Posts Tagged ‘Warhammer 40k’

25111218Unless you have been living in a bomb shelter or have an extremely limited of knowledge of the current status of Warhammer 40k advents, then you wouldn’t be aware that, I Am Slaughter, by the legendary Dan Abnett, is the first installment in a large scale series of novels entitled “The Beast Arises”.

To be honest I’ve read books about Space Marines battling Orks; shocked, right? I’ll let you in on another little secret: I’ve read a lot of books about Space Marines battling Orks and this is what made me a little hesitant in jumping aboard this new series. I figured that I am Slaughter would simply be more of the same and it is, more or less.

The pacing of this one was a slow burn for me. I don’t think I really started getting into it until about page fifty. You can tell that Abnett was instructed to lay out a myriad of plots for future authors to follow, also his normal character attachments and dialogue I reminisce about when discussing his writing is a tad lacking. I recognized his banter mostly within the character Magos Laurentis near the end of the book.

I did enjoy the mystique behind the battle on Ardamantua with the Chromes. The eventual play of the Orks behind the gravitational issues and death of the world didn’t evolve exactly as I was expecting, which was nice. Abnett has also created some pretty high expectations for whichever authors get to play around with Vangorich and Beast Krule in the follow-up books.

I Am Slaughter ends with only questions and leaves the reader craving more. I’m excited to see where Rob Sanders picks up in the next installment Predator, Prey and I think Black Library’s The Beast Arises series has a bright future ahead of it. “Daylight Wall stands forever. No wall stands against it.” – Daylight

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Black Library recently released a deluxe and a limited version of Arjac Rockfist: Anvil of Fenris by Ben Counter.  The Deluxe version was delegated to only 500 copies and priced at a staggering $120.00 per unit, while the Limited was $60.00 per unit and set at 3,000 copies.  This is the second book in, what I consider their premium limited edition series, Lords of the Space Marines. The first was Mephiston: Lord of Death, which was only released as a limited edition and sold 2434 books.

You probably are thinking the price for these books are simply ludicrous, however, as a collector I’m willing to spend the extra dough especially on these Lords of the Space Marine books. The quality of the book is impeccable, the casing is sturdy, the added artwork is exceptional, and so far the market value of these books continues to grow astronomically.

I’m going to throw out a few of my shoddy pictures, comparing the deluxe version of Arjac Rockfist, to that of the limited Mephiston.

 

Here is the pair of them, side by side in their original cases. The Arjac case is stunning and the entire package weighs double that of Mephiston, it is both a little taller in height and twice the size in width.

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Another bonus with Ajac, is on all four sides of the case is additional artwork.

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Here is the entire package for the Deluxe version of Arjac Rockfist: A stone-effect sarcophagus box, the hardback novella, an exclusive mini-book, and an exclusive resin rune shield.

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This right here is the unique little Inlay Board, holding the audio CD and protecting the rest of the books inside.

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Now we can see the two comparisons fully between a Deluxe version Arjac and a Limited Mephiston. This is also when I become a tad displeased as I realized that the additional artwork card is only provided within the Limit Editions, but not in the $60.00 extra Deluxe version which makes no sense to me.

 

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Here are the actual books with their dust jackets removed.

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The books themselves are near identical in size and length.

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The Signature / Limited Edition pages are near identical for the pair also.

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The internal artwork on these is pretty jazzy.

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Here is the additionally included chapbooks.

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Anvil has the significant advantage here, with an additional short story and some artwork.

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So, my final thoughts are this: If you don’t have the extra $60.00 for the deluxe edition, you truly aren’t missing out on that much and both are stellar pieces to throw on your Warhammer bookshelves as eye candy. It really boils down to how much of a fanatical collector you are and do you want to spend the extra cash for a thicker case, even more exclusive limited availability, and a few other perks. The limited Arjac is identical to the limited Mephiston and that is why I used it for a comparison.  Interesting note, as of right now, you can still purchase the limited Arjac while the Deluxe sold out in hours and sells on ebay for double the original price.

Rarely do stories with so many separate viewpoints or two-main timeline events running parallel to one another make my list of top books, simply because I always find myself favoring one viewpoint or event so much more than the other. With Deathwatch, that was not the case. In fact, I enjoyed this book so much, afterwards I had to go find my Space Marine anthologies and refresh myself on some of the other previous adventures, “Exhumed and Headhunter”, with this all-star cast.

