Category Archives: Black Library

Book Review – Fire Made Flesh

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A Necromunda story by Denny Flowers

Before I begin, jus a quick thank you to Peter for designing our new Featured images. I like the simplicity, but also that it brings many of our articles under a common theme. Ta Peter! Do let us know what you think of them on our Discord.

My reading over Christmas was limited with family and time off for a new addition to the family, but I did manage to get Fire Made Flesh by Denny Flowers finished – and I love Necromunda stories.

Black Library

From the book:

The Fallen Dome of Periculus, once a hub of sanctioned commerce and illicit dealings, is lost no more… and the prizes it holds are sought by noble, Guilder, and hive scum alike. For Tempes Sol of the Guild of Light, Periculus is an opportunity to not only prove his superiority over his superstitious peers but also to see the end of Lord Silas Pureburn, Keeper of the God-Emperor’s Eternal Flame, bringer of fire and faith to the rioting masses, and his most hated rival.

But Periculus did not fall by chance. Dark secrets lurk in its shadows – forbidden archeotech, twisted creatures that feast on flesh, and an insidious rage afflicts all who dwell inside its confines. As madness and violence erupt within the fallen dome, the legacy of Periculus threatens not only to consume the underhive, but ultimately Hive Primus itself.

Necromunda (like Imperial Guard books) are amongst my favourite of the Warhammer 40k universe, because they involve (mostly) ordinary humans just trying to survive in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future where there is only war. It makes the characters much more relatable than the super warriors of the Space Marines, or the intrigue of the Eldar. With all that said, what was Fire Made Flesh like?

It begins with Periculus being discovered by a Goliath gang, but unlike the game of Necromunda this is not about the gangs, or a gang war – it is about other denizens of the underhive – from pit fighters to ratskin scouts, from Pureburn to Tempes Sol (from the upper-hive). Lord Silas Pureburn puts all his resources into ensuring any archeotech found in Periculus benefits him. But he’s not the only one in the hive interested in the new location and hivers come from far and wide to make their fortunes.

This is a great little book, with one shortfall – there were just too many characters for me and too many interwoven plots for me to follow all of them. That said it was still a fun read and a must read for those who lie Necromunda – however it probably wouldn’t be a good introduction into the world of Warhammer 40k.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

— Declan

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

Book Review – Deathworld

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A Science-Fiction classic by Harry Harrison

Before Livingstone and Jackson even had the idea for Games Workshop and before the birth of Warhammer – science fiction in the 60s was having a great time; with speculative fiction, loads of magazines being published and space ships; lots and lots of space ships.

And Harry Harrison was one of the greats, with books spanning 50 years from 1960 to 2010. Famous mostly for the ‘Stainless Steel Rat’, I first found him through the novel Deathworld… which sounded like it could be an Imperial Guard novel – and possibly the basis for the Catachan Regiment.

From Goodreads: “The planet was called Pyrrus…a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man. The settlers there were supermen…twice as strong as ordinary men and with milli-second reflexes. They had to be. For their business was murder… It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man’s brief habitation…”

Okay, so I admit it, I may have lured you in a little on false pretences; the main story is indeed about a gambler with luck who is employed by the Ambassador of Pyrrus to win enough money for him to buy guns… lots of guns… a whole world of guns! After Jason dinAlt (the gambler) wins the money, he elects to join the ambassador to see Pyrrus for himself.

And it’s the planet of Pyrrus which is the best part of the story for me. Evocatively described, the planet which is trying to kill every human on it – including Jason dinAlt – with the creatures, plants and possibly the very planet itself trying to wipe humanity from its surface.

It’s a short novel (what would be a novella in modern terms), this is a great read if you want some inspiration for a Catachan themed roleplaying scenario or a narrative campaign. With the added benefit of being a great read as well. And if you like it as much as I did, the great news is that it is a trilogy! (and it’s available on Audible)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

— Declan

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

Book Review – The Gates of Athens

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A Historical Fiction novel by Conn Iggulden

Do you ever wish that Gaunt’s Ghosts had more Spears and Shields instead of Lasguns or that Sharpe had fewer Frenchmen to fight but more Persians…? Well good news your wait is over and Woehammer’s Elite group of Book Reviewers have the perfect solution to your needs.

