Echoes Of The Long War by David Guymer

Echoes Of The Long War Cover

This was the sixth book in the Beast Arises series. It would have been easy to make this almost a throw-away information filler but I found the tensions in this book really made it work. The inter-play between the Iron Warriors and the Fists successor Chapters was palpable. It was like that awkward family gathering where you have to be polite to that relative that you have a mutual hatred with. For me that alone made this worth a read.

There was a lot of story in this book. A lot of converging threads hinting at massive violence to come. All the in-fighting and pettiness on Terra becomes impossible to stomach with an attack moon in orbit. There was some great ship to ship action but for me this book was all about the tension and whilst some of that was physical it worked so well because it was all about that interplay.

In short I really enjoyed this story and think it adds something different to the already enjoyable series.

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Codex Heretic Astartes: Chaos Space Marines

Cover Codex Heretic Astartes

This is the Chaos Marines Codex for Warhammer 40k 8th edition. Before I talk about what is inside this codex I’m going to talk about what isn’t in it and why you don’t have to buy it (yeah I laughed as I typed that). If you bought the Chaos Index you have the base rules to field all your old Chaos models. That’s a key point for me. The Indexes allow us to keep using our old models and units. An example of this is a Chaos Lord on a bike no longer exists in this Codex. You can however take it as an Index approved unit. It has also been made very clear that if Death Guard or Thousands Sons are your only Chaos units then you are better off sticking to your Index rules until the shiny new Codexes for those armies arrives (Gimme Death Guard NOW). You also are not able to build a Chaos Daemons list from this book, as per before use the Index for now.

So that was a lot of reasons not to buy this book now for my opinions on why to buy it. I’ll start with my personal Chaos army and then go to generic stuff afterwards. My Chaos army celebrates my Lord Nurgle. Part of that is my Death Guard, which I’ll be running as a detachment in their own right but for me the core of my army are a renegade chapter now called The Granddads that worship Nurgle (stop shaking your heads). I also have some Daemons which will be another detachment spread through my horde. This is where one of the key benefits of the Codex come in. If you don’t belong to one of the main Legions the special ability for your army is being able to advance and charge. Chaos Beasts suddenly got fun, and jump pack troops deploying away from the enemy in cover and not gambling on that 25% charge chance is suddenly viable.

Overall I think this Codex has opened up a lot of ways to play and to compliment the various Legions and Daemons or lead themselves to victory over the corpse throne. I’m a little disappointed with the relics though as for instance if you follow Nurgle you are more or less reduced to Puscleaver which replaces a power sword and is useless for either the Daemon Prince or Sorcerers in my army. The Warlord trait I personally find it hard to look past an extra wound and Feel No Pain on a 6+. I’ve also found my Forgefiend to be miserably bad in the couple of battles I’ve used him. Even if standing still at full health he only hits on a 4+ and I found myself either moving or wounded in every round. I barely hit and felt the points were not a great investment. Yes I’m saving up for a Chaos Landraider but again I wish I had the option for a Redeemer. Mutilators, Mutilators, Mutilators. I want to use them so badly but I can’t ever see them being worth the points. They are so slow that the only real option is to come in from reserve and gamble on the 25% of charging. They invariably are going to get minced which might be a good distraction if they can make a few saves but most troops can just walk back out of range and still fire at them. Oh and if you are not collecting skulls then you cannot have enough psykers.

There will be some criticism about an excuse to sell more Codexes. If adding colour to your army with a unit of Plague Marines is all you want then you don’t need to wait for a specific codex you can run that in either the Index or Codex. Personally I hope Games Workshop keep up this frenetic pace of releases so that Codex creep is less this edition. Some armies such as Tau are already feeling under-powered with their lack of a psychic phase and wet paper towel close combat weapons. I am enjoying 8th edition more than I ever did 7th edition.

 

 

 

Welcome To The Darkside – My Local Comic Shop

Killing Joke Graphic Novel and Joker Pop

Darkside Comics is my local comic shop. I can remember going to comic shops as a teenager and twenty five years later I’m starting to enjoy it again. A lot of that has to do with the owner Holly and the atmosphere she’s given to her business. It would be easy to say that as a woman she is bound to have more female customer than some of the creepy blokes that ran comic stores when I was a kid but that would be doing her a great disservice. Darkside is inclusive. Not as some lip service publicity seeking make a quick buck gimmick. Holly has a unique way of not just bringing all her customers together through comics but to enthuse people who wouldn’t necessarily ever visit a comic shop to want to visit. Whether is is through her women’s nights, pride tables or the cool Beast Boy stickers she puts of the comics for younger readers there is a genuine feeling of being part of a community just by walking in. For somebody like me that is awkward around people that is impressive, but when you consider my wife has now bought Squirrel Girl from there and my 9yr old has comics on order and loves having a look around. My eldest was an avid reader when he was nine so it has been hard for us to deal with a child who enjoys reading less. It is great to see him eager to read things and talk about the story afterwards.