On one side runs the Inquisitor’s agents; first Ordimas the Puppeteer, a man who is plagued with deformities but also, so much more, just like everything else in this novel. Ordimas is living on the mining planet of Chairo when he is tasked with a risky reconnaissance mission into the mines. I actually found myself getting very attached to his character in the book. Later, we get our first glimpse of White Phoenix, and I have a deep queasy feeling she might be playing a rather large part in future Parker novels.

Sandwiched in between is this cloak-and-dagger Blackseed operation and an individual who we assume is Inquisitor Lord Sigma along with another unknown voice communicating across the warp. These are the big players pulling all the strings and they are hidden behind layers of secrecy. I’d love to know much more about these Chess masters and I’m hoping once again that a future Deathwatch novel will shed us with a little more insight on this aspect.

On the other side is the Deathwatch cast: our main viewpoint here comes from Squad Talon’s Alpha or Karras, a Codicier of the Death Spectres Chapter and everything seems to be revolved around him. There might or might not be a prophecy involved here, but one thing is certain, his psyker combat abilities are especially nifty.  As Karras is selected into the Deathwatch, everyone else is slowly pieced together from the “Best of the Best” and Squad Talon is formed.

The members of Squad Talon: Maximmion Voss, an unusually short, but stout Imperial First whose physically gifted talents are nothing short of astonishing, everything about him is extreme. Next up is Siefer Zeed of the Raven Guard, squad comedian and Voss’s best friend.  Zeed is shadow fast and possibly one of the deadliest close-combat fighters of all time. The two other members consist of Ultramarine Ignacio Solarion or “Preacher” a sniper of unequalled marksmanship who also covets the Alpha position, and Darrion Rauth or “Watcher” of the Exocist Chapter. Little is known about the latter and he is definitely the most mysterious individual of the group.

Oh yea, I almost forgot one last tiny member, Chyron, a dreadnought from the Lamenters Chapter. Nothing more to say, except did you notice the part about him being a “Dreadnought”?

The novel winds its way between the Inquisitor’s agents and the Talon squad individuals as the group coalesces together, all the way from the beginning of their initiation into the  Deathwatch and through their first mission from Inquisitor Lord Sigma, Night Harvest, on Chairo.

Layers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what makes Black Library authors so special is their ability to manipulate the layers  of the Warhammer Universe and Steve Parker has shown that he can peel them back with the best of them. Depth, texture, storyline, and action, Deathwatch has it all and tops my list of reads so far for 2013.

MephSome reviews are terribly difficult to write, it’s like pulling out my own incisors trying to come up with the right words that most effectively portray how I feel about the book. Writing the review for Mephiston: Lord of Death was easier than tossing a dry leaf into a roaring fire and watching it incinerate. After I finished the book, my head couldn’t stop thinking about everything I wanted to cover. I had so many ideas and hopefully I don’t forget any.

Mephiston is told from first person which that in itself is a unique thing; I found it truly serves to enhance the enjoyment of the story. You can form a real connection with his character, he isn’t some mindless Space Marine more robot than human, who charges around waving a chainsword and grunting “For the Emperor”. I also found the inner conflict of Mephiston intriguing. I wouldn’t say he truly doubts what he is, but more or less questions everything, including the reason for his existence. He does know, however, what he is not and that is the former vessel Calistarius.

I was amazed at how some of the individual paragraphs build up into precise descriptions and then are beautifully closed out into an almost poetic-like prose. The battle field on the planet Pallevon is a near hive level city that has turned ghost town, the only ravagement it has seen is that of nature and time. Some of the wonderment and mystery that builds up as the 4th Company descends deeper towards their goal is excellent. I won’t spoil it too much, but I was reminded of a quest in the game Diablo 2 about fighting the ancients.

The short chapbook, Eclipse of Hope, that accompanied Mephiston: Lord of Death added a significant layer of depth and setup for the novella. I loved its addition to this package Black Library put together and the value it added really enticed me to buy this collector’s edition all together. The ending revealed in Mephiston: Lord of Death envelopes what began in the Eclipse of Hope quite nicely.

Since this is a collector’s edition, you pay a high price, but I found it more than worth it. A spectacular story, beautiful production from even the tiniest embossed Space Marine helmet beside every page number, the addition of Eclipse of Hope, the added artwork, and finally the most surprising of all, the slipcase is wonderful. Out of everything that Black Library put together for this product, I was least concerned with the slipcase and once I really had it in my hands, I was shocked. It isn’t some flimsy piece of material; it is a solid protector for your novella that looks stunning on a bookshelf. I really wasn’t expecting that from the slipcase at all, and I hope to have a whole row of them proudly lined up next to each other.(If I don’t have to file bankruptcy due to the pricey cost; anyone who tries to repossess my books will be eviscerated)

Back to the story, without giving too much away, Mephiston and the 4th Company have been pulled to Pallevon since the discovery of the Eclipse of Hope. Along the way, Mephiston and company meet something they didn’t expect – a relic from Calistarius’s past that threatens everything. Upon this reunion Mephiston and the 4th company are tugged even quicker on the strings to which they are attached and plunge headfirst towards the unknown. What they find on Pallevon could be a monumental discovery for their Chapter or it could bring about their own personalized damnation.