The Gates of Athens is the first in a new series of books written by Conn Iggulden. If you’ve not seen his name before he has written a lot of historical fiction in eras as diverse as Rome, Genghis Khan and the War of the Roses. Unlike Gaunts Ghosts and Sharpe he tends to write complete series so characters don’t lice forever, but he is very good at capturing the themes of the historical era in which he is writing.

The Gates of Athens is an interesting story and one that wargamers will likely know something about, and Iggulden starts at Marathon where the army of Darius (the Persian King) is forced from Greece. At this victory we are introduced to five of the main characters used in the book… but don’t worry about keeping up, this is mostly the story about Xanthippus, a Strategos (Division leader) of Athens.

After victory at Marathon and Pheidippides has unfortunately died (again), the reader is introduced to the politics and intrigue of the Agora or Athens. Its not in too much detail though so no preknowledge is require or expected and the book is still mass market paperback so not intended for those who only want to read about the politics of the day! There is intrigue, deals and betrayal! Perfect!

But 10 years after Marathon the Persians are back under the new King – Xerxes – and heading for Athens who will need all her sons to save her!

It’s a smashing (and bashing) tour de force with Xanthippus in particular being a great character and hero for the story. Despite knowing the story and the sequence of events its written to still bring the reader along for the ride and – if you don’t know the story- there’s definitely enough explanation to stop you becoming confused. Despite the historical requirements and limitations, Iggulden also manages to keep the number of characters to a good level despite all the people involved.

So if you’re in a gap in Gaunts Ghosts or fancy a bit of a change from Orks and Psykers then give this a go. You won’t be disappointed!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

— Declan

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

Book Review – Sons of Selenar

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A Novella for The Siege of Terra by Graham McNeill

With The Siege of Terra in full swing, Graham McNeill takes us down a little cul-de-sac to close off the story-arc of the ‘Sons of Selenar’… or the Shattered Legions. This is an interesting departure from the other Siege of Terra books, in that it has characters from the Horus Heresy series who have been with each other for some time and gone through a number of adventures together.

Sons of Selenar from Black Library

From the book:

The Shattered Legions crew of the Sisypheum, broken and at the end of their endurance, find themselves divided – torn between following their resurrected captain on a suicidal mission or obeying orders to return to Terra and rejoin their Legion brothers.

Following a series of garbled messages intercepted by the Kryptos, the divided warriors descend to the shattered surface of Luna. Here, their bonds of loyalty, duty, and their devotion to one another will be tested as ancient horrors of the earliest days of gene-manipulation are unleashed, and a long-buried secret is revealed.

A secret that will have far-reaching consequences for the future course of the galaxy, no matter who eventually claims Terra.

The Shattered Legions – a group of loyalists separated from their own legions, find themselves hiding in the solar system following a void battle, when they receive a call for help from the surface of Luna. Ancient technology is under threat from the Sons of Horus and they are being called to help.

This is a strange – but I imagine essential – addition to the Siege of Terra, and I can understand why it is a novella and not part of the main story arc. The characters have all been introduced in some depth in the Horus Heresy series and – as I note above – have already have adventures, battles and close-calls within that series. This then left the writers of the Siege of Terra books in a quandary – the need to close this particular story-arc, but not confuse people who are just reading the Siege of Terra – like me!

And they have succeeded – sort of. This story has what you need in a Horus Heresy novella, but it should probably have been released under that series and not the Siege of Terra series. There is only a minimal link to the Siege of Terra proper – they are on Luna – and Black Library could easily have released it alongside.

The writing is of course good as we’ve come to expect from Graham McNeill but the characters are already developed, and I would have liked to have a little more description of them, even if it would have been superfluous for those who’ve read all the Horus Heresy novels. They fly, fight, kill and die whilst struggling to save the secrets of Gene-manipulation… and there’s some more history about the Emperor thrown in for good measure.

