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Imperial Artisans => The Imperial Office => Topic started by: rufus sparkfire on December 21, 2005, 03:03:42 PM

Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on December 21, 2005, 03:03:42 PM
The Imperial Scrivener has been messing with the warhammer-empire.com library (http://www.warhammer-empire.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=6&Itemid=46) yet again, and now there is a section for book reviews (http://www.warhammer-empire.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=6&id=21&Itemid=46l).

But there are no reviews to post yet! If anyone would like to write a review of any warhammer novels, army books, background books or roleplay books - or of other fantasy novels, historical novels or historical reference books (Osprey, for example) - the scrivener would most likely pass out in excitement.

So please post reviews to this thread, or to the Imperial Office (http://www.warhammer-empire.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=41&board=9.0), or just email them to me.

Thanks!
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Crimsonsphinx on December 21, 2005, 03:06:50 PM
Does Sun Tzu count here?  Or am I limited to my collection of mostly official GW books and strategy.
I ask about Sun Tzu as most of his stratagems etc are not paretically applicable on here.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on December 21, 2005, 03:10:19 PM
Quote from: Crimsonsphinx
Does Sun Tzu count here?


Yes. Yes, it does. Anything like that is great.



Also, if anyone wants to review something that has already been reviewed on the site (I know there aren't any now, but I'm having a go at optimism for once), go for it. It's always worth getting multiple viewpoints on something.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Guvnor on December 21, 2005, 03:13:53 PM
How about odd stuff like I have this book about the KGB and another about the cold war. Fantasy series like pullman?
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on December 21, 2005, 03:15:27 PM
Oh, what the hell. If it's a book, review it!
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Crimsonsphinx on December 21, 2005, 03:20:12 PM
Thats a bit dangerous isnt it Rufus?  Some people have very strange tastes in books  :)

Im going to have to reread some of my books to get a good clear view.  But ill probably review Magestorm, Slaves to Darkness Trilogy and Hammers of Ulric.  These are the 3 best warhammer novels/novel sets IMO.

Depending on the reception my reviews i might go into my other horde of GW novels.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Captain Tineal on December 21, 2005, 03:32:04 PM
Being a reader of exceptional prowess, and a writer of moderate skill, The Captain would like to cast his steel helm into the ring and will presently go buy some books to review.  Its a dirty job, but you dont get to be Captain by keepin clean.

The Captain
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Guvnor on December 21, 2005, 03:38:47 PM
Guvnor stitches together some pages and starts to review them...
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Con El Pueblo on December 21, 2005, 05:05:32 PM
That sounds great, I'll post a few after Christmas...

I have about 50 different Black Library Books, ranging widely in quality  :shock:

I'll post some slander about the Blood Bowl novel, for sure  :wink:

Dibs on the Slayer series! :D
Title: Forged in Battle reviewed
Post by: Patriarch on December 22, 2005, 01:29:12 AM
Forged in Battle is the first BL book by Justin Hunter.  For a number of reasons I wanted to like this book.  I had purchased a beautifully painted  Empire army.  It's colors were those of Talabecland.  FiB is about a Talabecland Empire halbadier company fighting a Beastmen invasion.  My main opponent just started a Beastmen army.  The stars seemed to align here.

The good news is that the subject matter is interesting. The halbadiers are known as "The Ragged Company".  They are all that stands between the Beastmen and their hometown.  The writing is easy to read, and the action is fairly fast paced.

The bad news, this is one of the most problem plagued books I have ever read.  It is so obviously a "first novel" it is laughable.  It features bad writing, bad construction,  bad literary license, and bad storytelling.  For instance, "The Ragged Company" has a past with which the reader is apparently supposed to be familiar.  It is taken for granted the reader knows about the RRC's poor circumstances and previous hard knocks.  Maybe this is presented in a previous short story in a magazine or anthology.  I don't know, and the book doesn't say.  OK, I'll can accept that I don't have all the information.  So, why the name Ragged Company?  Have they been worn down by numerous battles?  Are they outcasts and petty criminals forced to fight for Sigmar and Talabecland?  Are they simply unshaven veterans who eschew discipline and spit and polish for no-nonsense sharpened steel?  No, they are the Ragged Company because their uniforms are ragged!  Ragged, as in patched and torn.  Why are they ragged?  Dunno, the book never reveals that fact.

Without giving away a single secret, can we guess if the Sergeant is tough or soft?  Is the officer heroic or cowardly?  Is the Burgermeister in charge of the town honest or corrupt?  Are the BM's mysterious visitors good or bad?  Is the forrest "Dark and Forbidding"?  OMG, that phrase is used EVERY time the Dark and Forbidding forrest is described, and the book takes place mainly in the Dark and Forbidding forrest.   Reeks of Formula, does it not?

The really difficult part of the book is the incredibly poor proofreading.  My favorite sentence is "He was terrified by the terrifying creature".  There are so many more gaffs like this one, it is actually fun to spot them as they pop up.  Ordinary characters make trips across the entire province of Talabecland in a day and a night.  There are almost no suprises.  The big finally is not big, or final, because the last desperate attempt to thwart the enemy actually succeeds, but has no discernable effect.  Then, other events occur which render completely irrelevant the previous 50 pages of action.  That is major pet peeve of mine, and it occurs all too often on books and movies  (who cares if whats-her-name risks her life to free Jack from Steerage on the Titanic if he is going to die anyway!).

I honestly can't say don't read this book.  I have to say I enjoyed the book, probably because of the perfect match with my Talabecland army and my friend's Beastmen.  But, I really can't recommend it because I know some folks will feel they wasted their time and money.  Let's just say that if the reader's expectations are not to high, the reader can excuse spotty writing and storytelling, and the reader has a sense of humor, there are worse ways to waste one's time.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Lord Etharion on December 22, 2005, 02:57:58 AM
Riders of the Dead, by Dan Abnett:

Riders, by GW's best author (by some margin), is an excellent story. Two pistoliers get separated in battle, and end up on opposite sides of the conflict: One captured by Tzeench chaos, the other recruited by the Kislevites who give the book its title. I understand the story is loosely based off a Chinese legend, and I certainly can believe that stories with this basic skeleton have been around for a long time, but for the most part this is firmly set in the Warhammer World.

Dan Abnett uses the two strangers to introduce us to the rich and well thoughtout cultures of the Chaos Horde and Kislev. If you have any interest in the background of Kislev, pick this book up right now. Chaos is also well illuminated as more than rank upon rank of warriors in black armour: We will meet slavers, monks and nuns as well as warriors, catalysts of a convincing metamorphosis in the character observing them.

The story of the character who rides with Kislev takes a little longer to pick up, but is equally well developed: By the end of Riders, you will have a clear understanding of who the characters are, where they're headed and what influence their culture has on them.

I'd recommend this book to everyone, especially those with an interest in Kislev
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: CountRommel on December 22, 2005, 05:49:10 AM
Lord of the Night

This Warhammer 40k I thought was very good.  But much like all Warhammer Black Library books not very well written.  In most cases it seemed like they went out of their way to describe violence and gore and almost to the point where it was like please lets move on.  They also did this in the description of how stealthy the main character a Night Lord's Chaos Space Marine was.  After two times the descriptions felt drawn out and far to long winded.

The plot itself was fun better set for maybe a movie than a book.  In reading the back of the book first i figured out the storyline 2-5 chapters into the book.  One of 40k's favorite plot devices for inquisitors is in the novel.  I will try not to give it away.  There is also a female protagonist so because Games Workshop and black library by extension thinks we are all Horn dogs random descriptions of nudity are in this book.  

In the end this novel is just so Archetypical of Black library it's only worth reading if you want something fun to read or you like Night Lords Chaos Space Marines.  I really don't want to Elaborate further as it may give to much of the story away which I have tried my hardest not to do.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Guvnor on December 22, 2005, 09:37:06 AM
Gav Thorpe's Slave to Darkness trilogy.

When I read this I did actually find it quite good to read, and was surprised.

It centres around two main characters- a young knight and a peasant girl. They are in a sort-of relationship as they do not have the money to marry.

Cutting out lots of very strange descriptions, the peasant girl has visions of sigmar. Initially she is branded a witch (the book is set in the time of the three emperors) but with the help of a witch hunter (who is only ruthless because he has to be*sarcastic laugh*) she is cleared (the townfolk don't like this and go nutty and they all die because the witch hunter sets fire to the town.) However this witch hunter has a grudge with the knight and vice versa.

While his girlfriend is being called a witch, our young but not-very-noble knight is having fun being insulted and so on. A lot of people think he shouldn't be a knight as he is not noble enough. Eventually they get round to insulting the girlfriend/witch and he gets very very angry. I must say this bit did not impress me. The actual duel was very well written but the conditions were stupid. The insulter must apologise if he loses, and should our hero lose then he (the hero) must leave the order. This did not ring true to me.

However our knight wins and we never see this apology. After this it gets a bit strange and I can't say anymore without giving everything away. Which is a pity because the other two books are quite good.

In the end of the last book there is a very clever little part that explains this grudge between the witch hunter and knight. In fact the knight caused it. The witch hunter killed the knights family because he thought the knights father killed his wife with witchcraft. in fact, it was the knight himself using the power of chaos to take revenge on this witch hunter. so, this knight caused all his own misery, causing him to cause it. It is a very nice little time loop thing about cause and effect.

The ending though is a bit pathetic. however Mr Gav does not make a 'glorious victory, happy ever after' ending. In fact everyone is very sad, despite their glorious victory. All the good characters are betrayed and killed by their former friends, well noit killed but betrayed and probably killed. We are never told. I felt very depressed.

These books are really following two characters and how one follows the path of sigmar, even if it does not give her any reward and the other goes to chaos in order to reach self-fulfilment (sp?). Not a bad series in fact.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Demonslayer on December 22, 2005, 12:33:21 PM
I'll try writing one for "the Loathsome Ratmen", if that's appropriate on an Empire site...
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Demonslayer on December 22, 2005, 02:00:11 PM
The Loathsome Ratmen by Mitchel Scanlon

Summary
“The loathsome ratmen” is a review of the Skaven race, written from the perspective of an Empire scholar. It describes the biological nature of the Skaven, from which their psychology, form of warfare, and society is explained. It also boasts several ideas as to what the origin of these ratmen and their warpstone is. In general, it is a call to arms by the author, to purge the entire world of the Skaven.

Opinion on quality
In general, opinions of this book are divided at best. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did a friend of mine. However, so far I’ve also heard to far less positive opinions about the book.
In my opinion the book gives an excellent description of the Skaven. I first read the Skaven army book, which left me with lots of questions. These were all answered by “the loathsome ratmen”. The whole book gives the feel of an actual scientific study, performed by a medieval scientist.
Which leads me to one of the flaws in his book. The “evidence” in this book, though normally based on reliable reports of the Skaven, is sometimes drawn from religious texts. A scientist would never use religious texts as a source of evidence.

Conclusion
Despite the little flaw mentioned above, I think this book is actually very good. Of course you’ll be needing at least a basic interest in the Skaven and their ways to enjoy this, but if you have that interest, I’d say read it.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on December 22, 2005, 02:39:24 PM
Quote from: Demonslayer
The “evidence” in this book, though normally based on reliable reports of the Skaven, is sometimes drawn from religious texts. A scientist would never use religious texts as a source of evidence.


That's a very modern view of science. The Empire approximates the early rennaissance, which was the begining of the scientific method. A 'scientist' at that time would use all kinds of reasoning that we would today consider suspect - and some of them absolutely would consider religeous texts to be evidence (some people still do today, though they are certainly not scientists).

Good review though!

All the reviews so far will be on the site this evening sometime. By the way, please include the name of the author of the book you are reviewing - I had to trawl through the black library site to get the name of the 'lords of night' book, and it wasn't a pleasant experience.

Cheers.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Demonslayer on December 22, 2005, 03:19:25 PM
Quote
A 'scientist' at that time would use all kinds of reasoning that we would today consider suspect - and some of them absolutely would consider religeous texts to be evidence


I was looking at it from a more contemporary point of view- but I guess you're right.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: AldebrandLudenhof on December 22, 2005, 04:31:26 PM
Is it ok if we end up with two reviews of the same book?
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Demonslayer on December 22, 2005, 05:00:56 PM
Quote
Also, if anyone wants to review something that has already been reviewed on the site (I know there aren't any now, but I'm having a go at optimism for once), go for it. It's always worth getting multiple viewpoints on something.


Guess it is ok.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: AldebrandLudenhof on December 22, 2005, 05:21:46 PM
Ack, sorry, my bad.

I'll try and do a few within the next month or two. Will go back to stuff I've already read.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Patriarch on December 22, 2005, 05:26:19 PM
Quote from: AldebrandLudenhof
Is it ok if we end up with two reviews of the same book?


There are always differences fo opinion.  I think that is a good idea.  Amazon does it.  But, remember to review the book, not just the previous review.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wisenheimer on December 22, 2005, 06:32:46 PM
Patriarch, I wholly agree with your review of Forged in Battle. I still think it's a good book for Empire flavor though.

