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Slave to Heresy!
8,803 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In the near future we're going to add a team of 4 active members to the staff. These guys will form a new "Black Library Book Review Squad".

Eventually, this team will read and conduct book reviews every month on new Black Library Titles (which we will pay for and have shipped to you). All you need to do is read through them and write a fucking AWESOME book review.

In order to be considered for the position I'll need examples of your book reviews. Each person that want to join us should post a Black Library book review here in this thread. Any genre, any book, any author.

Just as long as its concise and fairly good.

Once we've got the entrants I'll write them all down, pull out my favourite wankopaedia and FAP. Whichever it lands on joins the team!!!


Actually, we'll just decide as a team and pick who we like best then BINGO - you get to be a book reviewer for us, get free books and hell, I'll even let you choose what color you want your usernames to be!!!

So in brief.

We need 4 Black Library Book Reviewers
You get free BL books
You review them
You post reviews on Heresy
You become a reviewer by posting a review here (that we pick)

If you don't want to join the staff, or write book reviews, or receive free BL books in the post click back and sod off. :bye:

929 Posts
How many reviews a month will be expected Jez? This could be the perfect reason to get back into reviewing. I've been out of the game for a bit but have been considering getting back into it. You know where to find my reviews, but ill chuck one up here anyway. Its a little long, but it was an omnibus so you get that.

Ravenor the Omnibus by Dan Abnett

Ravenor The Omnibus contains all three Ravenor novels. Ravenor, Ravenor Returns, Ravenor Rogue and includes two linking short stories Thorn Wishes Talon and Playing Patience. Combined and bound the Omnibus weighs in at a hefty 891 pages and once completed could very well be used as a bludgeoning weapon on that neighbour who won’t turn down his music after midnight. Ravenor draws upon characters and events from Abnett’s other Inquisition novels, the Eisenhorn trilogy. While you don’t have to have read the Eisenhorn books to enjoy the Ravenor Omnibus, I highly suggest you do. Not only because the Eisenhorn series is a cracking read on its own, but it will give you the background knowledge needed to fully immerse yourself in the Ravenor experience. That said, let’s get stuck into Ravenor!

Ravenor is the first book in the omnibus and introduces us to Inquisitor Ravenor and his team. Ravenor’s character crosses over from the earlier Eisenhorn books, and after a horrific accident is little more than a lump of flesh sealed in his own floating, armed and armoured life support chair. Ravenor’s main way off communicating is via psychic casting to his team which is represented via the use of addition symbols on either side of the speech text, + like this +. I really enjoyed the way Abnett used casting throughout the omnibus, it makes for some interesting three and four way conversations when one of the characters is casting his thoughts from orbit. But where the real strength of the book lies, is in its development of the other characters. While I did enjoy Eisenhorn and his team, Ravenor’s team of agents are far better characters in their own right and manage to last longer than a single book without dying! Ravenor’s team includes Carl Thonius his apprentice interrogator, Patience Kys his pskyer warrior, Harlon Nayl his bounty hunter muscle and Kara Swole the acrobatic operative. There are other various members who breeze in and out of the team but these four represent the core of the outfit. Ravenor sets the scene with Inquisitor Ravenor and his team on the hunt for the source of a new dangerous drug called flects which are basically warp infused glass shards. The investigation takes them off planet and into the region of uncharted space imaginatively named Lucky Space, where the team walk straight into a trap by the flect dealers and are forced to fight for their lives. There is some great action later in the book and an almighty out of body psyker battle. However, Ravenor does take a while to ramp up to can’t put down speed and is probably the weakest of the three books. It is however a good read in its own right and is the perfect set up for the events to follow in Ravenor Returns and Ravenor Rogue. Ravenor is also the first time we meet Ravenor’s arch nemesis Molotch. His appearance is early on and brief, but he’s a character that will not only feature heavily in the future, but also bring Ravenor to his knees... if he had any.

