Monthly Archives: August 2010

Brunner the Bounty Hunter by C.L Werner – Review

Lord of the Night reviews Brunner the Bounty Hunter by C.L. Werner

‘In my line of work, I get pretty used to profiting by people’s fear.’


These are the words of the most notorious bounty hunter in all of the Old World. From the palazzos of Tilea to the fortresses of Bretonnia to the alleys of Altdorf, no man is feared more then the bounty killer Brunner. All who have heard his name know his reputation as a hunter, as long as the price is right and the target sane, it isn’t a question of if he will get them.. its a question of when.
C.L Werner has created a very rare type of character with Brunner. While most characters are suited for long series of novels with a few short stories thrown in for bridging gaps, Brunner is more suited to the realm of short stories, the better to tell more of his exploits across the Old World. And that creates quite an interesting series.
The series so far consists of two short story anthologies, Blood and Steel and Blood Money, which each contain several exploits of Brunner set in many stunning locales against dangerous foes. And the third is a full novel, Blood of the Dragon, which pits Brunner against the most dangerous foe in the entire omnibus.
The characterization in the series is quite varied, Brunner being the only permanent character in the series. An anti-hero with a brutal honour streak Brunner is quite a morally complex character. Driven by a mysterious past Brunner has no qualms about whom or what he hunts, he will kill the innocent or the falsely accused for the right price, but once on the hunt he will not be swayed away, even an king’s ransom will not save his prey from being brought in. Orcs and Goblins, the warriors of the Dark Gods, and even foes more ancient then the Empire itself all stand in the way of Brunner’s precious gold, and he’ll let none stop him in his hunts.
The remainder of the characters only appear once in the series, or at best twice. However they are very interesting, many an erstwhile ally or source for Brunner, and many more a deadly foe. Some of the more notable and deadly include Krogh, the shadowy mutant and a rival hunter, Skrim Gnaw-Tail, an agent of the Skaven in Altdorf, and Pulslitz, a champion of the Grandfather of Plagues. The absence of a large base of recurring characters allows many different and varied characters to be used in the series and creates many different foes for Brunner, those who want him dead and those who want to use him.
The action in the series is great and well-styled as Brunner faces all sorts of enemies with his arsenal of weaponry. The enchanted blade Drakesmalice and his trusty Tilean-made pistol to name a few. Each hunt of Brunner’s varies in nature, from hunting down escaped fugitives, from recovering ancient artefacts, or slaying an enemy warlord for coin, each different story and hunt is well-written and a great read.
The pace varied throughout the different stories. It goes from quick and urgent to slow and cautious as befits Brunner’s current situation. In-depth explanation of lore or events was only given when absolutely needed.
The omnibus may finish with Blood of the Dragon but the adventures of Brunner are far from over, C.L Werner himself has said he will return to Brunner one day soon, once his schedule lightens a bit. But the ending of the full novel was ominous and action-packed, leaving me wanting more and more.
My rating for Brunner the Bounty Hunter is a well-deserved 9/10 for a wide and varied selection of stories, unique and interesting characters in every story short and long, and a look into the grim world of the bounty killer Brunner. Should you buy this book?, Yes. Yes you should.

 

LotN Reviews: Chronicles of Malus Darkblade by Dan Abnett and Mike Lee

Lord of the Night reviews the Chronicles of Malus Darkblade by Dan Abnett and Mike Lee.

In all of Naggaroth there is no Dark Elf more devious and cunning than Malus Darkblade. Cursed by the ancient and malicious Daemon Tz’arkan, the Drinker of Worlds, Malus has a year to collect five mystical artefacts spread across the Land of Chill. Malus is promised release if all are brought to the Daemon’s temple in a year, and oblivion should he fail.

This was the very first fantasy series that I ever bought, im a big Dark Eldar fan but alas they are heavily under-appreciated by Games Workshop and Black Library, but when I saw the cover of the first omnibus I decided that even if I didn’t enjoy the fantasy I could still enjoy the Dark Elves.
I was very happily proven wrong and right respectively. The fantasy setting was excellent, not just a typical fantasy with humans, elves and dwarfs. And the Dark Elves were amazing, a culture based around the flesh-trade of slaves and a ritual based around ritual sacrifice and war. Mike Lee has done a fantastic job of creating the world of the Druchii, the Land of Chill Naggaroth and its dark cities Hag Graef, Karond Kar and the Black Arks to name a few.
The characters themselves are each unique and fascinating. The protagonist Malus Darkblade, the bastard son of the Vaulkhar of Hag Graef and a Druchii Seeress, Malus is despised by his family and treated like an outcast. Indeed his name is a testament to this, as to the Druchii a Darkblade is a broken and useless weapon. Yet this does not deter him as he pursues his own glory and power, he cares little for what people think of him and is willing to manipulate people and play long games to achieve his ends, of course he usually makes it up as he goes along but it works out. One of the most interesting things about Malus is, as Dan Abnett put it, he is not the strongest, the smartest or the most powerful. But what makes Malus’s greatest asset is that he will never give up, no matter the odds against him, no matter the threat, Malus will always find a way to fight back.
A cast of supporting characters are also present alongside Malus. First of these is his trusty, yet irritable, Nauglir mount Spite. However Spite is much more then just a mere mount in the story, he is the only constant companion, or at least the only welcome one, in Malus’s quest. He may not talk but he is no dumb brute, and is likely the best ally Malus could ever have, from ferrying him across the Land of Chill to fighting by his side and even saving Malus’s life a few times Spite is a hell of character.
One of the primary characters is Tz’arkan, Drinker of Worlds. The ancient Daemon who possesses Malus in the first novel Tz’arkan is a very well-written character. While at first he can seem like the typical Daemon, cunning, sadistic and manipulative, which he is in strides, Tz’arkan is shown to be wise and like Malus can play long games to achieve his ends, although their definitions of long are quite different.
The action in the series is very well done. Malus himself is not a master swordsman but he can fight hard and does against a variety of foes in the novel. Be they Druchii, High Elf, Beastmen, Daemons or even plague-ridden pirates there is no foe that Malus will not fight with every ounce of skill he has. From ravenous hordes to conspiracies and ancient prophecies the action in Darkblade is varied and well-written.
The pace of the series is depicted differently in each book. In the series time is against Malus, with only a year to complete his quest at the start he is more free with that time, he knows the clock is ticking but spends little time thinking about it, preferring to stay in the present. However as the series progresses Malus starts to think more and more about the time left until the fifth book where only a few weeks remain, and the desperation that both Malus and Tz’arkan show reflects just how perilously close they are to failure and the urgency that they show in the hunt for the final relics.
The ending of the book was smashing. Abnett and Lee successfully wrap up the first part of Malus’s saga and at the same time set the stage for the next part. I originally finished the first omnibus rather quickly but put off reading the second omnibus as I didn’t want the series to end, but fortunately I now know that the Chronicles of Malus Darkblade are far from over.
In conclusion the Chronicles of Malus Darkblade is a series that must be read. It is truly a staple of Black Library, and in my view quite possibly the finest fantasy series they have ever released. (Only the Thanquol and Boneripper trilogy is a match for it in my view.) Congratulations and thanks to Dan Abnett for creating Malus Darkblade, Tz’arkan and his infernal quest to recover the five artefacts. And to Mike Lee for creating the world around Malus, his allies and enemies and for bringing life to Malus as more then a one-dimensional comic character. And to Kevin Hopgood for the artwork that gives a glimpse into the world of Malus, and that so eloquently shows the climatic moments of each novel. I give Malus Darkblade a 9/10 as a whole, it has some flaws as every novel does but dont let these detract from the series.
Should you buy this book?. The answer is a resounding Yes!. But this is just the end of the beginning, and as Malus himself put it, our journey is over.. now the hunt begins!.

