many spoilers, but the books have been out for a while and I think most of us know the outcome by now anyway.

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One day, I too hope to shoot lightning out my hands…

I enjoyed All is Dust – a short story from the perspective of a Rubric Marine. What is that you say? They’re just dust floating about in armour! This one seemed to be able to recall his name and some basic emotion when roused to battle but rapidly forgot it when he returned to the inert state. I liked this because it offered insight into what are basically suits of armour that are pushed about by sorcerers.

In the series, there are three novels and a collection of other short stories told from the Point of View of a sorcerer known as Ctesias. These are told in first person narrative and I am going to admit that Ctesias did my head in. His insights into what was going on was irritating, though I think that was the character rather than the tales he was telling, which were good. I do enjoy it when a character grates on my nerves. Not all characters are written to be liked after all and Ctesias certainly got a reaction. The outcome of one particular story was rather satisfying for me as a reader, if not Ctesias himself.

So, the story of Ahriman then. Well, he sulks a great deal. The start of the series is after the rubric and he is hiding away from what he did. The three books follow his journey to ‘power’ and ends with the (and this is the HUGE spoiler here) failure of the second rubric. The books are easy to read, well constructed and even the characters that I don’t like are engaging. There is a range of different personalities within the three novels but none of them dominate. They all get a good amount of ‘screen time’ as well. The plots are well constructed, elaborate and engaging. I know for a fact that I will read these again and not just because I am fan of the Thousand Sons.

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Just a regular day in the warp.

The one thing that these tales confirmed for me, again, is that Magnus is a giant, selfish jerk who really needs to get his head out his butt and think of someone other than himself once in a while. There was rage… I do like it when characters and books make me actually feel something! It is a real treat!

The next book I am reading is Primogenitor by Josh Reynolds. Friends have been on at me for months to read it and I managed to grab a copy at the weekend.

 

*It’s not that little really, my adoration of the Persian Space Wizard is well known and unashamed.

40K · book review · Uncategorized · Warhammer 40000 · Warhammer 40k · Wh40K

Review: Black Legion – Aaron Dembski-Bowden

BLPROCESSED-Black-Legion-coverThis book is so awesome I am going to leave the picture huge. I was fortunate enough not to wait long for the second installment of the Black Legion series, which was a relief seeing as I loved the first one.

The story picked up a ‘few’ years on from where the last one left off, once again being told through the eyes of Iskandur Khayon, former Thousand Son Legionary. He has become Abaddon’s assassin and seems to be struggling with the role. I won’t go into details because spoilers but I will say when he overcomes these inhibitions, awesomeness ensues.

The narrative of the novel is in the first person once again, something I found well crafted before and was not let down this time. The voice of Khayon comes through clearly throughout; you can definitely tell that he was a member of the Thousand Sons before his change of allegiance. When he is explaining things to you, he does so from the stance of a scholar – it is a little like being in a lecture. Instead of detracting from the pace of the novel, it explains things about the Eye of Terror that the reader doesn’t know. Khayon never gives up the opportunity to enlighten the reader about the trials and tribulations he and his brethren face on a daily basis!

Although the book deals with the serious, and often deadly, threats that face the newly established Black Legion, there is no shortage of funny aspects either. Each character is well established with one another and there is no shortage of bickering and sniping a one another, which provides the novel with some much needed comic moments. We all know and understand that life in the grim dark future is just that but these interactions remind the reader that there is humour too.

Also: Abaddon fights Sigismund… Well paced, perfectly written and oh my word what a page turning ending to the novel! Just amazing! The rest of the fight scenes are amazing – highlighting the brutality needed to win and the lengths of the character’s ambitions too. There is also a wicked space battle that had me turning the pages quicker than I thought possible.

It is a perfect follow-up to an epic start, I just hope the next installment isn’t too far in the future!

book review · Wh40K

Review: A Thousand Sons – Graham McNeill

Thousand Sons I had the distinct pleasure of reading this novel on the decks of the Thompson Majesty while on my honeymoon – often with a cocktail or two; it would be rude not to after all.

What a real pleasure it was to read too! I’ll start off by celebrating all of the rich description within this novel. During parts of the novel, I could easily picture the setting, to the point where I felt as though I was actually walking down some of the Tizcan streets with the characters as they spoke. Maybe that could be attributed to the warm climates I was in too but it was a real pleasure. The choice of words used paints a truly wonderful picture, one that I devoured gladly and you should too! It was as though I could smell what was being made in the markets, hear the traders calling and feel the heat of the sun too.

