Category: Book Review

Uriel Ventris Chronicles Volume One (The Ultramarines Omnibus) by Graham McNeill – Review

uriel ventris

Uriel Ventris Chronicles Volume One is a huge omnibus collecting 3 novels and 3 short stories written by Graham McNeill for the Black Library. The novels are Nightbringer, Warriors of Ultramar, and Dead Sky, Black Sun and they follow the adventures of Uriel Ventris, Captain of the Fourth Company of the Ultramarines Chapters of the Space Marines.

In my first read, I expected more story and less correct lore about the Warhammer 40K Universe, so I was ambivalent about my feelings. Once I finished a rereading, I can say it’s the best introduction to the world of Warhammer 40K and Space Marines. It has some unexplained terms (for beginners) but it covers the essentials of what makes Warhammer Universe Warhammer, and what it means to be grimdark in this universe. I will start and discuss each novel. It needs to be mentioned that the short stories directly connect to the following novel (they fill some very minor gaps in the story).

Nightbringer

Nightbringer is the first novel featuring Uriel Ventris and as a new captain, he doesn’t do much. It respects the lore, but it may cause some reader dissatisfaction. On the other hand, the novel is best at presenting the bureaucracy of the Imperium, the corruption existing on various planets, the political plays always in motion, and the betrayals between factions, as well as dreadful cosmic mysteries in this old galaxy in which the human empire while vast, is pretty young. It covers everything you need to know about the Warhammer 40k universe and the general feeling of this world.

(more…)

Sacrosanct and other stories – Review

Sacrosanct

This must be my first foray into the Age of Sigmar literature. Before Warhammer Age of Sigmar, there was Warhammer Fantasy and I, like any true novices, know nothing about that either. So what is “Sacrosanct and other stories”? It is an anthology of short stories centered on, well, the worlds and characters living in the world of the Age of Sigmar.

The Age of Sigmar literature started with the Realmgate Wars Saga, which is unanimously not recommended because it acts as an introduction of models and campaign of the tabletop game, called, of course, Age of Sigmar. There are some short stories in this book that relate to that era and events, and not surprisingly, are my least favorite. There are so dull that I understand why Age of Sigmar managed to upset all the fans of the Warhammer Fantasy at release. The game was not yet fully formed and even the narrative couldn’t hold a candle against the shadow of what Warhammer Fantasy had been before. (Again, it’s not my personal opinion as I discovered this setting relatively recently and I have yet to read any volume of Warhammer Fantasy.)

Sacrosanct and Age of Sigmar

But AoS is not so bad, after all – judging only from this volume of short stories. There is plenty to like here, from the imaginative fantasy settings to the weird Stormcast Eternals copied straight from Space Marines of 40K.

(more…)

Nexus and other stories – Review

nexus

I am not a new grunt in the vast armies of Warhammer 40K so when I see the label “Great First Read” I’m wary of going in without my helmet of doubt. But I’ve learned to expect the best from Warhammer’s anthologies, so I quickly delve into Nexus and other stories.

I’ll start with the conclusion. The anthology Nexus and other stories is a mixed bag, with more than half of the stories being lackluster and not very good at representing the Warhammer Universe (in my opinion). On the other hand, they are excellent at preparing the newcomer for the varied literature of Warhammer. From brilliant gems (like Eisenhorn stories) to run-of-the-mill battle campaign novelization (like Nexus); from stories that advance the world to stories that act as a presentation of new merchandise. You have everything here.

Different people like different things. As a non-player of Warhammer, I prefer the intricate plots and interesting characters over the simple battle campaigns or new merchandise presentation as a novel/short story. If you’re a fan and a player of the wargame, your tastes may differ.

Therefore, the winner stories in this volume are the following (in my not so humble opinion). One mention. It’s been a few months since I’ve read these stories, so I mostly forgot their content – especially for the not-so-impressive stories. I’ve marked which one I liked best and my feeling towards them remained in my mind. The following mini-reviews are mostly based on feelings.