 

The Crown of the Blood – Extract

The Crown of the Blood, is the first book in an independent trilogy by Gav Thorpe.  Published under the Angry Robot name, he’s sure done well for himself with this one.  I’ve got an advanced copy in my hands right now, and a review forthcoming. But i thought i’d give you all a quick electoronic preview to have a read for yourself.  Cheers!

CP

Featured Fiction – Triple Feature! [Void_Dragon]

As promised, here is the second entry to our Featured Fiction Triple Feature.  A stellar story by Heresy-Online member Void_Dragon.  I call it stellar because it was a finalist in the 2009 Heresy-Online Fiction Competition.  Enjoy!

CP

 
Untitled
Void_Dragon

The small man, dressed in a well-tailored black suit, walked under the metal detector. As expected, it bleeped, but a quick flash of his pass told the guards that he carried a pacemaker. It was nearing the end of the night shift, and both guards were tired, so they let him through without a search. They both trusted that the psy-scanner operating across the entire building would tell them if the man actually had a weapon.

The man walked across the lobby, and slid his ident-card against the panel next to the elevator. The runes running across the panel’s surface turned green, and the elegantly panelled wooden doors of the elevator slid open quietly. The man stepped inside, and pressed the button for floor 12. As the doors slid shut, he smiled to the guards. As soon as the two panels had connected, the lift began it’s journey upwards. Before it had passed the first floor, the man had moved into action. By floor 3 the lift was rigged with a remote-control override, which would prevent the lift being locked out if the operation went to hell. By floor 6, the man had cut away one of the wall panels, throwing the thin wooden sheet down the outside of the lift. The lift shaft went all the way to a third basement, so the noise would never alert the guards. By floor 10, a small projector was fitted in it’s place, sending a hologramatic replica of the panel across the hole. The man straightened his jacket, and tucked his data-slate under his arm. He quickly ran his hand through his slicked back hair, making sure it wasn’t out of place. The door slid open.

The man walked out of the lift, heading purposefully down the corridor. The few people who walked past looked tired and harried, working overnight because of the mysterious order that the trade-cartel was attempting to fulfil, the very reason that Aldo was here. None spared him a second glance – it was a big company, and he could very well be an employee from a different floor, or a different office entirely. They were too tired and too over-worked to care.

He reached the end of the corridor, and turned into the final office. In the corner was a cogitator, which he powered up. He knew he would have trouble hacking it without his master’s Seal, but they couldn’t risk being flagged on the Inquisition’s systems, when it was almost certain that the cartel had eyes inside the Ordos. However, Aldo was little short of a genius, having spent his childhood alienated from the rest of the population because he was so different, reading and learning anything he could to take his mind off his depression. It was understandable that he would be depressed: if he stayed in a room with anyone for too long his psychic nullification excited an irrational rage in them. He had lived his life a loner, the outsider, the freak. Until Alexandros had found him, and given him a job, a life, and a purpose.

Within a few minutes he was inside the system, downloading everything to his personal data-slate via the mechadendrite concealed within his arm. This was where the risks came in. The electric current through his body activated the blunt limiter implanted in his head, and his psychic nullification power ceased to function. It would only be a matter of time until the psy-scans of the building picked up his hacking, and detected the gun concealed within his jacket pocket.

The download read 43% when the scanner caught him. Alarms went off across the whole building, and every entrance and access way locked down. That didn’t bother Aldo; he had his way out planned. What bothered him was that similar alarms would currently be going off at the local law-enforcement agency headquarters, and a strike team of crooked cops would be here within minutes, armed and ready to protect their less-than-legal investment.

71%, and his vox chimed. “Multiple weapon-sigs on the stairs, moving up to your level, Aldo. Get ready.” Came the voice of Chai, the promising young accolyte who was his backup on this mission.

Aldo deplored violence. He had bonded with Chai despite the age gap, because they held a very different view of the Imperium, and of their work, than the rest of Alxeandros’ team. They both hated the killing of innocents, and as often as possible attempted to complete missions without drawing blood. But both of them were still Inquisition operatives, and they were trained to kill if the need arose. Aldo slipped his hand inside his jacket, pulling out the Hecuter 8 Autopistol that Alexandros insisted he carry on all missions. The weapon had an extended mag’, protruding an extra 6 centimetres from the base of the grip, carrying an extra few rounds. 14 rounds; more than enough to kill anything that moved.

The download completed as the strike team reached the 11th floor. Aldo was out of the office, his blunt limiter deactivated again, as they ran up the final flight of stairs, and half way down the corridor before they reached level 12. They paused behind the door, believing the stairs to be the only way out. Aldo fired blindly through the wooden panel walls, and heard a few grunts as the rounds connected with the men’s body armour. The lift door opened, controlled by Chai remotely. Aldo dashed down the last ten metres of hallway, and into the elevator. He hit the ground floor button, just as the soldiers burst through the stairwell door. He shot the first one through the visor of his helmet, and loosed off another shot as the doors closed. He didn’t see whether the next shot hit anything, and it didn’t matter. He was home free now.

“Aldo, I’ve got vox chatter, badly encrypted. There seem to be more of them in the lobby, they know the lift is coming. Go to plan B. I’ll be in position in approximately 40 seconds.” Aldo swore to himself as he heard the message, and moved to the side of the elevator where he had broken away the panel earlier. He climbed into the gap, the hologram flickering as his body disturbed it. He leapt from the ledge, grabbing the thick girders supporting the shaft. He climbed down to the nearest exit, and pried it open. He slipped through, and checked the chart on the wall. “Level4, Human Resources” it read.

