Archive for empire

DELIVERANCE LOST By Gav Thorpe – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2019 by stanleyriiks

The legend of the Horus Heresy continues. In the 30th Century the Empire of Man is under threat from the vilest villain it had ever faced, not the orks or any other alien invaders, but from the Emperor’s favourite son: Horus.

The remaining Raven Guard of the Isstvan V slaughter manage to escape the awful violence caused by the Space Marines traitor legions, and head back to Earth to heal their wounds and regroup.

This is the story of the troubles they face, the machinations of the traitor legions against them, and the internal politics and paranoia of an empire under siege.

To describe what happens in book 18 of this series any further would do it a disservice, as there are shocks and surprises throughout.

This is the Heresy in all its wonderful glory: epic scale, brilliant characters, brother fighting brother and you, the excited reader, torn as much as the characters are by the intricacy of this brutal war.

Gav Thorpe is does an outstanding job in his first Heresy book, this is exciting stuff, and a great insight into one of the less well-known but still very interesting Primarchs.

One of the best Heresy novels and definitely worth a read.

LEGION By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2013 by stanleyriiks

The action writer who started off the Horus Heresy series returns to familiar ground in this, another novel of the expansion of the Heresy “Universe”. While the first three novels is the series set up the Heresy, this and the previous novel in the series (Descent of Angels) set up/explore other parts of the unsuspecting human empire in which the terror of the Heresy will take place.

In this novel, for the first time we are focussed on the Imperial Army rather than the Space Marine Astartes. Soneka and Bronzi are het (kinds of sergeants) in the Imperial war effort on Nurth, a lost planet, one previously colonised by Terra, but lost over time. The army has invaded and fights against the resistance to get the world of Nurth to comply. Matters are complicated by a spy called Konig Heniker, but is he a double agent? And what are the mysterious Alpha Legion keeping secret, apart from their presence? And who are this strange Cabal that is pulling the strings in private?

This is an intriguing novel, more double-crossing, spies and secrets, than action and violence. Of course, there is some action and violence, but a bit more rather than the politics and intrigue might have been nice.

I understand why Gamesworkshop and The Black Library are expanding this incredibly successful series into an entire universe of books, but I would like them to focus more on the pivotal characters within the Heresy Horus: the Emperor and the Primarchs.

This is another instalment that feels a little like padding.

There’s plenty of story still to take place from the main characters in the Heresy, the central protagonists, so why are we getting a story like this? Are these characters going to be playing a part in the conspiracy at a later stage? If they are then fine, but can’t it be as part of a shorter series, like a trilogy of books, like the first three books in the Heresy series.

I can’t help but think the story is being expanded to fill the wallets of Gamesworkshop rather than to tell the story that needs to be told, the story of the actual Heresy.

Am I being impatient? I am over-reacting?

Possibly. This is good stuff from Abnett, who is always good value. It’s not his best work, Horus Rising or the Eisenhorn novels are excellent, with tons more action, adventure and excitement.

I hope that this novel of secrecy and intrigue is an integral part of the tale of the Heresy, otherwise I’m going to feel a little bit cheated.

DESCENT OF ANGELS By Mitchel Scanlon – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by stanleyriiks

This is not your normal Horus Heresy novel. It doesn’t read like a Horus Heresy novel at all, and by the end I was wondering how this fitted into the massive tale of betrayal and treachery. Having read all the other books in the series so far this came as a bit of a shock. I realise that since the original trilogy many of the books have told related but connected only marginally tales of the Heresy.

This book tells the tale of Caliban, a feudal-like world, and former Terra colony that has been out of touch with Earth for hundreds of years.

This feudal land is a dangerous place of deadly flora and fauna, and the knights of the orders that run the world have had enough and set out to rid the world of the beasts. Lion El’Jonson, a strange and mighty warrior, mysteriously found deep in the jungles of Caliban, takes charge of the largest order and sets his sights on removing the danger of the beasts.

Then the Imperial fleet arrives, after almost two hundred pages and the world of Caliban is gradually reconverted to the Empire, whether they like it or not.

This is a tale of friendship and brotherhood, and is a riveting. It shows a different side of the Empire we are familiar with. For the most part this doesn’t feel like an 40K universe book at all. The feudal world of Caliban is remarkably well portrayed, and two young trainee-knights are our protagonists, and we follow them as they struggled with becoming knights, and becoming men. It’s a quite fascinating tale, a fantasy that actually slides perfectly into the 40K universe. Brilliantly inventive for the series, but does it actually fit into the Horus Heresy sequence? And the next book in the series, Legion by Dan Abnett, doesn’t follow on the story of the Dark Angels either… It’s a perfectly good book, exciting, adventurous, cleverly plotted and inventive, and as a stand-alone novel is works well within the 40K universe and offers something different. My problems rests entirely on it’s fit into the Horus Heresy. Otherwise its one of the best 40K novels.

