Wolf Hunt by Graham McNeill: A review

The thing with audiobooks is that you have to rely on somebody’s interpretation. With a classic book (whether it’s on paper or on a screen) it’s up to you to determine what the characters sound like and how they speak. With a book you only have the author’s descriptions to guide you but with an audiobook that decision is taken away from you and, depending on the acting, the story is either enhanced or spoiled. With Honour to the Dead by Gav Thorpe it was unfortunately the latter, the screeching and cackling spoil the production, which is a pity as parts of the story were obviously well written and would have been awesome if well acted. On the other hand I really enjoyed Butcher’s Nails, Censure and Deathwolf which were produced by the same company, Heavy Entertainment.

So, I was a bit worried when I saw that the cast for Wolf Hunt appeared to be the same as in Honour to the Dead. For the most part though I needn’t have worried. Wolf Hunt is a much better production with one glaring exception, which I’ll come to later.

Wolf Hunt is a sequel to McNeill’s Outcast Dead and deals with the last of that party, Severian the Luna Wolf, as he tries to make his escape from Terra to try and find out for himself what is going on. The story is good, it’s paced well and the characters are interesting and well written. Both the protagonist and the antagonist (and I’ll let you make up your own minds who is who) are likeable and the big reveal at the end is plausible.

So, the writing is good, how about the acting and direction? Well, there’s less screeching in this than there was in Honour to the Dead which is all to the good and overall the cast do better with one terrible and glaring exception, Nagasena’s accent. There is no excuse for playing the character with an accent last heard in The Talons of Weng Chiang! For some reason he’s been played with a fake Chinese/Japanese accent. He’s the only character in the audio drama to have a forced Asian accent and it really is unacceptable. I don’t know whether it is the fault of the director or the actor but not only is it unthinkingly racist (other Asian characters in the story are portrayed with neutral accents) it cheapens and spoils what would otherwise be an excellent character.

So, in conclusion, Wolf Hunt is a very good story and a fairly good production, spoiled by one very poor decision. It’s worth listening to for the story but if you are concerned at all, I’d recommend avoiding it until the prose/script version hopefully comes out.

Space Marines are coming (part 1)

Yeah, I already know that they’ve been outed as coming this month for ages but I can still be a wee bit overexcited can’t I? I’ll write a bit more when I can a) see the White Dwarf and b) get on the Games Workshop website (we seem to have broken it guys!).

Fortunately the Black Library site is still up and it already has the e-book codex up to preorder complete with pictures (and price). I’m not going to argue about the price right now, but I thought that I might share the link as they seem to have plenty of (very, very pretty) pictures up and even some rules. Drop pods don’t seem to have changed but Rhinos have a cryptic line which may or may not mean that their extras have changed.

There are a lot of Ultramarine pictures but there are Raven Guard, Iron Hand and Imperial Fists up there too.

So, if you want to take a peek you can look here: http://www.blacklibrary.com/games-workshop-digital-editions/codex-space-marines.html

and I’ll be back later once I can get hold of a White Dwarf!


Vulkan Lives by Nick Kyme: A review

I haven’t done many reviews recently but I felt that Vulkan Lives, the newest of the Horus Heresy novels, deserved one as I really enjoyed reading it. It won’t be a long review, it’s not a book that leads to easy reviewing (at least for me) as I have to be extra careful not to give away any spoilers as it’s a book where everything means something and so much is going on!

For all that’s going on, it’s all very clear, or at least as clear as the author wants it to be (and there’s a reason for that). There are at least four different plots from four different perspectives but Nick Kyme manages to keep everything clear and distinct. The separation of the two main plots into first and third person helps a lot here. What’s interesting is that the first person sections are from Vulkan’s perspective. He is the most human of the Primarchs and the book explores just what this means.

Of course, your average Necron looks human compared to Konrad Curze and in this book we see just how broken Curze is. You really can’t help but feel sorry for him, he’s so lost.