I think multiple reviews of the same book is important. Different people are going to like different things and if everybody says avoid it, well...
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: RGB on December 22, 2005, 07:12:16 PM
The Ambassador Chronicles (The Ambassador and Ursun’s Teeth) by Graham McNeill

Reviewed by RGB

In the Year that No One Forgets, The Emperor sends retired general Kaspar von Velten to Kislev as ambassador to the court of Tzarina Katarin. Unused to the power struggles and politics at court, Kaspar is forced to use all the skills and resources at his command in order to survive and get his work done. As winter draws in, can Kaspar re-forge the fragile alliance between the Empire and Kislev?

First of all, let me say this one thing: it's bad.

The biggest problem with it is that it makes “Alexander” the movie look focussed. It tackles madness, despair, betrayal, more betrayal, Chaos worship, intrigue at court, random death-defying adventuring, a big pitched battle, scaven, marauders, mafia, and a serial killer, all in a hefty 540 pages. Yes, ALL of that.

Set in the same time period as "Riders of the Dead" it actually is fairly consistent with a lot of Abnett’s ideas, but since Abnett never ventures into the cities of Kislev, there's a marked difference to the overall feel. Where Abnett is interesting in his vision of the place, McNeill’s Kislev and its people are just Russians from a black comedy. The author did say that he was trying for a “darker” theme, but what followed is just amusing, in an unpleasant sort of way.

There’s a fat mafia boss who runs a brothel, called Chekatillo (but he’s not the serial killer in the novel. May this be an attempt at originality?). There are implications of children-touching; there are characters who are drunk from the earliest hours of every morning. To top it all off there’s a serial killer with a mother complex, who is not Jame Gumb only in that he can’t sew and is rather better with a sword. The secret police are named the Chekist, since it’s obviously the most in-period, as well as the least-offensive choice. The decrepit hospital is called the Lubianka (i.e. the KGB headquarters). Most of the time the author spends in the city, it feels like one is reading something along the lines of “James Bond goes to Ruskieland and meets Hannibal Lecter”. Did I mention there’s drunks everywhere?

The writing is pedestrian. Clichè speeches and situations abound and are very annoying. Imperial footmen are treated like GIs in Starship Troopers; the author is a Space Marine writer originally, and it shows. The lone battle sequence at the end is passable at least, and the duels are more believable than Abnett’s (armour actually matters!). Some characters are quite well-done, not least the Ambassador himself; others, however, are dreadful caricatures, and the latter, unfortunately, are more common. The italicised foreign vocabulary is as bad as in “The Riders of the Dead”; but a full treatment of that will have to wait for the review of Abnett's book.
 
So should you go and spend money on the Abasssador Chronicles?

No; I did it so you don't have to. In fact, don't even get it from your local library. Get the Riders of the Dead instead. Or the Silence of the Lambs.
Title: Zavant Gordon Rennie
Post by: MixnMash on December 22, 2005, 10:27:46 PM
‘Zavant’ by Gordon Rennie

This is one of few GW novels that I would actually recommend.

It comprises two short stories, a medium length 80-pager and one longer 140 page effort.

Rennie has unashamedly based this character on Sherlock Holmes. Zavant is the ‘great sage-detective of Altdorf’, a pleasing enigma who strikes quite a contrast to the heroes of other books. He’s an intellectual with a misty background who delves into the arcane and has complex ties to various people and institutions.

The short stories are fairly predictable but make for an excellent introduction to the main characters and certainly spark interest with their subject matter. The star of this book for me was the third tale ‘The Politics of Shadow’. This has a fantastic opening sequence and boasts plenty of city-based intrigue; I won’t ruin it for anyone. The final story again has some great graphic moments but lacks the momentum of the others and might have benefited from some trimming or a richer setting. It starts well and finishes with a flourish but it’s slow in the middle.

The writing in this book is of a far higher standard than that usually seen in Black library novels. You do not tend to feel patronised.

In conclusion this book has some excellent yarns and has enriched the background of the Empire for me, particularly with regard to Sigmar’s church. Give it a go.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Calvin on December 23, 2005, 02:43:22 AM
This is all excellent! I don't think I've ever seen such rapid growth on the site! I'm hoping to contribute to this as well over the Christmas break.
 
I wonder where Perfect Depth is though.. this is his brainchild after all.
 
@ Rufus,
You should put an announcement on the front page, so more people can find out about this great new feature. 8)
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Pistol Pete on December 23, 2005, 10:18:14 AM
Responding to what demonslayer mentioned:  religieous works would most definately been considered a good source of info for the time period.  as someone else mentioned, the scientific method was only beginning to emerge out of the psuedoscience of alchemy.  also consider that religeous priests were often the only literate men and scholars of the old world, so they'd have written most of the books anyhow.  many of those early alchemists were in fact monks.

If you're interested in the birth of modern science you might want to read Niel Stephensons Baroque trilogy which deals with Alchemy, Economics, and History in a wild and crazy romp through post rennaisance europe.  It might sound boring but it really is worth read, if you're comfortable with big books.

Cryptonimicon, also by Neil Stephenson, is a better starting point, actually.  Give this one a shot, and if you like it read the baroque trilogy.  It's probably the best book i've ever read, and because it deals with themes and characters that pop up in the baroque trilogy should be read beforehand.  I cannot reccomend this book highly enough.  Stephensons books are hard to summarize well, because the plots are so complex, but i'll give it a shot:  It's split into two time periods, WWII, and Modern day.  The WWII stuff deals with a commando and a computer genius, and the modern stuff deals with thier descendants trying to piece together a puzzle they left behind.  Think of it sort of like Indiana Jones combined with Real Genius, with a dash of Hichhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and then turn it all the way up to 11.  Lots of nazi's and submarines, and codebreaking, and battles, and subterfuge, and dead on humor, and all sorts of cool-ass shit.  Cryptonimicon is hefty at about a 1000 pages but worth every word.

If that's too intimidating, start out with The Diamond Age.  It's probably his most accessible book, and pretty short.  As always with Stephenson, the plot is mind blowingly cool.  I'd hate to tell you about the plot, as i think it really would spoil it to give it away but it's my second favorite book after Cryptonomicon.

i didn't mean for this to become a Niel Stephenson love fest but Stephenson writes geek stuff like nobody's business, and lets face it most of us are geeks.

now, i've only read one warhammer book but it was actually quite good.

It was Traitor General by Dan Abnet (who is generally regarded as the best of the GW writers).  It's a 40k book, and i dont even play 40k, but i was jonesing for some warhammer, and it came highly reccomended.  Overall it's a pretty good book.  the book is about a squad  of imperial guard special forces called Gaunts Ghosts.  An imperial general has been captured by chaos, and it's thier job to rescue him or kill him before the chaos lords can crack his mind.  It's pretty solid, if a bit "british" (ie, gun mistakes; Brits generally don't know guns very well as they are not allowed to own any).  One flaw is that character development is not as well done as i'd like.  many of the characters are pretty thinly sketched and its hard to rememmber who's who.  I get the feeling much of the character development was done in the previous books, and by not being familiar with them i sort of missed out on a lot of the backstory.  Overall i think it's worthwhile and i'll probably read more in the series.

And just because i read it last week....

Magician Apprentice & Magician Lord by Raymond Fiest.  This is an absolute classic, and highly reccomneded to anyone who likes fantasy novels.  Moreover, i get the feeling that these books had a heavy influence on the people who created warhammer.  Ive read mother books in the series, but the first two books are still the best (the others are still quite good though).
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Lord Etharion on December 23, 2005, 11:02:12 AM
It's worth noting that Magician Apprentice and Lord can also be found as a single volume, simply titled 'Magician'. I'd have thought this is the most common way to find it, though I've no way to be sure.

Incidentally, what sort of 'gun mistakes' does Abnett make? What sort of mistakes can be made with regard to a gun that's imaginary?
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Con El Pueblo on December 23, 2005, 08:46:34 PM
Quote from: sawgunner101
It's pretty solid, if a bit "british" (ie, gun mistakes; Brits generally don't know guns very well as they are not allowed to own any).


 :?  

I have to say, I feel a little offended by this.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Hal on December 27, 2005, 10:29:59 AM
Just an idea, because I can't write book reviews too well:

Is anyone up to writing a review of some/all Redwall books? I mean, I know that a few people on thse boards (hopefully with more reviewing talent than myself) read them; it'd be a good thing to have in the review page. After all, the Redwall series DOES contain a lot of medieval style warfare (albeit fantasy-ised). I must say, actuaklly, that if I wasn't as familiar with the various weapons and watnot, I'd currently be on a forum called "Ub3r1337 f0rty-k4y pl4y3rz f0rumz" or something along those lines.

It's also a GREAT source of fluff. Pirates from a remote island? Defenders of Salamandastron? Rapscallions?

Actually, a Rapscallion Empire/DoW army would be damn cool...

~Hal|Here's to a Redwall review~
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Kernschatten on December 27, 2005, 10:27:00 PM
Quote from: Patriarch
Forged in Battle is the first BL book by Justin Hunter.

Just so you know, Justin Hunter is a member here.

It shouldn't make any difference, but I thought that you should at least be aware of that fact.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Lord Etharion on December 28, 2005, 01:16:13 AM
I'm sure he can appreciate some constructive criticism.

A draft review of The Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin:

The Song of Ice and Fire, starting with A Game of Thrones is, on a personal level, the story of House Stark, and on a national level, the story of the continent of Westeros.

House Stark consists of Lord Eddard Stark, a man of solid virtues, fierce to his enemies, faithful to his friends, good to his underlings, and possessed of a strong sense of duty. In other words, he's a throwback to a simpler time, and he'll very soon find himself in over his head dealing with the political complexities of the King's Court.

His wife is Catelyn Stark (nee Tully), a dutiful wife, wise adviser, just Lady, and loving mother ...... except to Jon.

Jon is Eddard's eldest child, a bastard by a woman he never speaks of, and Catelyn hates his guts because Eddard treats him like a trueborn son, making him a tangible reminder of Eddard's infidelity. His other children are Robb (His legitimate heir), Sansa (A trueborn lady, and one who expects everyone to recognize it), Arya (who refuses to act like a lady, so much so that Eddard hires the memorable Syrio Forel to act as her fencing instructor as a compromise), Brandon (A boy of about seven, currently going through a 'climbing' phase), and Rickon, an infant.

The continent, Westeros, in which the Starks engange in their varied adventures, has a lot of threads making up its history: A deceased dynasty of dragonriding, sister-wedding kings, the usurper king that overthrew them, the vaguely celtic First Men who were displaced by the current inhabitants, the tension between their nameless old gods, and the new pantheron, and the cultrally different areas of the Iron Islands and Dorne, whose differences are reflected by their geographic isolation from the rest of the kingdom.

I'm sure it's bad reviewing technique to go into this much detail, but I do so in order to illustrate the richness and complexity of Martin's world, and the characters that inhabit it: No characters with modern sensibilities stuffed into an ill-conceived pastoral idyll, as is so often the case with fantasy. No, these men and women feel like part of the world they live in, and are all the more believable for being so.

The only real fault with the series is that sometimes its a little too complex: it can be difficult to keep track of all the lords, ladies and assorted liveries. All the books after the first include an appendix which assists greatly in reminding the reader who's who, but it'd be nice if Martin droppped a few more reminders into the main text (I still get House Florent and flower house, House Tyrell, confused. Which is kind of okay, because Florent technically has a better claim to Tyrell's lands, but still ......).

All in all, however, these books make an excellent read for anyone interested in medieval politicing, or those tired of cookie-cutter fantsy paradigms. Be warned, though, these books will make you expect higher standards from every other fantasy you read afterwards.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: CountRommel on December 28, 2005, 05:05:37 AM
Deamons Curse the Chronicles of Malus Darkblade
by I believe Dan Abnett

It was the best Black library book I have ever read.  Now that doesn't mean it is the best book I ever read there are better.  But it does fall to the same pitfalls of all Black library books of repeating the same words for the same kinds of situations.  Patrician is used constantly with such lines as "the but of the blade hit him in his patrician nose." or "his patrician features" or "her patrician features."  But this book is still a great read starts with what would technically be a crime against humanity and continues from there.  Also much like every black library book too much detail on the gore.  But unlike the ones set in the glorious Empire it makes more sense as Druchii are a brutal unforgiving people.  Also some of the book takes place beyond the watchtowers so even more brutality which makes sense.

This is the first book in a series that will chronicle the rise of the best current druchii special character.  Who even for his own kind he is cruel beyond measure.  Unfortunatly if you read the Dark Elf Armybook you already know the basics so this just gives it more detail.  It was also a better read than the graphic novels Darkblade.  I read this book before I started playing Dark Elves by the way and even then I thought it was better than any of the other Black library books I had ever written.  Personally I cannot wait for the next one.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Pistol Pete on December 28, 2005, 10:46:26 AM
sorry if i stepped on any toes with regards to my earlier post about "Traitor General"....

i don't mean to make fun of the british, as i am partially descended from them, but i do find that the brits (and most other cultures without access to guns) tend to display a lack of knowledge about the subject.  this is by no means limited to the brits; and even a great many american movies and novels are horrifically innacurate facts-wise, however i seem to run into it with much greater regularity with british books and flicks.

now i may just be over sensitive, as i am training to be a gunsmith, but i hate to see bad info go out there as i spend so much time trying to educate people as to the proper use of firearms.

it may mollify you somewhat to know that one of the best technical advisors for gunplay in hollywood is a brit.  Andy McNab, a former SAS bloke, has done work for movies such as Saving Private Ryan and Collateral that displayed impeccable gun-handling (Check out Tom Cruise's fast draw in collateral... it's a thing of beauty).

