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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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sabbat Worlds Antho
(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
Commissar Ploss reviews Bloodborn. The first novel in the series Ulrika the Vampire, by Nathan Long.
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*
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!
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.