Characters in the novel are spectacularly well written; the leading cast are well rounded and layered. McNeill carefully ensures that the Space Marine characters are not carbon copies of each other and that they are different from the contingencies of remembrancers (humans) too. Not all the characters are likeable, they’re not meant to be, but they are well written. I found it very difficult to be sympathetic to the Primarch of the Thousand Sons; he came across as an aloof, arrogant being without a trace of thought for those he used – he was meant to. I could find solace in the fact he was well written and that his sons were far more likeable than he was.

The pace of the novel was perfect too, there were no points where the story lulled or seemed to drag on either. Each twist and turn of the novel is woven carefully together and the differences of opinion of the characters are artfully displayed.

I cannot stress enough how I enjoyed the novel and really look forward to reading a lot more about the Thousands Sons legion. I hear there are some pretty devastating turns in store for Ahriman and his friends.

book review · Uncategorized · Wh40K

Review: The Talon of Horus – Aaron Dembski-Bowen

 

Talon of HorusWell, I read this one a bit quickly! The Talon of Horus had been on the shelf for a little while now and I fancied reading something that wasn’t in the Horus Heresy saga. Those of you who know me well will also be aware that I have a bit of fascination regarding Abaddon and so this book seemed like it would be an interesting read.

The fact that I managed to read it in less than three days whereas the last book took more than a month says a great deal about how amazing this read was. I was a little wary of the first person narrative to begin with. I’ve read a few books written in this style and they have been absolute rubbish. Not the case here. The narrator has a very clear voice and it never loses focus through the novel. The reader is never left with a sense of disembodiment and the point of view is clear and maintained throughout the tale.

There are plenty of moments in the novel that made me laugh out loud too, I don’t want to spoil any of the details but there are a few well thrown punches and dry quips that are golden. The World Eater character can be relied upon to act according to his nature in moments that are utterly brilliant.  One of the things that really resonated me with this novel was how the narrator highlighted how inhuman he was and yet in other parts would act in very human ways. He is very aware of the differences and is very keen to remind the reader of them yet his actions, at times, show the opposite

The pace of the novel is perfect. The blend of action and narrative is just right and it kept me turning the pages late into the evening and well into the day when I should have been doing other things. The action within the novel is well written, engaging and never seems to drag on as it has in some other stories I have read.

Within the pages of this novel there are some tastefully used metaphors, something I don’t normally pick up on. I am not known for subtlety after all… The part when the main characters are walking through acid rain and the colours of their former legion is washed off is just too poetic not to mention. Especially as the novel deals with the birth of the Black Legion! Hats off to you Aaran Demnski-Bowden

All in all, this was a devastatingly amazing read. You should go and read it right now. You’ll want to join the Black Legion afterwards, but that’s alright; what’s a little heresy between friends?

 

40K · book review · horus heresy · Warhammer 40k · Wh40K

Review: Fallen Angels – Mike Lee

Fallen AngelsIt seems to have taken me forever to read this book. Being busy at work has certainly not helped matters but I have finally managed to finish it! Not that the summer holidays have had anything to do with that, no sir!

I’ll start by saying that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Dark Angels book – Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon. I found the pacing a bit off and compared to the rest of the series, it was a bit of a bad egg. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t as good as some of its predecessors.

Fortunately, this one is better. The pacing at the start of the novel is slow, I will concede that point and it took a while to get going. When it did get going however, it turned into the ‘cannot put down’ page turner that I expect from a Horus Heresy novel.

The story picks up the two separate tales of cousins Nemiel and Zahariel; the two protagonists from the first novel and continues their saga. I’m not going to say overly much about what happens, I want you to go and read the novel for yourself and find out but I will say that it is exciting.

The plot of the two stories don’t really entwine with one another. Nemiel’s is based on the planet of Diamat, where the Dark Angel’s, along with their Primarch have to thwart the rebel’s attempts at securing the planet. Zahariel’s is set on Caliban along with Luther and the other ‘banished’ Dark Angels. The two plots are both engaging, when they find their momentum, and there are some astonishingly well written battle scenes to boot. There are some pretty hefty twists towards the end of the book too which were interesting, again, I’m not going to discuss them in detail but believe me, you’ll roll your eyes!

Give the book a read, it is well worth it despite the slow start!