THE COLD COMMANDS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I read the first book in this series around two years ago, and you know what, I can barely remember any of it. I remember the three main characters (after my memory is jogged reading about them again), who are all here, present and correct. I vaguely remember feeling like the book ended on a cliff-hanger and feeling a little bit cheated, but I still enjoyed it enough to put the second book in the series (trilogy?) on my Christmas list for Santa to buy me. So in amongst my stacks of drugs and porn and alcohol (ok, so it was pretty much all books that Santa brought me!), I found this SF/fantasy novel (and it’s got a nice cover which always draws me in) and sat down to read it.

Ringil Eskiath is a true antihero, although we find him rescuing slaves after his cousin was imprisoned by a slave-trader. He’s a tough, no-nonsense S.O.B. who demands your attention, a mean man with a massive alien sword.

Archeth is a half-alien female who works for the new emperor, a paranoid young man intent on ridding his empire of enemies by having them flayed alive by octopi.

Egar the Dragonbane is having an affair with the wife of a war hero, but his adventures into a religious fortress will bring the three old friends back together, whether they like it or not, with magic, death, and betrayal to get in their way.

This book (I think like the first, my memory is not what it once was!) takes a long time to gather speed, there are almost three hundred pages of build-up as the story meanders along, setting everything up for the inevitable climax. When it does comes there’s plenty of action and intrigue, although Ringal is a little too superheroic and never appears in danger of being hurt, let alone losing a fight. He’s a bit too invincible, like Judge Dredd with a sword.

Morgan’s writing is good, he manages to draw you in without you realising, the atmosphere and world are vividly portrayed, but there’s a lingering sense of missing something. Perhaps it’s been too long between instalments, but I felt like I missed the oft-referred to war (did it appear in the first book?).

Despite confusing the hell out of me, the grey lands are strange and mysterious and make everything seem a bit too easy at the end. I couldn’t help but enjoy Egar’s tough steppe barbarian, Archeth’s frustrated diplomat and Ringal’s menacing killer. The characters are really what make this book, and Morgan has done a first rate job with them. I’ll be back for more despite my misgivings, fantasy doesn’t get much more original or compelling than this.

THE FLIGHT OF THE EISENSTEIN By James Swallow – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2011 by stanleyriiks

How do you top the tremendous trilogy that started the epic tale of the Horus Heresy?

Erm, you don’t is the simple answer. This starts near the end of the last book, but from the perspective of Captain Garro and his team of Death Guard as they take to the Eisenstein and become aware of the traitorous activities of Horus and the lodges. But they only find out too late to do anything about it. Unable to help their massacred comrades on Isstvan III, Garro must leave the battle fleet and escape to warn the Emperor of the Warmaster’s treachery.

Ok, so some of this is old ground seen from a different perspective, in fact almost half the book is taken up with this rehash, and I found myself urging the book on faster, wanting to get to the real role the book plays in the series: the moment the treachery comes to light. And it does, but not quite in the way one might expect.

There are some great chaos-infected moments, but the grand battles of the first three books aren’t echoed here. This is much more understated and shows the struggle as Space Marines encounter Space Marines, and you begin to realise the scale of this vast and nasty conflict.

Not as exciting as the other books in the series, this is still a pivotal and necessary step to take on the way, but it feels a little workmanlike. Not because of Swallow’s writing, which is fine, but because of the plot, and the masses of information we need to be given that will lead to the next book. Like all the books in the Horus Heresy series this is a massive teaser, drawing you further into the entire epic tale, but this stepping-stone feels rather less important than the others. A shame, but we shall see what happens with the fifth book in the series: Fulgrim.

TRIUMFF: HER MAJESTY’S HERO By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Set in an alternative England, where Queen Elizabeth the first married Spain’s King Philip the Second, setting in motion a series of Queen Elizabeths to follow, leaving England and the Empire to discover the joys of magic, but not those of the industrial revolution or mechanisation.

Sir Rupert Triumff is an adventurer who has recently discovered Australia for the Queen, but refuses to give her back his letter of passage and return the country back to her.

This is used by plotters to set Triumff up as a traitor in their own attempts to kill the Queen and take over the Empire in the name of Spain.

Fans of Dan Abnett’s gamesworkshop novel should be made fully aware this is nothing like the full-on action-packed adventures of the Space Marines. The king of battle-writing tones down the action for much of this novel, although the intrigue and scheming are ramped up to compensate.