As to specific references to the book, the only thing that comes to mind at the moment is that theres a lot of dual wielding of pistols, which is absolutely ridiculous in real life.  now the phenominon of dual wielding is all over the place in hollywood and games, but that doesnt make it right.  

now what's wrong with dual wielding?  

1) you can't control the weapon as well with one hand.  recoil recovery is slower, and you increase the chances that you'll get a malfunction through "limp wristing".
2) two hands on one pistol is much more stable, and thus accurate.
3) you can't use the sights on two guns at the same time, further decreasing your accuracy.
4) you can't clear a malfunction with a gun in each hand
5) you can't reload with a gun in each hand

if you don't belive me, try dual wielding sometime, and then try shooting with both hands on one pistol and see how many bullets you can put on the target.

now this is not to say it's the only instance of bad gunplay in the book, but it's the one that i happned to remember most vividly.  it wasn't horrible or anything, i did like the book, but i do appreciate it when an author knows his shit.

as to my comment that the book was "a bit british", i also meant that it was obviously written by a brit and not an american.  it's not necessarily a bad thing, but every now and then a turn of phrase sort of pops out at you.  
 

somebody also mentioned that Magician Apprentics and Magician Lord were published in a single volume, but i have never seen it, and besides, you can get the authors prefferred edition if you buy them separate.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Lord Etharion on December 28, 2005, 11:16:55 AM
To be fair, it's not Abnett's fault that dual wielding is part of the WH40k universe.

Also, you can get the authors preferred version in a single volume too. It's the version I have.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Con El Pueblo on December 28, 2005, 01:48:47 PM
Quote from: sawgunner101
sorry if i stepped on any toes with regards to my earlier post about "Traitor General"....

i don't mean to make fun of the british, as i am partially descended from them, but i do find that the brits (and most other cultures without access to guns) tend to display a lack of knowledge about the subject.  this is by no means limited to the brits; and even a great many american movies and novels are horrifically innacurate facts-wise, however i seem to run into it with much greater regularity with british books and flicks.



 - The bit I didn't like was the part about their lack of knowledge descending from the guns' inaccesibility.

The (North) American view on owning guns is just so different from the typical European, and I find the subject highly flamable  :P

I'm not a fan of the American gun legislation, as it might be obvious  :wink:

Anyway, enough OT talk... And I can fully imagine how irritating it must be for a professional to read about such stuff! I myself am a bit of car nut, and I HATE everytime there's a mistake on a show in TV and films, and also when professional translators mess subtitles up! That sets my p... on fire  :evil:

I even noticed 2 or 3 mistakes in the subtitles for the King Kong movie just out! Nooo..!
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Pat-Man on December 28, 2005, 05:00:54 PM
Lines of Succession by Michael Maclagan

An excellent reference for heraldry. The book covers lineage fairly well, with table after table of coats-of-arms, clearly drawn, along with clear cross-referencing and alternate tables showing how the various houses of Europe are inter-related. The text is, understandably, truncated history; the real attraction here is the heraldry itself.

The book does have some shortcomings. The author often assumes that the reader is more familiar with the enigmatic language of heraldry than most of us are. While he does give a few helpful guidlines, one is still left wanting. As a primer, though, this book is still an excellent starting point.

Another inexplicable omission is a section on Poland, which only appears as a sidenote in other tables.

That said, I highly recommend this book. The illustrations alone are invaluable for any history buff, as well as pointing the way for "proper" heraldry for your WFB armies.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: perfect depth on January 02, 2006, 05:16:50 PM
Sigmar' Heirs, by Anthony Ragan

Reviewed by Perfect Depth


Sigmar's Heirs is a source book for The Empire for use with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Since it is primarily a background book, it is also of considerable interest to background-hungry Warhammer players. However, as a nicely-made full-colour hardback, it is very pricey for such a short work (127 pages, retails for £18 ). So the question is, is it a worthwhile purchase?

Let's look at each section separately:

The land and its people

The geography of The Empire, a subject covered well enough by the army book. There is a nice, clear map (which also appears in a coloured, more pictorial version later in the book), but The Moot seems to have slipped sideways rather a long way. I'm starting to wonder if the total lack of agreement between the various maps of The Empire is intentional (to introduce a period flavour), since the only other explanation is carelessness.

The section also considers how non-humans fit in to Imperial society, which is commendable if somewhat shallow.

The history of The Empire

The inevitable history section is comprehensive, though thoroughly recycled.

Government and foreign relations

A nice overview of Imperial politics, including the names of the Electors and other notables. This is definitely useful information for Warhammer players.

Law, justice and criminals

Mainly one for the roleplayers, though it does add a little flavour.

Cults of The Empire

Mostly recycled. The 'Religion in The Empire' article from White Dwarf (available as a pdf on the Games Workshop website) covers this well enough.

The grand provinces

This is the real draw for Warhammer players - the provinces of The Empire are covered individually over the course of fifty six pages.

In each case, we learn first about the geography of the province, then a little about the people (including a handful of local sayings). Finally, some of the major towns are described in general terms. Each province also has an npc and some 'adventure hooks' for the roleplayers.

There are no individual maps of the provinces, which feels like a wasted opportunity. Instead, a large amount of space in each province section is devoted to a gazetteer - a list of towns with figures given for populations, trade goods and suchlike. The only really useful information in the gazetteers - the town names - could just as well been presented in map form.

The four city-states of The Empire (Altdorf, Nuln, Middenland and Talabheim) are barely mentioned at all, which is odd considering their supreme importance. I suspect this is to allow for the publication of separate city-books at a later date.

Perhaps inevitably, this section is repetitive, and relies on heavy stereotyping of the inhabitants of each province. Ultimately, and despite being deeply passionate about The Empire, I just didn't find it much fun to read.


Forbidden cults

A brief study of two cults - neither of them directly related to the chaos gods, and neither likely to appear on the battlefield.

Ill met in Bogenhafen

A roleplay adventure, and rather a good one. It is unlikely to interest Warhammer players much, although there is some background on Bogenhafen (and readers of the roleplay book 'Shadows over Bogenhafen' will be interested in how the town has changed since that adventure).

In conclusion:

The book is clearly and attractively laid out (and there is an index), but the art is generally lifeless and unappealing. The information is often recycled from other sources, but still the book makes a good 'one-stop guide' to The Empire. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone else, though I don't regret buying it myself.

One to read thoroughly in the book shop before purchase!
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Guvnor on January 03, 2006, 04:33:10 PM
Dual wielding pistols in 40K is a lot easier due to the bionics and genetic engineering going on. If we bred the strongest people in our countries to make better soldiers we would get a soldier (eventually) with the strength to dual-wield pistols with a good power to accuracy trade off.

We brits have quite enough guns thnak you very much. There are more than enough rifles and shotguns to play with and through my grnadfather I go to an army base and use their stuff.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Pistol Pete on January 04, 2006, 12:08:58 PM
Moderator edit

This is not the place to talk about guns in real life. So stop.



now, anyhow, as regards to dual wielding in 40k, i have no problem with cyber warriors like the space marines doin it.  it's logical that they'd have enhanced bionics and targeting systems to aid in thier shooting (although they'd still need and extra pair of hands to reload and clear malfunctions).  However guants ghosts, the unit in the book were not augmented in any way that i am aware of, and seemed by the book's wording to be normal humans of exceptional character.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Phydox on January 04, 2006, 01:50:31 PM
Quote from: Lord Etharion
A draft review of The Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin:

The Song of Ice and Fire, starting with A Game of Thrones is, on a personal level, the story of House Stark, and on a national level, the story of the continent of Westeros.


I have to add that this is a very good series.  Its based on the War of the Roses.  If you like books about political cloak and dagger stuff even, this is a series for you.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Midaski on January 07, 2006, 10:59:40 PM
Sigmar's Heirs

Perfect Depth has already posted a detailed examination of this book, but as he seems to be well versed in Warhammer Fantasy history, I thought I might add some comments as more of a layman.

If you enjoy the fluff associated with the hobby and you are an Empire player, then I think this is an interesting addition.
I have the 5th Edition and latest Empire Army books, which are pretty much the extent of my Empire specific fluff library.
Sigmar's Heirs arrived at Christmas, and I have been slowly working my way through it. I am not a WRPG person and this is one of the targets for the book, so there are 'stats' for players, which are of little use, but some of the descriptions are both interesting and useful for ideas.

The maps are ok, but there are a couple of annoying things. The river Sol is spelt Sol on the map and Soll in the text.
There is mention of the Vaults, the Brenheim Pass, and the River of Echoes, and the map 'finishes' with them off the southern edge.
Talabecland is shown on the map totally wooded, and yet in the text it refers to only the western half being heavily forested.

There is recycled stuff alongside new bits, which has varying value, but at least it is in one volume, and not a number of White Dwarfs.

The provinces analysis is lengthy, and I do not know how it compares to our own rufus sparkfire's "A is for Altdorf", and I do not intend to sit down and make a detailed analysis. From memory the latter has more information about popular troop types and likely knightly orders, whereas this book is more about the hierarchy, the land, the settlements and the average people, with produce guides as well.
I am sure a compilation of the two would be the ultimate tome.

Having reread the first review I have now looked at the 'art' and would agree it is fairly average, but I would point out that I had not considered that until my reread. Basically I think the art is secondary, and I had  not 'noticed' its quality because I had been concentrating on the information which to my mind is the main interest for me of the book.

If you are an old salt with many 'source' books in your library, then maybe this is "just another".
If you are fairly new to the Empire and like the fluff side of the hobby, then I do feel it could be a nice addition for you.
It is a pretty decent book with a fair amount of stuff in it, and lastly although it retails at 18.00, I managed to buy it from Amazon at 12.60.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Con El Pueblo on January 09, 2006, 06:08:57 PM
I have a bunch of Black Library books, and over the course of the next few months, I SHALL review them all...

They are listed below. If you'd like to, I can review an appointed book.

 I'll use scores from 1-10 and specify the score in the review to come.

 The list is in no specific order, just the way they are currently lined up on my shelf  :-D

 1. The Deamon's Curse-WHF (Dan Abnett & Mike Lee)
 2. Gilead's Blood-WHF (Dan Abnett & Mike Lee)
 3. What Price Victory-WH40K (Compilation)
 4. Blood Bowl-BB (Matt Forbeck)
 5. Storm of Iron-WH40K (Graham McNeill)
 6. Nightbringer-40K (Graham McNeill)
 7. Warriors of Ultramar-WH40K (Graham McNeill)
 8. Pawns of Chaos-WH40K (Brian Craig)
 9. The Wine of Dreams-WHF (Brian Craig)
 10. The Laughter of Dark Gods-WHF (Compilation)
 11. Star of Erengrad-WHF (Neil Mcintosh)
 12. Valnir's Bane-WHF (Nathan Long)
 13. Realm of Chaos-WHF (Compilation)
 14. Status: Deadzone-Necromunda (Compilation)
 15. Words of Blood-WH40K (Compilation)
 16. Eye of Terror-WH40K (Barrington J. Bailey)
 17. Farseer-WH40K (William King)
 18. Lords of Valour-WHF (Compilation)
 19. Way of The Dead-WHF (Compilation)
 20. Dark Imperium-WH40K (Compilation)
 21. The Dead and The Damned-WHF (Compilation)
 22. Zavant-WHF (Gordon Rennie)
 23. Deathwing-WH40K (Compilation)
 24. Into The Maelstrom-WH40K (Compilation)
 25. Grudgebearer-WHF (Gavin Thorpe)
 26. Trollslayer-WHF (William King)
 27. Skavenslayer-WHF (William King)
 28. Deamonslayer-WHF (William King)
 29. Dragonslayer-WHF (William King)
 30. Beastslayer-WHF (William King)
 31. Vampireslayer-WHF (William King)
 32. Giantslayer-WHF (William King)
 33. Konrad-WHF (David Ferring)
 34. Shadowbreed-WHF (David Ferring)
 35. Warblade-WHF (David Ferring)
 36. The Claws of Chaos-WHF (Gavin Thorpe)
 37. The Blades of Chaos-WHF (Gavin Thorpe)
 38. The Heart of Chaos-WHF (Gavin Thorpe)
 39. Blood & Steel-WHF (C.L. Werner)
 40. Blood Money-WHF (C.L. Werner)
 41. Blood of The Dragon-WHF (C.L. Werner)
 42. Witch Hunter-WHF (C.L. Werner)
 43. Witch Finder-WHF (C.L. Werner)
 44. The Vampire Genevieve-WHF (Jack Yeovil)
 45. The Ambassador Chronicles-WHF (Graham McNeil)
 46. The Inquisition War-WH40K (Ian Watson)
 47. Eisenhorn-WH40K (Dan Abnett)

 UPDATE: Have included all bar one, which is currently out of the house on a loan. Can't seem to remember it's name.

 The first review will be posted tomorrow, any suggestions..?
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Valt3n on January 27, 2006, 05:17:11 PM
I'll help by taking the review of the Konrad series off you.