Overall a good book, but you really need to have read the Shattered Legion novels from Horus Heresy first.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

— Declan

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

Book Review – Straight Silver

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Gaunt’s Ghosts – 6 – By Dan Abnett

Continuing my re-reading of the Dan Abnett series – Gaunts Ghosts – next up is book 6, Straight Silver

‘Commissar Gaunt and his men undertake a seemingly suicidal mission in the blood-soaked trenches of the 41st Millennium.

On the battlefields of Aexe Cardinal, the struggling forces of the Imperial Guard are locked in a deadly stalemate with the dark armies of Chaos. Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his regiment, the Tanith First and Only, are thrown headlong into this living hell of trench warfare, where death from lethal artillery is always just a moment away. The only chance for Gaunt and his lightly armed scouts to survive is to volunteer for a mission so dangerous that no one else dares accept it.’

The Ghosts are stealth and infiltration specialists, but when they are assigned to the wars on Aexe Cardinal they quickly find themselves in the middle of trench warfare… and to make matters worse the enemy has brought some very big siege guns into the war… and the trenches are under intense attack.

After repelling the first attack against their lines, Gaunt convinces the local command to use his troops in a more suitable location… but there is a catch; the Ghosts are split in two. One half is working their way through a forest – still miraculously standing after decades of war – and the other must hold the trenches… and find the location of the big guns.

Unfortunately neither mission is as it seems and the Ghosts have to explore the wood, where their own need for R&R may cause them to forget the basics, whilst those left behind in the trenches must find the guns, so they can be silenced.

Straight Silver is back to classic Ghosts (although it never went far), and I loved it. The descriptions of the battles, unlikely survival of the troopers, and death of some, whilst they infiltrate and fight their own boredom … often at the same time.

This is another novel set in the 40k universe that I was able to relate to, in a way that I sometimes struggle with Space Marines. The Imperial Guard / Astra Militarum remain just men and women… with guns and a little armour… dying in droves to keep the enemy at bay or making small progress. Straight Silver delivers on this promise.

Another great novel and a good read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

— Declan

Previous Gaunt’s Ghosts Book Reviews on Woehammer:

First & Only
Ghostmaker
Necropolis
Honour Guard
Guns of Tanith

Check out the Woehammer Book Review Archive for more reviews!

Book Review – The Guns of Tanith

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Gaunt’s Ghosts – 5 – By Dan Abnett

Continuing my re-reading of the Dan Abnett series – Gaunts Ghosts – next up is book 5, The Guns of Tanith.

‘The heretical forces of Chaos fight back in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, cutting off Imperial forces. Gaunt and his men must recapture the key world Phantine, in order to save the Emperor’s beleaguered forces.

Tanith have been joined by Hivers from Verghast – and it’s rapidly becoming a noun for the new soldiers. In The Guns of Tanith Gaunt and his ghosts find themselves fighting on another planet, and being picked for a dangerous mission. They must infiltrate the chaos defenders, find their leader and kill him.

Four teams of Ghosts are assembled to take on the task, whilst the rest of the regiment stay fighting the arch enemy and preparing for the assault. Meanwhile Caffran is accused of killing a civilian and Gaunt and Hawk must try to get him free… but will they treat the Verghastites differently? The Regiment must be as one, but is that possible?

If you’re this far into the series, it’s safe to say you already enjoy the style – and it is unashamedly page turning pulp fiction – and will be eager to read Guns of Tanith… and you definitely should. Dan Abnett’s great idea to bring in new blood in the form of the Verghastites allows new stories (rivalry, and integration) that wouldn’t have been possible with just the Ghosts, but it also answers the question on many readers minds — what happens when they all die? This is the Imperial Guard after all.