“I am on level 4, I shall meet you at the west corner of the building. Pray, be quick, it won’t be long until they find me, even with my limiter off again.”

As Aldo walked into the western corner office of the floor, the window in front of him was hit by a projectile about the size of a human fist. The micro-bot stuck to the window, and immediately extended a thin mechanical arm. The arm rotated around the bot, cutting through the glass of the window. As it completed it’s rotation, the bot’s thrusters activated, making it float there, holding the circle of glass. Chai pulled it backwards slightly, allowing Aldo enough room to climb out onto the ledge. The building’s psy-scanner wouldn’t detect the damage until Aldo moved a few metres away, and when that happened it would be too late. The micro-bot placed the piece of glass on the window ledge, and hovered round in front of Aldo. He pulled a wire from it’s body, and hooked it to his belt.

“Okay Chai, bring me in.” He said over the Vox, trying not to look down. He wasn’t built for these sort of stunts – he was the brains of the pair, organising the operations that Alexandros set them, and doing the undercover work. Throwing himself from the 4th story window was not his idea of a safe way to exit a building. But it was safer than walking through a lobby filled with armed soldiers.

“The Emperor protects Aldo, the Emperor protects.” Chai muttered into his vox, knowing that Aldo would be nervous about jumping.

Aldo closed his eyes and stepped off the ledge. The bot’s thrusters pulled upwards as hard as they could, but they were not made to support a grown man, even a small one like Aldo. It slowed his decent however, and as he hit the floor a few seconds later, he wasn’t travelling fast enough to hurt himself. He rolled to the side, and detached the clamp on his belt. The bot returned to Chai, who was crouched down on the roof of a different building.

Aldo stood up, dusting off his suit. He changed his hair style to cover part of his face, using a nearby transporter’s mirrors. He quickly removed his coloured contact lenses, returning his eyes to their natural grey-blue. The data-slate went inside his trousers, and his jacket ended up in a nearby bin. He untucked his shirt, which was just dressy enough to pass for a casual shirt, whist looking smart when he wore the jacket. His tie went in the bin last, and then he set off down the street, away from the enforcers’ vans. If anyone stopped him, he would never be recognisable from the quick glimpse that the strike team got of him as he entered the elevator.

“Mission accomplished,” he muttered into his vox with a sigh of relief.

Well! I hope you have enjoyed this story, i know i sure did. :-)  Swing on back soon to check out the third feature.  A story by yours truly! A little shameless self promotion once and a while can be fun.  lol

Featured Fiction – Triple Feature! [Dirge Eterna]

So i’ve been a little behind lately with the Featured Fiction posts.  Missed the last three entries i believe… ah well, my bad.  I’ll make up for it with a triple feature. A set of fanfic authors you should really get to know. have a read. :-)  Here’s the first one.

CP

We’re starting things off with Heresy-Online member, Dirge Eterna.  He was always a quality fanfiction writer while he was active on Heresy all those years back.  And it was sad when he slowly went away. But i always looked forward to reading his stories when he would post them.  And i think he should be proud to count himself among Heresy’s great writers.

Lets give you a taste of one of his best stories. Only in Death.

Only in Death.
Dirge Eterna

Private Journal of Brother-Apothecary Altair, Aegis VII, 998.M41

The first thought.

I can’t see.

Blackness surrounds my sight. I can hear. Gunfire..mostly. Explosions. A low rumbling noise. A tank, I think.

My left arm refuses to move. I can feel dirt beneath my fingers. An arm hauls me upright. My vision clears. A blackened form swins into view. Arbalan’s plasma gun is smoking gently as he lends his strength to me. My armor squeals in protest as I move.

“Brother Apothecary, we are needed elsewhere.” says Arbalan.

“But…Melenius.” I say weakly, still trying to regain my senses.

“Dead. You were almost lost as well. That blast was of some magnitude.”

I turn, taking in the sight of the war-torn fields of Aegis VII, the newest war in a long tide of wars. Fought in the Emepror’s name, of course.

Melenius’ body makes itself known as a black form against the dull brown of the soil. his armor is cracked open where I had breached it, trying to save him. A shard of metal is lodged in his neck seal, blood drying into a reddish stain on his armor and the ground.

I check my own suit of armor. There are some spots where the black paint has been chipped off, and my left arm hangs limply from my side. Dislocation. I grasp it and pull, popping the joint into place. My narthicium hums as it connects back to my neural interfaces. My left shoulderpad, the one with an Apothercarium symbol on it, has Melenius’ blood staining it. I sadly wipe it away, only succeeding in smearing it.

Arbalan nudges me.

“We have to go, now, Apothecary. Brother-Captain Dacius is making a stand on the far side of the ridge.”

I nod. “Then we go.”

Arbalan shoulders his plasma gun. “You might need this, brother.”

He offers my Bolter. I take it one-handed, and check the ammo levels. Fourteen shells left, plus eight clips on my bandoliers. My Reductor is secured against my belt, and three frag grenades are clipped to my belt loops. A melta bomb is hung from my backpack.

“Of course, Brother Arbalan. Thank you. Now, we go to Captain Dacius?”

Arbalan nods. “Follow me, Brother-Apothecary.”

I hope you enjoyed this sneek peek.  If you want to read the rest of this story, head on over to Heresy-Online and check it out.  Here’s the link: http://www.heresy-online.net/forums/showthread.php?t=3699

Next up, a story by Heresy-Online member, Void_Dragon.

Upcoming Reviews

Howdy all, just wanted to keep you all updated as to what is going to be next in terms of book reviews.

Right now i’m eating up the Sabbat Worlds Antho like Aaron Dembski-Bowden eats up lesser authors for breakfast: fast and in large quantities!  Next up will be a review of Firdrake, I’ve got it sitting here burning a hole in my desk. Those Salamanders are hot!  Following that I’ve got here First Heretic to review.  Been eagerly anticipating this one.  And then onto Prospero Burns!  As long as nothing else comes up in the middle, that will be the line up.  Although i’m probably going to throw a review in there of Sword of Justice by Chris Wraight. I’ve been overdue in reading it, and figure it’s high time i’ve said something regarding it.

