Archive for emporer

NEMESIS By James Swallow – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2018 by stanleyriiks

A band of assassins is put together, the very best of the best, and sent to kill the arch-traitor Horus. The leader of the rebellion against the almighty emperor…

The first half of the book is taken up with the collection of the varied and talented assassins, giving us an insight into their personalities and how they work. Unfortunately there are a few too many of them and there is little characterisation, apart from their physical bearings, to separate them easily.

The second half of the book quickly ramps up the pace and sees our anti-heroes on a world struggling with the Horus Heresy (the split of the human empire), the governors siding with the rebellious Primarch Horus and the people of the world imperials to the core, fighting their corner despite heavy losses. The assassins decide to help out the imperial guerrillas.

Meanwhile a savage killer is making its way across the universe, heading for its own ultimate goal…
What happens when a band of assassins intent on killing the enemy of the Imperium clash with the universe’s most expert murderer…

And we have the Nemesis of the title.

It takes a little while to get into the book, but the second half more than makes up for it. Brilliantly gory and intelligent – although not necessarily an important part of the Heresy story – it is interesting to see how things progress from the Imperial perspective outside of the Space Marines.

The later parts of the book reminded me slightly of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos.

A new view of the Heresy, and some interesting new characters and viewpoints of this pivotal moment in Imperial history. A great jumping on point for this epic series.


KING OF THORNS By Mark Lawrence – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Spoiler alert, if you haven’t read the first book in the trilogy (Prince of Thorns) then go and do it now and then come back and read this review. The first book is the series is a glorious, action thriller of a fantasy, brutal, inventive, original and compelling. Read it and come back, the review will still be here!


Jorg Ancrath, now King after killing his uncle is about to be attacked. The King of Arrow, a man who is prophesied to become emperor of the hundred kingdoms, is on his way with an army of thousands. Jorg isn’t the type to stay behind locked gates and hope for the best, even when outnumbered twenty to one there is only one thing (ok, may be two things) he can do, get married and attack.

With a similar structure to the first book the present takes place on Jorg’s wedding day as he plans to attack the King of Arrow and his advancing hordes, meanwhile there are flashbacks to four years past where we discover what brought Jorg to this deadly and final moment.

Whilst some of the flashbacks are exciting and integral to the story, others act to slow the fast pace of the present battle and towards the later stages of the book become a little irritating. I just wanted to get on with reading about the exciting fighting.

Lawrence writes with a style that lends itself to action, and this is a very slightly slower book than the first (a rip-roaring thunderball of action!), but still has a passion and imagination that goes well beyond your standard fantasy.

Absolutely amazing fantasy adventure, truly relentless, and at times exasperating, this second book in the trilogy moves the story on and will have you begging for more, exactly like the first book. I can’t wait to see how Jorg’s story ends, and if the past two books are any indication the third book in the trilogy is going to end with a massively exciting bang.

Can’t wait for the third installment, intelligent, brilliant fantasy.

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.

FILGRIM By Graham McNeill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by stanleyriiks

The next instalment of the Horus Heresy shows us the other side of the massive conspiracy, which will see the Imperium at war, brutal treachery and betrayal, and the birth of chaos.

Up until now we have seen bare glimpses of chaos, but only hints at the power and control it will eventually have. We have seen brother fighting brother, massive and brutal betrayal. Now, with Fulgrim, we get to see more of the other side. The chaos side of what will be an epic battle. Fulgrim picks up a weapon from an alien planet after a massive battle to subdue it, a sword imbued with evil. But the changes are subtle and gradual, and we also get to see Saul Tarvitz and the lead up to the massive slaughter on Isstvan III. But this is the gradual unfolding of chaos as it slowly and cleverly ecks its way into the cracks, finding a home for itself in the egos of those weak or easily manipulated. It isn’t until the final hundred pages that we see the true power of chaos to corrupt in a massive orgy of violence, and then we have another massive battle as the forces of the Emperor realise they have been betrayed.

