A galaxy-wide Ork invasion that heralds the rebuilding of their lost empire on an even greater scale yet. Political bureaucracy and infighting that paralyses the Imperial response. Secret and possibly traitorous experiments being carried out by the Cult Mechanics. Terra itself directly threatened. A Chapter lost. Entire sectors lost. Possible Chaos interference. The Beast Arises series has it all it seems. The previous four novels have been rather revolutionary in many ways, and as the story progresses there’s always another big twist just around the corner.
With Guy Haley’s Throneworld, the series marks the third straight novel which is among some of the best works to come out of Black Library in the past five years. I’ve read a fair number of novels from Guy Haley and he’s always impressed me with his narrative styles and his plot twists. That all holds true for Throneworld as well, in which we see the Eldar themselves getting involved with the Ork-Imperium conflict, even as the larger narrative progresses well beyond the weirdness happening on Terra, for the stalwart sons of Dorn have managed to consolidate their power and beginning anew their campaign against the Orks.
Note: Some major spoilers from the previous novels and this novel are mentioned here.
We are now getting to the point where the series is starting to pick up some momentum. The first three novels have laid out the conflict and we now are starting to see some real movement every which way. Leading up to the fourth novel in the series, we are now in that particular mode where you can start to predict how certain characters are going to react to certain situations and that anticipation is what is driving this series more than anything else because in the meta-sense, these characters and their strife really do leave a mark.
David Annandale’s The Last Wall had a lot to deliver on, given how Gav Thorpe ended The Emperor Expects. It was certainly a very unexpected ending, and the questions that it raised got me to push through this novel, finishing it in less than a day, as the clock counts. It is full of some amazing action and tons of intrigue all of which deepens the mysteries behind the resurgent Ork threat and I feel that it is a great addition to the series as a result. David definitely didn’t disappoint in any way.
Note: Some major spoilers from the previous novels and this novel are mentioned here.
The last audiobook that I remember listening to from Black Library is Dan Abnett’s Prospero Burns, one of the two books alongside Graham McNeill’s A Thousand Sons that told the story of the fall of Prospero, of Magnus, and the Thousand Sons Legion. I’d tried to read the book before many times but always gave up, the only such Horus Heresy novel I’ve struggled with so much to date. The audiobook was a better experience but the story was still too problematic for me. Fortunately, Dan’s next big Heresy novel, Know No Fear easily proved to be a much better experience in all respects and is one of my favourite Heresy novels to date. So there’s some balance.
Dan’s latest Heresy novel The Unremembered Empire is my first Heresy audiobook since spring 2012 that I have experienced primarily in the audio format. I listened to the novel back in September, supplementing it with reading the ebook on and off, and I liked the dual experience. The Unremembered Empire is one of the better novels of the series, but it is also one of the more weaker ones since it is a branching novel and it attempts to do too much with too many characters. Taken in the context of the series at large, it is a pretty decent novel, but taken on its own merits, if fails to satisfy as much as it should. There’s just way too much going on in the novel and that works against it. Had it been trimmed of a few plotlines, it would have been one of the best novels of the series.
Note: This review contains spoilers of varying degrees.
The Horus Heresy is the one part of the Warhammer 40,000 lore that has had the most impact on the 41st millennium, the specific time of this far-future space opera/science fantasy setting that we are all most familiar with. The events of that era have influenced everything has happened since, and when Black Library began exploring this age of wonders, it was like a dream come true for countless fans of Warhammer 40,000. The response was phenomenal of course and in no time the series became a New York Times Bestseller hit. The army of writers involved have plumbed all sorts of depths of this era and they have come up with some really wonderful stuff over the past few years.
Of course, they’ve also had to deal with some of the downsides of this effort, and from my understanding, one of these is how Primarchs like Vulkan and Corax escaped the massacre at Istvaan V after the death of their brother Ferrus. Gav Thorpe explored the latter in an audio drama and a novel (both of which are fantastic by the way) and the former is dealt with by Nick Kyme, a recent entrant to the Heresy writing team and the result is one of the most bleakest Horus Heresy novels to date, Vulkan Lives. Nick explores the Primarch himself and one of the shattered remnants of the Salamanders Legion in this novel, and the results are interesting.