I like the Salamanders trilogy and I really enjoyed Promethean Sun but Kyme has really upped his game for Vulkan Lives, all the intertwining plots and strong characterisation used in the Salamanders trilogy has been pulled together in a dark and intriguing tale that asks more questions than it answers and still manages to move the Heresy along. I’m really interested to see where the story goes next and I’m wishing that I’d ordered Scorched Earth. Oh well, I’m sure that there will be plenty of Horus Heresy to fill my time until it’s finally released for those of us who forgot to order it but it’s a pity that it was up to order last week rather than this, as I doubt that I’d have dithered for a moment over ordering it if I’d have known just how good Kyme’s Salamanders were going to get!

Anyway, enough about books that I can’t read. I suppose that I should summarise this post by saying that Vulkan Lives is as epic as its cover and really, really worth a read.


New Project: Exodite Eldar

This is the test model for a New Project. I picked up the Eldar codex when it came out and I thought that I might like to build a force as a side project. Of course, being me, I didn’t just go for a nice safe Craftworld army, I decided that I’d like to build Exodites… on dinosaurs!

No dinosaurs in this post, I only picked up the relevant kits on the weekend, but I decided that, as I’m building an Exodite force, that Rangers would probably be the best troops unit to start with and the best models for testing out my colour scheme. I’m using an autumnal theme based round reds and greens and browns. For the green on the coat I started with Caliban Green, before washing it with a blend of Biel-tan Green and Nuln Oil. I then highlighted it with a 50:50 blend of Caliban Green and Warpstone Glow, Warpstone Glow, and finally Scorpion Green (Moot Green). For the red areas I started with Wazdakka Red, washed it with Baal Red (Carroburg Crimson) before highlighting with a 50:50 blend of Wazdakka Red and Blood Red (Evil Sunz Scarlet), Blood Red, a 50:50 Blend of Blood Red and Trollslayer Orange and then Trollslayer Orange. For the cloth areas and the gems I used two further highlights: 50:50 Trollslayer Orange and Yriel Yellow and finally Yriel Yellow.

Ranger front

For the wraithbone I used Bleached Bone (Ushbati Bone), washed it with Gryphonne Sepia (Seraphim Sepia), then highlighted it with Bleached Bone and a spot of Skull White (White Scar). The wood effect on the rifle was created by starting with a layer of Scorched Brown (Rinox Hide), washing the area with Nuln oil then highlighting it with a 50:50 blend of Scorched Brown and Snakebite Leather (Balor Brown) followed by Snakebite Leather and a touch of Tausept Ochre (GW says Balor Brown is its replacement but I think it’s more likely to be something like XV-88 or Tau Light Ochre but I’m not sure). I used a similar method for the backpack.

Ranger back

Maybe purple hair is a bit loud for an Exodite but I like it! I started with Xereus Purple which I washed with Nuln Oil before highlighting with more Xereus Purple, a 50:50 blend of Xereus Purple and Emperor’s Children, Emperor’s Children, a 50:50 blend of Emperor’s Children and Skull White and finally a touch of Skull White.

I need to paint the other four of these, but I think that I am pretty happy with the results and I want to go with this colour scheme.

My next job is to finish painting Captain Tycho for my boyfriend and a few Space Wolves for myself. Then I can get back to painting and modelling Eldar. I’m not building Eldar as an army to play, at least not initially, that’s what my Space Wolves are for, but I want another painting challenge and I think that the Exodites will fulfil this.

On a related note, I’ve just finished Promethean Sun, which I bought partly for the very relevant cover! I really enjoyed it. Nick Kyme is very good at writing Salamanders and he’s even better at writing about Vulkan himself. The story belongs with Feat of Iron which was published in The Primarchs anthology. It’s very short but it’s crammed full of information about Vulkan and Exodite Eldar (much more than the Eldar codex in the last case). It’s nice to see the limited edition books starting to be released at last and it looks like Promethean Sun has been released just in time for Vulkan to get his own book in the Horus Heresy series. I’m really looking forward to the release of Vulkan Lives, whenever that will be. If it’s at all like Promethean Sun, it will be very, very good.


Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden: A review

Betrayer is awesome! I thought that I’d better start this review as I mean to go on. There are certain things that I have grown to expect from any book by Dembski-Bowden: a good plot, strong, incredibly compelling characters and a rollercoaster of emotions. Betrayer delivers all three.

