The Ultramarines are coming to Blu-Ray.
After years of dragging my feet, I finally plunged into the Warhammer 40K universe with a read of Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn trilogy. I was quite impressed, not only by this specific volume, but by the breadth and depth of the WH40K universe…so much so, that I did a little digging to learn some more.
Today at the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I share the fruit of my research with a look at this fascinating universe.
Head on over to the Kirkus Reviews Blog and check out Warhammer 40K in a Nutshell…
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Follows the adventures of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn as he fights evil in the name of the Holy Emperor…and chronicles his dangerous relationship with the ways of Chaos.
PROS: Stellar world building; superb storytelling; nonstop pacing; memorable worlds and characters; utterly engrossing; leaves you wanting more.
CONS: I kid you not when I say “none”.
BOTTOM LINE: A book that has rekindled my love of reading.
The Warhammer 40K novels have been on my radar for some time. I had dabbled in some audio short stories and enjoyed them quite a bit, but fellow sf fans had even better things to say about the novels, particularly those of WH40K veteran, Dan Abnett. Start with Eisenhorn, they said. I finally took the plunge and my only regret is that I wish I had listened sooner.
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BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Chapter Master Amit and a company of space marines descend upon Cretacia to exterminate orks but find a different sort of enemy once they make planetfall.
PROS: A look at the internal struggle of the Chapter, plenty of flesh tearing.
CONS: Could use more characterization.
BOTTOM LINE: Smillie continues to flesh out a beloved Space Marine Chapter (pardon the pun), while providing lots of that old fashion bolter porn.
Total victory is robbed from the Flesh Tearers fleet as a number of orks escape before the final blow can be dealt. With a desire to bring death to the enemy, Chapter Master Amit assembles a company to track and eradicate the survivors. After arriving on the planet the Flesh Tearers become aware of a different sort of enemy…an enemy that has massacred the fleeing orks and wishes to expel all intruders from the world. Can the Flesh Tearers defeat an entire world fixed upon their death or will they succumb to their own inner blood lust?
Many of us here at SF Signal are Warhammer fans, and we’re excited whenever a new Warhammer book is releases…like Nick Kyme’s War of Vengeance: the Great Betrayal.
here’s the synopsis from Black Library:
Thousands of years before the rise of men, the dwarfs and elves are stalwart allies and enjoy a era of unrivalled peace and prosperity. But when dwarf trading caravans are attacked and their merchants slain, the elves are accused of betrayal. Quick to condemn the people of Ulthuan as traitors, the mountain lords nevertheless try to prevent conflict, but the elves’ arrogance undoes any chance of reconciliation and war is inevitable. Snorri Halfhand, son of the High King and no particular friend of the elves, is at the vanguard of the war with his cousin Morgrim Blackbeard. At the city of Tor Alessi a vast army stands against the dwarfs. Here Snorri will meet his destiny against the elven King Caledor as the first blow is struck in a conflict that could bring about the fall of two great civilisations.
And here’s the book info from Amazon US:
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Black Library (October 25, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 1849701911
- ISBN-13: 978-1849701914
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A collection of short stories focused on the dastardly deeds of the Chaos Space Marines, with contributions from promising new talent.
PROS: Sarah Cawkwell and Andy Smillie’s short stories are the best to be found in this anthology.
CONS: “Throne of Lies” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is largely pointless and “The Long War” by Andy Hoare lacks purpose.
BOTTOM LINE: Treacheries of the Space Marines is a mixed bag but worth paperback price for sure.
The Black Library has a surplus of talent at the moment. There is of course the old guard, names like Abnett, McNeill, Counter, Swallow, and King that have put Warhammer 40,000 fiction on the map. Then there is a new crop of skillful authors that are just now testing the waters. I have high hopes for these writers, names like Dembski-Bowden, Cawkwell, Smillie, French, Zou, and Sanders. The Black Library needs such new perspective if it is to remain fresh and appealing. I’m happy to say that there is little risk of the Black Library stagnating and Treacheries of the Space Marines is proof.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The Blood Angels make their debut in one of the best Horus Heresy books to date.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Warmaster Horus sends Sanguinius and the entirety of the Blood Angels legion on a mission to the Signus System. What the Angels find there will test the very mettle of the legion.
PROS: Epic set pieces, beautiful imagery, good characterization, sweeping battles, and dark revelations.
CONS: The series still seems to be stalled, though the author isn’t to blame for this.
BOTTOM LINE: Sanguinius and the Blood Angels get the book they deserve and fans of the Horus Heresy series will be treated to one of the Top 5 entries in the series thus far.
A dark secret haunts Sanguinius of the IX Legion, the proud and noble Blood Angels. It is a flaw he has kept from his father, the Emperor, for fear of his gene-legacy. Outside of a small band of his most trusted soldiers Sanguinius tells but one other, Warmaster Horus. The friendship between the two is a bond forged in the fires of battle but as Horus prepares to make the transformation from champion of the Imperium to arch-traitor, it is a bond that is about to be betrayed. Tempted with the prospect of salvation Sanguinius assembles the full force of his legion to prosecute a mission given by the Warmaster himself. It is not salvation that the Blood Angels find in the Signus System, instead they face an unknown enemy that will challenge the IX Legion to its core.
Here’s a helpful animated video to that serves as an excellent introductory guide to the expansive Warhammer 40K universe.
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PROS: Really great twist with some strong characterization for such a short story.
CONS: This would have been top class with just a little more length.
VERDICT: When Andy Smillie gets around to writing a full-length novel it is going to rock, till then enjoy a well-penned short story.