The style of the writing also shows Abnett’s depth, as our narrator, one William Beaver, continues to pop up at odd moments and imbues the proceedings a little light relief.

The plotting is well worked, and the tension continues to grow as the plot to kill the queen gets closer, and Triumff and his friends get closer to discovering the truth behind it.

Although not as action-packed as Abnett’s 40K Universe books, and despite a swashbuckling start, the novel is heavier on machinations and tension. Abnett’s talent doesn’t go to waste, and the world he creates is cleverly portrayed with many layers. Nothing like his tie-in novels, but providing an equal amount of enjoyment and entertainment.

If there is a sequel, I’ll be there.

GARDENS OF THE MOON By Steven Erikson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by stanleyriiks

In the author’s introduction to this novel he says that he’s unapologetic for the “throw you straight in” style of the book and he leaves readers to either sink or swim. He also says that the book was always ambitious in scope, and readers will either love it or hate it. Well, I did both.

For the first hundred pages I loved this book, the richly portrayed fantasy world, the sheer depth, and the fast-paced action drew me in. Then we get to the second section of the novel, where the various factions and their plotting to take over the city of Darujistan come to the fore and things start getting complicated, very complicated, and I admit that I got lost. Not with the plot which is fairly simple, lots of factions attempting to take over the city or using whatever means necessary to stop someone else taking it over: from the Empress’ Adjunct; the Bridgeburners (Imperial Army but almost outcasts); a young girl being used as the pawn of a god; a thief, also being used; Captain Paran; the Council of Darujistan; the Ruler of Moon’s Spawn; the Alchemist Barak; The Guild of Assassins; and the list continues. It is the sheer scale of the story that gets in the way of its telling. Fantasy isn’t normally this plot-orientated, and in some ways this feels more like a science fiction epic.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the complete lack of characterisation means that none of the characters is even noticeable. The scale of names to remember and the fact that several characters have more than one name, and it just gets confusing.

As the various threads of the story begin to come together for the denouement, everything begins to make sense again, but Erikson chooses then to get the gods more heavily involved than they already were. A couple of hundred pages towards the end everything suddenly becomes clearer, although still muddied.

Ambition is no bad thing, but here the ambitious scale has meant good characterisation is sacrificed. Yes, we have one of the most in-depth worlds ever created, possibly due to Erikson’s gameplaying background, a world with several sets of humans, other species, gods, and a full background history. But we have no good characters to follow other than standard cardboard cut-out stereotypes, a young love-struck thief, a world-weary Sergeant, a ruthless Empress… Again a victim of Erikson’s gamer background?

For every plus with this first book of the tales of Malazan there is an equally important minus. Erikson’s sacrificed character for scope, he’s thrown away clever plotting, and thrown in everyone (including the kitchen sink) in an attempt to make the story more complex than it really is, just confusing everything.

The fact is this book shows great potential. I’m just not sure I’ll be willing to put in the effort to read another of the Malazan books to find out if Erikson can reach that potential.

Not the best introduction to a world, and not the worst. A shame that it wasn’t better, as I could have been completed hooked.

FALSE GODS By Graham McNeill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by stanleyriiks

The second instalment of the epic Horus Heresy legend sees the beginnings of rebellion. A betrayal by the commanding officer on Davin brings Horus and the Mournival (his elite champions and advisors) to the moon of Davin on a quest for revenge and justice. But they all get more than they bargained for, the moon of Davin, the betrayer, it is all a part of an intricate plot. A plot to kill Horus.

When Horus is injured and on his death-bed, desperate measures must be taken to save the most important soldier in the Universe. Unfortunately they are left with only one choice: to take Horus to Davin’s surface and leave him in the Snake Temple to be administered to by its priests. Despite the entire idea being completely against the Emperor’s teachings, the desperation of those left to make the decision means that any measures will be taken to save Horus’ life.

Up to this point we have the traditional war-torn savagery of the Warhammer 40K universe. But as Horus is on his death-bed, we have a kind of A Christmas Carol scene where Horus is visited by a ghost to be shown the future of the universe to try to convert him over to the dark side. As this is the turning point of the entire Warhammer universe it just feels weak, insubstantial and not entirely convincing. After this halfway point not much happens, the intrigues continue to build, but most of the plot of this novel has already been told. The thing is, it’s still gripping. The petty intrigues, and lies and schemes keep your attention. This is not the blockbuster of the first book, but a good solid second instalment (similar to The Empire Strikes Back), which can’t help but fail in its turnabout of the Warmaster, but other than that continues to entertain.

Can’t wait for the third instalment.