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Author Topic: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!  (Read 35462 times)

Offline Aldaris

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #100 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.

Offline rufus sparkfire

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #101 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.
Hey, I could still beat up a woman!
If I wanted to.

Offline Aldaris

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #102 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.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 08:53:47 PM by Aldaris »

Online GamesPoet

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #103 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.
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

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Offline Aldaris

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #104 on: April 17, 2010, 09:47:47 AM »
Good choice, and share your opinion when you're done!

Offline Lord_Bieter

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #105 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.   
There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge - Bertrand Russel

Offline General Vargoth

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #106 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.
There is no good and evil, only power, and those to weak to seek it...

Offline Rowsdower

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Re: Wanted: book reviews for the Library!
« Reply #107 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"