While you don’t have to read Angel Exterminatus to read this book it makes sense that they were released so close together as they share some themes. The audio book Butcher’s Nails is a direct prologue to Betrayer and I’d recommend listening to it first.

Betrayer follows the World Eaters, largely through the point of view of Khârn (not yet The Betrayer) as they, along with the Word Bearers, prosecute the Shadow Crusade. It takes the closest look yet at the World Eaters and Angron, particularly at the debilitating effect of the Butcher’s Nails implants that the World Eaters use. By using a comparison with the Space Wolves and Leman Russ, and a historical, Great Crusade era scrap between the two legions, Dembski-Bowden highlights the uncontrollable berserker nature of the World Eaters and Angron’s blindness to the dangers of this behaviour. Further contrast is given by using the perspective of a World Eater dreadnought who has been in suspended animation since before the discovery of Angron. The book highlights just how far the legion has fallen and how it will eventually end up.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is very strong at characterisation, he manages to make you feel sympathy for the most dark and twisted characters. This really comes to fore in his Night Lords Trilogy, but it also works very well in Betrayer. It comes to something when you find yourself feeling sorry for a daemon! Erebus however, is still a complete and utter bastard. The range and depth of characters in the book really makes it something special.

So, if you haven’t read Betrayer yet, I really recommend that you do, as not only is it an excellent book and a portion of the money you pay goes to charity, it’s probably the only time that you’ll ever read about a dreadnought playing cards!


Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeil: A review

So I caved and bought the hardback of Angel Exterminatus. I was in two minds whether I wanted to or not, but I’m glad that I did (my back was not after I’d lugged it, Betrayer and my copy of the 6th Ed. Rulebook back from my local GW and round the supermarket). Perturabo turned out to be far more interesting than I expected, and he has a unique reason for rebelling, both of which make him a compelling and strangely sympathetic protagonist.

Perturabo is definitely far more interesting as a protagonist than an antagonist. In The Crimson Fist he was The Bad Guy and only the negative side of his personality was revealed. In Angel Exterminatus he is one of the “heroes” and we have more reason to feel sympathetic to him, even when he’s throwing a tantrum.

What was nice, and surprising, is that McNeil has written Perturabo as a creative rather than a warlike (tactical or plain psychotic) Primarch. There is a broad streak of Leonardo da Vinci in the character and there is the impression that, like Lorgar and Magnus and even Corax (see Deliverance Lost), he would much rather be studying and building than laying waste to the galaxy. I’m beginning to think that the Primarch Project and the Great Crusade would have been very different if the Primarchs hadn’t been scattered. Magnus’s final role has been revealed, but the behaviour of Perturabo suggests to me that he was meant to be an Empire builder in a literal as well as a figurative way. It makes me wonder what the roles of Angron and Curze would have been had they had a kinder upbringing.

Anyway, back to the book. The Iron Warriors themselves are a mixed bunch, and you can see the scheming that will ultimately split the Chaos Legions into Warbands. I like the unique take on the lodges. The Iron Warriors are renegades rather than Chaos followers and it shows in their behaviour and their attitudes, something that is shown into sharp relief by the actions of the book’s antagonists, The Emperor’s Children, who have fallen almost as far as it is possible to go. The third party in the story are a group of survivors from Isstvaan V, mostly Iron Hands. Two of them, Wayland of the Iron Hands (where else) and Sharrowkyn of the Raven Guard turned up in the short story Kryptos (which you should read if you haven’t yet!), but Angel Exteriminatus introduces more of the group including  Frater Thamatica, a mad Iron Father (think Tesla in power armour), Captain Branthan, the dying captain held in stasis, Tarsa, the Salamander’s apothecary caring for him and Branthan’s Equerry, Cadmus Tyro, who is actually running things. The Iron Hands in this book are more human than in other books, but they work really well. I really, really hope that we see a lot more of these guys in future.