Summary
A young man is born without a name or family in a small village in the Empire. His village is attacked by a host of Beastmen and all but the boy named 'Konrad' are killed. He then leaves the village and engages in all manner of fun adventures culminating in the third book at a battle in the Halls of Karl Franz's castle. Along the way he makes allies with a Mage and a warrior with a dark secret. He also begins to learn more about his own life and strange manner of birth.

Quality
I Must say I did like these books. The story kept me interested for the entire time with constant small revelations about all the characters. Not even at the end do you know exaclty what happened. That unfortunately was a bit annoying as there were too many questions left unanswered.
The action is swift and the story never loses its pace too much. It also draws you into the world of warhammer and really has some brilliant fights in it.
 Each book does have a seperate conclusion but the series should most definately be read in the correct order. The only major problem apart from the lack of resolution is vaguely similar. The Main Character is made out to be a very very important figure for the future of the Empire but he was never mentioned ever again. This cannot be blamed upon the author as he has no control over the storyline of the warhammer world but one must ask the question of whether he was too ambitious.
Conclusion
I would recommend reading it. I enjoyed it immensely but be prepared to find some mistery still left at the end.
Title: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Agent Orange on February 17, 2006, 01:25:54 AM
Seeing as they where dual wielding lasguns, ther wouldnt need to worry about jams (its a beam of uber focused light) or recoil (agian, its a beam of uber focused light).
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Padre on April 10, 2006, 05:09:18 PM
The Renaissance at War
by Thomas Arnold [Cassel History of Warfare, London 2001]

As an Empire player I really enjoyed this book. It looks at the period in real history which technologically the Empire seems to be at. The rise of gunpowder, of massed infantry in ranks and files (with pike and shot), of reiters (the author even uses the term 'pistoleers' to describe these).

The two chapters "The New Fury" and "The New Legions" were excellent for a wargamer.

The first is about artillery and fortresses. [Wouldn't it be amazing to see some FB tables featuring artillery towers and angle bastioned forts with their crossing lines of fire? I myself have often been frustrated by my missile troops limited lines of fire on the standard square GW fortress. And I would love to dig trenches to get close to the enemy's walls!]

The second is about the new armies, pike and greatswords, handguns and crossbow, heavy and light horse, the Swiss and the Landsknechts, although reading in a later chapter how the Turks did things differently with basically the same technology (apart from the pike) was an eye opener for me.

It has plenty of tables for the more technically minded: how to move guns, how much powder they consume, the cost of infantry, the equipment needed by an artillery train, etc etc.

And the illustrations really are wonderful - lots of renaissance paintings and prints and tapestries etc. These seem to be the very things that the figure sculptures must have been looking at when they put the Empire rangte together. Well, if not these primary source pictures, then illustrations by artists inspired by these original sources. The colours are astounding, and somehow, although each individual bit of colour has that dull, natural dyed look, the troops of soldiers look really colourful. There's even a Middenheim crossbowman on p.93!

Interestingly there are a couple of picture note errors. I'll see if you can spot them - p.23 and p.119 are the pictures in question. I am certain of the first error and adequately convinced of the second.

This book has made me think about finding more of the same. I did study War, Chivalry and Lordship at University but that was the medieval period. I am through my re-enactment interests very well versed in 17th century British warfare - but this book filled a gap and connected history to the world of warhammer.


PS: I have had to modify this entry with, well this bit: I've just done a search on this book and discovered it was already  discussed by one 'simonp'. He said it was a good book also, and someone even said they'd based their army colour scheme on the illustration on a certain page.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Justin Hill on August 30, 2006, 03:42:01 PM
Quote
Just so you know, Justin Hunter is a member here

heh - no offence taken.  I'm sorry Patriarch and Wisenheimer (?) didn't enjoy Forged in Battle.  I hope you enjoy the next books of the series more.  They'll be taking the men of Helmstrumburg through the Storm of Chaos. 

Patriarch: as to your query - there's a short story introducing the backstory to the Ragged Company, that was written for the magazine Inferno, which Black Library scrapped.  The story, called Blood on the Snow, willl be coming out in an anthology of Warhammer stories. 
 
Justin
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: cheaky on October 03, 2006, 08:43:13 PM
Already been reviewed, but I thought I would give another breif review

A song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Marin

This is a complex fantasy story (acculy more like three or four stories, depending on who you ask) set in the world of Westeros told by up to 6 different characters at one time (Can get a bit confusing at the start, but once you start remembering the characters, it becomes second nature). This is what I would like to a "realisitc" fantasy, where magic is not the most important thing (acculy, there is hardly any of it at all which I like.) There is no good and evil, no wrong and right, no central characters.There is one review on amazon that I realy like, that I will steal because I don't think I could say it any better. (taken from here (http://www.amazon.com/Game-Thrones-Song-Fire-Book/dp/0553573403/sr=8-1/qid=1159907986/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-5231766-9722452?ie=UTF8&s=books)
First user review)


 Here are the reasons to choose GRRM. I've also listed the reasons not to choose him to make it fair b/c I know their are certain personalities who won't like this series:

WHY TO READ GRRM

(1) YOU ARE TIRED OF FORMULAIC FANTASY: good lad beats the dark lord against impossible odds; boy is the epitome of good; he and all his friends never die even though they go through great dangers . . . the good and noble king; the beautiful princess who falls in love with the commoner boy even though their stations are drastically different . . . you get the idea. After reading this over and over, it gets old.

(2) YOU ARE TIRED OF ALL THE HEROES STAYING ALIVE EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE UNDER CONSTANT DANGER: this gets even worse where the author kills a main hero off but that person comes back later in the story. Or, a hero does die but magic brings him back.

This sometimes carries to minor characters where even they may not die, but most fantasy authors like to kill them off to show that some risked the adventure and perished.

(3) YOU ARE A MEDIEVAL HISTORY BUFF: this story was influenced by the WARS OF THE ROSES and THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR.

(4) YOU LOVE SERIOUS INTRIGUE WITHOUT STUPID OPPONENTS: lots of layering; lots of intrigue; lots of clever players in the game of thrones. Unlike other fantasy novels, one side, usually the villain, is stupid or not too bright.

(5) YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BIASED OPINIONS AND DIFFERENT TRUTHS: GRRM has set this up where each chapter has the title of one character and the whole chapter is through their viewpoint. Interesting tidbit is that you get their perception of events or truths. But, if you pay attention, someone else will mention a different angle of truth in the story that we rarely see in other novels. Lastly and most importantly, GRRM doesn't try to tell us which person is right in their perception. He purposelly leaves it vague so that we are kept guessing.

(6) LEGENDS: some of the most interesting characters are those who are long gone or dead. We never get the entire story but only bits and pieces; something that other fantasy authors could learn from to heighten suspense. Additionally, b/c the points of views are not congruent, we sometimes get different opinions.

(7) WORDPLAY: if you're big on metaphors and description, GRRM is your guy. Almost flawless flow.

(8) LOTS OF CONFLICT: all types, too; not just fighting but between characters through threats and intrigue.

(9) MULTILAYERED PLOTTING; SUB PLOTS GALORE: each character has their own separate storyline; especially as the story continues and everyone gets scattered. This is one of the reasons why each novel is between 700-900 pages.

(10) SUPERLATIVE VARIED CHARACTERS: not the typical archetypes that we are used to in most fantasy; some are gritty; few are totally evil or good; GRRM does a great job of changing our opinions of characters as the series progress. This is especially true of Jaime in book three.

(11) REALISTIC MEDIEVAL DIALOGUE: not to the point that we can't understand it but well done.

(12) HEAPS OF SYMOBLISM AND PROPHECY: if you're big on that.

(13) EXCELLENT MYSTERIES: very hard to figure out the culprits; GRRM must have read a lot of mystery novels.

(14) RICHLY TEXTURED FEMALE CHARACTERS: best male author on female characters I have read; realistic on how women think, too.

(15) LOW MAGIC WORLD: magic is low key; not over the top so heroes can't get out of jams with it.

REASON TO NOT READ GRRM

(1) YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS: GRRM does a good job of creating more likeable characters after a few die. But, if that isn't your style, you shouldn't be reading it. He kills off several, not just one, so be warned.

(2) DO NOT CARE FOR GRITTY GRAY CHARACTERS: if you like more white and gray characters, this may unsettle you. I suggest Feist or Goodkind or Dragonlance if you want a more straight forward story with strong archetypes.

(3) MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEWS TURN YOU OFF: if you prefer that the POVS only go to a few characters, this might be confusing for you.

(4) SWEARING, SEX: there's a lot of it in this book just as there is in real life.

(5) YOU DEMAND CLOSURE AT THE END OF EVERY BOOK: this isn't the case for all stories in the series. Some are still going on; some have been resolved; others have been created and are moving on.

(6) IF YOU WANT A TARGET OR SOMEONE TO BLAME: this can be done to some extent but not as much. This is b/c he doesn't try to make anyone necessarily good or evil.

(7) ARCHETYPES: some readers like archetypal characters because it's comfortable; we like the good young hero (sort of like Pug in Feist's THE RIFTWAR SAGA); it's familiar and we sometimes like to pretend we're this upcoming, great hero. You wont' get much of this in GRRM with the exception of one or two characters.

(8) LENGTH: you don't want to get into a long fantasy epic series. In that case, look for shorters works as this is biiig.

(9) PATRIARCHY: men are most of the main characters with lots of power (one female exception). ....
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: richard_de_clare on October 04, 2006, 01:37:52 PM
I could do a review of witch hunter / witchfinder unless its been done already?

Did anybody else find Hammers of Ulric a really good read?
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wissenlander on February 26, 2007, 04:40:55 PM
Has anyone seen 'Empire at War'?  It sounds interesting, but I'm not sure if it would be worth the purchase or not.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Douchie on March 01, 2007, 04:55:22 PM
Hi Wissenlander. I bought a copy of 'Empire at War' a few months ago and found it really useful for background etc.

The book details 5 battles for The history of the Empire. Erm let me thnk.

Hel Fenn and a civil war battle are described in detail. I found these really helpful because both involved Stirland heavily.  :biggriin:

There was a battle from the time of Sigmar and another from the Gates of Kislev... Magnus the Pious etc...

I can't remember the other battle though.

I would recomend it for any Stirland player, but i'm not sure how much is relevant to a Wissenlander... I might be wrong
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on July 17, 2007, 11:13:08 PM
We have a new review, courtesy of McKnight:


http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/witches.php


We are always looking for more reviews!
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Justin Hill on July 23, 2007, 06:13:14 AM
The Last Kingdom  Bernard Cornwell


Bernard Cornwell has been awarded an OBE, sold over 20 million copies, and at a rough count hes written nearly fifty full-length novels since 1981.   Its quite a pedigree, which puts Cornwell at the pinnacle of his trade and hes best know for his Sharpe series of novels, many of which have been turned into a long-running series of TV films, with Sean Bean (aka Boromir) playing the part of the swashbuckling Englishman caught up in the battles of the Napoleonic era.  But Cornwells interest has wandered far from Sharpe and Europe and the eighteenth century, and in the past hes also penned series about the 100 Year War, King Arthur (his self-proclaimed favourite series), the American Civil War as well as nautical thrillers. 
Cornwells latest interest is the 9th century, when the various kingdoms of England were completely overrun by the Vikings.  The last king, Alfred, is driven into the marshes of Athelney, but he makes one of the great come-backs of history: not only rallying his troops and defeating the Vikings, but also founding one of the most vigorous dynasties of Medieval Europe: who went on to unite the English speaking peoples and set the boundaries of what is still England.
The story of Alfred a philandering youngest son, quite unlike the saintly figure painted in monks writings and in the Victorian image of him - is remarkable in that it has attracted so few novels, when compared with the other the Great Alexander, with few major writer tackling this period since Alfred Duggans The King of Athelney, in the 1960s. 
Considering that Alfred was the king of Wessex, roughly the part of England in the South and West of England, its surprising that Cornwell starts his novel at the other end of the country, in Bamburgh, capital of the High-Reeves of Bernicia, the northernmost half of Northumbria, in the far north and east of the country.  But it allows Cornwell to trace the Viking take-over of England as they pushed further south and west. 
The narrator of the novels is Earl Uhtred from a family of Uhtreds, the ruling family of Bernicia in fact, who hold an almost impregnable fort on a tidal island at Bamburgh, a short ride away from the monastery of Lindisfarne.  His childhood coincides with the Viking take-over of Northumbria, and the violence of the times leaves him as a slave in the hands of one of the great Vikings of the time, Ragnar, who adopts him as a son, and he renounces Christianity and proudly wears the Thors Hammer. 
As part of Ragnars household, Uhtred joins the Viking invasion of Mercia and East Anglia, where the East Anglian king is slain in battle, and Burgred, of Mercia, is bought off and spends his days on the continent, praying for his soul.  Uhtred then joins the attack on Wessex, where the inexorable tide of events is temporarily reversed. 
But the invasion also brings a personal revelation for Uhtred.  When he sees his mothers brother, a Mercian lord, cut down in battle, he feels his blood-ties to the English tighten and by the time of the next Viking assault on Wessex, led by Guthrum, Uhtred is fighting on the English side, and he is instrumental in saving Alfreds skin at the battle of Cynuit. 
Theres a complex play of religion and politics and personal loyalty in 9th century England, and Cornwells narrative cuts clearly through this Gordian Knot with strong characters, great action scenes and clear motivations for the various characters many real some imagined - to do what they do.  Cornwell uses old English spellings for place names, which gives a nice flavour to the novel as well as giving insights into the names of places now.  Some names are very similar to the modern, Cornwalum-Cornwall; some are names for places that no longer exist like Dalriada a part of modern Scotland, and some almost comic: Cornwells prose betraying a note of distinct pleasure in the name of Snotengaham the Home of Snot's people which is the rather unfortunate name for modern day Nottingham. 
There are many details that can bog down a historical novel, but Cornwell is comfortable and efficient in resurrecting the 9th century world around his characters with its seal-skin rigging and longships and codes of honour and betrayal and, like the best historical novels, he manages to explain and illuminate the actions and motivations of characters without sounding like a lecture on early medieval life.  His story makes it clear just how difficult it was for English kingdoms to raise and army and defeat an enemy as mobile as the Vikings able to strike at will like the Huns and Mongols - as well as the techniques and the impression of the shield wall, and the lifestyle of the period.
Cornwell has been dubbed by the Washington Post as the greatest writer of historical adventure novels today.  Adventure is a key word here, which means that these books do not aspire to the standards of the Booker or Pullizter.  Characters decisions are sometimes over-influenced by the plotting of the story, which needs twists and turns for momentum; the narrator overshadows Alfred, and assigns himself a lot of the credit for Alfreds victorys, which slightly defeats Cornwells self proclaimed reasons for writing the book, which was to  show [why Alfred the Great] gained that title.  But these are small blemishes on what is otherwise an excellent and exciting read. 