Ravenor Returns follows on from the events of Ravenor and in my opinion is the best of the three books. All the action here centres around the hive on Eustis Majoris and Ravenor’s attempt to uncover the real evil behind the flect trade. What Ravenor finds is a planet wide conspiracy involving several different factions all trying to play out their own agendas. It’s a case of everybody for themselves as the different factions try to outwit and destroy one another, Ravenor and his team included! Several cool elements here include warp infused data that hides a hidden daemonic language that could control the Imperium, swarms of metal robot birds than can strip a man to bones in seconds and even the birth of a daemon named Slyte. However, what I found to be the strongest element of the book was the consistent struggle for truth. The whole storyline feels like a futuristic detective novel and you’ll be left trying to guess who to trust throughout the book. I just couldn’t put this down, and happily gobbled up the entire story within a day or two. It’s also the first time we meet some extra baddies Culzen and Worna who will feature heavily in the next and final instalment.

Ravenor Rogue once again follows on from where the previous book left off and brings the series to an explosive conclusion. It see’s Ravenor disobey his superiors instructions to stop chasing Molotch which in turn makes him a rogue agent and an enemy of the Imperium. The story spirals around Ravenor trying to destroy Molotch and Culzen once and for all while the side story of the daemon Slyte soon becomes the paramount problem. There is some serious mind bending stuff in Ravenor Rogue, not only to we jump around from planet to planet but also from time to time as Ravenor and company quickly become lost in a inter-dimensional portal that goes haywire. More than once I had a what the moment and had to flip back to the start of the chapter to check the date of the events. Some crazy stuff happens by the thrilling conclusion. Arch enemies unite, a daemon is fully born into the real universe and Ravenor dies... or does he? While very good, the last book in the omnibus is just under the high standard set by Ravenor Returns, but is still a great way to finish the series.

What Abnett does exceptionally well in the Ravenor series compared to the Esienhorn series is flesh out the other characters in the team. By the end of the book I felt as if Thonius, Kys, Nayl and Kara are all close friends of mine and you genuinely want them to all finish safe and sound. In fact, I’ll take that one step further and say id like them to all survive and for Kara Swole to do a bikini shoot. Abnett does a great job of describing her voluptuous figure throughout the book. The second thing I found that really brings Ravenor together was the detective element to it, across the entire omnibus, it felt like one giant intergalactic detective action drama. It keeps you guessing and throws you enough twists and false leads to throw you off the scent.

I loved it. Yes the first book was a bit slow till about half way, but as an omnibus it represents an epic journey that gives leaves you with feelings of disappointment at the end. Disappointment that it’s all over. Is it better than Esienhorn you ask? That’s a tough one, but id hazard a guess it’s about equal. Esienhorn as a main character is stronger and more relatable than Ravenor. I mean really, how much can you relate to a lump of flesh suspended in a floating metal chair? That said, as a team of strong characters Ravenor trumps Esienhorn. Either way you spin it, Ravenor, like Esienhorn is a must read in the 40k library. If you don’t have, go out and buy it. And grab the Esienhorn omnibus while you’re there too. Thank you Mr Abnett.

High Point: The Wych House portal in Ravenor Rogue. Whoever through one little wooden door could cause so much trouble?

Low Point: The first third of Ravenor. Just a little slow and takes too long to get going. But trust me, stick through it and you will be rewarded.


Jac "Baneblade" O'Bite
8,082 Posts
I'll throw my name into this should you need people. Review below:

Salvation's Reach by Dan Abnett

The Tanith First-And-Only embark on a desperate mission that could decide the fate of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade in the thirteenth book of this popular Imperial Guard series.
The Ghosts of the Tanith First-and-Only have been away from the front line for too long. Listless, and hungry for action, they are offered a mission that perfectly suits their talents. The objective: the mysterious Salvation’s Reach, a remote and impenetrable stronghold concealing secrets that could change the course of the Sabbat Worlds campaign. But the proposed raid is so hazardous, it’s regarded as a suicide mission, and the Ghosts may have been in reserve for so long they’ve lost their edge. Haunted by spectres from the past and stalked by the Archenemy, Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and his Ghosts embark upon what could be their finest hour… or their final mission.