I last did something like this in July for the six months from January 1st all the way to June 30th. This list is for July 1st and all the way through to December 30th (the last day doesn’t count!). As I mentioned at the end of that list, this isn’t going to be regurgitation of my “Reading Awards” page, but something more varied. The list takes into account everything I’ve read in the last six months.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
Well, I’ve read the 22nd novel in the series by now, the Shadows of Treachery, and it has sparked off more stuff that I think could feasibly turn into a part 4 for this series. Anyhow, last time I talked about this topic, I covered Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Ben Counter and James Swallow. This time its going to be Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Gav Thorpe, John French, and Rob Sanders.
The Horus Heresy is the bestselling multi-author series from Black Library, contributed to by some of the most talented authors in tie-in fiction. We have had 21 novels so far in the series, along with several audio dramas and two limited edition novellas. The way things are going, it is a given that there will be at least as many publications in the future for the series. The question that arises is, which author should get to writing which book/legion/faction/character etc. It is a fascinating topic as each author who has contributed to the series so far has had his strengths and weaknesses in equal measure and there is an abundance of talent just waiting to be tapped into. So for this blogpost, I’m going to talk a little about that.
It’s been a busy few days since my last post. Heck of a lot of things have happened, not the least is more positive news on the writing front and tons of fun, new information.
#1 Short Story Number 5, not to be confused with this.
Project Oath & Duty is also complete; am just awaiting some more feedback on it. A lot of people have commented that there really isn’t any real action in it but well, the beta-readers are only reading a short sample of the larger piece and its synopsis. It is going to be a dialogue-heavy story and that’s where the action is gonna be. For now, Project OD is marked off in the ready-to-send category pending a couple minor typo-corrections.
#2 Short Story Number 6
Project R&R is now in full swing. The Angels of Retribution are finally back in their second short story! Can’t give any more information on it without spoiling the plot but this is going to be some real fun to write in full. This is a straight-up action-oriented short story with lots of bolter-fire, chainswords-swinging, bam-bam-bam-bam-bam and things blowing up and people getting decapitated. Oh yes, this is going to be lots and lots of fun.
Incidentally this is Project number 6. Coming up on that lucky number, hmmmmm. Wonder if it is alright to go over this and risk my luck?
#3 Some news from Black Library (not really their blog itself per se in some cases but includes stuff from author blogs)
The novella trend continues with Gav Thorpe’s next, featuring Chaplain Cassius, the Ultramarines Master of Sanctity.
More audio dramas, this time continuing with Vulkan’s Shield (Salamanders) by Nick Kyme and Labyrinth of Sorrows (Raven Guard) by George Mann.
Graham McNeill is prepping for a novel duology about the Adeptus Mechanicus, tentatively titled Priests of Mars. I am betting on it being set in Warhammer 40,000 as opposed to the Horus Heresy.
A slew of new artwork by the fantastic artists at BL. I especially prefer the Blood Angel by Clint Langley.
Civilian Reader interviews Jonathan Green, author of the Pax Britannia novels and one of the most consistent BL authors.
#4 The Submissions Window
This is really heating up as you can see here. I count 40 short stories and 5 novels submitted, with a ton more in the works by dozens of people! And not every Boltholer who is submitting is even on the list. One of my friends-who-shall-not-be-named has submitted over a dozen short stories plus a novel already!
The amount of work done and being done is just crazy. So much creative output! And this is just us Boltholers. People from Warseer, Heresy Online, The Great Crusade and other Warhammer forums are undoubtedly churning out a crap-ton of submissions as well.
#5 Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
If you were on the fence about getting this game when it comes out in September, then shame on you. Absolutely shame on you.
Check out this video preview of the game’s multiplayer mode. And also check out this video of its customizer for Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. The breadth of options available is just staggering, you can customize everything from your helmet to greaves, to colours to armour designs to weapons to what-the-hell-not!
You fence-y people NEED to get this. Now! Go pre-order it already! THQ has won over thousands of fans with that customizer.
Oh and check this for the available classes for Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. That Devastator special ability is looking boss.
