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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Outliers: 2016: Volume 1 (Outliers Saga)

Outliers 2016 Cover

This book was a collaboration between Jonathan Ward, Alec McQuay, James Fadeley, Robbie MacNiven, A.R. Aston, Manuel Mesones. For me the biggest downside to this book was that there were not more graphical elements like the luscious cover art. I’d loved to have seen a picture of Meld in New York. That would have been epic. If you haven’t read Outliers: The Shape Of Things To Come I highly recommend it. The format for this book was a lot more traditional than the primer and that could have spoiled this book for me, but it didn’t. I did find the odd memo and email worked well in this book but would have liked a couple more.

In some ways reading this felt a bit like watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but there was a more gritty and realistic feel to it. I liked the fact that there wasn’t a binary confrontation. The different factions twisting and bumping together really added a depth to the story and had me itching to see how alliances and confrontations would change the balance of power.

It wasn’t until near the end it twigged that Snapshot was the character binding everything together. He was an unusual character and not at all the character I thought I’d be following. I was really impressed by how the characters developed seamlessly across the stories by different authors without appearing to compromise the voices of the individual authors.

I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next installment.

 

 

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Book Cover House of Shattered Wings

Although I’m a fan of Aliette de Bodard I didn’t plan to buy this book.  I’ve never really been a fan of Paradise Lost and the plethora of fallen angel stories it has been inspired. Then I watched a video of the author being interviewed at Eurocon by Ian Whates and I knew I had to read it anyway.

As with everything Aliette de Bodard does this book took a simple and well used premise and twisted it until as the reader I forgot all about the premise. Sometimes after reading a book I’ll go and do some research about one thing or another, but one of the things that really made this book stand out for me was that at least a couple of times I stopped reading to go research something. The one that stood out for me was the symbolism of the Banyan tree. I now have an unhealthy fascination with looking at old and gnarly fig trees.

I have always been fascinated by food and food in fiction  when done well can be amazing. There was one line about the small of jasmine rice that evoked really strong memories for me. These references seem quite subtle as you read them but seem to have a massive effect.

This book could easily have come across as a clash of cultures and a battle of superiority not of the protagonists but on one religious tradition over another. It didn’t. I loved the way I was left feeling that regardless of your background we’re all doomed with that inkling of hope and redemption there to keep us sane.

As usual Aliette de Bodard has nail-gunned this one straight in to my brain and it is going to take me a while to get parts of this book and the ideas it has raised out of my head, and that is a great thing.

The Race by Joan De La Haye

The Race by Joan De La Haye

When I first saw this cover I didn’t like it. I’ve never been a fan of scantily clad female warriors (stop laughing) in fiction. In this case it made sense in some ways. This story was very much Running Man meets Xena with more than a little new world order conspiracy theory thrown in.

Like most of the author’s work there was a definite South African feel to this book. The slight differences from the usual British or American viewpoints has captured my attention yet again. This was a short fast-paced story that was effortless to read. There were no complications to get in the way of the pacing that I thought was vital to the feel of The Race.

I enjoyed this book. It was a great way to escape the daily grind and at the end I was left wondering ‘what if?’, and for me that has always been the hallmark of a successful book.

The Gift Of Joy by Ian Whates

Book Cover The Gift Of Joy by Ian Whates

This book was part of the EdgeLit 2016 goodie bag.I thought it was an interesting choice. I’d heard of Whates but never read one of his books. This was is a collection of unrelated short stories. Whilst all science fiction these stories embodied the wealth of different ways that the genre has provided a diverse variety of settings and ways to tell a story.

Whilst I enjoyed all the stories in this book the most enjoyable bit of the book for me wasn’t in the stories, it was between the stories. No that wasn’t wasn’t me attempting to be clever I actually meant the spaces between the stories. After each story the author talks about the story. Whether it be that he wanted to write something based on that part of London or whether it was a particular type of dystopia that he’d always wanted to try there was something different after each story. This could have been a disaster but wasn’t. Partly from the endearing honesty and passion that comes across but mainly because every time I read the anecdote after a story I knew exactly why Whates had written the story. For me this added a new layer of interaction and feeling of being involved in the story. I loved that and would love to see this done again.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would and only part of that is due to the anecdotes. I’d recommend buying this book just for them but the stories are well worth a read too.