For me personally this book represents a sort of return to form for Abnett in regards to GG. I thought that Blood Pact kind of lost its way a little and “The Lost” sequence was a little too forgiving for members of the Tanith 1st. Salvations Reach however is a different beast. It combines the best of the more character driven parts of say “The Armor of Contempt” with some of the action sequences of “The Guns of Tanith”. It’s close in tight action for the Tanith First with help from some of the Imperium’s heavy hitters and some Vergast and Belledon new arrivals which while re-enforcing the Tanith also shake several characters to their core.

Words on the page wise its Abnett as usual. Fast paced and laden with description it’s a good read. Nothing really jars in the syntax and he’s still the best action writer than BL has be it infantry firefights or Navy vessels blasting at each over thousands of miles in space. My only gripe with the book in regards to the way Abnett writes is some new slang he’s introduced. “Lasman” (a slang for a standard guardsmen or a soldier’s officer) is hammered home so frequently in the first half of the book it becomes irritating.

Mabbon is still around and his interactions with the IG are a driving force behind the novel but it's still not confirmed whose side he's on which is great. Effectively the book can be broken down into two halves: The transport to Salvation’s Reach and then the battle that takes place there: a litteral smash and grab mission to take enemy artifacts back for study in the hopes it will help the war effort which is faltering because Slaydo's replacement isn't anywhere near as good as the old man was. Again we see more of the behind the scenes workings of Chaos something that Abnett basically single handily introduced BL readers to in Traitor General. How they work, how they think and how they protect themselves. We also see the factions within the Imperiam at work and how they aren't all chummy with each other. Again a very nice touch which reminds me of First and Only.

The grand ending and result of the battle feels a little under developed but there is a personal moment in there for two of the long running characters that pulls on the heart strings a little.

Spoilers below

Over all I really enjoyed the book. I ripped through it in about 3 days and it wasn’t a struggle at all unlike some other books I won’t mention. Can’t wait for The Warmaster to see what happens next.

1,442 Posts
I'll just put my name forward for this because I think it would be AWESOME.

Storm Of Iron by Graham McNeill

Storm of Iron tells the tale of siege of Hydra Cordatus by the Iron Warriors. This is one of the rare Warhammer novels that tells the story from Chaos point of view; or more precisely from the point of view of Honsou the half-breed, Captain of Iron Warriors. Hydra Cordatus is a wasteland, with only the mighty citadel resting upon its barren surface. It hides a terrible secret and that secret is the reasons why the Iron Warriors are knocking on its doors.

McNeill is a good writer; he captures the atmosphere pretty well and has a terrific sense of pace. Pacing is certainly the highlight of the book, the book draws you in its vile clutches and you can’t put it down until you’ve read it all. The plot also follows loyalist forces perspective and gives additional depth and intrigue to the whole thing. However, although many people claim that the book keeps you on the edge as to who is going to win to the very end, that’s not true. Halfway through the book I knew Chaos was going to win, since everything the loyalists had planned turned out bad for them. Chaos troops die by thousands, crushed under relentless artillery barrage, landmines, weapons fire, tank shells, Titan weaponry, bolter fire and Space Marine chainswords. Yet, at the end, they push on and take the citadel as if they had no casualties whatsoever. I don’t mind Chaos winning (actually, it was a nice refreshment from generic Space Wolves kick ass novels), but I would at least like to see that their victory, almost Pyrrhic in nature, bore some scars on the Iron Warriors. To me it feels like Honsou said: “Okay, we won this, now all our dead troops will respawn at out base camp for the next campaign.”

The next thing that caught my attention was lack of any serious descriptions of locales and characters, as well as loyalist characterizations. The Chaos side was well developed, especially Honsou, who is among my favourite Warhammer 40k characters. The Imperial side however feels like copy/pasted from a Codex with their genericness. I don’t even remember who the Castellan of the citadel was nor is there anything worth remembering about Captain Eshara of Imperial Fists. They feel like cardboard cut-outs. The verbosity in describing battles is also somewhat lacking. I know that most people prefer their action fast and hard, but several times I found myself re-reading certain paragraphs to understand who was killing who, especially the part when loyalists stormed the trenches in a desperate counterattack.