With Mephiston: Lord of Death I felt a few whispers from previous great Black Library novels, Angel of Darkness – Gav Thorpe, Eisenhorn – Dan Abnett, and even a little bit of the character Uriel Ventris – Graham McNeill, whether intentional or not. Mephiston carried with it a sense of something epic that these other books have grasped hold of. There was very little downside to contrast with everything that the Mephiston package so positively offered. The only thing I can even think of that might irk some is that the story is a novella and not true novel length which none of the A5’s are as of yet that I am aware of and in this case it didn’t bother me at all. With the conclusion of Mephiston, I’ve decided that I will definitely be purchasing the next book in the Lords of Space Marines series. I’ll also be looking into Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha whenever I scrounge together some more pennies and quarters from beneath my couch cushions.

Verdict: Buy this story as soon as you can if it ever goes digital or prints in another format; you won’t regret it in the least. 10 out of 10 Liams for Mephiston: Lord of Death. David Annandale is the Lord of Death, just as Dan Abnett is each and every individual trooper in Gaunt’s Ghost.

Want more Mephiston: Lord of Death ? Here on Warhammer and 40k Books, is solid review with excellent pictures. Also, here is another from The Founding Fields, done up by Lord of the Night.

Somewhere in the dark void of space, reality is splitting open and David Annandale is stepping through, hopefully to answer a few of my needy questions and not squash me for my impertinence.  I’ve already ordered a copy of his limited edition novel, Mephiston, Lord of Death.  While I’m waiting for its arrival to review it, I had a few burning questions burst into my skull. Hopefully, I chose them wisely.

Q: First question, what is it like to gain passage through the iron barred gates and earn yourself a much coveted seat in Black Library’s  prestigious authorial ranks?

 Annandale: I’m no doubt pointing out the obvious when I say that it’s damned exciting. The experience is something along the lines of delighted shock. You mean I get to write about these characters and this world? You mean I get paid to do so? What wonderful lunacy is this? I am very conscious of the privilege it is for a writer to play in this universe, one I most certainly do not take for granted.

 Q: Have they requested anything specific from you to write about? Or do you supply most of the ideas behind your stories and then wait for their approval? Also, what kind of time frame, once a contract is agreed upon do you have to finish in? (I’m sure it varies based on shorts versus full-length novels, etc.)

Annandale: All of this varies according to the nature of the project. Some pieces, if they are part of a group of stories or a particular bit of continuity, will need to be shaped to a specific need. Others are much more wide-open. And the same is true for the time to completion. So I hesitate to say to quantify things too precisely.

 Q: When writing within a setting like Warhammer 40k, that has so much preexisting “fluff” or background, how much extra time does it actually take to do research? Do they supply you with background material or do they have someone always editing for conflicting issues that might arise? This makes me wonder if you ever feel like you are walking on eggshells, just waiting for one to crack and in response an angry fan base will tear you and your desecration of their holy land to shreds?

 Annandale: With a fictional universe this big and rich, there is certainly a responsibility to do one’s utmost to get the details right. I have found the team at the Black Library enormously helpful in this regard. Whatever questions I might have while I’m writing, there is always someone who can give me the answer, and then the editing process is vital in this regard too. The time spent on research again depends on the subject – some characters or factions have a lot more written about them than some others. I don’t think of the research in terms of “extra” time in comparison to non-tie-in work, though. Any book is going to require research, some more than others, and the research for some books is easier than it is for others. The nice thing about researching a Warhammer 40K story is that I never feel that I am alone.

 Q: I’ve heard before in forums and other areas the notion that too much “domesticity” in Warhammer and Warhammer 40k is not what the Black Library is looking for? (I’d rather like to see more of it.) So let me glue this together with my question, is there an area you would love to touch upon and write about that isn’t accessible right now?

 Annandale: I really haven’t felt myself straining against limitations or barriers. Actually, let me rephrase that: I have, but in the sense that I have been encouraged to push myself creatively, breaking down my imaginative barriers, finding out exactly what I am capable of as a writer. And that’s pretty wonderful. So no, I haven’t found myself  wishing I could write about something that was closed off to me.