The side plot involving Caffran is well done, and a welcome relief from the bullets, lasguns, and explosions — although they are included aplenty in the main plot. Meanwhile the plot races forward, with stories of daring from the infiltrators but just enough gaps in their stories that you are left wondering how exactly they proceed – a technique I really enjoyed and could be very useful as a plot hook if you like RPGs in Warhammer 40k

Another great novel and a good read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

— Declan

Previous Gaunt’s Ghosts Book Reviews on Woehammer:

First & Only
Ghostmaker
Necropolis
Honour Guard

Check out the Woehammer Book Review Archive for more reviews!

Book Review – Shamanslayer

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Book 11 in Gotrek & Felix Series – by Nathan Long

Gotrek and Felix have been on many adventures in the World that Was started by William King whose mantel Nathan Long has taken up. In Book 11, they must stop a Shaman from destroying the Empire!

Shamanslayer by Nathan Long

From the book:

Dwarf Trollslayer Gotrek and his human companion Felix Jaeger, Warhammer’s most famous pair of heroes, head off to a new adventure in the latest novel of this best-selling fantasy series against a horde of beastmen who threaten the safety of the Empire.

The horde are moving a Herdstone to the centre of the Empire in order to unleash it’s magic. Magic which turns those near to it into Beasts as well. Will Gotrek & Felix be able to prevent the Shaman and save the Empire from this latest, grave threat?

At book 11, the Gotrek and Felix books are really morphing into the Felix and Gotrek books. This is not surprising as Gotrek developed by William King was already a full character with Felix being more of a sidekick. Nathan Long’s stories have development for Felix (because the only real development for Gotrek is to die!), and it’s good to see.

The story flies along, with a character returning from previous books and Felix must prove that he a worthy wielder of his sword. It has everything you’ll know from the previous books with swords and arrows flying, death all around and Gotrek and Felix at the centre of the storm and all the events.

Despite the death of the World that Was, Gotrek novels set in the Old-World are still great reads, and I would still recommend reading them if you haven’t before.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

— Declan & Eeyore

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

Book Review – Echoes of Eternity

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Book 7 in the Siege of Terra Series – by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Siege of Terra is reaching it’s climax, having been promised 8 books in the series although it does appear that book 8 will be in a number of parts! Such is the difficulty of writing an ending.

Echoes of Eternity from Black Library

From the book:

The walls have fallen. The defenders’ unity is broken. The Inner Palace lies in ruins. The Warmaster’s horde advances through the fire and ash of Terra’s dying breaths, forcing the loyalists back to the Delphic Battlement, the very walls of the Sanctum Imperialis. Angron, Herald of Horus, has achieved immortality through annihilation – now he leads the armies of the damned in a wrathful tide, destroying all before them as the warp begins its poisonous corruption of Terra. For the Emperor’s beleaguered forces, the end has come. The Khan lies on the edge of death. Rogal Dorn is encircled, fighting his own war at Bhab Bastion. Guilliman will not reach Terra in time. Without his brothers, Sanguinius – the Angel of the Ninth Legion – waits on the final battlements, hoping to rally a desperate band of defenders and refugees for one last stand.

Wow… how do you fit all that in? There are so many Primarchs still left on Terra or interacting with Terra, and there must have been a strong temptation to tell these stories, but Dembski-Bowden doesn’t – or rather he does, but through the eyes of others.

The book starts with a setting of the scene of war – which is essentially a series of short stories of those fighting. The author gives a superb view of the war, with pockets of soldiers fighting, tanks under attack, titan deaths and attacks on the Eternity Gate. These short stories bring the war to the gates, as the defenders (mostly Blood Angels) prepare and await their fate.

The second part is the attack itself, interspersed by the story of Vulkan and Magnus, and has the fight between the Blood Angels and Ka’Banda; and between Sanguinius and Angron. Meanwhile the Eternity gate is still under threat and the Emperor’s shield against the forces of the warp (The Neverborn) starts to weaken under constant assault.