I was a bit grumpy about the idea of moving to hardback but the book itself is not too clunky (and will therefore still sit on my Horus Heresy shelf) and Neil Robert’s cover artwork is great as always. My only niggle is that Karl Richardson’s internal artwork feels a bit out of place. The way the illustrations are scattered through the book feels a bit Young Adult and doesn’t really do the illustrations themselves justice. I wonder if they would have been better as a section on glossy paper like the maps in the Space Marine Battles series.

I’m not sure that I’ll go back and buy the hardback re-releases of the new books, even the possibility of pictures of Loken, Tarvitz, Garro etc. isn’t enough to negate the fact that we have perfectly good paperback copies at home already. I’ll certainly buy Mark of Calth in hardback when it’s released though, for sure.

Anyway, sorry for the delay in posting. If you haven’t read Angel Exterminatus yet, you should, and if you like e books you should really also read Kryptos too. Neither are placeholder stories and both are excellent reads.


On the eighth day of Christmas the hobby meant to me…

Eight books to look at…


Sorry that I missed yesterday’s post, but here it is now. I was thinking about what less usual books and websites and things might be of interest to 40k players. Here are eight assorted books, websites and poems, some directly 40k related, some not, that are possibly of interest. There’s no particular order to the items, but below each item, I’ve tried to explain why I think that they may be of use or interest.

 1) The first Horus Heresy trilogy: Horus Rising, False Gods, Galaxy in Flames

I know, I know, they’re rather obvious, but the Horus Heresy books are a big part of how I got into the hobby and, if you haven’t read or listened to the audio versions of these, you’re missing out on some cracking fiction!

2) Deathwing

I know that I reviewed this the other week, but it does contrast well with the Horus Heresy books in that it’s some of the earliest 40k fiction out there. As somebody fairly new to the whole 40k universe it’s interesting to see how things have changed.

3) Dark Angel by Lionel Johnson

If you haven’t read the actual Dark Angel poem by Lionel Johnson, you should. I have to admit that it’s not really to my taste, but it gives you something to think about regarding the nature of the Dark Angels. Especially as despite Gav Thorpe managing to add some sort of personality to El’Jonson the primarch beyond a massive ego and and even bigger capacity for jealousy in The Lion, I still find it very hard to like the character!

4) The Hornblower books (CS Forester)

Long, long before I had ever heard about Games Workshop and 40k, I was reading the Hornblower books. CS Forester did create some rather odd characters, but the books are good and they’re certainly grim and dark in places.

 5) The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer

Wait a moment! This book is not what it looks like. Georgette Heyer is best known for Regency romances, yes, but this book is a meticulously researched account of the Napoleonic Wars, in particular the Peninsular War and Waterloo, from the point of view of an officer and his wife. The book is based on two real characters and it does not stint on describing all the horrors of war. If you are thinking about giving a Guard list some Napoleonic charm, I’d really consider reading this first.

 6) Celtic Design Coloring Book by Ed Sibbett Jr.

Another odd one I guess. However, I like to add freehand work to my Wolves and, while there are some differences between Insular art and Viking art, they are close enough that I happily use Insular, or Celtic, art such as that found in this book, as an inspiration.. I’ve had this book for years and I dug it out of my bookcase at home this Christmas and I’m taking it back with me when I return to The Netherlands this weekend. It’s a really good source of images, and as it’s a colouring book, the designs are clear and easy to follow.

 7) Wikipedia

I know, this isn’t a book at all, it’s not even one thing, but, if you want cool names or help with a nice bit of fluff, there are worse places to go. I play Space Wolves, which have a wolfy, Vikingy feel and live on an Arctic like deathworld. If I want inspiration I search round these areas on Wikipedia. If I were playing Raven Guard I might look up ravens or other corvids. If I were playing WW2 themed guard I might look up Operation Market Garden, the Eastern Front or the Chindits. It’s a big place, so go and explore

 8) The blogosphere

There are many, many good 40K, Games Workshop and even more general hobby blogs out there and they are a brilliant source of inspiration. Just go and look!

I hope that this has inspired you!


…Seven days of hobbying…

… Learning sixth edition…

…Fifth Edition!…

…Four more excuses…

…Three things to think of…

Two different opinions

And a gift under the Christmas Tree