(more…)

Ravenor Omnibus by Dan Abnett – Review

Ravenor

If Eisenhorn was a story about a man surrounded by a capable team, then Ravenor is a story about a team led by a powerful man. If you’re even remotely curious about Ravenor and you haven’t read Eisenhorn, what are you doing here? Ravenor is the second trilogy in a trilogy of trilogies and that makes Eisenhorn a mandatory read. On the other hand, you can read the Ravenor novels as standalone novels, but the references will quickly go over your head. Some are references to previous books in the Eisenhorn trilogy, while some are simply references to the character’s past. With so many references, it helps to know where you’re coming from and where you’re going.

Ravenor Omnibus- Books Info

The Ravenor Omnibus collects 3 novels and 2 short stories having as the central theme the character of Ravenor, an Inquisitor of Ordos Xenos from the Warhammer 40K Universe. As always, Dan Abnett makes it easy to discard the Universe as a whole and focus on the Daniverse (read the preface for the origin of this term), a collection of lore built by himself inside Warhammer 40K – almost like a standalone universe written by one author.

Inside this huge omnibus, we find Ravenor, Ravenor Returned, and Ravenor Rogue as novels and Thorn Wishes Talon and Playing Patience as short stories. As mentioned just before, Ravenor novels are part of a series of novels called the Inquisitor series written by Dan Abnett, the other trilogies being Eisenhorn and Bequin (not yet completed). While you can read it as a standalone series, I truly recommend reading first the Eisenhorn trilogy. Not only does it cover a lot of ground on several characters from the Ravenor series, but also it’s one of Abnett’s finest written series.

(more…)

Descent of Angels (Horus Heresy #6) by Mitchel Scanlon – Review

descent of angels

Fantasy in space. Knights with guns. Beast versus man. This is my intro. You should be hooked by now. This review will be short because Descent of Angels is one of those books that knows what it aims to do and does it well. Its only problem is that it doesn’t aim high enough.

Descent of Angels – Book Info

Descent of Angels, written by Mitchel Scanlon, is the 7th book in the Horus Heresy series of the Warhammer 40K universe. It is the first that can stand as a standalone, and it has literally no connections to the rest of the books. The action of the book happens 50 years before the events of the main series. That also means that if you’re looking for a continuation of the main events, you will not find it here.

What you will find in the Descent of Angels is a bit of lore about Caliban before the Imperium of Man discovers the planet. Caliban is the origin planet of the Dark Angels, one legion of Space Marine in Warhammer 40K.

(more…)

Hero of the Imperium Omnibus by Sandy Mitchell – Review

hero of the imperium

The best time to run is just before you see the enemy. That is because you can still keep your heroic appearance if your soldiers won the battle. And if not, at least you get to live another day. And serve the Emperor in another war. But mostly you get to live. And that’s how a hero of the imperium is made.

The adventures of Ciaphas Cain, imperial commissar and unlikely hero, start in the Hero of the Imperium omnibus, where only the finest heroic tales are collected by your favorite inquisitor, someone you’ll soon meet in the first book.

Hero of the Imperium – quick overview

Hero of the Imperium omnibus, written by Sandy Mitchell, collects the first three novels in the Cain Ciaphas series, and a few short stories. Released for the first time in 2007, it contains the novels For the Emperor (published: 2003), Caves of Ice (2004), and The Traitor’s Hand (2005), as well as the short stories Fight or Flight, Echoes of the Tomb, and The Beguiling.

It is often said that this is the most humorous series of the Warhammer 40K Universe, and if you’ve only read Space Marines stories, you already know almost anything is more cheery than those guys. Cain, while still heroic by any standard, is very concerned about one thing: how to stay alive and look good doing it. People say it resembles Blackadder in space (Warhammer 40K Universe, more specifically), but as I never watched that series, I don’t know what to tell you.

(more…)

Dead Men Walking by Steve Lyons – Review

dead men walking

Dead Men Walking starts with a Necron invasion. But who or what are Necrons? The Necrons are the terminators of Warhammer 40K Universe. Hard to kill, they always get back up, made from a self-repair metallic skeleton. How in the Emperor’s name do you defeat these things? Of course, you call the…

Space Marines.