Storm of Iron is a good novel, and a recommendation to anyone interested in Warhammer 40k universe. However, it falls short on some basic points, and it’s definitely not the best there is among other BL books, compared to Abnett’s or Werner’s work. If you’re interested in Chaos novels, this is a good choice, and I recommend that you read it before Dead Sky, Black Sun, which continues the story of Honsou.

Dazed and confused.
8,496 Posts
I will try out for this I think. I'm nearly finished Mark of Calth, so I'll throw together a review of that when I get it done.

EDIT: Here's one I prepared earlier instead.


Legion of the Damned

Before I attempt a review of this book, I should state I went into it fairly blinkered towards the whole Space Marines Battles series. So far, the only ones that have impressed me are Helsreach and Battle for the Fang. The rest, on the whole, have been substandard when compared to other series published by BL. I had given up on the series after The Gildar Rift, but when I saw the next instalment was Legion of the Damned, I gave it one more shot.

The story revolves around the Excoriators Space Marines, a chapter descended from the Imperial Fists. They are trying to regain some of the honour they lost when the chapter banner captured by the Alpha Legion by winning a tournament held amongst all the chapters descended from the IFs. When they realise they are almost out of the game, we are introduced to the Scourge, the marine who lost the banner in the first place, and loyal member of the chapter master’s command squad.

He has been lost in a coma-like state since he lost the banner, which for me sounds too like the BAs black rage, if not as extreme. A marine who succumbs to this state is reliving the horror and despair that Dorn felt while standing over the broken body of the Emperor after he defeated Horus. For me creating something like this for a successor chapter when there has been no mention of it regarding the parent legion or more prominent second founding chapters is a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, the Scourge is lifted from his fugue by an experimental procedure, and goes on to defeat both the champions of the Imperial Fists and Black Templars in the final round, winning the right for the Excoriators to hold the Dornsblade, a sword worn by Dorn himself. This feat does not endear him to his battle brothers however, who still blame him for bringing dishonour to the chapter by losing the banner. All the Scourge wants to do is return to his chapter master and try to redeem himself in his eyes.

Things do not go to plan however, as before he can return, his company meets with the Excoriators 5th company, who are down to half strength after chasing the Alpha Legion in an attempt to regain the banner. Much to everyone’s surprise and disappointment, the Scourge has been made captain of the 5th. He ends up leading them to Certus Minor, an ecclesiarchal cemetery world that lies in the path of a comet that is being trailed by a massive Khornate fleet destroying every planet they encounter. Despite hostility and derision from within his own company, who feel the company's veteran Sgt. Skase should have been promoted to captain, and want to continue the hunt for the Alpha Legion and their lost banner, the Scourge decides to stay and defend the planet in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. And so begins a desperate last stand against the forces of Chaos.

There aren’t many characters in the novel, but the Scourge makes up for it, as he is now one of my favourite SM characters. He is shamed by the loss of the chapter banner, and wishes only to atone for that sin, but also is determined to do his best to defend what is a small backwater planet not worth a whole lot in the great scheme of things. He refuses to just give up an Imperial world to the forces of Chaos without a fight. He must also (quite literally) combat the discontent and hostility towards him from within his own company. He is a brutal fighter, and is the epitome of the Excoriator’s battle creed of being attrition fighters.

In it’s own right this is a very good read, a pleasant change from the likes of The Hunt for Voldorius or The Purging of Kadillus. However, it does suffer in the same way as Prospero Burns in that the subject matter alluded to by the title of the novel only appears at the very end of the novel. Because of the title, all you want to see is the ghostly revenants that are the Legion of the Damned tear into the Khornate warband and win the day for the Emperor, but apart from some visions that the Scourge has of a ghostly marine watching him from the shadows, they do not appear until the last 30 pages of the novel. This disappointment might have been lessened if the novel had been called something else, but it also might not have sold as many copies.