#6 The Shatner
I admit to the SF geek inside me. I’ve always been a fan of Star Trek, having watched all the shows (the multi-season TV series, the animated series), the films and even read a few books. Needless to say, I am also a Captain James Tiberius Kirk fan. Big fan. Don’t ask.
Anyways, William Shatner’s Shatnerpalooza is going live soon and he is going to be presenting his documentary The Captains in which he talks to all of the famous captains from over the years: Patrick Stewart from The Next Generation, Kate Mulgrew from Voyager, Avery Brooks from Deep Space Nine, Scott Bakula from Enterprise and Chris Pine from Star Trek.
Check out details in this interview series.
This movie is going live soon and this is one movie this summer you don’t want to miss, trust me. If you are not convinced by the amazing cast which includes Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis and Game of Thrones) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) then perhaps this trailer can convince you?
Obligatory Conan quote:
Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.
#8 Bolthole stuff
Over on the boards, I read the most amazing piece of cross-over fan-fic ever. The concept itself was extremely intriguing but when I read the first few chapters that have been posted, I was blown away.
Across The Void (Warhammer 40,000/Starcraft). Nutstoyoutoo has done an amazing job with the execution here and he managed to include my favourite Terran hero too!!! Hellz yeah!!! I am definitely tuned in for more on this.
That reminds me of all the other fanfic on the board I’ve been meaning to read for a while now.
Colonel Mustard, one my most dependable beta-readers has his 40k/Mass Effect cross-over project Angels of the Storm which is now at 30 chapters and counting!
And there is my fellow mod and another beta-reader Lord Lucan who has his alternate-verse post-40k projects Warhammer 50,000: The Shape of The Nightmare To Come and Warhammer 60,000: Age of Dusk. I’ve read bits and pieces of both and this guy’s imagination is just a wonder. Seriously recommend reading some of this stuff.
I’ve been slightly negligent with regards to my reviews here but stay tuned because in the next couple of days, things are gonna heat up for the DCAU Movie Reviews Spotlight! As promised next one up is going to be Green Lantern: Emerald Knights followed by Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
To continue with what I talked about in my recent post ‘What’s in a name?‘ I had a discussion via email with the awesome Phalanx, one of Bolthole’s resident story-wizzes. The topic was the name I had chosen for the chapter formerly known as Sons of Corax.
It seems that there is a theory related to the name which ties the chapter, having nothing more than the name itself and a really really short blurb in the 3rd Edition Assassin’s codex, with a legion quite dissimilar to the Raven Guard.
The new name for the chapter is Angels of Retribution. And there are wild, very much IMO, theories out there in fandom that they are a Dark Angels successor chapter. The reasoning is that their name fits the convention for other First Legion successors, such as the Angels of Absolution, Angels of Redemption and the Angels of Vengeance. The unfounded theory has proven a little popular among dark angel fans with fanfic and player armies assembled that way.
Its not a bad thing but I am not a fan of the theory either. While there may have been a proper naming convention in place other than ‘oh these names look really cool for these guys’ that hardly should restrict me from picking it as the name for my Raven Guard successors. I considered a lot of names during the renaming process. Some of the ones that really jumped out were –
- Absolvers – The idea behind using the name that the chapter seeks to help Corax on his quest for redemption and forgiveness for his experiments with the legion’s gene-seed post-Istvaan.
- Avengers – The chapter is an active hunter of all the Betrayers of Istvaan. These are the Night Lords, the Alpha Legion, the Word Bearers and the Iron Warriors.
- Crusaders – The chapter has continued the purpose of the Great Crusade, much like the Black Templars have and actively hunts down Traitor Marines.
- Angels of Retribution – This somehow just fit all the above themes I wanted to get across. Plus, alone among the four names I shortlisted, it really resonated with him. It was a name I could definitely get behind. Not to mention the nice imagery you get when you read that name, particularly in conjunction with the Space Marines’ informal name – Angels of Death. Expect an updated chapter post soon!
As I have said before, names are very important to me when I am writing something.
