Posts Tagged ‘Warhammer 40k’

Adventures in Bookland: Severed by Nate Crowley

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

The fourth in Black Library’s novella series and my favourite thus far, in particular for its gonzo take on the Necrons. Who would have thought you could successfully transplant Jeeves and Wooster onto a bunch of sentient robots? But with his class clash twosome of aristocratic but barking mad Zahndrekh and devoted but doubting servant Obyron, Nate Crowley does exactly that – well, insofar as is possible in a galaxy of constant warfare and thoroughly unpleasant monsters. And as is the way with the best comedy, the end becomes surprisingly moving. Highly recommended for the quality of the writing, conception and characters, and a thoroughly individual take on the 40k universe.

Adventures in Bookland: Inferno! Volume 4

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Some great Warhammer and Age of Sigmar short stories in here, with a particular highlight for me being Denny Flowers’ The Hand of Harrow, which manages to inject a little humour into a universe not notably blessed with laughter. The volume also has a particularly good story, ‘Green and Grey’, about a tank loader trapped in a wrecked Leman Russ who starts to hear the approaching roar of a raiding, and looting, party of Orcs. It’s by some chap called Edoardo Albert.

My First Foreign-Language Editions

Friday, November 8th, 2019
Lords of the Storm

I’ve often dreamed of having a foreign-language edition of one of my books published but I must admit I never thought that the very first foreign-language translations – into French and German no less – of one of my stories would be Warhammer 40k! But there they are: Herren des Sturms, Lords of the Storm and Seigneurs de la Tempête. All available from Black Library and all good retailers from tomorrow, 9 November.

Black Library: Lords of the Storm

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

For all you Warhammer 40k fans out there, I’m delighted to announce my first novella set in the grim dark of the far future (it’s actually moved on to the 41st millennium now). Lords of the Storm tells of a Reiver squad of the Fulminators Space Marines given the mission to retrieve the relics of an Imperial saint from a penitential shrine world overrun by the forces of Chaos following the Great Rift. I’m very pleased with how the story has turned out and I hope you will be too. The novella should be available for pre-order in the summer. There’s a bit more about Lords of the Storm, and lots more about other forthcoming titles from the Black Library, here.

Adventures in Bookland: Cadia Stands by Justin Hill

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

Regular readers will know of my admiration for Justin Hill. I’d rate him the best of contemporary writers of historical fiction, so I picked up this Warhammer 40k novel with a huge amount of interest: had the 40k universe found a writer as good as Dan Abnett? Yes. Hill is as good as Abnett. This story bears comparison with Abnett’s second Gaunt’s Ghosts novel, Ghostmaker, where he explores the characters and settings of the Ghosts. Cadia Stands even though it doesn’t. The planet falls to Chaos and Hill follows its fall through the stories of many different companies, many of them fighting doomed rearguard actions that demonstrate that the title is true: Cadia does still stand. It’s a kaleidoscopic literary technique, showcasing Hill’s talent as a writer, and one that mirrors, in the book’s structure, the fall of one of the Imperium’s most important bastions. I look forward very much to Hill’s next foray into the 40k universe.


Adventures in Bookland: Deathwatch by Steve Parker

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

This is, basically, the male equivalent of chick lit: big blokes with blasters blasting bad guys. The Warhammer 40k universe misses one trick though. Being dedicated to war – it exists, after all, to facilitate a war game – the spin-off books ignore one aspect of the 40k universe that might not be obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to actually live in it, but that is obvious to at least this visitor: it is a world of wonders. Magic, elves, orcs, space ships, demons – it’s as if all the fantasy creatures of earth’s deep past were waiting for us all along, among the stars. Admittedly, in this version of the future, they are all busily trying to exterminate us, as we are attempting to destroy them, but there you go – you can’t make an Imperium without cracking a few alien skulls. And in the cracking of alien skulls, none are better than the Space Marines. Unfortunately, in the world of 40k books, none are so boring as the Space Marines. Being engineered killing machines who know no fear, sexual desire, curiosity or anything much else apart from glory, honour and loyalty, they make poor protagonists for a 40k novel. Far better when the hero is a normal human being, such as the Gaunt’s Ghosts novels, or an abnormal one, such as the Eisenhorn novels. Even better if you can get Dan Abnett to write the books too. But even Abnett failed to make the Space Marines interesting when he essayed a Space Marines novel. In that respect, Steve Parker does a better job, but I wish he’d stayed longer with the characters from the Inquisition that he introduces alongside the eponymous Deathwatch Space Marines.

Albert’s rule number 1 for 40k novels: Space Marines are cool as background characters, riding in on Storm Ravens and killing aliens and Chaos spawn, but they’re not to be used as central characters. Might as well make a tree the hero, it would be less wooden.

Adventures in Bookland: Xenos by Dan Abnett

Thursday, December 29th, 2016


There are so many wonderful books out there, I seldom go back and reread a book I’ve read before. Why bother, when new worlds and new ideas are waiting to be explored? But, with Xenos, I’ve done just that: gone back and reread a book I first read six or seven years ago.

And it was great.