This novel scores a solid 8/10 for me.

Premium Member
5,028 Posts
I'll definitely give this a shot. My reviews here on Heresy are a bit dated, not quite the same style I use now, so i'll provide a handful of recent reviews on different formats from me all on The Founding Fields.

http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/03/path-incubus-andy-chambers-review-lord-night/ - Path of the Incubus by Andy Chambers

http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/04/mark-calth-edited-laurie-goulding-review-part-lord-night/ - Mark of Calth Two-Part Anthology Review

http://thefoundingfields.com/2012/11/garro-sword-truth-james-swallow-advance-review-lord-night/ - Garro: Sword of Truth by James Swallow Audio Review

A few samples of positive/recent reviews. Would be nice to get this, since BL stopped their ARC shipments i've been reviewing just for the hell of it. Would be nice to have a real reason to do it again and to contribute something to Heresy.


145 Posts
My Goodread's account - http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/11554340-stuart-west

Wouldn't mind helping you chaps out with this on Heresy. This is a review I've written on Goodreads for "Betrayer" :-

Brilliant, a return to form for the Horus Heresy series. Blistering pace. I felt like I was running along in the battle.

ADB's writing here is it's usual high calibre with punchy, immersive battle scenes and some excellent characterisation. Minor spoilers below.

One of the highlights of "Betrayer" is the sympathetic portrayal of rebellious primarchs Angron and Lorgar. They are shown to be thoughtful, intelligent beings, neither of whom believes they are evil. Rather they are victims of desecration of their honour by the emperor and the butcher's nails (Angron) or doing what is necessary to lay bare the emperor's lies and reveal an, albeit unpalatable, truth (Lorgar). Their monstrousness is more subtly revealed by the barely mentioned but obvious fact that the background to their actions is the destruction of civilizations and the ending of billions of ordinary human lives, which they seem barely to notice in pursuit of their personal desires. The background to why Lorgar and Angron are as they are is explored and draws the chain of events leading to the heresy past Horus "vanity and Erebus" machinations back to the Emperor's own actions more potently in this book than in most of the others in the series.

Certainly a strong point of this book is characterization. Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters, largely takes centre stage and is depicted in a way that makes him both credible and almost sympathetic, to the extent that such an enraged character can be. What makes this character (and Khârn, his Equerry and right-hand man) interesting is their somewhat tragic humanity as their try, at times at least, to maintain some sanity and fight against the Nails that make them into monsters. Another feature that I appreciated was that Lorgar was much more credible in this volume than when he appeared in "The First Heretic", where I found he was a bit of wimp. At least some of the secondary characters are just as good, such as Lotara Sarrin, Angron's flag captain, Argel Tal of the Word Bearers or Lhorke the Dreadnought and a relic of the past. I almost forgot to mention the arch-traitor, arch-schemer and loathsome Erebus, First Chaplain of the Word Bearers and Dark Apostle of the Word who is, of course, suitably horrid.

So lets talk WARRRRRR. Seeing as this is a potent weapon that ADB has a tight grip upon in regards to his writing. Some of the battle descriptions make up the second strong point of this book. Particularly memorable are the void battles and the battles opposing Titans against each other. Here, however, you get a feeling a "deja vu", to some extent, especially when one of the rebels' flagships comes crashing onto the planet (a bit like in "Know No Fear") that they are invading. You might, however, become a bit tired with the blood and gore scenes which are repeated, and perhaps a bit over-emphasized, at each of the World Eaters engagements. However, they do have the merit of showing how (and why) this Legion's warriors and its arch-gladiator Angron (loosely modelled on Spartacus) become possessed and completely berserk with bloodlust (due to the butcher's nails - thanks Angron). It is their utter carelessness and relentlessness, together with their superior hand to hand fighting skills that make Angron's legion so often victorious, and allows their Primarch to best two of his brothers. Other battle highlights are the titan battles and void combat.

