This is hopefully the first of regular series of posts dedicated to Games Workshop’s Black Library imprint. The Warhammer universe seems to be expanding more rapidly than our own at the moment, with new releases and exciting narrative directions being announced almost on a daily basis.
More quietly, off center from the games themselves are the Black Library publications. Books that flesh out the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 universes. These posts will take a look at the latest books to leave the hallowed stacks of the Black Library.
Such is the volume of monthly releases, I couldn’t possibly read them all, but I will endeavor to report the best and most interesting publications. I must confess, that I haven’t had great experiences with game tie-in books. I often find that authors writing inside pre-existing franchises forget to do their own world building. Instead, they rely on their reader’s familiarity with the setting to do the work for them. I’m hoping the Black Library authors can prove me wrong.
A huge number of the March releases are from the Warhammer 40,000 universe, so they are the books I’m going to focus on. The newly created Warhammer: Age of Sigmar universe has some catching up to do, and hopefully I can bring you news of fantasy releases in future editons of this column.
March sees the release of two special editions. Dante by Guy Haley and Titanicus by Dan Abnett. Both special editions are selling out (have sold out) fast but both are available in conventional and ebook formats too. Dante tells the story of Blood Angel Commander Dante, a Veteran of over 1,000 years service (the Space Marine pension plan clearly isn’t that great.) This weighty tome, tells of his early life as a Space Marine scout and his later blood-soaked battles against alien incursions. An audiobook is also available.
Titanicus is a slimmer volume, written by Black Library veteran (though I don’t think of 1,000 years) Dan Abnett. The special edition is a rerelease of Abnett’s iconic 40K novel, featuring huge Titans, good and bad. Titanicus tells the story of huge Imperial god-machines fighting it out against an incursion of Chaos Titans.
Mephiston, by Darius Hinks again features the Blood Angels. This is the story of a powerful psyker, the “Bringer of Death”, who must travel far off world in order to understand the peculiar force that consumes him. The planet has been trapped beneath a cosmic cloud, cutting it off from the rest of the Imperium. During this time, a great religious schism has taken place, dividing the planet’s inhabitants.
The Blood Angel iconography is some of the most interesting in the Warhammer universe. This combined with what I hope will be an examination of faith and belief makes Mephiston, for me, the most intriguing of the March releases.
Shrike by Geroge Mann is in the Space Marine Legends series. It tells the story of another veteran marine, this time from the Raven Guard. It’s the story of one of the chapter’s preeminent members and new commander, Shrike. Described as a tale of obsession and vengeance it tells the story of Shrike’s feud with Ork Warboss, Gorkrusha.
Orks again feature in C Z Dunn’s Eye of Ezekiel. Ezekiel, Grand Master Librarian leads the Dark Angels into war against the greenskin horde – Librarian is a much riskier occupation in the 41st Millennium than it is today. This novel features the Adeptus Mechanicus, who are playing their own game and Ezekiel must find out what they are up to, whilst also overcoming the Ork menace.
Mechanicus machinations are also the subject audiobook release The Binary Succession. This is the first audiobook I have listened to in some time, and I very much enjoyed it. The cast does a great job of bringing the story to life. The slightly overblown language favored by Black Library authors lends itself to audio, as the aural experience is more immersive and you can allow the description to wash over you.
The Binary Succession is a Horus Heresy story that tells of the ” Cult Mechanicum” and its quest for legitimacy after the Martian betrayal. It’s a political story that describes the maneuverings that preceded the birth of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The play features a strong female character, quite unusual for a Warhammer 40,000 narrative story (as far as I can tell.) The Binary Succession is something I hope the Black Library continues to produce; a good storie with a strong female lead.
So, that’s my Black Library March round-up. An impressive array, hard for any one reader to keep up with, but something for all fans of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Disclaimer: I was sent these books to review by the Black Library.