Book Review: Back from the Dead by Nick Kyme

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In my mind, Necromunda is a dark and dirty, concrete dystopia. It’s where too many people are forced to exist in too smaller a space. Broken pipes spewing toxic sewage and exposed cabling jerry-wired beyond capacity. Where buildings collapse without warning and gang law turns a blind eye to murder, crime and suffering.

This is the world I want the Tales from the Underhive collection of Necromunda stories to paint; the background I demand each story play out within. It took four stories to reach that requirement, Andy Chambers finally stepping up to the mark with Survival Instinct and thankfully, Nick Kyme has continued to stalk those hallowed and dangerous streets, with Back From The Dead. Read more

Book Review: Black Library Celebrations 2018 Short Stories

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When I was younger, and first discovered the dystopian worlds of fantasy and sci-fi created by Games Workshop, the only publishing they did was to print rulebooks, army expansions and a monthly magazine called White Dwarf. The back stories and folklore to the worlds they created, and the races that inhabited them, reserved purely to bulk out these tomes. The idea of delving furthering into the history of the characters, and the battles they rage, in their own standalone novels, yet to see the printer’s press, as it were.

This predating of the start of the Black Library – named after a fabled vault of books within the Warhammer 40,000 universe – seems somewhat scary when you realise that 2018 saw them celebrating their 20th birthday! The passage of time really is a cruel mistress, and to mark the anniversary, along with a branded the bookmark (which I got for buying Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett), they had also printed a celebratory collection of short stories, which you were given for simply entering the store! Read more

Book Review: Survival Instinct by Andy Chambers

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It’s happened! I’ve finally found a Necromunda novel I truly like. There aren’t many named characters in the world of Necromunda, it’s much more about gangs, fighting for survival and territory, under the association of their respective noble houses, but there are one or two outsiders. Characters who stand alone. Arguably the most famous, and certainly the most strikingly notorious, is Mad Donna Ulanti. So legendary is her renown that on the Tales from the Underhive page of The Black Library website, it’s Mad Donna taking the central role in the titular artwork. She was in a story, and I have been longing for it.

I didn’t know, however, which story she would be in and so, was again placing my “reading order trust” purely in the “zip file modification date” system I now employed. Uploading Survival Instinct, the apparent next tale in my journey deeper into the Underhive. As the cover of the book loaded before me, a shiver ran down my spine. There stood Donna. A look of abhorrent disgust in her eyes, her infamous chainsword standing to attention and her trusty Plasma pistol pointing at me, beckoning me inside. Read more

Book Review: Salvation by C.S. Goto

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It was with tentative trepidation that, once again, I re-entered the Underhive; continuing my journey through the “Tales of the Underhive” omnibus of Necromunda novels. I had slipped down the slope of expectation with both Outlander by Matt Keefe and Junktion by Matthew Farrer and, therefore, taken some time away, to cleanse my mind of the disappointment it had felt, before stepping back in.

I think the reason I’ve been so disappointed, however, is entirely due to the image of Necromunda I hold in my head. A few days ago, I was discussing the age-old argument of “book versus film”, saying that I was worried about the upcoming release of Ready Player One onto the big screen. It is arguably the best book I’ve ever read, but worryingly, the film trailer is leaving me very cold. I’m fearful of what’s to come and I think I’m now having the same problem with these stories. I want the world I picture, not the world as interpreted by others, and it’s clouding my expectations and enjoyment as a result. Read more

Book Review: Brothers Of The Snake By Dan Abnett

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I don’t know if I should admit to the fact that I only bought this book because it was (relatively) cheap! Games Workshop’s publishing arm – The Black Library – was celebrating it’s 20th birthday and my local store was having a party (I even baked a cake). Lots of hard to find books were back on the shelves (well a huge pile by the till) and special promotional goodies were on offer. Simply turn up and get a free book of short stories; go further and actually buy a book and get a branded bookmark as well. Read more

Book Review: Junktion By Matthew Farrer

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Having re-entered the world of Necromunda through, apparently, the wrong door with Outlander by Matt Keefe and, with over half a dozen other stories still waiting in line, I thought I really should find some sort of correct order. Google turned up nothing, an email to the Black Library customer service was little help either but, I realised, the zip file the omnibus downloads as had differing modification dates for each title and, while based on no actual truth or logic, it was all I had to go on. So, with that as my guide, I turned to the oldest modified book: Junktion by Matthew Farrer and started reading.

Instantly, I was taken away from the expansive sand dunes that had plagued my enjoyment of Outlander and instead, placed into a shanty town of corrugated metal and rationed utilities which again, didn’t quite live up to the mental image of the tough underground world I so desperately wanted, but it was much, much closer than I’d previously found. Read more

Book Review: Outlander by Matt Keefe

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Spend a few minutes looking through the book reviews or reading about my creative history and you’ll quickly realise I’m a fan of the worlds created by Games Workshop. I may not roll dice, or spend hours holding a paintbrush anymore, but I still draw great enjoyment from delving into the sci-fi and fantasy imaginations of the Warhammer worlds through the books they publish.

When I was younger, and did actually play the games, the one I was into most was Necromunda. Skewed from the lore of Warhammer 40,000; it involved small gangs of street fighters struggling to survive in the harsh urban sprawls of a hive world. It appealed to me as the games were shorter and more narrative. Fights were between equal numbers and tactics were simple – it’s last man standing. Your gang developed as it gained experience, one fight helping narrate the next. Winning or losing didn’t really matter; Necromunda rewarded experience. Read more

Book Review: The Path Of The Warrior by Gav Thorpe

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The first book in the omnibus is the Path Of The Warrior, the story of Korlandril and his search to find his true purpose in life, the reason for his living. His fate.

Gav Thorpe brings a writing style to the page that made it very easy to paint a clear picture in your head of the world in which the story takes place. Whether it’s a wide expanse or a single room, you feel like you know what it looks like, what it smells like, you create the details with precision clarity in your mind. Read more

Book Review: Path Of The Seer by Gav Thorpe

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Path of the Seer is the second Warhammer 40,000 story in the Path Of The Eldar omnibus, following on from the Path Of The Warrior. This time around Gav Thorpe brings to life is the story of Thirianna, the Poet who becomes a Farseer, recounting her part in the Seige of Alaitoc and her relationship with her friends: Korlandril (the warrior) and Aradryan (the outcast). Read more

Book Review: The Path Of The Outcast by Gav Thorpe

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The Path Of The Outcast promises so much, having taken so long to arrive. Everything is set up and repeated in the first two novels of Gav Thorpe’s The Path Of The Eldar omnibus that the weight of expectation you create onto The Path Of The Outcast, the demands you place on it to give you the story you want, to tell you how everything finally ends, is almost too much to ask. Read more