It’s a great addition to the series – and my favourite one so far. We are approaching the end, and it’s great to have the iconic fights included but still see the battle and fighting from the view of more normal people — if ‘normal’ includes the Space Marines!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

— Declan & Eeyore

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

Book Review – Double Eagle

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A Sabbat’s World Novel by Dan Abnett

Dan Abnett has made a new warzone with the Sabbat Worlds in his Gaunt’s Ghost series and he returns to the same series, but with aerial combat in Double Eagle.

Black Library

From the book:

While the Space Marines and Imperial Guard rule the battlefields of the Sabbat Worlds, the skies belong to the Imperial Navy. On Enothis, the enemy are threatening to halt the Imperial advance. Daemonic forces push into Imperial territory, thousands of refugees flee across the deserts and an infamous Chaos-tainted pilot, Khrel Kas Obarkon, rules the sky, his skill in the cockpit matched only by his kill tally. The ace pilots of the Phantine Twentieth Fighter Corps are the Imperium’s only hope for victory.

Have you ever wondered what the Battle of Britain would look like but set in the Warhammer 40k universe. Well have no fear, Dan Abnett has thought about it as well and he brings you the answer!

The Phantine Twentieth are a strange breed, being part of the Imperial Army (Astra Militarum) and not the Navy, because the world they come from has very little land and lots of sky! Of course there are rivalries with the Navy and with the local airforce and transfers between the three groups as planes are shot down, pilots are stranded and rescued, and others are promoted.

It’s a fast moving, well designed story with a few story lines but not too many as to be confusing. Abnett has also avoided the temptation to mention the Ghosts, as an aerial wing would not be concerned about a unit they have no link to. The combat is well described and you can imagine you are in the middle of the combat or watching an old WWII film.

Great fun, and definitely recommended if you like Gaunt. It’s also a great introduction into the Sabbat Worlds if you’re not sure you can commit to the entire Ghost’s series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

— Declan & Eeyore

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

Book Review – Astorath Angel of Mercy

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A Novella by Guy Hayley

The Primaris Space Marines have well and truly arrived and are making their mark in the Warhammer 40k universe and timeline. But there have been doubts about the gene-seed and whether the changes designed by Belasarius Cawl may have removed Sanguinius’ curse.

Black Library

From the book:

Following the Devastation of Baal and the arrival of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman’s Indomitus Crusade, Commander Dante of the Blood Angels has been appointed Lord Regent of all Imperium Nihilus. Working with the successor chapters of the Blood Angels, Dante commands that the area around the Red Scar be scouted in preparation for reconquest. The Red Wings’ sweep has led them to the foetid world of Dulcis, dangerously near to the Cicatrix Maledictum itself. Decimated by the tyranids during the war for Baal and only lightly reinforced by Primaris Space Marines, the Red Wings Chapter are in no position to deal with the events that unfold there. Strange psychic phenomenon and a deadly xenos enemy threaten the great hope of all the Chapters of the Blood – that the flaw in Sanguinius’ geneseed has at last been tamed. Drawn by the Black Rage to Dulcis, Astorath the Grim, Lord High Chaplain and Redeemer of the Lost, comes to aid the Red Wings. But what he discovers there will shake the Chapters of the Blood to their very core.

Astorath has one role; to keep the secret of the Blood Angels and to tame the savage beast of the flaw of the Blood Angels. He comes to Dulcis and the Primaris Space Marines of the Red Wing chapter who are encountering changes in their fellows that they don’t understand.

This is a much needed novella length story for the Blood Angels to confirm if we need to paint Death Company Primaris and whether the flaw still exists within the Primaris Space Marines who have recently joined the chapter following the Devastation of Baal. It’s brilliantly written, flows well and is a nice quick read. It also has a Xenos peril thrown in and a local threat from the planet of Dulcis that we have not seen before in the Warhammer universe. I really like seeing these possibilities that you may see in a role-playing game but not on the battlefield.

Definitely a key novella if you are a Blood Angel fan and recommended for anyone else who likes a good roaring Warhammer 40k but fancies a novella length.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

— Declan

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here