Nope. My mistake. Not this time. This time, the space marines are busy.

You call the Imperial Guards made up of simple soldiers, humans versus an unlimited number of Necrons. Surely this doesn’t sound good. Okay, then let’s bring the Death Korps of Krieg, which are humans that act like machines, don’t have names, and are willing to die at command.

Dead Men Walking – a quick overview

Dead Men Walking is a gem of a book, written by Steve Lyons. In the vast ocean of Warhammer literature, sometimes brilliant writing like this one appears. What makes this book special is that the author is not interested in getting the lore of Necrons right (blasphemy). Or even the Imperial Guard. What he aimed in this book is writing a human story about well, dehumanization, without glorifying war.

(more…)

The Grey Knights Omnibus by Ben Counter – Review

the grey knights

When the worst comes true and you realize that the first book in the trilogy is not worth it, but you already bought the Grey Knights Omnibus (the full trilogy), what do you do? I threw the book away, then picked it up and put it on the shelf. Next thing you know, I was trying to sell it. Somehow the sale didn’t go through and, some months later, I tried reading it again.

And surprise, surprise. It’s a pretty good book. I even got teary at one point. And for a novel in the Warhammer 40K franchise, that is indeed high praise. Though I hate to say it, this is a case when the prologue is so bad it almost deters you from reading a series.

Information of The Grey Knights Omnibus

The Grey Knights Omnibus contains three novels written by Ben Counter, one of the oldest authors of the Black Library. The omnibus was released for the first time in 2009. As the name says, the novels focus on the Grey Knights Chapter of the Space Marines. What makes them special is that they are a secretive Chapter working together with the Inquisition to defeat the Chaos daemons wherever they appear. Also, Chaos never managed to corrupt any of them, and that’s a big deal.

(more…)

Fifteen Hours by Mitchel Scanlon – Review

Fifteen Hours

Do you ever think how awful war is? Especially when you don’t even have a choice about it. Your enemies will kill you because they are mindless beasts who only want to make war (or WAAAGH!) and your allies will kill you if you don’t respect orders, even if these so-called orders are sometimes nonsensical and will guarantee your death. Yeah, that is what it is to be a simple human in Warhammer 40K. The book Fifteen Hours will show you exactly this.

Fifteen Hours Info

The short novel Fifteen Hours by Mitchel Scanlon delivers a breath of fresh air in a universe populated by post-human Space Marines, god-like humans fighting terrible powers from the warp, and alien entities that could kill a single human with a flick of the wrist. The title Fifteen Hours refers to the average human lifetime in the trenches of war in this universe. It is a standalone novel in this Universe. The book can be an entry point if you want to know about the lives of regular humans. There are some little pieces of lore, but you don’t need to have any preexisting knowledge to enjoy this story.

(more…)

Space Marine by Ian Watson – Review

Space Marine

I’ve read Space Marine so you don’t have to. Though I will strongly encourage you to read it to form your own opinion. Are you vaguely familiar with the Warhammer 40K brand? But not so much that you won’t get distracted by the wrong lore? Do you like space soldiers and weird adventures? Are you a fan of uncommon words and poetic language when describing the dismemberment of an alien creature? Then maybe this book is for you.

Space Marine Info

Space Marine was published in 1993, long before Warhammer 40K became what is today (there is even a streaming platform called Warhammer Plus, who would believe this?!). Needless to say, Ian Watson worked with what he was given and so Space Marine has the most recognizable elements of Warhammer 40K, but also a lot of stuff that would not be accepted today as standard lore. In addition, the author also took a lot of personal liberties and made Space Marines even weirder than they were in reality. And I mean, way weirder. I’m afraid to even mention one minor scene for fear of spoilers because these weird scenes are the best part of the book. Okay, I can’t help myself. I’ll mention one. They eat shit, literally. Why? It’s in the novel.

Should I mention that there is little plot and the novel Space Marine acts as an introduction to the weird, bizarre world of Warhammer 40K? And yet, because it’s no longer part of the modern Warhammer 40K, must stand on its own? And it does, largely by the strength of the world-building.

(more…)