There are three sequels to this novel, two already in print, The Pale Horseman and The Lords of the North, with Sword Song yet to be published.  (Release date Sept 2007 in the UK, January 2008 in the USA). 

Links:
http://www.bernardcornwell.net/index.cfm?page=3 Bernard Cornwells Home Page
http://www.bernardcornwell.net/index2.cfm?page=1&seriesid=10 Saxon Novels
http://www.writersfm.com/writersfm/podcasts.aspx Interview on Writers FM
http://www.ucsd.tv/library-test.asp?showID=7318 Speaking on University of California TV
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: robfromkoeln on July 23, 2007, 02:48:02 PM

Hi guys,

I am always looking for a good bit of renaissance historical fiction -- the period being of great interest to myself, and of course my warhammer army of choice being Empire-inspired. I have just scived from work for half an hour to read the site's book reviews.

Justin, I enjoyed your review of the Last Kingdom.

As you have written some acclaimed books, I guess writing for GW was a totally different experience for you!

In Justin's defence, and although I have never read a GW book, my impression is that they are written for a younger audience, and words and phrases will be repeated as part of a formulaic and very basic scene-setter for the readers.

I look forward to Justin writing a renaissance tale outside the authority of GW -- who, by the way, are responsible for the proof read, and probably dumb down the writing to perhaps widen the potential audience.

Anyway, here are some of my favourite books that I recommend highly to Empire players:

Neal Stephenson's Barque trilogy. As said by Pistol Pete on page 2 of the thread, this is an amazing three-part story -- the type you never want to end.

He mixes explanations on the rise of science, economic models and our political foundations in a hilarious, gripping and epic adventure tale. He even weaves in a slice of fantasy with his shadowy alchemist Enoch Root.

This book has cheeky Cockney no-good, Jack Shaftoe, rubbing shoulders with the brilliant Isaac Newton, the fabulous French Sun King, evil slavers, rebellious reavers, the Ottomans, you name it!

They romp from Ireland to India, and it is a laugh a minute, punctuated by the odd stretch on modern scientific foundations. Whatever you do, push through the first scientific speedbump if you find it hard to understand, there is always a reward on the other side.

Book Two 'The Confusion' is the shortest in the trilogy (still 800-pages), but it is my favourite -- the plot fast-paced, fantastical and gives you an amusing (often insightful) idea of swashbuckling pistol and cutless life in 16th Century Europe, Egypt and the farer east.

Q -- by Luther Blissett. Another piece of historical fiction that at times plants its tongue firmly in cheek.

Written by four Italian self-titled anarchists (who pen under the name of Luther Blissett), Q follows the adventures of 'Gert from the Well', from the time he as a young student is swept up in the uprising stemming from Martin Luther's famous thesis hammering, to the Peasant rebellion in Munster, and on wards.

Set in 16th Century Germany, the background is Empire through and through. Action, battles, laughs, loves, intrigue, historical insights -- you'll never field a warrior priest again and you will straight up reject the idea of a Sigmarite army after reading this one. The 16th Century Church is darker than the devil in this book, which like Stephenson's trilogy, does a good job of explaining the wheeling and dealing of the Church and nobility, and the rise of banking.

Check it out!

Just quickly, must get back to work... another good look at the later renaissance is books in the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Perez-Reverte.

Pacy, funny, powder, pistols, daggers and doublets. I have read the first two books where dog of war Captain Alatriste and his Madrid are introduced. I need to find The Sun Over Breda (Book 3) in which Alatriste returns to fight with his Spanish Tercio in Holland - can't wait to read Perez-Reverte mass pike and shot battle scenes -- the smaller scale fights in books 1 and 2 are a treat!

Happy reading!
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on July 27, 2007, 04:47:48 PM
Many thanks for the reviews! They have been added to the library (http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/quill_index.php).
Title: Book Review: The Pale Horseman, Bernard Cornwell
Post by: Justin Hill on October 04, 2007, 03:37:27 AM
The Pale Horseman story starts with Uhtred, the Northumbrian narrator, enjoying his victory over the Danes at Cynuit (which actually happened the following year, but has been brought forward by Cornwell to fit in with his storyline).  But instead of riding hard to Winchester to bring the news to get the reward due to him, he rides home to enjoy the virtuous heiress Alfred has married him to.   Youth is one reason for this oversight. Uhtred is just twenty-year old at this point in the story, which seems young until you realise that many of the leading figures of the Dark Age are men barely into their twenties.

The rather unwarlike Odda the Younger takes the news to Alfred instead.  He takes full credit for the victory, leading to a confrontation with Uhtred, who is plunged into a personal combat which he cannot win.  In a recent interview, Cornwell said he likes to trap his heroes in a narrative cul-de-sac with no hope of rescue, and then finding a sudden opening to get him out of trouble.  It is at this point that one of the doors opens, and the narrative really takes off, running with the story of Alfred the Greats defeat and return.   

The Alfred story is fairly well known: Vikings attack his hall at Chippenham in the depths of Yuletide, and he is driven into the swamps of Athelney, all but defeated.  But from the marshes he gathers an army at Egberts Stone, and defeats the Danes at the Battle of Edington. 

Edington is one of those truly defining battles of history, which, if Alfred had lost, would probably have meant the end of the English nation as we know it.  Because Alfreds West Saxons won that day, he went on to define and cemented the concept of the Anglekyn; went on to begin to unify the four kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria; promoted literacy and the church; and had the Bible translated into English, 700 odd years before Martin Luther.  He defined Englishness, which his successors built on, their concept was strong enough to withstand both Knut and fifty years later, William the Bastard. 

Cornwell follows pretty closely the line of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, which amplifies the problems that Alfred faces, to make his subsequent come back even more remarkable.  But having chosen someone other than Alfred as his key figure, Cornwell is forced to give Uhtred much of the credit for Alfreds subsequent victory, while Alfred is cast as something of an over-bookish fool.  This is a drawback of the novel, especially as Cornwells stated aim of the series was to show how remarkable Alfreds achievements were, but Cornwell is a master of creating and illustrating the worlds he recreates: and he is at his best in bringing into vivid detail the challenges and horrors and difficulties of Dark Age England.  Although a little divorced from the probably succession of events Cornwell is a master of narrative, and this is an enjoyable and entertaining page-turner. 
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on October 04, 2007, 08:27:18 AM
Thanks for the excellent review! It has been added to the library:


http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/pale.php
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Phydox on October 18, 2007, 02:09:23 PM
Hey I figured I would take a minute to do a review of an off the main stream book that was reccommended to me.  Honestly, I was skeptical when the suggestion was made to read it.  Enjoy....

World War Z by Max Brooks

Basically this book is supposed to be a collection of personal accounts of a World War between humans and zombies.  The book isn't a novel with the same characters from beginning to end, but rather a collection of interviews that an individual, hired by a government review committee, has put together to explain the outbreak, panic, blame, and failings of a war with humans infected by a virus that "raises the dead".  Each interview is written as if it is a different speaker with different prejudices, and views of the world.  Its very well done.

In a basic sense, this is a zombie book- the shambling, the moaning, eating the flesh of living, BUT its different.  The horror of the book isn't blood spatter and gore.  Max Brooks scares you in a more subtle way  similar to a writer like HP Lovecraft.  He makes you consider the "What If this were real, could our society really cope?".  Sadly, I know I found myself often saying " You know I actually could see this kind of response happening."  Mankind facing global extinction, and theres still selfish people trying to make a buck- even when money is useless.

The book goes a lot deeper then just being a zombie war book.  Max Brooks also exposes many of the problems of our society:  Greed, government incompetence, and reality TV.  He also ties in a lot of current global events with the book, which makes it seem all that much more "real".

He does an excellent, well thought out job of presenting original ideas about what a war of this type would entail, and the problems of ignorance (and denial).  The book is loaded with memorable scenes.

Even if your not really into the horror scene, this book, in a certain way, could be seen as a shout that exposes social ills in the world, and tries to be a wake up call to encourage society to fix these problems.

Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: McKnight on October 18, 2007, 06:16:50 PM
Ah Phydox, I have also read it and i agree with you, it is superb, although i had waited long for it and already had a positive thought about it. But hell its good and it really makes the reader identify one with the many authors!


Looks like you got some life in the old library, RufUs  :happy:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on October 24, 2007, 03:59:21 PM
Thanks for the review, Phydox!

http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/warz.php
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: McKnight on October 24, 2007, 05:11:01 PM
Hehe sorry Rafus*, typical typo, i've been writing too much to Rufas the eccentric i think  :-D


I'll see if i can get some reviews for the last Mathias Thulmann book ready, but time is rare for me atm

yes i know its rufus... hehe
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Karl Voss of Averland on November 23, 2007, 04:24:24 AM
I just finished reading Warhammer: Mark of Chaos by Anthony Reynolds. Looking through this post I didn't see it reviewed, but I'd be more than happy to write a review for the library if you'd like.

-Voss
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on November 23, 2007, 10:30:22 AM
I'd be more than happy to write a review for the library if you'd like.

Yes please! We always want more reviews.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Karl Voss of Averland on November 25, 2007, 08:35:20 PM
(http://www.fantasistent.com/FESTORE/BOOKS/FICTION/BLACK_LIBRARY/WHF/IMAGES/markofchaos.jpg)

Mark of Chaos by Anthony Reynolds

   Ive been eyeing Warhammer Fantasy fluff for awhile now and this is the first book I have picked up regarding the subject and my second Warhammer novel ever (the other being Fifteen Hours by Mitchel Scanlon). I cant compare Mark of Chaos to any other Warhammer novels, and Im sure there are better books out there, but for a fantasy book dealing with the Empire fighting the evils of Chaos, it was a great read. It is also roughly based on Namcos popular real-time strategy game of the same name.

   The book sets the scene during the rule of Magnus the Pious just after the Great War against Chaos. The Empire, though victorious is slowly rotting away from various raids from the north and corruption within. The book follows the story of two characters, Stefan von Kessel the young Captain of Ostermark, and Hroth the Blooded, a Khorne champion. The book alternates chapters telling each characters story.

Stefans grandfather, the former Elector Count of Ostermark, was found worshipping a chaos god and killed by the inquisition. Gruber, a fat sickly man took over as the Elector Count and had Stefans face branded with a hot iron when he was born giving him a mark of chaos. Stefan is wary of having the taint of chaos within him and is consequently self-conscious and unsure. His story follows mostly his search for reclaiming his good name and saving his province of Ostermark from Chaos and corruption within.

Hroth the Blooded is a Chaos champion for the Blood God Khorne. He and his war band along with the sorcerer Sudobaal travel around raiding Ostermark. His band of Warriors slowly grow in power and size as Hroth battles other Chaos champions to prove his worthiness and his favor in the eyes of the Chaos gods.

The book also weaves the stories of these two characters together with others, such as the High Elves in the North and the Norsicans, until they all collide in an epic conclusion. The author does an excellent job of depicting all sorts of Empire units familiar to players of the table top game. Stefan meets the Marshall of the Reiklandguard (later to become the Reiksguard), a quirky engineer and his Hellblaster Volleygun, a mighty Warrior priest, and a host of other recognizable characters that really put me into the Warhammer world. The authors description of the towns, winter terrain and even the mighty fortress of Talabheim really set the scenes well. Youll shiver as the soldiers march over the frosty, muddy ground. Your heart will pump as the author describes the tense combat between characters in gory detail. Youll puke when Stefan meets the evil spawn of the Chaos God Nurgle.

Overall Id say this is a must read for someone looking to get into Warhammer novels or an Empire fluff connoisseur. The author tells a magnificent story that even made me start writing a story of my own. The book does suffer a little from fantasy formula syndrome, but what fantasy novel doesnt?  The book does become predictable here and there, but even in the most predictable areas I still couldnt put the book down. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in the subject!