Despite a slow start the end of this book is huge, brutal and devastating. It’s utterly shocking, just like the first book in the series, the hurt and pain as brother fights brother is palpable.

McNeill’s second book in the series provides another great instalment. The Black Library is doing very well with this series. Such a massive story to tell, a grand job is being done of telling it. Brutal, murderous, worth buying for the final one hundred pages alone.

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.

GALAXY IN FLAMES By Ben Counter – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by stanleyriiks

The final instalment in the first trilogy of the epic tale of the Horus Heresy, sees the unleashing of the betrayal that has been building over the two previous books, in a furious battle.

On the planet of Isstvan III the space marines are sent to bring a planet back under the control of the Imperium, but they discover, too late, that they are being sent into a trap that will leave all of them dead.

Horus, the Warmaster, and his brother primarchs and other followers, act brutally to destroy any hope of rebellion against their plotting to take over the Empire and to kill the Emperor.

Loken, Tavitz, and our other heroes land on Isstvan III prepared for battle, but the traitors unload viruses and fire to blanket the planet and destroy everyone.

A brutal brother against brother battle erupts for their very survival, and the survival of the empire.

Counter managed to give this epic account a personal focus, whilst still imbuing it with an action-packed energy we’ve come to love from the previous tales. The Horus Heresy is the jewel in the crown of the Black Library, and they are pouring the talent into it. The story is massive and epic, and one book can barely give you a sense of what is going on, but this is a cracking instalment, all action and packed with death.

Counter produces a novel of integrity, that takes it beyond the simple action battles of other 40K sagas. Massively entertaining, tension-filled and desperately sad. Watching the empire fall apart is a truly torturing experience.

Can’t wait to find out what happens next.

SCOURGE THE HERETIC By Sandy Mitchell – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. I’m not often disgusted, very rarely so upset and astounded, but having just finished this book, I have to say I am astonished and disgusted and confused.

You see, this isn’t a book. It’s half a book. Except that nowhere on this book does it say it’s half a book, there is no indication at all anywhere on the cover, or on the pages within, that this is the first of two books. One story.

But is most certainly is.

As I approached the end of the book, I was thinking there wasn’t much room to finish the story. As I read the final few pages I wondered what had happened to half the plot because it clearly wasn’t finished. It was only half way through. Then upon reading the Epilogue the confusion grew as I realised this wasn’t an Epilogue at all, but should more appropriately have been called the Prologue of the next instalment.

I feel tricked. I feel dirty and I feel used. This isn’t clever marketing by Gamesworkshop, although I did buy the second book in this “series”, it’s put me off buying any more of their books.

This is hideously cheeky and just plain wrong. One book, one story. If you want to do a trilogy, a series, or a multi-part set, you put something that identifies the book as such on the fucking cover. I am outraged!

The most annoying thing is that I actually liked this book.

Unlike Ravenor and Eisenhorn, this story of the Inquisition, the ruthless enforcers of the Emperor’s word, follows the Inquisitor Finurbi’s team of investigators as they attempt to track down a highly organised group of heretics who are smuggling psychers off-world, and a group of chaos-worshipers. The investigators have to split up to follow their separate leads, two of them actually about to be smuggled off-world when the book ends.

This isn’t a bad book, it’s nice to see the 40K universe further expanded away from the superhero Space Marines. The characters in the book are much more “normal”, and have the traits and weaknesses modern readers expect. This isn’t quite Eisenhorn, and doesn’t have the powerful action of Dan Abnett’s novels, but it’s still pretty exciting stuff. The book kept me interested enough to order the second book, despite the complete and utterly ineptitude of the marketing department and their failure to realise how much of a gross error they’ve made by not stating that this is book one of two.

Although looking forward to the second book in the series and completing the story I started, this still leaves me with a very sour taste, and I feel manipulated into buying a second book. If I’d have known I probably wouldn’t have bought either of them.

Gamesworkshop rip-off, makes me feel abused and cheated, and outweighs any enjoyment I got from the book. A shame, a sad, desperate and pathetic shame.