Is Darkside the cheapest? No. We could get most things slightly cheaper elsewhere but we don’t just pay for ┬áthe comics. Holly understands a LOT better than silly Amazon algorithms what our tastes are. For example my boy is probably going to give Lumberjanes a go and I’m not sure that would be at all likely without Holly explaining to him what it is about. Is Darkside unique? I doubt it. I also know that whilst the bigger stores like Forbidden Planet are also great with how they treat people it doesn’t have the same personal feel every time you walk in. If you are ever anywhere near Chelmsford it is only about a minute from the train and bus stations and well worth your time.

Training Days by Joan De La Haye

Training Days Cover

This book follows on from The Race. The story started pretty much directly after the first part but it was different. Whenever I’ve read anything buy De La Haye I’ve always felt it was South African. In this story though it felt like as the main protagonist changes and moves away from her roots so the writing changes. I found it fascinating to feel the voice change as the character does. It was only a slight shift but it really added something to the story.

There is a definite act two feel to this story and it really does build well upon the first book. I don’t think it works as well as a stand-alone book when compared to the first book but I think the writing is a lot better in terms of the characters. I re-read The Race before reading Training Days and I would highly recommend doing that if you can. I can’t wait for the third part so that some vengeance can be enacted.

Smallbany by Graham Wynd

Cover for Smallbany Graham Wynd

At just over ten pages that is a short, sharp shock. Ideal for a chilled out lunch break.

Reviewing anything this short is difficult without spoilers or getting more technical than I’m capable of doing. It is a pretty standard noir short story, hard-boiled in more than one sense. That said it does mess with you a bit. Accents and appearances that jar against the” norms” make you think about your own inbuilt prejudices.

I know this is a lead in story for Drag Noir by Fox Spirit Books so if you enjoy this I heartily recommend checking them out.

I enjoyed this story as I do most by Wynd but I wanted more.

Throneworld by Guy Haley

Cover Throneworld by Guy Haley

I bought the audiobook version of this series. I miss my e-reader and wanted to try reading a series through this medium rather than physical books. This had an unexpected benefit this holiday. Unlike my eldest son who falls asleep on every form of transport instantly my nine year old is a terrible traveler. He fidgets, whines and generally makes journeys feel a LOT longer than they are. A seven hour drive North was turning in to one of those fun times. In desperation I let him borrow my phone and listen to it. FOUR HOURS OF SILENCE. We then had a nice discussion about the things he didn’t understand. Some of them were because he hadn’t read the previous novels but most were interesting questions about the story. That alone made this worth buying for me.

For me this novel works really well. It stands up as a story in itself but it really does pull a lot of things together in creative ways. I especially enjoyed the addition of the Eldar and how they are perceived as enigmatic guardians of the old ways before the Age of Imperium and yet still want to help “guide” mankind. This part of the book opens up so much scope for the following books that I was thinking about the possibilities for days.

In the previous books the politics at the heart of Terra sees the threat levels for the Highlords themselves being almost non-existent. This book changes everything. Nobody is safe, no plans are not being delved in to by others. All of this happens with the perfect amount of physical battles.

Needless to say I’ve already started reading the next book in the series. In fact the only good thing about returning to work is listening to it as I trudge along my commute.

 

 

Notes: Writing Prose in Pleasure of the Park by Kyle J. Knapp

Book Cover - Notes: Writing Prose in Pleasure of the Park by Kyle J. Knapp

I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk this year. I keep starting books and not feeling like finishing them. The editor for Knapp’s work is his uncle who just so happens to be a really underrated editor and publisher. I remember when he sent me a copy of Knapp’s first book and I was nervous about reading it. I needed have worried, it hit me somewhere inside and my emotional late teens came flooding back. Since then I’ve been a fan. When I heard this book was coming out I said no to a review copy because I wanted to pay for it. I needed to express my admiration for Knapp’s work in the only meaningful way I knew. I paid for it.

It would be easy to say that this collection is about the natural world and how we look at it when we slow ourselves down and really see it. For me though there was something else. An undercurrent of love for another person, maybe unrequited and maybe not.  The struggle of human contact and emotional attachments hit me and my own struggles really hard.

The simple structure and the far from simple words combined to paint vistas in my mind. The way this book is put together with a smattering of notes and an interview interspersed through the work made this feel more like a journal that I was guiltily reading without the owner knowing.

I have always found it difficult to be objective about poetry and this publication was no exception. I became emotionally attached not just to the work but also the life of Kyle J. Knapp. I’d have loved to sit in the pub garden having a long chat about ephemera over a jar of warm beer.

What a great way for me to be enthused about books again. I may have just ordered a book on Sufi poetry because of this book.