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The latest anthology of tales from the 41st millennium titled, appropriately, Fear the Alien arrived for me this morning and ive just finished it as I start this review.


Gardens of Tycho
The first story is titled Gardens of Tycho: A Magos Drusher Story by Dan Abnett. Set on a backwater world the story follows the unlucky Magos Biologis Valentin Drusher who is picked up by the Magistratum Martial Order Division to aid them with a serial killing case, although it quickly turns into more then just random killins.

This was quite a good short story for its well-paced action, humourus moments and a twist ending that was quite well-done. And a brief hint to Eisenhorn with the appearance of something that readers of the series will definitely recognize.

I give Gardens of Tycho a 3.5/5, and I hope we have not seen the last of Magos Drusher.


Fear Itself
The second story Fear Itself by new Black Library writer Juliet McKenna centres around the Alnavik 'Stone Bears' Imperial Guard Regiment during a Tyranid invasion. The story follows Catmos, the chief surgeon, as he must patch up the wounded and send them back into the slaughter, and must also deal with the psychological scarring that many suffer from the horrors of the Hive Fleets.

This was a good stand-alone story that portrays the Tyranids quite well and gives a new and interesting Imperial Guard Regiment the Alnavik 'Stone Bears' that are "Hard enough to eat rocks and shit gravel!", as the guardsmen put it. However while it was good it did not wow me, this is a solid entry but its not gonna win any awards.

I give Fear Itself a 3/5 and look forward to Juliet Mckenna's future work.


Promethus Requiem
The third story is one that many will recognize. Yet another Salamanders short story by Nick Kyme. Prometheus Requiem is set in-between Fireborn and Firedrake and features Tsu'gan on another mission with the Firedrakes. Tsu'gan and the Firedrakes join up with another Firedrake sergeant on a mission to a Space Hulk, and face the ghosts of their pasts and must determine what enemies are real and what are false, while the true enemy stalks the shadows on the hunt.

This was quite a good short story, definitely better then the other Salamander short tales. Featuring an overlap with ADB's The Core the appearance of Lucoryphus and his Bleeding Eyes was quite cool, especially when they tore a Firedrake apart piece by piece. Plus seeing how both stories affect each other was nice.

I give Prometheus Requiem a 4/5 and look forward to Firedrake, which I am attending Games Day solely to get it early.


Mistress Baeda's Gift
The fourth story was a very interesting one for me. Mistress Baeda's Gift by Braden Campbell follows the Dark Eldar Archon Malwrack as he attempts to win over, and dominate, the widow Baeda who has stolen his affections. However to win such a beauty he must dig deep into his resources and come up with the perfect gift, and that will cost more then he expects.

This was an interesting story. Rather then being set around a huge battle or a deep conspiracy it follows the daily life of a Dark Eldar, and deals with a more emotional side to the twisted kin. While not up to the standards of Anthony Reynold's Dark Eldar, but then again what is, it was definitely enjoyable and another step towards getting the Dark Eldar the attention they deserve.

I give Mistress Baeda's Gift a 4/5 and look forward to more Dark Eldar, we really need more of them.


Iron Inferno
The fifth story Iron Inferno by C.L Werner is a first for Black Library, the very first story written from the perspective of an Ork. The story follows Kommando Kaptain Grimruk Badtoof, a Blood Axe Ork, who has joined up with a WAAAGH! that is rampaging through the Izanagi sector and has made planetfall on the capital world Yamato. Grimruk and his Kommando's have their mission and will carry it out, regardless of the risk. A Blood Axe knows two things. One, sometimes you've gotta pull out of a fight to get the job done. And two, there's more to winning then getting killed in a big fight.

This was a very enjoyable story and contained some great Orkish moments. The PDF's strategy was sound but I knew instantly how the Orks would react to it. They made one critical mistake, they assumed an Ork thinks like a human. The only thing that disappointed me was the total lack of Ork dialogue, the speech was never used directly. While Orkish dialect is tough we still love hearing, 'Smash dem gitz boyz!, WAAAAGH!'.

I give Iron Inferno a solid 4.5/5


Sanctified
The sixth story Sanctified written by Mark Clapham follows Magos Kaspel as he repairs the ship Sanctity after its crippling by the Necrons. However the Dark Eldar have slipped aboard and are intent on capturing the ship and taking it back to Commorragh, Kaspel must rely on his technological skills to defeat them and save the Sanctity.

This was quite a good story, and more Dark Eldar which gives me hope for their future, and was a solid entry for the anthology. The skills used by Magos Kaspel to defeat the Dark Eldar was surprising and fitting for a Mechanicus Engineseer.

I give Sanctified a 3.5/5 and look forward to Mark Clapham's future work.


