home

Author Topic: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!  (Read 34041 times)

Offline rufus sparkfire

  • Global Moderator
  • Posts: 33265
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« on: December 21, 2005, 03:03:42 PM »
The Imperial Scrivener has been messing with the warhammer-empire.com library yet again, and now there is a section for book reviews.

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any warhammer novels, army books, background books or roleplay books - or of other fantasy novels, historical novels or historical reference books (Osprey, for example) - the scrivener would most likely pass out in excitement.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, or just email them to me.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: May 16, 2006, 09:17:00 AM by rufus sparkfire »
Hey, I could still beat up a woman!
If I wanted to.

Offline Crimsonsphinx

  • Posts: 7074
  • A mind without purpose walks in dark places
    • marcwalpole
    • View Profile
    • My Models Photobucket account
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #1 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.
Stare into the Abyss and the Abyss stares back.

Visit my 40k blog http://2plusdispel.blogspot.com/ updated four or more times a month and offers painting advice and gaming advice for warhammer 40,000

Offline rufus sparkfire

  • Global Moderator
  • Posts: 33265
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #2 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.
Hey, I could still beat up a woman!
If I wanted to.

Offline Guvnor

  • Posts: 1791
  • I'm just north of London
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #3 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?
I have one sentence in response to the engineer and mechanical: Empire is post-feudal age, not post-nuclear age!

Offline rufus sparkfire

  • Global Moderator
  • Posts: 33265
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2005, 03:15:27 PM »
Oh, what the hell. If it's a book, review it!
Hey, I could still beat up a woman!
If I wanted to.

Offline Crimsonsphinx

  • Posts: 7074
  • A mind without purpose walks in dark places
    • marcwalpole
    • View Profile
    • My Models Photobucket account
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #5 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.
Stare into the Abyss and the Abyss stares back.

Visit my 40k blog http://2plusdispel.blogspot.com/ updated four or more times a month and offers painting advice and gaming advice for warhammer 40,000

Offline Captain Tineal

  • Posts: 2419
  • You will join me or die! Could you do any less?
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #6 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
I don't know what a pisolires is but it sounds like a musical instrument you play with urine...

Offline Guvnor

  • Posts: 1791
  • I'm just north of London
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2005, 03:38:47 PM »
Guvnor stitches together some pages and starts to review them...
I have one sentence in response to the engineer and mechanical: Empire is post-feudal age, not post-nuclear age!

Offline Con El Pueblo

  • Posts: 117
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #8 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
Imperial wizards already surpass wood elven ones, who are skilled only in the hugging of trees. And possibly also the singing of protest songs.

Offline Patriarch

  • Posts: 45
    • View Profile
Forged in Battle reviewed
« Reply #9 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.

Offline Lord Etharion

  • Posts: 1001
  • RIP Rufas
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #10 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
Quote from: Shadowlord
Moo-moo land here I come.
Quote from: rufus sparkfire
I only wish moo-moo land didn't have an internet connection.

CountRommel

  • Guest
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #11 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.

Offline Guvnor

  • Posts: 1791
  • I'm just north of London
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #12 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.
I have one sentence in response to the engineer and mechanical: Empire is post-feudal age, not post-nuclear age!

Offline Demonslayer

  • Posts: 2268
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #13 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...
Wartales online campaigns, dedicated to bringing you the best in online warhammer campaigns!

Offline Demonslayer

  • Posts: 2268
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #14 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.
Wartales online campaigns, dedicated to bringing you the best in online warhammer campaigns!

Offline rufus sparkfire

  • Global Moderator
  • Posts: 33265
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #15 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.
Hey, I could still beat up a woman!
If I wanted to.

Offline Demonslayer

  • Posts: 2268
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #16 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.
Wartales online campaigns, dedicated to bringing you the best in online warhammer campaigns!

Offline AldebrandLudenhof

  • Posts: 885
  • London, UK
    • View Profile
    • Hammer and Anvil
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2005, 04:31:26 PM »
Is it ok if we end up with two reviews of the same book?

Offline Demonslayer

  • Posts: 2268
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #18 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.
Wartales online campaigns, dedicated to bringing you the best in online warhammer campaigns!

Offline AldebrandLudenhof

  • Posts: 885
  • London, UK
    • View Profile
    • Hammer and Anvil
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #19 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.

Offline Patriarch

  • Posts: 45
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #20 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.

Offline wisenheimer

  • Posts: 613
  • Michigan, USA
    • View Profile
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #21 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...

Offline RGB

  • Posts: 1379
    • View Profile
    • http://www.hammer-anvil.com
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #22 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.
[in the good of life]

Offline MixnMash

  • Posts: 171
    • View Profile
Zavant Gordon Rennie
« Reply #23 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.

Offline Calvin

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 4154
    • View Profile
    • CalvinWinter.net
Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #24 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)
Quote from: Rufas the Eccentric
Remember this every one, when in trouble just screem, CALVIN!
Quote from: Eight
I'd pay an extra 15 points or so to be able to take the engineer out back and shoot him.