Archive for novellas

BROTHERS OF THE SNAKE By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2017 by stanleyriiks

This is a bit of a weird one, part circular short story collection, part novel, with the Iron Snakes of Ithaka as its heroes. The story starts with the primuls (dark Eldar) attacking the backward world of Baal Solock who can barely attempt to stave off the aliens and must call upon the Iron Snake Space Marines to aid them. The Iron Snakes send a young marine called Priad to deal with the problem. A few short stories later and Priad is now Brother Sergeant and back at Baal Solock to finish what he thought he’d finished all those years before. The stories in between may seem disconnected, but all of them are tales of the growth and development of the Iron Snakes.

Again, I’ll repeat, this is a bit of a weird one. Not really a novel, it doesn’t have the drive, energy or depth of a longer piece, although the novella at its end, which ties some of the stories together, makes up for some of that. The separate stories feel disjointed, despite sharing the Iron Snakes as a major theme they are often too dissimilar to feel like part of a single story.

Abnett creates some great set-piece battles, and his action sequences are top-notch, but here the structure of the book fails to draw the reader in enough.

Not quite a themed short story collection and not quite a novel, this book fails before it even begins.

Other novels by Abnett in the 40K universe are much worthier of your attention.

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FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT By Stephen King – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by stanleyriiks

The last collection of King’s I read was Different Seasons, it’s also one of my favourite collections, and definitely one of my favourite books by Stephen King. Although this is another collection of four novellas, that’s where the similarities end. Different Seasons was filled with stories that weren’t particularly genre tales, Midnight is most definitely and easily defined as horror. Also, the stories seem longer, each of them being almost novel length.

The best of the stories are the book-ends, “The Langoliers”, and “The Sun Dog”. The last of which is very reminiscent of Needful Things. “The Langoliers” harks back to the Twilight Zone. The other two stories, Secret Window, Secret Garden (a classic writer in trouble story from the master), and The Library Policeman (a strange and overlong ghostly tale of childhood hauntings and alcoholism, is well told, but just too long), really do sit in the middle.

None of the stories contained in this huge book really stand out on their own, which is probably why they’ve been collected. Stephen King writes best about characters, and to allow them to really grow he needs a long novel, that’s why Needful Things and some of his other books work so well. That’s also why “The Langoliers” works, it’s about a small group of characters in a desperate situation. As I think about it, these stories will feel very familiar to a King fan, the group of people in trouble, the writer attacked, the stranger who doesn’t fit in, and the shopkeeper whose greed will drive him to his death.

This book is huge, and because of its size it’s quite hard work. Like most of King’s novels, it’s easy reading, and he manages to evoke fear, even if you know what’s going to happen. Not particularly inventive, King still manages to entertain, but this is a McDonalds of a book, satisfying but ultimately of no lasting substance.