Faces
The seventh story Faces by Mathew Farrer, the writer of Shira Calpurnia was an interesting one. Set on a mining rig a group of humans have lost their identities and are acting as different people, memories that are not theirs of a great war, broken promises and hatred between brothers and sisters, are being told through their bodies. And the true actors of this epic play are returning, and do not take kindly to their roles being usurped.

This was, ill admit, a slog to get through. Its confusing at the start and seems to drag on but halfway through it starts to get a lot better and the Harlequin's appearing at the end and retaking their masks was very entertaining. Plus it was a fun challenge to guess which roles the human's were playing based on their words and actions.

I give Faces a 3/5 for a good story but a slow start.


Unity
The eighth story Unity by James Gilmer was a very interesting take on a xenos race. The story follows the Guard sniper Tam and the Raven Guard Gesar as they trek across a planet to escape the Tau forces hunting them. Dealing with the sting of betrayal by another regiment who have defected to the Tau. Both of these unlikely partners will see a dark side to the enigmatic Tau that show their true xenos colours.

This story was interesting because of its portrayal of the Tau and their Kroot allies. The Tau are shown to be uncaring of humanity and will gladly sacrifice them to preserve their Tau forces while preaching that their deaths are for the Greater Good. And to keep the Kroot sweet they pay them off with live prisoners and dead bodies for feeding.

I give Unity a 3.5/5 for a good story and showing the true dark side of the Tau. It was only a matter of time.


The Core
The ninth story The Core by Aaron Dembski-Bowden returns to the Night Lords in a preview of the future. Set after the upcoming novel Blood Reaver the story follows Talos who now has his own ship the Strike Cruiser Echo of Damnation and is in command of the 10th Company. Taking the advice of Tech-Priest Deltrian the Night Lords infiltrate a Space Hulk hoping to be off with much salvage and something that Deltrian wishes to harvest from the hulk of a Mechanicus craft, locked deep within the hulk. However they pick up more then they bargained for and run into an old enemy.

This is my favourite story of the anthology for obvious reasons but also because it is the first glimpse of big changes ahead for the Night Lords. The Exalted and his Atramentar are nowhere to be seen, although their fate is not confirmed, and the Covenant of Blood is gone as well. Newcomers Lucoryphus of the Bleeding Eyes, a Night Lords Raptor who is a remnant of what he once was, and Variel the Flayer, a former Red Corsairs Apothecary and an original Astral Claw. And the overlap with Prometheus Requiem by Nick Kyme was very cool.

I give The Core a 4.5/5 for an enjoyable story, a well-written overlap, and managing to entertain us and at the same time not give anything huge about Blood Reaver away. I look forward to Blood Reaver even more now, and I hope The Exalted burns.


Ambition Knows no Bounds
The tenth and final story of Fear the Alien is Ambition Knows no Bounds by Andy Hoare. Following the junior Rogue Trader Brielle as she and her team venture into an ancient tomb system to plunder and loot what they can. However once inside they face the tomb's guardians and learn that its occupants are not as dead as they assumed.

A good story that gives us some pretty cool Necron action and shows us that ultimately, humans are greedy and stupid, and will disregard danger and the safety of others for a chance at profit. The Necron Lord was awesome and it was nice to see the traditional Necron method that I always imagined they kill people with, disintegration.

I give Ambition Knows no Bounds a 4/5 for a good story and an interesting lesson on humanity's failings.


Overall Fear the Alien has proved to be my favourite anthology with many classic stories and fearsome xenos to threaten mankind. The Dark Eldar getting two appearances and a full short story about them is sweet and promising for their future, and the first Ork story was a success in my eyes and hopefully C.L Werner's next work will be a Ork series, WAAAAGH! ye grots and squigs!.

I give Fear the Alien a 9/10. My next review will be Andy Hoare's Hunt for Voldorius, this is my first full novel by Mr Hoare and features Kernax Voldorius, one of my favourite 40k characters that hadn't been fleshed out until now. I can't wait to start reading.
 

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Good review. One thing that did stand out to me about it however was the fact you gave Promethus Requiem a 4/5 but The Core 4.5/5. Shouldn't they both be the same, considering that they cross over? Other than that, a interesting review Lord of the Night, I look forwards to reading it myself :)

Edit: Oh, and it is certainly nice to see that Andy Hoare hasn't gave up on his Rogue Traders! Though Brielle was my least favourite...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I gave The Core a higher rating because it was more amusing then Prometheus Requiem. Deltrian's comments to Septimus were pretty funny. And the characters were more interesting, like Lucoryphus and his Raptors, they had some cool names. Shar Gan, Zon La, Vorasha. Even though half of them did not make it.

And the Rogue Trader characters were in his last novels?, hmm. Was there a bodyguard called Quin in the Rogue Trader novels?.
 

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That's fair enough, just thought it was a bit.....Strange.