An old writing project of mine, sparse details to be found here, spawned a madness that resulted in me inventing hundreds of names for dozens of factions. Everything from characters to planets, factions to organizations, weapons to starships and so on. I was quite prolific for that. Sadly the project never really saw much development beyond two large Excel files and about 140 pages in a regular copybook (that’s what us Indians call it). I still have all those files and the terrible amount of research I had to do to come up with names of starships and uniform designs and military rankings and what not.
Then there is the Angels of Retribution I am submitting to BL next month.
Also, the new project I have started. This one is about Space Marines of the Invictors chapter and Daemons. I’ve made more progress on this pitch in one day then I did on the Sons of Corax/Angels of Retribution in two months of focused efforts. My synopsis and summary are done pending review once the sample (currently at 435 words) is complete. And then the rounds of critiques and all.
I really like this pitch. At the moment it is tentatively titled Temptations although the story so far has nothing do with temptations. It was originally conceived as a marines versus Slaaneshi daemons short. I might even develop it into a novel, although that would be a lot of effort which I may not have the time for. Initial response to the story is that it reads better as a novel. I am hoping I can keep it down to a short and still keep it chock full of action and description and conflict.
Oh and the Invictors will be an Ultramarine successor. Although they have little to no contact with smurfies 🙂
Chapter records state that the first Astartes to bear the name Sons of Corax once belonged to the Raven Guard Third and Eighth companies that were still struggling to recoup their losses following the Horus Heresy. Captain Taimon Naskius of the Raven Guard Eighth was chosen by his Chapter Master to lead the newly formed Sons of Corax and continue to protect Humanity. In the age of the Imperium’s rebirth from the ashes of its devastating civil war, Space Marine forces were needed more than ever. Several new chapters were sanctioned for the Third Founding and they took part in some of the bloodiest battles in Imperial history. Captain Naskius took the title of High Commander, a former legion rank often bestowed by the Primarch Corax upon the most preeminent fleet captain. The Sons of Corax were gifted with the battle-barge Montisgarre, a warship of the Great Crusade that had served since the Heresy as a training vessel in the Deliverance system.
High Commander Naskius established the Sons as a crusading chapter and chose the Tempestus Segmentum as his eternal warzone. In the early years of their founding the Sons worked frequently alongside their predecessors the Raven Guard and several newly commissioned Imperial Guard regiments. The Sons established cooperative pacts with many of these regiments and cemented their ties to Raven Guard. Over the years the Sons have exchanged many battle honours with their allies and the Vault of Conquest aboard Montisgarre is home to the battle standards commemorating their victories. They have earned recognition across the entirety of the Segmentum for their dedication and loyalty as well as their relentless persecution of all enemies of the Imperium.
Yet for all their nobility and their glorious battle record they have had their moments of ill-repute and campaigns that have failed. During the Frannos Heresy of 119.M37 the Chapter slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians of Orlin IV in order to capture the traitorous Cardinal Frannos. The Ordo Hereticus demanded custody of the prisoner but the Sons refused and executed the Cardinal publicly, an act of defiance that earned them bitter enemies amongst the Ordo. This and other incidents have created mutual distrust between the Ordo and the Chapter and the Sons have ever avoided Inquisitorial control. Given the political connections cultivated by the Chapter, the Ordo Hereticus has avoided open confrontations, preferring to work covertly.
In 533.M39 the chapter participated in an Imperial campaign to drive out the forces of Chaos in the Becoun subsector and reclaim it in the name of the Emperor. However, incompetent leadership and political infighting doomed the campaign from the start with initial victories overshadowed by one disastrous defeat after another. The 8th and 9th companies who had taken part in the campaign suffered crippling casualties and were forced to withdraw three years later lest they be wiped out completely. Over a hundred and fifty battle-brothers had been lost and it took the chapter nearly seven decades to bring both companies back to full strength.
Over the millennia, the Sons of Corax have fought a great many different foes but of all of them they prefer most to fight the renegades and traitors of the Chaos Space Marines. The Chapter nurses a particular hatred for the Betrayers of Isstvan, the Traitor Legions of the Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion, Night Lords and the Word Bearers. The Sons have brought many of their enemies’ followers to justice and their fury when dealing with these accursed followers of Chaos is unmatched.