Lets recap:

Sabbat Worlds Antho
Firedrake
First Heretic
Prospero Burns
(Sword of Justice)

That’s your starting line up for the fall/winter season. Cheers! They’re all here in my hands, i’ve just been struggling with how to schedule them. :-)

Never fear, you will continue to see reviews of new and past books by Lord of the Night, as he completes them.  He does a good job, so i’m keeping him around. lol

cheers all.

CP

Bloodborn by Nathan Long – Review

Commissar Ploss reviews Bloodborn. The first novel in the series Ulrika the Vampire, by Nathan Long.

– “Nathan Long has written a captivating, seductive, blood-sucker of a story.” –
-The Founding Fields         

Admittedly, this book was my very first venture into the world of Warhammer Fantasy Battles literature.  I’ve been a stauch 40k reader and player since i’ve been able to hold a blast template, and therefore have not really attempted to sail out from that island of familiarity.

I’m not sure exactly what compelled me pick up Bloodborn.  It’s all the more unnatural when you consider that i am not a subscriber to the “vampire craze” that seems to be sweeping the world lately.  Especially when they are all emotional basket cases, have serious attitude problems, and sparkle gallantly in the sun…

That said, i found this book both extremely enjoyable, and generally enthralling.

Bloodborn gets going right from the start.  We’re introduced to the novel’s protagonists Ulrika Magdova, and her mentor, Countess Gabriella von Nachthafen, within the first few pages.  The characterization in this novel was superb.  I had no trouble imagining each character in the book, nor did their appearance change in my mind at any time.  Strong characterization is something few authors can do consistently.

There is a mystery to be solved within this story.  Our protagonists are whisked away to a city called Nuln, where a creature is wreaking havoc among the vampires in the area and threatening to expose their existence to the world.  It is here that Mr. Long describes the hierarchy of Vampire society in a very easy to understand way.  For someone who has never delved into the lore of the Old World, i found myself able to keep up with the things that were happening.

The pace was quick, but not so much that i had a hard time following.  Nathan successfully conveyed the underlying sense of urgency in the book by never slowing or muddying things up with unneeded explanation, and pointless filler.

There was no “cookie-cutter” feel to the action either.  And each scene was as exciting as it was unpredictable. VERY!  Never knowing what was around each corner is partly what kept me reading.  The vampires must discover who or what is preying on them, lest they all be destroyed. I found myself wanting them to find the culprit, i couldn’t help it. Nathan makes you hope, he makes you yearn for them to win out the day.  He feeds you bits of info with each passing page, yet never giving away too much of the plot until the very end and WHAM! everything falls into place.

The book wrapped up very well.  It closed plot devices while opening up more for the next book.  I really wanted to keep reading, but alas, with page 411 came the end of the book…

If the next novel in the series, Bloodforged, is anything like this one, it promises to be a rousing read that will be hard to put down.

Nathan Long has written a captivating, seductive, blood-sucker of a story.

My Rating: 8 / 10

Reason:  I enjoyed the story thoroughly, as it clearly emphasizes the emotions that plague Ulrika, as she is only just learning to understand the situation she is in, and how to harness the new powers that she has, while discovering ones she does not yet know she possesses. The characterization was superb, action clean, and pacing steady. However, there were some editorial mistakes (most notably a few name swaps) that took away from the story, snapping me from the trance the narrative had placed me in. Therefore, i can not in good conscience give the story the 9 it deserves. Were it pristine in editorial marksmanship, i probably would have done so.  I was also pleased to see the true nature of a vampire’s relationship with the sun play through in sections. The charring, burning, boiling, ultimately apocalyptic nature with which the sun persecutes its unsuspecting vampiric victims. No sparkles here.

Should you buy this book?  YES

This book can be found on the Black Library website for 7.99 GBP here

or click the link below to buy it from Amazon.com

*this is not an advanced review*

Buyers beware…

Well hey there everyone. :)

I’ve been out for the past week on a nice little vacation from work and pretty much everything else. :)  I wanted to let you all know that i’ve got a bunch of things planned for TFF coming up in the near future.  Hopefully some author interviews, as well as more book reviews on the way.  This post however, is something special. I wanted to share an experience i had this week with you all, in the hopes that this same thing won’t happen to you.

ok, so here’s the stitch.  I took a long trip down to a store i hadn’t visited in quite some time.  It was a used book store that i’d had good luck finding 40k books at before.  The trip down is about 36 miles…. so it’s not a lunch kick by any means. Really had my hopes set high on finding some good books, and i did! Most of it Warhammer Fantasy stuff, since i’m not as well versed in that area.

Lets break down the find shall we…

First up, Masters of Magic by Chris Wraight.  Masters of Magic was Chris’ first novel, and one that he told me recently, he’s not all that thrilled about.  It’s a good read, but clearly he’s improved.  I’ll hopefully be reading Sword of Justice soon, and my anticipations are high.  Anyways, so i snatched Masters up.

Next! Fell Cargo by Master Abnett (I call him “Master”, because anything less prestigious would be an insult.)  The book is classic Abnett.  Grand adventure on an epic scale.  solid Danhammer work.  And i scored the original novel, not the more recent POD title. sweetness!  Zombies, pirates, and dark fantasy adventure on the high seas, woohoo!

Following that, we have: Genevieve Undead by Jack Yeovil (Kim Newman).  Actually the first Genevieve novel that i’ve found/read.  Like i said before, i haven’t really been into that much Fantasy stuff, but since reading Bloodborn (review forthcoming), I’ve decided to branch out.  Should be a good read.

Next off, I found Mark of Chaos by Anthony Reynolds.  It was the original novelization of Bandai’s computer game of the same name. RTS all the way!   Fun stuff, i used to play it.  This book was published in 2006 but since i had misplaced my copy, so i’m glad i found another one.  I’m not sure if it’s the same as the most recent POD title with almost the same name.  The original book, the one i just acquired is called Mark of Chaos whereas the new POD title goes by the name Marks of Chaos.  The summary is slightly different as well, although eerily similar.  Here is the summary for the original book:

“The dark forces of Chaos are an ever-present threat to the civilized lands of the Empire.  Their regular incursions call for mankind to defend their lives to the last man if necessary.  It is a crucible where heroes are made and legends are born! When a young commander is caught up in this carnage of war, he must prove his honour by tracking down and destroying one of the most feared enemy leaders…”

And then the summary for the new POD title:

“Karl Hoche is a proud army officer, sworn to destroy the insidious forces of Chaos. Having unveiled a dark plot within the Reiksguard, Hoche attracts the attention of a clandestine group sworn to combat the Runious Powers. His new life leads him into the heart of the enemy, where a hideous transformation begins… Still loyal to Sigmar, but hounded by those he seeks to protect, Hoche must keep his dark secret and resist the temptations of Chaos long enough to ensure victory for the Empire.”