Xenos was the very first novel I read set in the Warhammer 40k universe. If you don’t know it, it’s a universe set up explicitly so that wargamers moving little plastic figures, often exquisitely painted, can play war games set in the far future. Given that the people playing the games are wargamers, you might surmise that the universe 38,000 years from now is not a particularly peaceful place. You’d be right. It is, however, a universe stuffed full of wonders. It turns out that all those goblins and elves and monsters that filled our fairy tales and folk stories were real – it’s just that we got the location wrong. They weren’t on earth, they were waiting for us out among the stars. In fact, that’s my only real criticism of the intricate universe that Games Workshop (the company behind Warhammer 40K) has created: with such a cast of creatures, there should be a bit of room for wonder in among the blasters and exploding alien heads.

But, no matter, for Dan Abnett manages to instil some of this wonder while remaining true to the dystopian roots of 40k and, at the same time, writing an amazingly involving adventure story. Indeed, so taken with the whole universe was I when I first read this that I immediately dived in, reading reams of the stuff, until I came to the same sort of realisation about Warhammer 40k books that I came to with fantasy and Tolkien. Back when I first read The Lord of the Rings it was actually the first fantasy novel I’d ever read. And I was completely blown away. So, I dived in, only to all but drown in Shannaras and Covenants and Belgeriads. I emerged, somewhat the worse for wear, to claim the hard-won knowledge that, with fantasy, I’d started at the summit and was busy working my way down. It turns out that, with Warhammer 40k and Dan Abnett, I’d done the same thing: I’d started at the top with Abnett and had been working my way downhill after him.

But, to return to the summit, it was a relief to reclimb the mountain to find the view from the top as exotic and brutal and breathtaking as the first time I’d found myself there. Thank you, Dan Abnett, and thank you, Gregor Eisenhorn. The Imperium is well served with both of you in its service!



Adventures in Bookland: Atlas Infernal by Rob Sanders

Friday, December 9th, 2016


OK, I admit it. My guilty little literary secret is my love for books where blokes with big guns blast aliens into pools of green slime. And there’s no better universe for blasting aliens than the Warhammer 40k one: orcs, tyrannids (think Alien but hordes of them), the Tau (sort of like the Borg), necrons (metal zombies), Chaos (basically Michael Moorcock’s demons from the Elric era of his writing transplanted into outer space). And, of course, the eldar – basically elves in space but with spiky guns rather than shiny swords. In fact, the only failing of the Warhammer 40k universe is its unrelenting grimness – it’s really a world of wonders, only no one seems to have realised it yet!

One of the tropes of the universe that I particularly like is how it riffs on aspects of Tridentine Catholicism to inform the human world – for Imperium think Magisterium. Not least among the parallels is the Inquisition and, since you never expect the Space Inquisition, it has carte blanche to travel anywhere in this future, whereas other parts of the Imperium are more restricted. The Inquisitors even deal with alien species, which is just what Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak does here: he travels the webways of the eldar (a tube system to the stars, but with fewer delays and no copies of Metro blowing on the line). So if, like me, you find the Warhammer 40k universe a place of wonder rather than just an arena for blasting aliens into alien gore, then this is a particularly good effort from the Black Library. So I’ve rather contradicted what I said at the beginning: my guilty secret is guns and marvels, and you’ll find them here.


White Dwarf and Warhammer Visions

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Apologies in advance for the supremely geekie nature of this post, but it’s a lament for a lost magazine and this generation’s denigration of the written word over images.

Warhammer 40k

Warhammer 40k

For many years, Games Workshop (the company that produces Warhammer and Warhammer 40k games) published the magazine White Dwarf – the monthly fix for people who like to paint little plastic figures and then fight battles with them using insanely complex rules. As part of the gaming experience, Games Workshop also developed the universes these wargames inhabited, employing some extraordinarily talented writers to do so (Dan Abnett, Justin Hill, Ian Watson). Every month, White Dwarf contained the new releases, interviews and features about the worlds of Warhammer and 40k, and a battle report, an in detail look at a battle with lots of background information opening up on to the wider fictional universes. And I loved it – I just loved it. I didn’t play the games much – the rules and gameplay are too lengthy and complex for the time I have available – but I became quite immersed in the shared universe the company and its writers and game designers had created. I used to look forward each month to White Dwarf arriving through the post (I even subscribed, that’s how much I looked forward to it).

Image source: Bell of Lost Souls

Image source: Bell of Lost Souls

And then, they stopped it. Without any warning, Games Workshop stopped sending me White Dwarf, and they replaced it with Warhammer Visions, a handsomely produced, thick small mag/large book, full of gloriously reproduced photos of wondrously painted Warhammer and 40k figures. At first, I leafed through it in amazement. And then I looked through it again, looking for the writing. There’s nothing there. Well, not quite nothing, but where before you’d get a thousand-word feature, now there’s a paragraph. One paragraph. The battle report has become pages of beautiful photos and about four paragraphs.

Damn it, what’s with people today? Doesn’t anyone read any more? Are you all just staring into some little screen (which will turn you blind before you’re old, you mark my words!). Come on, Games Workshop. Give us our words back, give me my worlds back! I have an imagination – I don’t need your pictures, I can make my own, if you just give me the words to trigger them.

This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a word but a picture.