Rating: 4 Great Cannons out of 5

-Karl Voss
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on November 25, 2007, 11:14:30 PM
Excellent! Thank you very much indeed.

http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/mark.php
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Karl Voss of Averland on November 25, 2007, 11:36:04 PM
No Problem! Glad I could give back to the site!
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: neverness on December 15, 2007, 05:49:44 PM
Fell Cargo by Dan Abnett

The premise is that an infamous pirate warlord, Captain Lucca Silvaro has been spared prison time and execution by the Prince of Luccini with the added bonus of Letters of the Mark and Reprisal The letter of Mark charges him, and crew, with the task of hunting down the butcher ship and if successful theyll be pardoned for their crimes. The butcher ship is a mystery pretty much until the climax of the book, though clues as to its true origin and power are gathered throughout as they hunt it down.

The plot isnt so straight forward, as they encounter new ships and towns, the course of the characters (and there are a lot of names to keep track of) often shifts dramatically and suddenly. This was sort of my favorite aspect of this read, it wasnt that I knew that the basic plot would take us to the final fight, but who would make it there and come out a survivor was quite the mystery.

Abnetts only fault, I think, was not including a terminology glossary in the back. He throws around sailor jargon and maritime speech like the average reader would be expected to know it. One doesnt always have a dictionary handy at times, and I think that would help some readers out quite a bit.

I hope Abnett does another story with these characters and that its as good if not better than the story here. An Amazon reviewer noted that Pirates of the Caribbean was a huge inspiration for this book. Heck, anyone who ever does anything with pirates again are going to find their work compared to those films, but this story was far more intense, gorey, grittier and nastier. This would make a fun film to watch, very visual story, but Holywood would never make it due to the lack of any love interest. -Another reason why I like it!  :eusa_clap:

-neverness.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on December 16, 2007, 11:13:01 PM
Many thanks for the review!

http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/cargo.php
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: neverness on January 01, 2008, 10:54:55 PM
Thanks! i really enjoyed that book! I've never read a book (or seen a pirate movie) with that many exploding wooden ships, cannonballs, and sheer maritime carnage before. It simply rocked!
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Rutgar of Wissenland on January 02, 2008, 12:22:56 AM
Can I make the recommendation that there is some sort of rating system on the titles?  I'm interested in reading some Warhammer books, but when I just see title after title, I must admit that it's a bit much to want to go through each review to find which is best. 
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Midaski on June 04, 2008, 11:05:09 AM
Just thought some of you might like to know that

http://www.play.com/Books/Books/6-/RegionHome.html

are doing some Warhammer books at 2 for 7.00

I have bought Heldenhammer by Mr "I'll take S4 anyday", and Runefang by C.L.Werner

In the UK that's post free and the books are 6.99 list price.

 :icon_question:
Also has anyone read the "Daemon Gates" trilogy by Aaron Rosenberg?

The "Hour of the Daemon" is on offer, but it looks like the third part, and the other two are available but not on the special offer, and you really have to read all three parts of a trilogy .......

I was wondering if anyone reckons they are worth it?

Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wissenlander on January 22, 2009, 02:48:57 PM
The Empire at War: A study of the great battles of the Empire

I posed the question a while ago in this thread about The Empire at War:  was it worth reading and potentially acquiring.  I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy and have given it a good once through and offer my view for those of curious mind.

Overview
This book is written from the perspective of a retired Imperial general.  In a sense, this is the Empires Art of War.  The grizzled veteran takes us through five different battles to emphasize varying tactical and strategical elements.  The battles contained within the tome vary in scale from the insignificant to epic, and covers a wide range of Imperial history:  each battle has a different aspect that allowed the winning general to achieve victory.  To understand if this work is worthy of your time and money, I will briefly outline the five battles (hopefully without giving away great detail).

Talabec (Civil War)
Chapter 1 brings us to the beginning of the Imperial civil war where the rivalry between Talebecland and Stirland commences.  It highlights an obscure, but often talked about aspect of Imperial history.  It was very much a clean slate chapter, with nothing ever having been done in that aspect before (to my knowledge). 

There are a couple of missed opportunities here, in my opinion.  The Elector of Stirland has no name, which is very disappointing.  Also, there is mention of allies to both sides, but little is mentioned outside of a few passing references.  Averlands colors were even misrepresented.

Still, I actually found this to be the most interesting chapter.

Hel Fenn
One of the most famous battles in the annals of Imperial history, Chapter 2 retells the story of the end of the Vampire Wars.  This one comes under a little more scrutiny, only because there is some information already available.  Army books touch upon it, and there is a series about the Vampire Wars done by Black Library (these books I have not read so cannot say how good or accurate they are, but be aware that some information may be conflicting).

The strategy used by Martin of Stirland was one borrowed from another great battle in history (the real sort of history).  I wont ruin that surprise, but I found it quite obvious that there was some outside inspiration in that regard.  No fault to Count Martin, for this is how great generals learn. 

My one complaint with this chapter is that some of the more well known facts of the battle were left out.  Perhaps it was a given that these events occurred and the reader can plug them in as they see fit, but it is another instance of frustratingly inconsistent writing. 

Blood Hollow
This battle focuses on a lesser Hochland nobles campaign against marauding orcs in the Middle Mountains.  As far as significant timeline alteration, this campaign is very far down the list, but is rather recent in Imperial history. 

It is significant in the fact that it is a completely new piece of fluff, but is of little interest to anyone but Hochlanders or general fluff enthusiasts.

Kislevs Gate (The Great War against Chaos)
This chapter comes under greater scrutiny than does the Battle of Hel Fenn, for this is one aspect of Imperial history that is (decently) well covered.  However, unlike Hel Fenn, I found this chapter not wanting.

I believe this is a great expansion point for those interested in the reunification of the Empire.  And I must say the artists interpretation of what Magnus the Pious looks like is not what I had in mind.  But everyone is entitled their opinion.

Black Fire Pass
The final chapter harkens back to the birth of the Empire, when the mighty Sigmar lead an alliance of tribes and dwarfs against the masses of greenskins.  I know there is a book published by Black Library that tells the tale of Sigmar, and one would hope that there is some consistency between the two texts. 

But in this piece, the author gives great detail about the formation of the alliance and the battle itself.  A very interesting portrayal of tactics used millennia ago in our burgeoning Empire.

Conclusion
As with many Black Library publications, there are some drawbacks.  There are a few spelling errors, but not as many as I had expected.  Some inconsistencies present themselves, which leaves the reader baffled and in the position to try and piece together varying sources to allow for a fuller picture.  But possibly the greatest issue with the book is the narrowness in which it covers.  The only provinces of importance are Talebecland/Talabheim, Stirland and Hochland.  Battles involving coalitions do little to mention the allies.  Unless you have any interest in one of these provinces or a thirst for fluff in general, you may find the book to be a disappointment.

Overall, I enjoyed this book greatly.  It was a quick read (almost too quick) and the art work was well done.  There were many pictures that were retreads, which I had seen in 4th 7th edition army books, but I do believe some of the artwork was original.  Where this book comes into its own is in the aspect of the unique and original maps.  There are also added inlets, highlighting various formations, regiments, weapons, allies, etc.  With the heavy imagery involved, it is no wonder this book is going for a higher price now a days, though.

Stealing Karl Voss rating system, I would give this a 4 out of 5 great cannons for the mere fact that it gives greater detail to some of the more important struggles our Empire has encountered.  As with anything, the detail could be greater, but I am of the opinion that anything that expands our little fantasy world and doesnt destroy its integrity is worth reading.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wissenlander on January 23, 2009, 07:52:41 PM
Blood on the Reik:  A journey through the Old World

This book is written from the perspective of an elderly diplomat who is in declining health.  The book is a summation of his life’s travel.

It’s a brief work and mainly a sketch book.  I enjoyed it for the simple fact that it’s from a Wissenlander’s perspective and he goes into some stories about Wissenland itself (nothing major) and other cultural folk tales and the like.  It is a good inspiration book, for anyone who wants to get a feel for the grittier parts of the Empire.  Definitely a resource that someone wanting to run a WFRP campaign would want to look through, as it tends to focus on the plight of individuals as opposed to the grandiose sweeping armies.  Anyone who enjoys artwork may find it worth while as well, but I’d encourage a flip through before a purchase.

I don’t regret the acquisition as I’m of the ilk that just enjoys any ‘official’ source of WFB fluff, especially if it’s Empire centric.  But coming from the generalist, I’d give it a rating of 2 out of 5 great cannons.  There just isn’t enough meat to warrant a purchase of this book unless you are interested in any of the aspects that I listed above. 

My apologies Herr Helmgart.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on January 25, 2009, 11:07:34 PM
Thanks for the reviews! Write some more.

I don't much care for 'Blood on the Reik' either. It's an awkward combination of unimaginative text (too much stolen directly from real history) and insane artwork.


edit: added to the reviews section.

http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/quill_index.php
Title: Runefang - C.L. Werner
Post by: Midaski on February 23, 2009, 07:33:27 PM
I finished reading Runefang last week.

Synopsis:
Wissenland is under attack from an undead horde. Some Necro has been released from a tomb and is on the march attacking all before him:  the last time he existed, he was defeated by the Solland Runefang, which is apparently different to the Wissenland Runefang which the current count has.
So a team go off to find the Solland Runefang, so the Count can use it to kill the Necro again.


Strange book - it's the first C.L.Werner book I've read, and so I cannot comment if it's his normal style.

For me it was a very average read, evidenced by the fact that I had been reading it for a few weeks,  without the urge to finish it - or maybe I should just say I could put it down easily.

400+ pages and it takes a while to get going, lots of character introduction, several of which turn out to be of little consequence. It's over a 100 pages before the 'team' get going on their quest.

We have lots of nobles, remnants of knight chapters, mercenaries, the usual 'oddbods' mix, a traitor in the camp, and I kept wondering who was going to be the book's hero, and I was still wondering with just a few pages to go ...........  :engel:

There are actually a couple of runefangs around, and there are a couple of twists. It switches back and forth a bit from the quest to what is going on with the Undead invasion, and I did find myself wondering about the time scales and geography on a few occasions as the Undead Horde marched around and the Wissenland Count nipped off for a parlay on the Averland border.
It may have been that the geography of forays into the Black Mountains and the towns attacked and the previously mentioned 'parlay' is all reasonable, I just felt that if I'd have looked it up on a GW map and it was ridiculous I might have not bothered to finish the book.

Most of the plot is guessable. The fight scenes are numerous and reasonable - some better than others - the orcs ones leading the way.

Around 6/10.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on February 23, 2009, 10:45:56 PM
Lovely! Thanks for the review.

I have to say, I am mystified why anyone would want to read any of these books.  :icon_lol:


Added to the Library:

http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/quill/runefang.php


More reviews please! Anyone!  :icon_biggrin:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wissenlander on February 24, 2009, 02:18:08 PM
Wissenland is my WFB crack. :blush:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Midaski on February 24, 2009, 04:11:00 PM
I have to say, I am mystified why anyone would want to read any of these books.  :icon_lol:

I bought quite a few that were in a sale on Play.com last year and have been gently working my way through them.
I was a prolific reader as a boy, up to about age 15, and then sport took precedence, and since then I only tend  to read when on holiday.

Latest one is slightly unusual as it is "Knight Errant" by Anthony Reynolds. First chapter and I thought what a load of crap, and I put it down disappointed.
Then last night I happened to go to bed early and thought: "Oh I'll read for 10 minutes," ...... and an hour later I had to make myself stop.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Dannyfave on February 25, 2009, 04:05:18 AM
Riders of the Dead, by Dan Abnett:

Riders, by GW's best author (by some margin), is an excellent story. Two pistoliers get separated in battle, and end up on opposite sides of the conflict: One captured by Tzeench chaos, the other recruited by the Kislevites who give the book its title. I understand the story is loosely based off a Chinese legend, and I certainly can believe that stories with this basic skeleton have been around for a long time, but for the most part this is firmly set in the Warhammer World.

Dan Abnett uses the two strangers to introduce us to the rich and well thoughtout cultures of the Chaos Horde and Kislev. If you have any interest in the background of Kislev, pick this book up right now. Chaos is also well illuminated as more than rank upon rank of warriors in black armour: We will meet slavers, monks and nuns as well as warriors, catalysts of a convincing metamorphosis in the character observing them.

The story of the character who rides with Kislev takes a little longer to pick up, but is equally well developed: By the end of Riders, you will have a clear understanding of who the characters are, where they're headed and what influence their culture has on them.

I'd recommend this book to everyone, especially those with an interest in Kislev


This is by far my favorite black libray novel, I love the setting, the story and everything else involved in this book :::cheers:::

As a sie note, Volks and the other main character were Demi-lancers, not pistoliers...
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: neverness on February 25, 2009, 04:15:59 AM
Good reviews. I have to admit, Midaski's review of Runefang is fairly accurate. I tend to only read (novels)right before I go to bed, and this book has been a struggle, pretty much for all the reason's he pointed out. (and I have a cat that hates it when I lay in bed holding a book; she attacks it! This is the 2nd cat I've had that does that)

Favorite scene so far was the goblin ambush. That actually had me engaged, and I like the Crone of Morr; gets the 'most interesting character' award (so far).