 Clearly there are similarities there.  I’d like you to discuss them here if you wouldn’t mind. seems fishy to me…

But i digress, perhaps i’ll do a little digging on this topic for a future post.

Next, we have my most brilliant find!  Hammers of Ulric by Master Abnett, the glorious Nik Vincent, and the grand James Wallis.  I was most excited about this find, not only because it is a good book, but because the Baltimore Gamesday was this past weekend, and i was going to have all of them sign the bloody thing!  I have a good mate, and friend of the site, Vince, who was going to be kind enough to get the book signed for me.  he was going to be at the convention, as i wasn’t able to secure travel funding.  Alas, as i was preparing the book to be shipped out to him, i decided to flip through the book and make sure there wasn’t anything wrong with it.

And. Look. What. I. Find…

 

A HUGE HOLE!!!  a 2 inch x 2 inch hole cut with BALL POINT PEN! through about 65-70 pages in the book! Someone cut out a stash! You have no idea how furious i was to see this… Clearly the stash hole isn’t big enough for a pouch of weed, so it had to have been cocaine or some other smaller more compact substance.  And that’s not what really bothered me that much.  I didn’t really care that there was a stash hole cut out of the damned thing. It’s the fact that the book store didn’t take the time to look the book over for damage like this!  I was expecting to find books that i wanted to read! not something to waste 4 bucks on to bring home and gawk at…  Clearly the book is irreparably unreadable now.  And i’m equally as pissed at myself for not checking before i bought it.

Although, i don’t think i should have needed to.  That should be the mission of any used book store, to provide a product that can actually be read!   So i implore you, all my readers, before you think of purchasing a book from a used book store, check it over first.  Make sure it is going to be worth your while.  This way, you will avoid incidents like this.  Learn from my mistake.

In closing, the store is 36 miles away, one way, so i won’t be going back to return it.  The only decent thing to do is burn the book.  It can’t be read, probably isn’t safe to handle due to secondhand exposure to possibly lethal narcotics, and should be honored with a proper incineration.  I was lucky enough to find another copy of the book. So i’ll have to get it signed at the UK Gamesday. better late than never!

as an aside, i was also lucky enough to pick up first editions (U.S. first editions) for both First and Only, and The Guns of Tanith, two of my favorite Gaunts Ghosts novels.  booyah!

ADB interview on BSCReview.com

Earlier in the month, Aaron Dembski-Bowden sat down with Phillip Sobel of BSCReview.com and had a great interview.  Phil has asked me to reblog it here for you all to see.

CP

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Aaron Dembski-Bowden is a new author for The Black Library, Games Workshop’s publishing arm. Though only three novels into his Black Library writing career, he has fast developed a devoted following of both die-hard Warhammer 40K fans and people only recently brought into the fold. His radical approach to writing and his outspoken and uncensored view of both the 40K world and the challenges of writing within it have sparked discussion and controversy in equal measure.

His standing as a fan of the very world in which he writes is for me the key ingredient to what I can only describe as his meteoric rise as a writer. This is, of course, as an aside to his prodigious talent. Every book he’s written demonstrates a deep understanding of the 40K universe and leaves the reader in no doubt that this is a writer who loves the world he’s writing in. For a hardcore fan like myself, one amongst millions, there can be no greater reassurance.
As an unashamed fanboy, I’m very grateful that he took some time out of his very busy writing schedule to talk to me about his work and the world of the 41st Millenium.

Phillip Sobel: What part has writing played in your life before Black Library?

Aaron Dembski-Bowden: I’ve been writing full-time pretty much since I left university. In a lot of ways, I was dead lucky to hit the ground running like that. My insane good fortune isn’t something I’m blind to.
I knew I wanted to be a novelist eventually, but “eventually” is a powerful word. I had it in my head that I should bounce around first and try to get into all the other areas I was interested in (especially if they, ahem, paid more). I hopped from RPG to RPG, then dabbled a little in video games, until making up my mind that none of those were exactly the life-changing thrill-rides I’d hoped they’d be.
When I hit my late 20s, I figured it was time to stop delaying. That was when I started hitting fingers against keys in a slightly more serious manner. It was also when I realised I could probably make a living from writing novels. I mean, before that realisation, I’d kind of laboured under the fear that novelists were only self-sustaining creatures in middle age and onwards.
So the terror of abject poverty kept me at a distance for a while. Y’know, because I’m a coward.

I know you’ve been involved in the Games Workshop hobby for a while, but what made you take the jump from hobbyist/fan to writer?

Where Warhammer 40,000 was concerned, it was (again…) just luck. I was working on a video game with a couple of guys who – among their bajillions of other projects – also let Black Library publish some of their fiction.
That was kind of like a bolt from the blue. I’d read 40K novels before, in fact, I already had a massive mancrush on Dan Abnett and his work, but I’d never even considered writing anything but my own original fiction. Getting to play around for a while in a license I’d loved for 20 years was just too awesome, and felt way too unlikely. It’d never even crossed my mind to try.
Glad I did, though. Another example of how you should dive right in, instead of waiting for ages and hoping you’ll grow some balls.

The 40K universe has held me enthralled for the best part of two decades, as well, What is it about this universe that so inspires you?

I’ll try to keep this brief. 40K has, at its core, a simple dystopian premise: “What if everything that could possibly go wrong in the future actually did go wrong?”
It’s a setting like no other, where every Fantasy and Sci-Fi trope is rusted, ruined, and tarnished.
The human race has reached out to explore the stars, but all we’ve found is a galaxy at the mercy of advanced alien races that are inexorably driving mankind to extinction. We’re capable of making interstellar cruisers the size of small cities, but they are born from forgotten technology, powered by thousands of slaves, and are all devoted to an endless war. Humanity is on the edge of evolutionary ascension, but it feeds its psychically-gifted souls into the tyrannical engines of the Golden Throne, to power the machinery – and the dictator – that makes space travel possible. Society spans millions of worlds, but most of them are hellholes full of nameless citizens living lives of indentured slavery and drudgery.
We’ve raised unbelievably huge armies…yet we feed them into the ceaseless meat-grinder wars against the enemies attacking the edges of our failing empire. Most unique of all, mankind has perfected the most incredible genetic engineering, but this most precious of lore is used entirely on stolen children to create an autistic warrior caste that live their lives in war.
I mean, it’s 38,000 years in the future, but invention – the very act of societal progress – is heresy.
The desperation in all of that inspires the hell out of me. Yeah, you’ll get some who are in it for war porn with chainsaw swords, and that definitely has its place. Chainswords are impractical but awesome, after all. But for me, I’m fascinated in the human stories that rise from trying to live in that decadent, dying empire’s boundaries.