 Q: Has anything come as a surprise since working for Black Library  that you didn’t foresee since being published by them?

Annandale: What hadn’t sunk into my thick skull properly until I actually started writing for Black Library was that the enormous variety of characters, settings and even story formats would lead to the creative expansion I just mentioned. For example, Mephiston: Lord of Death represents the most sustained use of first-person and present tense I have ever attempted, and my story for The Mark of Calth involves some fragmentation of sentence structure of a sort that I haven’t tackled in a long time, and exercising that writing muscle again was enormously gratifying.

 Q:  Do you have a personal favorite, novel or series, currently published through Black Library by another author?

Annandale: I really couldn’t narrow things down to a favorite. If I picked one, I would instantly think, “Oh, but what about this one?” There have been so many times where I have literally cackled with pleasure while reading the books or listening to the dramas. I’ve been sitting here for the last half hour thinking of all the things that have delighted me in the Tome of Fire trilogy, in Eisenhorn, in the Path of the Eldar trilogy, in Know No Fear, in the Night Lords trilogy, in Fear to Tread, in Gunheads, and so on, and so on, and so on. Too much great stuff. So nope. Can’t do it. If I have to pick, I’m going to start weeping.

 Q: Last question, would you ever be interested in writing for the Warhammer setting and not that of 40k ? If, so what rocky paths would you traverse down?

Annandale: I’m pretty busy in the 40K universe, much to my delight, but I would certainly be very happy to raise some hell in the Fantasy setting too. As to what paths I would follow, I’m sure whichever one presented itself would be fun, though I do have a fascination with all things reptilian.

Want more from David Annandale ? Here is a review of mine covering  his audio Veritas Ferrum. Also you can reach him on twitter HERE.

David’s two other current novels through Black Library are Death of Antagonis and Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha.

Primary Instinct is a short story featuring space marines from the Silver Skulls chapter and it is written by Black Library’s new talent Sarah Cawkwell. As of now Sarah has two novels out, the Gildar Rift also dedicated to the Silver Skulls and her other novel is Valkia the Bloody, a Warhammer Fantasy. Sadly I haven’t read either and Gildar Rift is on my impending list of books to read immediately.

Looking at Primary Instinct, I enjoyed what I see as a clear cut and sharp writing style with excellent visual descriptions. I can’t stop picturing the squad of fierce space marines swatting at the insects buzzing around them. It’s a great well-defined gritty realistic image.

The squad is hunting after the Eldar and is unsure whether or not the vile aliens have eluded their grasp. Throw in a different unidentified alien life form, some sick combat scenes, and an intriguing plot and you have a pretty sweet and compact 40k short story. Characters worth noting, Sergeant Gileas Urten is the squad commander of ‘The Rekoners’.  Normally I’d assume he was the central figure but I felt the story drifted more heavily on the shoulders of the young Prognosticator Bhehan.

If you haven’t read this yet or any of her other works, then you need to. Highly talented and excellent at crafting a scene, Sarah Cawkwell has a promising authorial career ahead of her. 8 out of 10 Liams for this noteworthy tale of the Silver Skulls.

I find the talent that the Black Library picks up is just incredible. They know exactly what they like, what readers like, and what it takes to churn out high quality novels and stories left and right.

In Dan Abnett’s story, The Strange Demise of Titus Endor, the characters are so real that I think I’ve met some of them in real life. Titus Endor is obviously my crazy grandfather from my mother’s side… okay… well, maybe not but it seriously could be. Abnett’s grasp on 40k is so perfect that if he ever did slip-up with something I would consider the work a forgery.

In an alternate reality Abnett was obviously some sort of Warhammer God sent to our universe to gift us with awesome stories such as this one. The Strange Demise of Titus Endor is a bit baffling until the end and you could actually end up rereading the entire story to try and figure out what you really believed happened.

Titus believes he is on a mission to hunt down villian Gonrad Maliko and through circumspect evidence, a bizarre occurrence of somewhat correlating numbers, and a mysterious dancer Titus leads us on a ghost hunt, or is it?

Great writing, great setting, and another great short story by the infamous Mr. Abnett, who by now should be referred to as Doctor Abnett with a PhD in Warhammer verse. 9 out of 10 Liams and you can read this short in the very first Hammer & Bolder issue through Black Library.

Abnett also has a new Eisenhorn vs. Ravenor book coming out, Pariah.  It should be very interesting indeed! I have another short story review coming up, Primary Instinct by Sarah Cawkwell.

Here is a look at what came in the mail today 🙂

Games Day Anthology,

#961 The Bloody Handed by Gav Thorpe,

And Aenarion Chapbook!