The Rogue Traders were not in his last books, they were the focus of his last novels (Rogue Star and Star of Damocles).I cannot remember if there is a bodyguard by that name in the novels, however if I remember correctly, Brielle defects to the Tau in the second novel, so it is probably a prequel to the two books :)
 

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I first read The Gardens of Tycho when it appeared in issue 46 of Inferno magazine in '05. Unfortunatley Abnett seems happy to leave Drusher with just the 2 outings. Hopefully he'll get some more attention for a later anthology, as he is a very good character.

Nice review BTW.:victory:
 

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Good review. One thing that did stand out to me about it however was the fact you gave Promethus Requiem a 4/5 but The Core 4.5/5. Shouldn't they both be the same, considering that they cross over?
Man, this makes the least sense out of anything I've ever read. Two stories describe the same event. That doesn't mean they're written the same way, in the same style, to the same quality, by the same author.

Is every WWII movie the same because it's WWII, or are they written, directed, filmed and acted completely differently, by entirely different people? Is a film about the same thing exactly the same as every other film about that event? Hell, are even remakes exactly the same quality as the original movies?

You literally scare me.
 

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I thought about buying this book as i was midly impressed by the legends of spacca mahreens book.

But i thought i trust the reviews of my favourite BL forum lot.

Defor looks like a good pick up.

DE making a good appearance is nice, hell they did dark elves n fantasy so why not DE in 40k?
 

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Man, this makes the least sense out of anything I've ever read. Two stories describe the same event. That doesn't mean they're written the same way, in the same style, to the same quality, by the same author.
I agree with you, it should not be in any way strange that the two differ, and can get different ratings. It may be more of who is doing the reviewing, their feelings towards the works of certain people, and how it may/may not be surprising about the ratings certain stories got.


All in all, very much looking forward to getting my hands on this book, especially because many of those stories are written by different authors than the usual gang and thats always awesome to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The primary reason that I preferred The Core to Prometheus Requiem is because The Core has Night Lords. That may sound biased on the surface but there are deeper reasons.

The characterisation of the Night Lords is better, makes for a better story. There is a moment when Septimus catches up to the group and Uzas growls at him as a greeting and Septimus thinks that for Uzas that is being cordial. Plus I really like how Lucoryphus runs on all fours like a beast, makes him look much more threatening.

Plus the style of combat was much better. Lucoryphus and the Bleeding Eyes hunting the Salamanders through the Hulk was much more interesting then the Salamanders storming through the Genestealers and cutting down half of the Raptors. The idea of Lucoryphus and the Raptors leaping through the darkened platforms above the corridors while the Salamanders are unaware below was awesome.

My favourite stories of the anthology are The Core, Iron Inferno and Mistress Baeda's Gift. Those three are the best ones, at least for me.
 

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A ork story... Thank you C.L. Werner. More DE and night lords love=cool. A insite into the tau that shows thier evil side? im in:biggrin:
 

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Looks like have to buy this too... And nice review overall.

As mentioned earlier people should put (if they can) some other points on reviewing than just the story.
 

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Unity
The eighth story Unity by James Gilmer was a very interesting take on a xenos race. The story follows the Guard sniper Tam and the Raven Guard Gesar as they trek across a planet to escape the Tau forces hunting them. Dealing with the sting of betrayal by another regiment who have defected to the Tau. Both of these unlikely partners will see a dark side to the enigmatic Tau that show their true xenos colours.

This story was interesting because of its portrayal of the Tau and their Kroot allies. The Tau are shown to be uncaring of humanity and will gladly sacrifice them to preserve their Tau forces while preaching that their deaths are for the Greater Good. And to keep the Kroot sweet they pay them off with live prisoners and dead bodies for feeding.

I give Unity a 3.5/5 for a good story and showing the true dark side of the Tau. It was only a matter of time.
Thanks for the review! I just wanted to say thanks for a well-written review of "Unity", my first BL/WH40K work and something I'm really proud of, even if the distance of a year makes me see things I wish I had done differently.

Thanks for the kind words. While this wasn't my first published piece of fiction, it was my first adventure into the world of WH40K, and I owe all the good stuff to Christian Dunn, who is the kind of editor every writer wants; someone who makes them a better author with every job. Honestly, it's all very common for a writer to praise their editor as a matter of course but I don't think I've had as much fun or learned as much as from working with Christian. He's a diamond geezer and the field needs more editors like him.

I'm a rather recent convert to the Warhammer 40K fold, and I'm still devouring my way through BL's back catalogue as fast as I can read them, and like every writer there's stuff I look back on with "Unity" and wish I'd tweaked here and there, but I had a blast writing it and I hope everyone has a blast reading it.