For over twenty years the 40K universe has grown and evolved together with a legion of loyal fans, each with their own unique take on the details. How have you approached this particular minefield and what has been the overall fan response to your ‘take’?

I’ve been very, very lucky.
Like you said, everyone has their own perspective on the setting, and I’ve been fortunate in the sense that pretty much all fan response to my stuff has been either that they agreed with my angle, or liked it enough to smile at book signings and not stab me in the throat.
Which, by the way, I totally appreciate. Thanks, guys.
I think a lot of fan reaction comes down to what you do once you’re in the sandpit. If you take all the toys and break them to bits, you’re going to piss off the fandom. There’s a fine line (and one that’s easy to cross) where originality in a narrative becomes a grind against established canon. When that happens, it’s a little like that how that fat guy died in Jurassic Park. You can see people smiling at you, but you can tell they’re thinking about what your blood tastes like, and any second they might pop up a neck-frill and spit gross black ooze into your eyes.
The flip side of the coin is to come at it from a new angle that people find new enough to be original, but intriguing and familiar enough to be comfortable. But that’s true in any writing, in any genre, when an author is looking for their niche. It’s just more obvious when writing stuff in an established universe.

I’ve mentioned the 40K universe’s long development and consequent depth.  When writing your novels, have you tried to make the books accessible to anyone, or have you written for devoted fans?

This is a tough call. I’m not going to lie, a lot of my stuff so far has presumed a certain level of foreknowledge, but I think that’s probably the wrong way to do it. I’ve stopped that recently – it always made me uncomfortable doing it, but I was new and still finding my feet. I like the sense of completion you get from a novel that doesn’t assume anything. Trust your readership, absolutely. But don’t assume they’ve wasted (uh, I mean “spent”) the last 20 years of their life reading the exact same stuff as you.
That’s not cool. It’s dystopian sci-fi and it rocks for that fact, there’s no need to screw around with the formula.
I think that presumption has harmed a lot of 40K fiction in the past, leading it to be overlooked in the wider community’s eyes. That’s changing now, so it’s a killer time to be part of everything.

Based on your recent (at time of writing) online conversation with Black Library stalwart, Dan Abnett, it seems as if he’s become a mentor of sorts to you. What have you learned from that relationship and have there been any insurmountable differences?

Oh, man. I need to be careful here.
I’ll never be entirely casual around Dan. I can tell that bugs him a little – he’s a modest guy, very grounded and sane for someone with sales figures that size, and was only flattered by my trembling praise for about 3 seconds. But he’s one of my favourite authors, so them’s the breaks.
Again, I’ve been extremely lucky with how my publisher treats me. I was invited into the inner circle (the Horus Heresy team) before my first novel was even published. Beyond the obvious ways that’s been awesome, it also had the effect of the veterans seeing just how absolutely terrified I was. Like slightly-amused wolves, they circled me, scented my fear, and were pretty gentle with me when they welcomed me into the pack.
Jim Swallow and Dan Abnett have been more useful and more appreciated, than just as mentors. I think we shuffled fairly quickly into being pals, which is more down to them being decent human beings than me being easy to hang out with. We discuss each others’ work, but that’s actually the least of what goes on. They’ve got the funniest, best stories about the industry you’ve ever heard. They know everyone. They have educated opinions on everything, and they can actually voice them without insulting people, which is a skill I’ve never learned. They’ve written their own fiction, and they’ve written fiction in every freaking universe you can imagine.
Now, unlike me, they carry themselves with dignity and professionalism, while still being cool and interesting behind closed doors. I appreciate that, and the marketing division at my publisher is always keen to point out that this is how I should be acting. They say “What Would Dan Abnett Do?” as a mantra for me to stop turning up to signings hung over, or wearing sunglasses indoors, or whatever else I’ve done that particular week.
I mean, I don’t actually listen, but it’s good to have role models.

Unlike many of the old school writers, you seem to engage with your fans very directly by participating in online discussions, most notably on the Heresy-Online forums. Would you describe the experience as a positive one or are you slowly coming around to the old school approach to the internet–i.e., steer clear?

Seriously, there’s a reason they warn authors against interacting too much. Actually, several reasons.
Firstly, it takes time. Fuck me, it takes ages. I reply to about 10% of my private messages, forum posts, blog replies, Facebook posts, and whatever else out there. And that’s considered serious interaction compared to a lot of writers. In a good week, I’ll reply to 20% of it, but that’s face-meltingly rare and means I’m trying to avoid doing any writing.
Secondly, it’s the internet. The internet, as we’re all well aware, is a shitpit of faceless, deliberate obtuseness, where people miss the point with ball-aching regularity, and seem to be born with the desire to start fights based on their own primitive opinions. I know this because I have a bajillion primitive opinions myself, and I like to annoy Star Trek fans by voicing them in tones of sneering condescension.
Now, where I’m concerned, 99% of the time I get positive responses and the kind of feedback that borders on overwhelming. I wouldn’t trade my fan response for anyone’s. But there’s always an annoying side. Once in while, you come across That Guy who says your writing is “shit because X doesn’t do Y”. And it’s almost always down to his perspective of the license’s ‘loose’ canon. (Loose cannon? Get it? I kill me.)
It’s not that your writing is actually bad. It’s not even usually that he hated the book up until that point. It’s that he “hates this novel” because of some minor point of canon that he doesn’t see the same way you do. It doesn’t matter that his source is outdated or was retconned 10 years ago. It doesn’t matter that you have 800 sources to back yourself up, and 6,000,000 people telling him he’s insane. You were “wrong” to him, and he. Will. Not. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. About. It.
Think of the veterans who have 12 times more novels out than me. Think of the writers that deviate further from the canon, by choice or otherwise. Now you can likely see why they avoid getting into this jazz online.

There’s a debate online that has raged for ‘millennia’ regarding the quality or status of tie-in fiction. Where do you stand on this hotly debated topic?