However to play devils advocate here (as I've contradicted myself on purpose during this review, to give perspective) lets look at the theme "the running at the enemy whilst shouting wins every time" from the portrayal of the World Eaters in battle. The problem is that in highlighting the problem with the Butcher's nails and the importance of the non-marine characters, Dembski-Bowden repeatedly points out that the World Eaters are like rabid animals with poor tactics, poor unit cohesion, poor communications, little battlefield command (what tactical direction there is comes from the human flag-captain), friendly fire incidents, little use of combined arms (eg their titan legion bemoans its loss rate as higher than other legions because the world eater marines just don't work in concert with them), poor battlefield discipline, a high casualty rate etc. Despite this we have to believe they slaughter their way through vast numbers of Ultramarines, the most tactically sophisticated, numerous, disciplined, brilliantly led etc legion, on their own territory. And the reason they can do this? Well, its repeatedly explained that its because they are aggressive. Snarling and waving your chainaxe around whilst charging at the enemy slightly more often than you charge your own battle brothers pretty much trumps any fancy tactical, superior firepower, or other nonsense the enemy might try and will always win the day. And even if your casualty rate is stupidly high your legion will somehow never get worn down by attrition. Its so daft that it seriously undermines the whole book. That's for fans of the loyalists anyway.

There are also great non-combat plotlines such as the continuation of Argal Tal's storyline in an unexpected but satisfying direction and the development of Kharn. There are great new characters such as Lotara Sarrin the World Eaters flag-captain and other human and mechanicum characters. In the great non-astartes characters he creates the author tackles the question of how the World Eater's legion could be kept running if all Angron and his space marines want to do is charge the enemy head on at every opportunity. Its a well done reversal of the usual 'even though they were created to be warrior-servants of the teeming human multitudes the god like space marines do everything brilliantly and just allow the humans to tag along'. How Angron's insistence on his marines having the Butcher's nails is destroying the legion and how they cling to brotherhood as everything else that usually defines a space marine is stripped away is movingly explored.

Then there is the plot itself, with two dimensions to it. The first one is to cripple the Ultramarines by destroying as much of their forces, of their strategic assets (dockyards, industries, etc...) and of their worlds as possible and prevent them from reinforcing Terra. The second aspect, which the books focuses much more upon, is the use that Lorgar tries to make of such destructions on a massive scale in order to bring the forces of the Warp into the "real" world. This is another area where I found that ADB's narrative was perhaps not entirely convincing or perhaps a bit "overdone", although it is a rather minor quibble on my part, rather than a serious criticism.

"Betrayer" is a most welcome and worthwhile addition to the series. It is a continuation of both "The First Heretic" (from ADB also), to the extent that we learn more about Lorgar and more of his inner personality. He is the primarch of the Word Bearers, his devious schemes having been covered in part by the previously mentioned title. "Know no Fear" (by Dan Abnett) covers the traitorous attack on Calth and on the Ultramarines.

0 Posts
This sounds like something I would really enjoy and I am planning on focusing more on BL here that they seem to be slowly getting their reviewer stuff back in line. Examples of my review:

The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S. Kemp [djinn24] | The Founding Fields
SIM by Andy Remic Book Review [djinn24] | The Founding Fields
Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole ? Advanced Review [djinn24] | The Founding Fields (My quick quote was published in the UK edition of the book)
Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole ? Double Review [Djinn24/Shadowhawk] | The Founding Fields
Garro: Sword of Truth by James Swallow ? Advance Triple Review [Djinn24/Commissar Ploss/Bane of Kings] | The Founding Fields
Reality 36 by Guy Haley ? Audio Book Review- Dual Review [djinn24/Commissar Ploss] | The Founding Fields

We are in the process of signing back up for Black Library advance reviewer status as well. They recently made a change to the way they do advance reviews shipments so a lot of folks have had to resign up for it.

I can also offer interviews with some of the authors and staff of Black Library.
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