I find the Tau Empire to be utterly fascinating, and I loved the kroot the instant I read the Tau Empire Codex. As to whether the tau are "bad"...well, they're xenos :victory:

Cheers!

James (Jim) Gilmer
 

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Hey there Jim!

We're glad to have you with us mate. I'm looking forward to getting my copy of Fear the Alien, so i can have a read of your story, from what i've heard here, it really sounds like a good-un. lol

I hope you'll stick around and have a word in some of the discussions around here. that would be swell!

My warmest wishes and greetings,

Commissar Ploss
Fiction and Fluff Mod
 

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Hey there Jim!

We're glad to have you with us mate. I'm looking forward to getting my copy of Fear the Alien, so i can have a read of your story, from what i've heard here, it really sounds like a good-un. lol

I hope you'll stick around and have a word in some of the discussions around here. that would be swell!

My warmest wishes and greetings,

Commissar Ploss
Fiction and Fluff Mod
Thanks! I appreciate the warm welcome. At the moment I'm rather snowed under with my day job and some writing projects, but I'll stick my head in from time to time.

I'll be starting a writing blog very soon as many friends and fellow writers have asked me about my experiences working on a work-for-hire franchise and just how I climbed the ladder period, so when I get that up I'll post so interested parties can get a bit of behind the scenes info, and hopefully you lot will see some more WH40K work with my name on it soon.

I've never had an editor take as much time reviewing the first draft of an outline and a manuscript with me than Christian does every time and I get a great rush from bouncing ideas off him and making a story take shape as we go back and forth. I've not had a company where everyone I've dealt with has just been wonderful, and I can't even tell you how utterly FUN the Skype sessions with my editor were, as well as educational, and it's been the sort of experience writers wish for. Each time I go over stuff with Christian I come away a better writer (pssst...don't tell him though, us writers are supposed to be anti-social Artists! suffering for our craft! :wacko:)

As said, I feel honoured to be a part of the universe for the fans and for the other creators, many of whom I deeply respect and a few I already knew before jumping into this.

One last thing; if you're on the bubble about the book please remember that short story anthos are a bit of a dying breed in todays publishing market. It's utterly fantastic that Black LIbrary still does them, and because FTA isn't a SPACE MARINE antho, there's a good chance it won't get the instant recognition that the SM anthos do.

If you really like the book make sure you let your friends know about it or write reviews on forums, blogs, or at amazon, et al. I really think this is a cracking collection of stories by people I'm honoured and shocked to be sharing a ToC with and I think the concept alone is fantastic.

Right, enough cheerleading from me, thanks for the welcome and I'll be around when work and insomnia (the reason I'm up at the moment) permit.

Cheers!

James (Jim) Gilmer
 

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Lord of the Night;695369 This story was interesting because of its portrayal of the Tau and their Kroot allies. The Tau are shown to be uncaring of humanity and will gladly sacrifice them to preserve their Tau forces while preaching that their deaths are for the Greater Good. And to keep the Kroot sweet they pay them off with live prisoners and dead bodies for feeding. I give [I said:
Unity[/I] a 3.5/5 for a good story and showing the true dark side of the Tau. It was only a matter of time.
I am not amused. The whole point of the Tau is that they're supposed to not be as big assholes as everyone else in 40k.
 

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Yes, and the point of unity could be that that is simply a facade they put up. And why not? If it is the difference between Tau lives and human lives, which do you think the Tau are going to prefer live?

If there is something in the way of the Tau, how often has the fluff pointed to them being willing to crush that opposition? For the Tau, you are either willing to join and be ruled by them or die at their hands and guns. That is the Tau officially, a seemingly good race amongst the plethora of varying evils in the 40k galaxy; truth is they are no less evil than the rest, they just do a better job at hiding it sometimes. All James Gilmerhas done with his story is give us but one view into just how much of an illusion that may be, just how evil the Tau actually are.


Hell, look at the Gue'vesa, you know many of those people left behind after the Damocles crusade who were faced with joining the Tau or being killed? Yeah those are some great options. Hell the title even stands for helper, more akin to a slave than an equel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The Tau seem like good guys in the dark universe of 40k because of two factors that no other race shares. One, they will offer you a chance to surrender and join them in peace or die, when all other races will just kill you or enslave you in a horrific fashion. And two they have tolerance for all beliefs and ways of life, they believe theirs is better but they dont hate others for believing differently, apart from Chaos, and they seek to 'enlighten' the other races into the better path.

They are just as evil as the others, more evil in fact because Orks, Chaos, Dark Eldar and Necrons will kill you horribly, enslave you for unholy purposes but in the end you keep your faith, your identify. The Tau wipe away identity and faith and replace it with fealty to the Greater Good, a system where you mean absolutely nothing in the wider scheme. At least some Tau are breaking away, Go Farsight Enclaves!.
 
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