As anybody who reads my GeekDad posts will know, 2016 has been the year I rediscovered Games Workshop. Some of you may be wondering why; GW is a company that divides gaming community. As we say in the UK, it is the “Marmite” of gaming—you either love it or you hate it.
My reintroduction has largely been down to the quality of the miniatures. I don’t have enough time to fully enjoy the games, but painting and, to be honest, just looking at the latest Citadel miniatures is a pasttime in itself. None of the models are more impressive than those produced by Forge World, and the pinnacle of these are the Horus Heresy range.
I love the retro stylings of these figures, which are effectively Warhammer 30K. They really do look like the natural forebears of the suits of armor that adorn the Warhammer 40K battlefield. At the peak of this peak are the “Primarchs,” legendary figures in the mythos of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
On a recent trip to Warhammer World, I was able to see these amazing miniatures, complete with magnificent paint jobs, close up. Not only that, the friend I was with was able to fill me in on the stories and legends that went with them. Stories which sounded more compelling and interesting than I’d ever imagined.
Because I’ll be honest, I’ve been something of a “Black Library” snob.
In my defense, during the bulk of my formative years, there weren’t that many Games Workshop novels. Now there are hundreds, published under imprint Black Library. Once I moved away to university, and the hobby, I read “serious” books, in the hope of impressing girls. I could be found frowning at Camus or squinting at Bellow and not understanding much of either. After that, I never imagined novels based on games could really be that great and I never picked one up.
I’m now more immersed in the Games Workshop community than I have been for about 30 years, and I keep hearing great things about the stories that have grown up around the game. The tragedy of the Burning of Prospero is cinematic in scope with a nuance and subtlety that I never expected.
So what else have I missed? If I was going to start somewhere amongst the countless stories of the Imperium, where should it be?
To help lure me into this new world of Warhammer storytelling, I’ve been sent two of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. These Black Library special editions are amazing to behold, made with the same care and attention that goes into Citadel miniatures and their ForgeWorld counterparts. Both are works of art, and both are available in limited numbers. A sneak preview of the special editions can be found in the video above. Standard versions of the books are available too.
Warden of the Blade by David Annandale sees a noble Space Marine carrying a dread blade, in what sounds like a little bit like Elric in Space. “Crowe and his brother purifiers bring purging flame to a daemonic incursion that threatens to consume the world…they must reckon too with the machinations of the Blade, as it seeks to destroy its guardian and drown the galaxy in blood.”
Fabius Bile: Primogenitor by Josh Reynolds is the first in a series of books, about a disgraced “Apothecary”. Described as a “depraved antihero”, Fabius Bile is “drawn back into the cauldron of war” to win the “ultimate prize”. This book would seem to be about an outcast wrestling with himself, possibly in the hopes of redemption. There is the promise of plenty of GW style Chaos and some horrific genetic manipulation. Not for the faint of heart, methinks!
The special editions retail at $65 (£40) and there are still copies left of both. Be quick, though. They’re selling fast and last postage for the US is December 13th!
Which are your favorite Black Library stories? If there was just one book I should read, what would it be? Please leave your suggestions in the comments. Remember also that I am an Age of Sigmar skeptic. What AoS tales would you recommend?
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of each of the books for review purposes.