The debate here is slowly dwindling in professional circles, but I think it’ll always exist. It’s not something I concern myself with all that much, at least not to the degree a lot of the Big Names in licensed fiction do. Part of that is because I’ll do more than licensed fiction soon enough: my career isn’t likely to be “a licensed fiction author” much past age 30, it’ll be “an author”, who sometimes loves to write licensed fiction. Neil Gaiman did episodes of Babylon 5 and Dr. Who. Michael Moorcock is writing a Dr. Who novel. Most authors who write for licenses also do their own original fiction at some point. Many authors who do their own stuff will also show their own take within a license at some point. Swings and roundabouts. Depends what you like.
However, I think a certain bias lies in the fact that plenty of them don’t do anything more than licensed fiction. They remain purely tie-in writers, and to the layman’s eye, that can look like “they’re only comfortable writing in other people’s universes”. That’s a shame, and it’s bullshit. People don’t write in licenses because it’s easier. They do it because they love the licenses. Do you like Buffy? What if Joss Whedon asked you to write an episode of a new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Do you like Star Wars? What if George Lucas asked you to write a novel about the Clone Wars? Wouldn’t you be thrilled and honoured? Is it a sin to like something, and to add to it, if you didn’t gestate and breed the entire thing yourself? It’s not like it’s any easier to write a whole novel just because the guns and planets already have names.
When I was asked to be on the Horus Heresy team, I didn’t think “I’ll be judged for writing in an established setting”, I thought “Jesus Christ, I get to write about something I’ve loved for 20 years.”
But I digress.
Writing for a license rather than publishing your own stuff comes equipped with irritating prejudices. It’s seen as easier to get into, and you know what? I’m sure that in some licenses, that’s absolutely true. In others, it’s a publishing house like any other. What I find interesting is that in no other arm of publishing is a blanket prejudice applied. I’ve seen plenty of people say “All Star Wars novels are badly written” (or whatever). You don’t see “All Random House novels are badly written” or “Penguin publishes nothing but bad writers”. You have loads of very skilled, very good writers publishing their work in the Star Wars setting, but they often get tarred with the same brush. The sins of the least among them will stain the talents of even the best. Tie-in fiction gets a lot of that.
I’m not a fan of most novels set in licenses I like. I admit that. I’m not big on most Star Wars novels. I’m not even a fan of most Warhammer 40,000 novels. But I don’t look at everything Harper Collins, Penguin (or whomever else) releases and say “Everything with this publisher’s logo on sucks”, because I recognise they have dozens/hundreds/thousands of different authors. A publisher is an engine to release work. Not an arbiter of quality.
Tie-in fiction lacks that crucial defence. It’s all lumped together, considered the junk food of literature. Some of that is justified – standards have been low in a lot of licenses, as luring decent writers past the prejudice has been hard. But a lot of it is just bullshit, and part of the whole writing deal.

I know that this question is an author interview regular, but I have to ask:  who would you say have been your main inspirations as a writer?

Um.
Inspiration is a strange beast. I have several authors that I absolutely adore – I have their work on eternal preorder, and take a day off with every release to read their stuff immediately – but I don’t really want to write anything like they do. They already write like that, after all. They do it better than I would, anyway. I write like me.
My favourite author is Robin Hobb, for her detailed, immersive worlds and ludicrously-, painfully-, deliciously-involving characters. No one makes you feel someone’s life story like Robin Hobb does, and her worldbuilding is so nuanced, subtle and careful that I can’t help but fall in love with everything she does.
Conrad Williams is a British horror author whose mind is forever zigging and zagging to the coolest, darkest places. His work is both vicious and surreal, which is incredibly difficult to combine, and resonates with me for months after every book. When I’m reading his stuff, I go back several times a chapter to read a previous paragraph, because I’m amazed at how it all makes a sick kind of sense. A dead man appearing in your bedroom to watch you sleep, after having been buried under the floorboards. A tumour under your armpit that wriggles and contains the embryonic queen female of a race of monsters. Ugh. He makes weird, wacky stuff very gritty, realistic, and personal. That’s the trick. I don’t usually even like horror, but his prose is incredible and keeps me hooked.
Dan Abnett needs no explanation, but it’s my interview, so I’m doing it anyway. Dan turns a poetic phrase in a war story like no one else, and makes you care (or hate…) characters as well as any writer that ever lived. That’s one of the cruxes of brilliant writing, and he never seems to struggle with it. He also writes some ferocious battle scenes, by focusing on the human elements among the surreal madness and insane scope of it all. That’s how you write classic fiction. Dan’s practically the only writer I’d listen to when it comes to offering writing advice. When he talks, common sense outweighs my arrogance, so I shut up and listen. I sent him an early draft of The First Heretic, and he sent it back with the suggestion I look at it again, and try to chill out and write like I usually do, rather than writing with stage fright. That helped immeasurably. “Kick in the door and take no prisoners”, he said. That changed my entire perception of the book, and I rewrote huge chunks of it.
Neil Gaiman is…Neil Gaiman. Nothing I say can do that guy justice. He has the most amazing vision, and takes his ideas to the most amazing places. He’s a genius. I feel retarded just talking about him. I feel pretty much the same way about David Gemmell. There’s a reason he’s considered the king of heroic fantasy, and that’s because he earned it through telling great stories.
Edgar Allen Poe is, y’know, dead. But he’s not included here as a nod to the classics – I genuinely go back and read his work every year, the same way I re-read Frank Herbert’s Dune, and a bunch of Arthur Miller plays. I also know a bunch of Poe’s poems by heart, which I thought was really clever until I saw Tom Hanks do it in The Ladykillers remake, and now I feel like a copying asshole.

What are you working on at the moment and what projects are you pursuing for future publication?

I hate this part. The part where it’s so obviously totally an advert for your future stuff. This is the part where it always feels crass, and now I’m doing it, because I have to. Most authors use their blogs for this kind of thing, but as you might know, I use mine to discuss why I’d join COBRA (and other fictitious cartoon terrorist organisations), or to judge the merits of 1980s theme tunes.
I just finished The First Heretic, my first Horus Heresy novel, detailing how the Legions begin their descent into Chaos. It’s essentially the story of the very first Possessed Astartes, and how he witnesses (and contributes to) the events that lead to the greatest civil war in the history of the species. That’s coming out in October/November, as far as I know.
Currently, I’m heading into Blood Reaver, the sequel to Soul Hunter. (Marketing totally annihilated my preferred names for these books, by the way: Birthright and In Midnight Clad.)
Blood Reaver focuses much more on getting behind the eyes and into the skull of the main characters: how they see the world, how they see their ignoble, endless defeats, and so on. In the way Act II is often the darkest part of any play, that’s what happens here. Talos is much more driven, and sees that it’s no longer enough just to survive. The galaxy hates them, and everything is going to hell. It’s time to deal with that, else they’ll all die in silence, forgotten and irrelevant, starved of the vengeance they profess to desire.
Happy days ahead, clearly.

http://www.bscreview.com/2010/08/aaron-dembski-bowden-interview/

Temple of the Serpent Review|Spoilers


The second instalment of the Thanquol and Boneripper trilogy, ominously titled Temple of the Serpent, is my latest finished novel and its already a favourite in my fantasy collection. The exploits of the paranoid, backstabbing Grey Seer Thanquol never cease to delight and amuse, and to impress with Thanquol’s might and uncanny ability to always find a way to weasel out of a problem, either by throwing the closest Skaven into danger or flattering his way out.