Tales of the Old World is a much better read, and I've been picking through that as well. Still my favorite Warhammer Novel, so far,  is Grudge Bearer.

Rufus, to assist with your mystery as to why anyone would want to read these books, it's because we not only love the genre, we love the setting. Reading the novels however, is a bit of a crap shoot (pun intended) as a writer who scored big before, may flop hard another time. Besides, we don't have a fraction of the hacks to weed out like fans of other genres have too (Star Trek, Star Wars, Dragon Lance, Forgotten Realms, etc.).
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on February 25, 2009, 04:26:30 PM
I like the setting too. But the books are not appealing at all.

I still regret buying 'murder in marienburg.'  :icon_evil:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Dihenydd on February 25, 2009, 06:39:13 PM
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Lions is Kays third novel (1995) blending history and fantasy into a new literary genre after completing his widely successful Fionavar Trilogy.  In this novel he is attempting to retell the struggles and changes at end of the Moorish occupation of Spain.  Replacing well known figures and landmarks in history with his own characters and storylines, he is able to tell a story in an unencumbered form.  In Lions, GGK resists the strong fantasy elements common in his other novels and instead focuses more on the mundane aspects of human behaviour.  He squeezes 80 years of Spanish history into a few short years to increase the dramatic effect such changes wrought on the people of that time.

GGKs use of an alternate fantasy history is deliberate and liberating.  Answering the question himself, he feels that it is the height of literary dishonesty to put ones own words into the mouth of real people.  To ascribe motivations, words and deeds to say a Ceasar Augustus that are not existent in historical record is to demean the person and their role in history all for the sake of your own story.  Instead GGK creates his own world mirroring some of the aspects of our own.  He is then free to create amalgamations or unique characters in similar positions.  They are free to make their own decisions and actions leading to similar but different outcomes without the burden of actual history.  He adds a fantasy element to these stories consistent with his own literary journey.

The bulk of the novel focuses on three characters representing the three religions present in Al-Rassan at the time of its fall.  Each is a rich well of depth of character, drive and skill.  As the three religions attempt to find their way in end of their peaceful coexistence these three individuals will collide in a confrontation each knows is coming but cannot avoid.  In this world all three cannot survive and you cannot but feel for each.  In a more normal novel each would be a hero in their own right, here they are combatants, none with ill towards each other, but each loyal to the life they represent.  Each of these people surround themselves with people of deep character and it is the lives of these characters GGK is able to fully showcase his art as a writer.  In a genre that typically creates stereotypes GGK creates people, albeit with incredible skills at their disposal. 

As the personal struggle of each character is examined, we also see the effect of change on the grand scale of nations.  Responding to the outside forces that each eagerly want to exploit the region for their own ends, the nation of Al-Rassan itself is torn asunder, never again to reach the splendor it has enjoyed in its rich history.  We witness the end of a paradise in the name of political religion and personal vainglory.

In the cynical society we live in now, it can be difficult to write what we call a happy ending we can believe in.  Once again GGK is able to bring home all the threads of a rich tale and bring us to a point of believing in something good while still respecting the story.  On a personal note, I had to stop reading the final 10 pages before the end, take a breath, and go back and reread before reading the last 2 of the epilogue.  GGK cut his literary teeth with his friend, Christopher Tolkien, son of JRR, on the editing and polishing of The Silmarillion in 1974.  He has used this inspiration to create his own worlds every bit as deep and satisfying as Middle Earth.

Note:  Lions of Al-Rassan has been optioned as a ScreenPlay.  Work is slow on associating the talent to the project.  GGK has not been optioned to write.

GGKs novels are:  (in reading order)

Fionavar Trilogy
Tigana
A Song for Arbonne
Lions of Al-Rassan
The Sarantine Mosiac (2 novels)
The Last Light of the Sun
Ysabel
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: neverness on February 26, 2009, 04:58:46 AM
I like the setting too. But the books are not appealing at all.

I still regret buying 'murder in marienburg.'  :icon_evil:

Not read that one. I did see the 'sequel' in the bookstore this evening though.


This might deserve it's own thread, but since it's about reviews anyway, I'll bring it up here: I wonder if we should have our on W-E rating system for Warhammer books? We have reviews in the Library and this thread, but nothing that would immediately tell someone at a glance how users of this site (typically warhammer players with an Imperial bias) felt, on average about a particular book. Here's my 5-star system (the Neverness scale):

5. You must read this book. Your knowledge of the Old World is incomplete without this and you'll be regarded as a neonate if you publicly mention never having read this. The book is priceless.
4. Good book. You'll hate that it ended and want more. A book you'd recommend, but still not quite the best. You got your money's worth.
3. Entertaining, but not essential. Not a waste of money, but not vital either.
2. This book is subpar at best, only recommended for completists. This book makes, or should make, no significant impact upon one's view of the Old World, but by no means is this the worst thing ever. You'll likely feel that you wasted your money if paid more than half the cover price for it.
1. Avoid. Clearly this manuscript was accepted simply to meet a deadline and is a hacked effort at best. Mentioning publicly that you liked and recommend this book will likely have you ostracized and ridiculed -Perhaps banished- by those regarded to be well versed on the background, history and character of the Old World.

Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wissenlander on February 26, 2009, 12:22:47 PM
Karl Voss came up with the 'great cannon' system, which basically equates to the 5 stars.  Though that information is usually at the end of the review and not the beginning...
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: GamesPoet on February 26, 2009, 12:37:22 PM
I still regret buying 'murder in marienburg.'  :icon_evil:
Yes, a very disappointing read.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: GamesPoet on February 26, 2009, 12:56:59 PM
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Excellent book, and I highly recommend.

Quote
GGK’s novels are:  (in reading order)

Fionavar Trilogy
Tigana
A Song for Arbonne
Lions of Al-Rassan
The Sarantine Mosiac (2 novels)
The Last Light of the Sun
Ysabel
Enjoyed "Tigana" enough to pick up "Lions of Al-Rassan", and hopefully will get around to reading others.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on February 26, 2009, 03:07:28 PM
Dihenydd : thanks for the review! I'll add it later.


As for the idea of giving the books a score out of five (or whatever): I like the idea very much, but the problem is applying it retroactively to the reviews we already have. I suppose I could just guess what the score might have been in each case.

I think I'll do that, and put the score next to the title of the book on the reviews index page. I'll use the 'neverness' ranking.  :icon_smile:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Karl Voss of Averland on February 26, 2009, 06:20:01 PM
Karl Voss came up with the 'great cannon' system, which basically equates to the 5 stars.  Though that information is usually at the end of the review and not the beginning...

It didn't become a system until you started using it too. Before that, it was me just being silly.   :happy:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on February 27, 2009, 12:19:35 AM
It didn't become a system until you started using it too. Before that, it was me just being silly.   :happy:

Well, you've only written one review. Feel free to write some more.  :icon_smile:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Karl Voss of Averland on February 27, 2009, 01:59:04 AM
It didn't become a system until you started using it too. Before that, it was me just being silly.   :happy:

Well, you've only written one review. Feel free to write some more.  :icon_smile:

Tell the Black Library to write some good books!  :icon_evil:

I could write book reviews for other non-warhammer related books, but they would have no use to the warhammer book reviews (Currently reading Catch 22 by J. Heller)
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on February 27, 2009, 12:43:19 PM
Quote from: Karl Voss of Averland
Tell the Black Library to write some good books!

People will read any old rubbish so long as it's fantasy, I've noticed. That's how horrible writers like Terry Goodkind stay in business.


You can review anything you like. There's a review of a modern zombie horror book on the site already!
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: neverness on March 05, 2009, 03:22:17 AM
True about the hack fantasy. There is a lot of it! Trees worth of it moldering in the used book stores through out the civilized world.

I'm curious to see the 'great cannon' system. Where's it located at? My system would work best if balanced with additional user reviews, but Amazon we're not! But if i were to use it, I'd rate the following (and the few) BL novels that I've read thus:

Grudgebearer. 4.5: Not a perfect book, but definitely the most enjoyable BL book I've ever read. I really didn't want it to end, and was a bit let down with the ending it had. (it sort of left you feeling there was more to tell).

Fell Cargo: 3.5. I enjoyed it, but it's spaggetti-like plots are to it's detriment. Although it avoided predictability, it was hard to care for characters when the supporting cast died in such droves.

The corrupted: 3. I enjoyed it at the time, but the ending was very "WTF". Having learned more about the old world, and Kislev in particular, I've determined that the writer thought that the city of Praag was truly on the border of the Chaos Wastes. (dangerously close, yes, but there is a lot ground between it!). I enjoyed the witchhunters fates.

Runefang: still reading this, but, sadly, it's feeling like a 2. Maybe a 3. I'll know soon.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Midaski on March 05, 2009, 12:02:49 PM
"Knight Errant" by Anthony Reynolds

Synopsis:
Bretonnian setting, and about two half-brothers who are knight errants, and sons of a Lord. He's ill and they have to answer a call to arms to help with a greenskin problem across country.
 400+ pages.


As an Empire devotee, it was quite strange getting used to the Bretonnian theme, and I almost got annoyed in the initial chapters at the 'division' between the 'haves' - the nobility - and the 'have-nots' - the peasants.
Indeed you got the impression that every peasant was retarded, and disabled or mal-formed.
However it toned down, or I got immune to it as the book went on. In the early stages the young knights are also portrayed as somewhat arrogant and irresponsible, and their experiences do see them mature thoughout the story.

The plot is reasonable, with a lot of fighting, firstly against Orcs and Gobbos, and then against Beastmen. The attempts at keeping the Beasts as a surprise element, are somewhat diluted by the front cover showing some Gors .............  :icon_wink:

There is a fair dose of treachery, which may be a heavy dose of irony given the supposed Bretonnian traits of honour and nobility.
The author however does play to the subject introducing a godlike Grail Knight who seems to be 15 foot tall and invincible, and a Questing Knight who isn't ................
We also have an Empire 'guest' with disgusting black powder pistols.

I also have to observe something about the 'Evil Leader', which I have also now realised happens in "Runefang". In both cases they are not really developed, and not really explored.
In Runefang it was almost just a simple primitive ethereal creature - with basic primitive motivation.

In Knight Errant, it is not too hard to work out who/what the 'creature' is, but again it has very simple 'motivations'.
The authors in both cases seem to have a token 'evil creature' who is just 'bad' and does revenge and annihilation.

I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, as in both books there are plenty of other characters to go around. I criticised Runefang as several of them had little part to play in the story, but in this book all the characters were of more relevance.



If we are grading now I would have given Runefang a '3' and this is slightly better at around '3.5'

 :engel:
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: t12161991 on May 11, 2009, 03:19:42 AM
Can we write reviews for any book? Because I some a while back. For a bookstore, and a smallish local magazine.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wissenlander on May 22, 2009, 11:22:57 AM
Yes, you can do any book.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Uryens de Crux on May 22, 2009, 11:48:31 AM
Yes, you can do any book.

Really? Any Book?

okay...

Retribution Falls (aka Tales of the Kitty Jay Vol1)
Chris Wooding

For those of you who have read Scot Lynche's novels (Lies of Locke Lamora, etc) then this will be right up your street.

Its a similar tale of a rogue, not so lovable, and his disperate crew/henchmen. While Scot Lynch writes in a firmly fantasy setting however, Chris Wooding is a in sort of faux Victoriana/Steam Punk/Deisel Punk kind of setting.

Retribution Falls is a well written tale of betrayal, bonding, determination, revelation and ultimately redemption (of a sort), I found it engaging in story, pacing and writing, with well rounded characters and not obvious plot developments (apart from one which was too good not to do anyway, so thats ok)

All in all its a 4 out of 5 book

(PS if you havent read Lies of Locke Lamora then put down whatever the heck you are reading and go get it right now, thats a 6 out of 5 book)
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: wissenlander on May 22, 2009, 11:53:00 AM
Yes, you can do any book.

Really? Any Book?

Someone reviewed Max Brooks' World War Z, so I'd assume so.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on May 22, 2009, 03:18:13 PM
Anything at all is fine!

The reviews might even get put on the site one day... my excuse is that I'm waiting for Calvin to fix the system.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Dihenydd on May 22, 2009, 09:52:38 PM
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Excellent book, and I highly recommend.

Quote
GGKs novels are:  (in reading order)

Fionavar Trilogy
Tigana
A Song for Arbonne
Lions of Al-Rassan
The Sarantine Mosiac (2 novels)
The Last Light of the Sun
Ysabel
Enjoyed "Tigana" enough to pick up "Lions of Al-Rassan", and hopefully will get around to reading others.

Its been a few years since I last read Tigana and after writing the review I decided to re-read my collection.  Time had allowed me to forget the last 2 pages of Tigana and once again I was completely surprised and had a thrill go up my spine when reading the last sentence.  Amazing book.

If you are working through GGK, I strongly suggest reading Fionavar before Ysabel (spoiler).  But then I always recommend that anyone read these books in order.  They aren't in anything close to a timeline and aren't related, but each expands and makes oblique references to themes introduced in previous books.

I just read in my quarterly GGK newsletter that Last Light was recently optioned for film as well.  yay!
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: t12161991 on May 23, 2009, 01:53:16 AM
Ok then. You'll have at least a few from me. If I can find the documents they were in.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: der Hurenwiebel on August 11, 2009, 05:45:33 PM
If you don't mind I'd like to reveiw the series, A dream of eagles starting with the Skystone.

