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Book Review: Dune

It has been a while since I wrote any form of book review. I find that as much as I enjoy reading 40K novels, they’re all decent and enjoyable so I’d stopped bothering. A few people have given me mixed reviews about Dune, and after seeing (and loving) the film I thought I would read it and see what I thought for myself.

I had wondered whether the novel would suffer from ‘old book syndrome’ – wherein a book was written so long ago that the language makes it difficult to understand. Written in 1965, I found Dune an easier read than some more ‘modern’ counterparts (Neuromancer, I am looking at you).

Don’t get me wrong, the book does make the reader do some of the work. Explicit descriptions are left out in many parts of the book, unlike most 40K books I have read recently. It makes you think and lets your mind fill in the gaps, which I enjoyed a great deal. Some of the concepts are not explained within the novel either – though there is a handy appendix at the end in case you need reminding, or something explaining. The novel expects the reader to accept that some concepts are so ingrained in the social norms of the book, that they do not need explaining.

I liked how House Atreides’ members had familiar names, whereas the Harkonnen and Fremen characters had more exotic ones. It is a good way of earmarking the ‘familiar’ and ‘other’ without it being explicit. All the characters – and there are a few of them, are well written, thought out and have a purpose. There is a large variety of characters within the novel, and not one of them felt like a stereotype. They have a decent balance within them, and I felt it easy to relate to some, and easy to dislike others. I always felt as though I was supposed to feel this way, rather than them being poorly written.

I also loved the use of dramatic irony within Dune. Several of the characters, both protagonist and antagonist, allow the reader in on what they are thinking, so the reader has specialist knowledge that other characters do not. It has been a long time since I have appreciated this technique and it is done masterfully by Frank Herbert.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dune. I will say this: We all know that the true heroes of this story is the Giant Sand Worms – go and read the novel for them!

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Intercessor Squad 1!

This is not my first intercessor squad. I have long since stopped counting how many I have painted. This is the first squad in 3rd Company for the Blood Angels I have been collecting.

I started painting them before the Pandemic.

I have finally finished them. I’m super pleased with how they turned out. I feel the edge highlighting is crisp and the colours decent. I used a background to take some pictures and then took some others without it.

They have now joined their brothers on the shelf and hopefully, I’ll be able to finish some more pre-pandemic minis soon!

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Spire Tyrants and Skin Tone

I love painting skin. It’s one of those things I find very enjoyable that I know a lot of others don’t like doing. I wanted to try other skin tones, so bought myself a set of Scale75 paints focusing on skin tones.

I have used them to experiment on a Warcry Warband – The Spire Tyrants. They show a lot of flesh and it seemed a good idea. Most of the tones focused on dark skin. Here they are:

I loved how the colours blended together and how the warband has come out. The black and gold looks great against dark skin. Good experiment all round.

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Art Commissions – Nocxturne

In order to raise funds for medical care for her cats, a friend of mine is offering art commissions. She is exceptionally talented and offers work in different styles. I said I would give her a shout out to help her along – we who create have to help each other out as much as we can after all! here are some samples of her work and her details:

Here are some more links if you want to know more!

Tumblr – https://n0cxturne.tumblr.com/

Artstation – https://www.artstation.com/nocxturne

Deviantart – https://www.deviantart.com/nocxturne

Twitter – https://twitter.com/n0cxturne

Ko-fi – https://ko-fi.com/nocxturne

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Review: Spear of the Emperor – Aaron Dembski-Bowden

I have been thoroughly spoilt this year with books I have read, I’ve not had a bad one yet, and they keep getting better. This one is no exception.

I am trying to think of the best point of this book and I really am struggling to select just one. The plot, pacing, characters and language contained within this book is all fantastic.

Let’s start with the plot and pacing. The book does take a while to truly get going, but the time spent at the start of the novel is essential. None of it drags, all of it is well crafted and a good introduction to the setting of the story. The plot is masterfully crafted, twists and turns in most unexpected ways and honestly, leaves you reeling from the side-swipes it takes. I don’t do spoilers in my reviews, as you know, but I am still trying to wrap my head around what happened – go and read it, you won’t regret it.

Characters – there are some amazingly written individuals in this story. The narrative is written from the Point of View of a Chapter serf. She has an interesting history herself, and the story is told through her. I really enjoyed reading about how she uses her augmetics, and how she serves her Master. Some of the details of the Mentor Legion are left out as they are ‘secret’ and not for any reader to learn. Through her eyes, the reader is witness to exceptional interaction between some very different cultures. All the characters go through an emotional journey and are not the same as they were at the start of the story.