After a series of failures, Grey Seer Thanquol is offered a chance to redeem himself by going to the island of Lustria to kill the Prophet of Sotek. Dogged by assassins and stranded in a foreign land of giant lizards, temple cities and endless jungle, Thanquol must use all of his cunning and magic if he is to come out alive.
The novel begins with Lord Tlaco’amoxtli’ueman, a Slann, working on a problem in the geometrics of the Great Math. Confounded by new fractals and algorithms in the Math he senses the coming of corrupted algorithms to Lustria, and decides that they can be used to solve the persistent calculations that have plagued him. Meanwhile Grey Seer Thanquol delivers his report on the events in Under-Altdorf, seen in Grey Seer, to the Council of Thirteen. However his lack of knowledge on events afterwards causes him to credit Grey Seer Thratquee for the destruction of the Wormstone, and the flooding that lost it, confident the older Grey Seer will be killed for it and not knowing that 10% of Under-Altdorf was wiped out in the floods and will take generations to rebuild, thus curbing the problem, and giving all credit to Thratquee while Thanquol is left out.
After the meeting Thanquol stocks up on weapons and armour and warpstone, sure that the killers of Clan Eshin are coming for him, as the Nightlord Sneek had made cryptic comments as Thanquol left, wishing him a good rest. Sure that he means a permanent rest under the dirt floors of a rat-warren Thanquol spends nearly every penny he has rearming himself, and puchasing a large and nasty Rat Ogre, naming it Boneripper. An assassination attempt is made shortly after but Thanquol is able to survive it thanks to his natural paranoia, a quick warpstone snuff, and Boneripper’s simple-minded loyalty. However the second attempt does not go as well, Boneripper is killed by a lone assassin but strangely Thanquol is captured and not killed.
Dragged before the mighty Nightlord Sneek Thanquol is given a choice. He is required for a mission to Lustria to assassinate the Prophet of Sotek the Snake-Devil, a Skink named Xiuhcoatl. With the prophet’s death Clan Eshin can cement an alliance with Clan Pestilens, and Thanquol is offered the choice to go on the mission to Lustria, or leave and risk the Deathmaster coming after him again. Realizing that the assassin who easily slew Boneripper is the legendary Deathmaster Snikch Thanquol goes on the mission. Meanwhile the assassin who made the first attempt on Thanquol, a disgraced Skaven called Chang Fang, is taken captive by Lord Skrolk of Clan Pestilens, who survived his altercation with Thanquol in Grey Seer, and given an opportunity to kill Thanquol by sneaking onto the Lustria expedition. Stealing a ship and making their way to Lustria Thanquol and the Eshin group prepare themselves to slay the Sotek propet, unaware that far greater dangers await them at Lustria then a mere Skink.
Meanwhile on the high seas a trade vessel, the Cobra of Khemri, is travelling to Ulthuan to make a fortune in Elf fabrics and artwork, and carrying an Elf passenger who has promised them said Elf goods. The ship’s owner Von Sommerhaus and his Captain Schachter are both devising a way to make more riches from the journey when a sudden storm blows them off course and strands them and their crew on Lustria. While Von Sommerhaus is jubilant at the chance to make riches his bodyguard Adalwolf and the Elf passenger Ethril recognize the danger that Lustria poses. However when magic forces conspire to force them further into the jungle they must face mighty carnosaurs, giant terradons and vicious cold ones, and the very jungle itself as they head deeper to the lost city of Quezta.
This was an excellent novel that gave a look into the isolated Lizardmen and their Slann masters, a most interesting view into their lifes and how they view the world and its inhabitants, and the harsh duty they bear and follow, and will sacrifice themselves for, for every Lizardman has a place to play in the Great Math and all are content with the part they must play. The Skaven as always were delightfully evil, treacherous and Thanquol’s megalomania, paranoia and cruelty to his underlings, and ability to exploit any opportunity was enjoyable the whole way through.
High Point: I’d say there were a few high-points in the novel. The first is when Thanquol and the Eshin killers try to ambush Xiuhcoatl at the Pyramid of Sotek. However they are ambushed in turn and the battle quickly turns into a slaughter, when asked by the Eshin mage-rat Shen Tsinge to call upon the Great Horned One to save them all, Thanquol’s response is, ‘The Horned One helps those who run fastest!,’ then shoving the mage-rat out of the way and running like hell. Hilarious!.
Another high-point is when the giant serpent of Sotek swallows Thanquol in a single gulp, and is quickly assaulted by Boneripper who gets into a massive duel with the snake. The best part is when Boneripper tears the serpent’s lower jaw off and gouges its eye out, then drags Thanquol out of its gut only to be reprimanded for taking too long.
A third highpoint was a humourus and interesting moment at the end. Thanquol and the dying Boneripper are rowing away in the last rowboat, while Lord Tlaco on the Lustria beach orders the Saurus warriors to catch him, however before they can leave he quickly divines some calculations and chooses to let Thanquol live, on the discovery that as long as he lives Thanquol is a much bigger danger to his own race then the Great Math, and in an act of backhanded generosity the Slann conjures a fast tide to speed Thanquol back to the mainland, hoping he will damage the Skaven as much as possible.
Despite the human plot in Grey Seer being somewhat dull I kept my hopes up for the human side of the story, and I was not disappointed with the human side. It was entertaining and an interesting view of human greed overcoming fear and survival instinct. The humans may have met harsh endings but that was foreshadowed at the start by the words of the Elf Elthrin. ‘Lustria never tires of finding ways to kill fools.’
Low Point: I could find no real low point in the novel. From start to finish it was entertaining and brimming with the ratty wit and sneaky characters that only C.L Werner can write.
I give Temple of the Serpent a 10/10 for an excellent story, new and crafty characters, a look into the prehistoric jungles of Lustria and its cold-blooded lords, and for more of the devious Grey Seer Thanquol and his loyal guardian Boneripper. Any fan of the Skaven and the Lizardmen will love this book, and the story of humans treasure hunting in a lost world rife with deadly reptiles and rats. I eagerly await the next Thanquol and Boneripper novel, and I wonder how Thanquol is going to explain himself this time.