I’ve never been much of a short story guy myself. Warhammer 40,000 seems to be the one property that I can tolerate (and even enjoy) condensed into short story format. Still, a lot of those anthologies from the Black Library are stuffed with a lot of filler and so it appeals to me to be able to purchase individual short stories at my leisure. This way I can pick out the authors that are pretty much required reading without having to skim through all the chaff. Andy Smillie caught my attention earlier this year with his short story “Beneath the Flesh”, featuring one of the more fascinating loyalist Space Marine Chapters. In a limited amount of space Smillie was able to convey his message and leave me wanting more. Since then his skill has only increased.
Here’s the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 novel Pariah: Ravenor vs Eisenhorn by Dan Abnett.
Here’s the synopsis:
Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor returns to action to hunt the most dangerous enemy he has ever encountered, a disgraced inquisitor, driven by obsession to bind daemons to his will and consort with heretics. For Ravenor, this is more than just a manhunt; it is personal. This foe was once his greatest ally and most trusted friend: his old mentor, Gregor Eisenhorn.
Book info as per Amazon US:
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Black Library (October 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1849702020
- ISBN-13: 978-1849702027
SYNOPSIS: Legend tells of an expedition past the Halo Scar, led by a radical Magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus in search of a mysterious technological artifact. Now, thousands of years later, an ambitious and desperate Magos leads an Explorator fleet into the dangers of wilderness space in pursuit of the lost expedition.
PROS: From the solid prose to the beautiful descriptions, the solid and varied cast of characters to the wonderment of the expedition, this book brings an entirely new flavor to the franchise.
CONS: I wanted more. I wanted a lot more, and this book was just a sample of what is to come.
VERDICT: This is McNeill’s best novel since Storm of Iron and Dead Sky, Black Sun. Not only that but this is also a refreshing change of pace for the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Graham McNeill is a member of what I would consider the Black Library, Old Guard. This is a man who has been writing 40K fiction since I started reading it, a man who was able to turn my distaste for the Ultramarines into a glowing admiration. He is also the man responsible for one of the best pieces of 40K fiction available, Storm of Iron, perhaps one of the coolest sieges I have ever had the pleasure to read about. Unfortunately some of McNeill’s more recent novels have been less worthy. Though his latest Horus Heresy novel, The Outcast Dead, started out with promise, it faltered in execution. I am happy to say that Priests of Mars is everything I hoped it would be and more. This is McNeill writing at his best, and when that happens everyone wins.
SYNOPSIS: Something foul is afoot on the planet of Shardenus in the Contqual sub-sector. Imperial Guard, Adeptus Mechanicus, and the fearsome Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter descend to cleanse the world of an unholy taint that has taken root.
PROS: Plenty of action from the perspectives of Imperial Guard, Titans, Space Marines, and even a Death Cult assassin.
CONS: Lack of plot and character depth; nothing new in regard to the Space Marine Battles series.
VERDICT: This is an average quality book in an average quality series.
The Space Marines of Clan Raukaan, Iron Hands Chapter, descend upon the hive world of Shardenus as part of a concerted Imperial effort to purge the world of mutant, heretic and daemon. Once the Iron Hands make planetfall it quickly becomes apparent to the mortal Imperial commanders that the space marines have an agenda of their own. Regular soldiers of the Imperial Guard are fed into the meat grinder of war at an alarming pace in order to expedite this superhuman agenda and eventually the question must be asked: “Are the Iron Hands any less monstrous than the enemy?”
We’re big fans of Warhammer 40K…so this trailer for a new WH40K anthology and audio CD has us stoked…
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BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken and his regiment of Catachan soldiers seek refuge in a jungle village, only to find a new battle awaits them.
I’m really enjoying the series of Warhammer 40K audio dramas that Black Library is publishing, first with Nick Kyme’s Thunder From Fenris, then with Gav Thorpe’s Raven’s Flight, and now with Steve Lyons’ Waiting Death. Each story is unapologetic military science fiction action as would be expected, but each story also offers something above and beyond standard fare.
REVIEW SUMMARY: More incentive to dive into a Warhammer 40K book.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Lord Corax and the Raven Guard are stranded without backup on the hostile planet Isstvan V.
PROS: Exciting military sf action; engrossing story; excellent production quality.
CONS: Predictable ending was somewhat of a letdown after all the goodness that came before.
BOTTOM LINE: This is another worthy audio production set in the Warhammer 40K universe.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The Thunder Wolves, a super-elite military team, hunt down their zombie-like brother before he can kill again.
PROS: Perfect pacing; gripping and gory action; characters you care about; high quality production value.
CONS: I could nitpick that one character distractingly sounded too much like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
BOTTOM LINE: I cannot imagine how this could have been a more enjoyable listening experience.
- Codex Pictures (the folks who brought you Bionicle DVD movies) announced making a CG DVD movie based on Warhammer 40,000 called Ultramarines, a “70-minute sci-fi thriller that will use CGI and state-of-the-art animation production techniques”. The film’s website is pretty bare right now…for now you can read Tim’s list of 5 Reasons Why You Should Read a Warhammer 40,000 Book. [via Topless Robot]
- Interviews and Profiles:
- Jo Walton reviews C.J. Cherryh’s The Pride of Chanur.
- Matthew Sturges (who, acting on his own behalf, sold the German rights for both Midwinter and Office of Shadow to Verlagsgruppe Lübbe) shows off the great new cover of Office of Shadow
- Tired of the plethora of vampire shows? This Twilight spoof is for you.
- There’s a new season/series of The Sarah Jane Adventures coming soon. I still think Young Doctor Who is a good idea.
- Gary Westfahl reviews FlashForward
- Are you insured against an alien invasion? Didn’t think so.
- Rwo words: Zombie bunny.
- Gunaxin lists 10 Science Fiction Concepts Ruined by Human Nature.
- JOhn Scalzi lists The Best and Worst Television Adaptations of SciFi Classics.