Jack Whyte, the cover has the sentence on it stating, "Before Camelot, there was a dream", and indeed of all the tales I've ever read about the arthurian mythos this is the most realistically presented I've yet read.  Including Cornwell's series. 
     The series begins some time before the fall of the roman west, and britain is fully under the govornance of Rome.  In the telling of these tales you get a sense of a fairly modern mindset in the part of the roman's themselves  In a way this is intentional as they were quite sophisticated and humanist at that time. 
Not to reveal too much about the story It starts with the relationship between two characters Publius Varrus a descendant of the disgraced general Varrus of the Teutoburg wald.  And who also is his legion's primus pilus, and who's family business to which he'll return once his military service is up is Blacksmithing.  The other main character is Caius Britannicus, the Legate of the twentieth legion stationed in Bitain.  Caius is a patrician and a bit of an anachronism for his day in that he believes in the old discipline, of the legions that built rome as well as the disciplined application of the new tactics of the late imperium as we would call it.
     The stories in the series are meticulously researched and care is taken to have the fiction mesh with real world events in an almost seamless manner.  In short this book series is reenactor porn.
    Regarding the plot line and story arc, imagine if you will a late Roman general who during his service comes to the conclusion that too many systemic problems exist within the governance of the empire so he becomes a survivalist, enlisting his RSM to join his little colony near modern Ilchester.  During the course of setting up this little colony, the characters inadvertantly start a long lasting feud with another powerful roman family.  The personal motivations are believable, the relationship connections are gripping and the history fits with the tale.
Te series chronology is thus, the skystone, the singing sword, the Eagle's Brood, the fort at river's bend, metamorphosis, (both under the subtitle Sorcerer), Uther, Clothar the Frank, The Eagle. 


All in all I'd give the 8 book series 4.5 great cannons out of 5

I think the book series would make for a great TV series, a la Rome HBO.

Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Aldaris on April 12, 2010, 09:13:12 PM
It's been a while since anyone has posted a review here, so in the spirit of the recent W-E new content initiative I figured I'd add something new.

EISENHORN, by Dan Abnett

Set in the Warhammer 40000 universe, this is actually a trilogy of books called Xenos, Malleus and Hereticus respectively, after the three great orders of the Imperial Inquisition. The protagonist is an Imperial Inquisitor named Gregor Eisenhorn, and the tale encompasses about 300 years of his life.

One of the strongest points of this book is that it is not set in some warzone, like most 40K novels tend to be, but rather focusses on the settings civilian side. This is a rather unique take and is very well done, Abnett manages what, in my opinion, no other author has managed for this universe: he actually brings it to believable life. The characters are well done, and some of them, Eisenhorn especially, develop a lot over the course of the books. The plots itself are interesting and tense, and Abnett also delivers on the action parts in his usual vivid and descriptive style.

So there is action, adventure, some space opera, some (almost super-)hero stuff, crime/mystery and horror, and all those elements mesh well into a really captivating read. I actually gave this book to a friend who isn't familiar with the 40K setting and he enjoyed it a lot, so this isn't just for fanbois like many of the other Black Library titles.

I'd give it a 4/5 when rating it without taking its 40K context into account, and an easy 5/5 when doing so. This is high and far above the quality of most of the other products from BL, and I recommend it heartily.

P.S.: I really recommend the Omnibus edition, because it is cheaper than getting the three single volumes, and also contains two short stories set between the major parts that are pretty good and - as far as I know - not available anywhere else.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: rufus sparkfire on April 13, 2010, 03:51:27 PM
Thanks! That's a great review, and we definitely would like more of those.

It can't be added to the site right now, because nothing can be. I haven't been able to update things for well over a year. But as soon as it becomes possible it will be added.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Aldaris on April 16, 2010, 08:51:25 PM
THE FOUNDING, by Dan Abnett

The Fouding is an Omnibus containing the first three novels in the "Gaunts Ghosts" series of novels, which are called "First and Only", "Ghostmaker" and "Necropolis", respectively. The books are set in the Warhammer 40000 universe and follow the exploits of Commisar-Colonel Ibram Gaunt and his regiment, the Tanith First. The series is comparable to the likes of the "Sharpe" books, both are basically military fiction focusing on the individual battles and difficulties of a military unit and their leader against the backdrop of a larger conflict, in this case the huge Sabbat Worlds Crusade.

The members of the Tanith First are the sole survivors of their world, which was obliterated by the strike of a Chaos fleet just as the Planet mustered its first ever regimental foundings for the Imperial Guard. Gaunt, the new-founded units recently assigned commander ordered them to evacuate, thus saving the soldiers but also laying the foundation for some resentment and hate among his troopers, many of whom would rather have stayed to defend their homeworld, however hopeless.
The regiment is nicknamed Gaunts Ghosts for two reasons: because they are "from nowhere" and are also stealth and recon specialists. What can be said about pretty much all the books in the series is that Abnett has a real knack for depicting battle scenes, in my opinon he's on par with Bernard Cornwell in that regard. The stories are mostly straightforward, with plenty of likable characters and tension resulting from the fact that Abnett is absolutely ruthless in his treatment of them, regularly killing off favourites while gently establishing others to step into the limelight. Even Characters that have been around for the whole series might just be offed, no one is safe. Well, except Gaunt I suppose. So far.

In the first part, "First and Only", many of the recurring characters are introduced and fleshed out for the first time. This is done rather well, considering this was Abnetts first published novel. The scenario is a huge trench battle for an Imperial Forgeworld which has been taken by the forces of Chaos. A nice kickoff for the series, but not the best book in it by a long shot.

The second part, "Ghostmaker", is set on the jungle planet Monthax, although large parts of the books are flashbacks to establish the backstory, and many chapters which are basically stand-alone short stories focusing on events in the lives of some of the individual Ghosts. This is a great idea, as it is a chance to get to know, understand and like some of the individual Troopers a whole lot better. We get to meet master sniper "Mad" Larkin in a dream-like episode in which he talks to the statue of an angel during an assassination mission. We accompany the heavy weapon specialist "Try again" Bragg who is big, but not neccessarily dumb. We get to understand the mean and capable Major Elim Rawne and his complicated relationship with Gaunt better. Chief scout Oan Mkoll is shown to be a sneak of almost supernatural capabilities. And Gaunt himself has some chapters about his past as well.
This book is already a fair bit better than the debut, and does a good job of entertaining the reader and strengthening the foundation of the series.

The third book, "Necropolis", is the part where the series really lifts off and flies. Vervunhive, a huge city-state on the planet Verghast, comes under attack from another hive city called Ferrozoica. The odds of Vervunhive surviving are appalingly bad, and Warmaster Macaroth, commander of the Crusade, dispatches some Imperial Guard regiments that are in transit through nearby space to assist the imperiled city. The Tanith First is one of those regiments. They enter an apocalyptic conflict that shapes the future of the regiment profoundly.
A great read, Necropolis is the first of the "Gaunts Ghosts" series that really stands out, doing a great job of depicting the bleak, hopeless and utterly brutal war to defend the stricken city from extinction.

This Omnibus is, as already stated, the starting point of a great series. The first two parts aren't bad, but they do not yet reach the level of quality of the later installments. That said, I'd nevertheless recommend reading them as they add considerably to the enjoyment of the series as a whole.
I'd rate "First and Only" with a 3/5, "Ghostmaker" somewhere between 3-4/5 (the variation is due to the format of lots of loosely connected short stories) and "Necropolis" with a 4,5/5. Contrary to the Eisenhorn series these books cater rather pointedly to an audience of gamers and connoisseurs of military fiction, although I do not consider that to be a drawback. They are still well written (getting progressively better) and a highly enjoyable and gripping read.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: GamesPoet on April 17, 2010, 12:48:23 AM
I bought "The Saint", but I'm resisting the temptation to read, inorder to read the first Gaunt's Ghosts omnibus first.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Aldaris on April 17, 2010, 09:47:47 AM
Good choice, and share your opinion when you're done!
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Lord_Bieter on June 27, 2010, 12:29:32 AM
The Florin and Lorenzo Trilogy
by Robert Earl
The Florin and Lorenzo Trilogy is what I refer to as jolly good trash. The first book, The Burning Shore is full of action and light-hearted adventure. It begins in Bretonnia, in the city of Bordeleaux, where Florin, a cocksure disinherited merchant's son, has gambled his way into debt and runs to Lustria with Lorenzo, his faithful friend and manservant, to escape his creditor, an evil old gangster who becomes quite a major bad guy throughout the series. The expedition to Lustria is a disaster, and though they find a lot of gold they get besieged in an abandoned Lizardman Temple-City by, you guessed it, Lizardmen. They eventually escape and return home rich men.
Wild Kingdoms is the second book and in this one, Florin and Lorenzo get sent by a noblewoman to find her daughter, the daughter is suppossedly held by ogres in the Ogre Kingdoms, the girl, Katherine, is eventually found to have become integrated in Ogre society after being saved from a goblin ambush by an ogre named Jarmoosh, who Katherine treats as half father figure, half hero. She is at first unwilling to leave the ogres but is persuaded to leave eventually by her new boyfriend, a Strigany guide Florin hires earlier in the book. Once again this one is full of light-hearted adventure and action.
Savage City is the last full book in the series and is mainly centered on Katherine. This one is a lot more emotional, love-interest based, and generally depressing. After getting Katherine back to her mother, a conniving shrew who intends to marry her to the fat son of the old gangster from the first one for his money, Florin and Lorenzo get back to living it up with their Lustrian gold. The marriage is ruined by Katherine already being married to Sergei, the Strigany guide. Sergei is killed, an then subsequently, Katherine's pet sabretusk Tabby is also killed and the marriage goes ahead. Florin and Lorenzo later save her at the gangster's house from being raped and they go into hiding in the worst part of town. The book ends with Katherine founding a little society of happy little sunshine poor people in the Sump, the name of the worst part of town where the dregs of the dregs of society hang out. The gangster never gets killed or anything and you feel deprived of a true ending.

There are a couple of decent short stories in the story too Haute Cuisine being the best one.
Overall the series get a 7 out of 10, if, and only if, you do not take the stories seriously. Take one of the books seriously and its ruined, but keep an open mind ready to laugh for the sake of laughing then there GREAT! They're not well-written, nor is plot awesomely worked out, but the characters are hilarious and alot happens to keep you interested.   
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: General Vargoth on March 06, 2014, 07:29:00 PM
I'm going to add one here, despite it being a while since a review was added. That and, given the '404' when I click "Library" at the top of the page, it may not even be added. But still:

THE VAMPIRE WARS TRILOGY
By Steven Savile


Well, what to say about this trilogy? It started out with great potential, like so many trilogies do, and meandered away to the extent that I struggled to even turn a page in the third book. It is obvious from the title that these books are based around the Vampire Counts; more specifically Vlad, Konrad and Mannfred von Carstein. Each book revolves around a single Count, although Mannfred makes his appearance in Konrad's book and fully comes into his own in the third and final part of the trilogy. Still, even his impressive might can't save this.

The book is packed with action; from the various conflicts of each war against the Vampire Counts to the grudge held by Kallad Stormwarden and his various attempts to fulfill it. Savile has no qualms about killing off characters you think, after a few chapters, might become permanent members of the story. More than once I found myself thinking "Oh, he'll make a good companion" and then BAM! Dead. In fact, one of them main characters in the first book suffers such a fate. I think it shows real ingenuity and a willingness to take risks on the part of the author, and commend Savile for it. Unfortunately, most of the characters he kills off in this way are the only ones in the trilogy who are actually interesting or worth reading about. Every time he killed one off, I found myself thinking "great, so we're stuck with X for longer"; sarcastically, of course.

Savile's main error is repetition. After a book we understand the vampiric need to feed, to drink blood, and so on. Every other paragraph in all three books reinforces this in some way, from vampire's thinking it to humans stating it. It becomes beyond annoying, to the point where I almost began skipping these parts because I could pretty much guess, 100%, exactly what words would be there. The book is obviously going to be gloomy, given who its about, and I think Savile struggled to find a way of getting this across. After using combat, he falls back repeatedly on "they drink your blood", to the point where it loses what it brought at the beginning.

This is only a short review because, honestly, I struggle to find anything good to say about it. The action is well-written, but the moment it contains vampires it becomes repetitive to the point of complete boredom. I'd recommend reading the first book, Inheritance, but would only recommend the second and third if you can get them for free.

2 out of 5 stars.
Title: Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
Post by: Rowsdower on December 04, 2016, 10:43:39 AM
Ciaphus Cain series

The Ciaphus Cain series is written by Sandy Mitchel who has created a protagonist who is a mesh of Blackadder and Flashman. The books are written via Cain's recollections and 'edited' by his lover, Amberly Vail [an Inquisitor]. Cain purposely leaves parts out, misremembers events or just blatantly lies to cover what he was really doing [or not doing] at the time.

One passage in particular sticks out to me from 'The traitors hand'. He leads a platoon of men into a house of ill repute to arrest some Slaanesh cultists but the 'working' girls open fire. He says something along the line of "I've never seen men, so worried about entering a brothel before"