book review · miniatures.

Review: The Dark Tower series.

I have had a long and lasting love affair with The Dark Tower series; it is one of the novel series that has resonated with me, and still does so. When I first read it about ten years ago, I was captivated by the characters and world setting, and that hasn’t changed. Periodically, I have gone back and read the first three and a half books, but usually stopped part way through the fourth. Now that I listen to audio books while painting, I found the perfect opportunity to listen to the whole tale again.

Let’s get a picture of The Gunslinger in here, for it is his story after all:

Good points of the story the second time around include how amazingly well written the characters are. From the smallest role to the largest, all the characters have a surprisingly well developed sense of purpose and self. I remember taking nearly three books to decide whether I liked Roland and that when I did, it was a whirlwind. The same applies on the second reading, though perhaps not as intensely. The pace of the first four books is intense and keeps you reading, or listening, even when you know what is going to happen.

What surprised me too is the amount of phrases I use in day to day language that come from this series. Language I had forgotten the source of, phrases like ‘never in life’ and ‘say true?’ just became part of my language. It has a poetic ring to it certainly, and the different accents and nuances contained within the Dark Tower are wide and varied. The world setting is dense, detailed and wide, it is a real treat to read about and journey through. Nothing in this story is coincidence. Everything happens for a reason and the smallest detail in book one unfolds into a big part of the later story. The forward thinking of the author is incredible.

I’m still not sold on Stephen King writing himself into the story.

Everything else about the tale is great, I laughed, I cried and was taken along an emotional journey with the characters; still caught up in their lives despite knowing what happened. If you only ever read one (set of) books again, make it The Dark Tower!

40K · book review · miniatures.

Review: Devastation of Baal – Guy Haley

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I won’t lie, I was a bit wary of reading this. I did not get along with Dark Imperium when I read it and so was unsure whether I would get along with this. All hesitation was blown away after the first few pages however and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel.

What makes this novel exceptionally good, is how invested I was in the characters. I knew of Mephiston of course, and his friends Rhacelus and Antros, and I knew names of the others but not what they were like. It did not take long for me to become truly involved with them and want them to win. Every character in the novel plays a part but there are no carbon copies, not one of them is the same as the other, despite claims to the contrary and it comes off well. They all compliment one another in some way and seeing them all work together is a delight – even if they don’t want to! This is a true writing skill, and shows how masterful Haley is.

I don’t do spoilers in my reviews because I want readers to go out and wnjoy books for themselves but character highlights are fine:

  • Gabriel Seth of the Flesh Tearers being an angry meathead at everything forever.
  • Dante’s speeches, actions and general heroism despite his personal doubts.
  • Mephiston’s questionable deeds, and the dynamic between him and the other librarians.
  • The genuine sadness as the planet and its system is devastated.
  • The Lictor.

Other points that made this book readable: pace, dialogue and balance. The pace is good. It kept me reading until late as I wanted to know what happened. It was punchy, didn’t linger too long on a single point and wasn’t too heavy on the description either. The dialogue between the characters is good, whether a rousing speech, bickering or banter, it works well. Again, it is not over written but in some places, it is funny. It hits the right tone throughout.

This novel is well balanced, quick paced and has some truly emotional points in it. I didn’t cry (only Graham McNeill makes me do that these days), but it was close. I was afraid, gutted and relieved through the book and that is down to the skill of Guy Haley.

I also bought Gabriel Seth so I can have my very own Angry Meathead to glare at the other Angry Meatheads in the cabinet!

Thanks for the great read!

 

 

40K · book review · miniatures.

Talon of Horus – An Audio Book.

I will freely admit that in the past I have denounced the fact audio books exist and that I have no love for them. I always thought that it detracts something from reading, the characters have their own voice and hearing them in your head is a large part of the enjoyment of reading – for me at least. I always felt that in order to get close to the characters, you need to read them for yourself.

That said, I have started to listen to some while I am painting, as I got fed up of the radio and found watching Youtube too distratcing. When I saw Talon of Horus for the princy price of £2.99, I thought I had nothign to lose.

It was a most enjoyable experience. I really like the story anyway and have read it a few times since my first review some years ago when the blog started out. I felt Jonathan Keeble did a good job of giving the character’s voices and none of htem were far wrong from what I imagine them to be. Abaddon’s voice was gravelly, the World Eaters had mild cockney accents which worked really well in my mind, and Khayon came across was affably evil as well. He is still whiny, he still likes to lecture but it’s the Khayon we all know and love from before.

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Champion of Lectures: Khayon the Black

I think it helps that I already love The Black Legion, if I didn’t I’d not have a long running comic based on it’s Warmaster, but I did enjoy listening to the story and I am veyr glad they got the voices right – this is always my concern when listening to audio books.

Have a picture of Abaddon because I feel this needs to be in this post!

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This is his happy face…
book review · miniatures.

Book Review: Blood Reaver – Aaron Dembski Bowden.

Blood ReaverBlood Reaver is part two of the Night Lords Trilogy, and it has taken me longer to read that I wanted it to. This is not because of the book being terrible, but because of my own time constraints.

I was more than happy to pick up the tale of Talos and ‘friends’ once more and find out about there misadventures. This time, they found themselves at the dubious mercy of Huron Blackheart and his cronies. I am not going into detail about the story itself because I want you to go and read it for yourselves. You should do so, and here is why.

Characters! In this novel there are some fresh, new character to get your teeth into and some old flames back to haunt us. Talos, First Claw and the rest of the Night Lords from the first book are back and in full flow. Bickering and sniping at one another to the point of becoming murderous continues to thrill the reader, but leaves enough room for empathy. Even the character of the Exalted – or Vandred as he was formerly known prior to his possession – offers some choice moments within the story. Added to the violent mix is Variel, an apothecary who belongs to the Red Corsairs, also known as The Flayer, is a new face who is chillingly great. His cold, ruthless and detatched demeanour only adds to the story and the role he plays leaves the reader guessing to the very end.

Alongside the Space Marines is the mortal crew. The new additions are a brilliant foil for those that already exist and the development of the interwoven relationships between them all is well written and feels natural, rather than forced.

As always, ADB’s writing is a delight to read. I am not usually a fan of reading void combat, however the end of this novel, which featured such had me gripped and reading until the small hours just to find out what happened and who survived. Those that did not survive had my eyes prickling. That I was able to connect to the humblest of characters within the novel says a great deal about how the book is put together. The action pacing is perfect, making me need to know what happened.

Go and read this novel, it is a whirlwind and worthy of your time!

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.

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.