Technically, the novel is brilliant. None of the language is overly technical, but nor does it skimp on detail. The novel still feels like a 40K Science Fiction novel, but the details are not overwhelming. Nor are the more ‘poetic’ devices, such as simile and metaphor. The whole read is balanced and thoroughly enjoyable. There were some late night sessions because I was unable to put it down, which hasn’t happened for a while.

I also hope that there will be a follow up story to this one, it is hinted at that it is the first chapter of a longer tale, and I eagerly await the next installment!

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COOL PICTURE!

A friend of mine drew a picture of me painting Ahriman and I think this is the coolest thing I have seen in an age! I didn’t ask for it but woke up with it in my inbox on tumblr. I am thrilled to bits with it and look!! I am even painting Ahriman, it’s just perfect!!

My friend is a doctor in the US, and as such is really busy dealing with the current climate, yet she still found some time to draw me. I am so thrilled with it.

If you want to see more of her stuff, check her out here:

https://fuukonomiko.tumblr.com/

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Review: Outcast Dead – Graham McNeill

I finished listening to this today, and I must say, I really enjoyed listening to it. Graham McNeill had really delivered a kick ass novel here for several reasons.

First off, I really enjoyed the setting of the novel. Terra, and the Petitioner’s City was really interesting to read about. It came across as a richly detailed environment without the descriptions being too heavy or too laboured. There are some really grim places that are shown, which hammer home the darkness of the 30K world setting, as well as some slightly nicer, which contrasts well between the different classes of people and the stark gulf between them. There are hints of the beaurocratic nightmare contained within Terra, the squallor as well as the social construction of the Petitioner’s City.

As always, the novel is populated with a diverse range of characters from different backgrounds. The adventures an astropath, some space marines, a custodes, and several other humans can get up to is very interesting. All of them are padded out and none of them appear flat either. Three of the Space Marine characters are World Eaters and all of them are different as well. In my opinion, this is quite a tricky feaet of achievement. The dialogue between the characters is good, it flows well and always adds to the story.

The plot is strong, the pace is good and the fight scenes are artfull crafted. The language within the story is not overly poetic or laboured, nor is it overly complex. There is special mention of the word ‘mushrooming’ which I found delightful.

I am not sure what the book adds overall to the monster that is the Horus Heresy Tale as a whole, however it allows the reader to learn of elements of Terra’s past (Thunder Warriors) and by itself is a well crafted, well penned tale – well worth reading.

book review · miniatures.

Review: Dante – Guy Haley

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As many of you know, I went on holiday, which was an amazing opportunity to relax and read! And read I did! I picked this up due to the portrayal of Dante in Devastation of Baal and wanting to know more. This book did not disappoint. It follows two lines of story – one of child Dante and how he became a Blood Angel, and that of Chapter Master Dante just before the events of Devastation of Baal.

I don’t put spoilers in my reviews because the details of the story are part of the joy of reading. In this story, we are treated to so many anecdotes and memories that have happened during Dante’s long life. One of the funniest was how he got into trouble when he was a scout the first time he saw rain. It is an act we can all relate to – looking up and trying to catch it with your mouth is something I think we have all done – and it shows Dante as attached to his humanity more than other Space Marines. This is just one such tale in a book filled with them.

The side characters are not neglected in the tale either. We all know that Dante goes on to become a Blood Angel, so that is no mystery to the reader, however it does not make the tale redundant. The journey is filled with characters who are interesting and their stories are just as good. None of them feel flat or as though they are there to just pad out Dante’s story. They are individual and worth reading about too! One of them had me in tears of sorrow – a difficult feat to acomplish so well done!

Guy Haley’s use of language in this novel is great too. None of the book feels like redundent description, it is all relevent and none of it is too floral or poetic. Meaning is clear and well thought out. I read this book in less than two days, which is really quick for me.

The short part is that this book made me fall in love with Dante, it is worth reading, full of emotion and just all round fabulous! Go read this!

book review · miniatures.

Review: The Dark Tower series.

I have had a long and lasting love affair with The Dark Tower series; it is one of the novel series that has resonated with me, and still does so. When I first read it about ten years ago, I was captivated by the characters and world setting, and that hasn’t changed. Periodically, I have gone back and read the first three and a half books, but usually stopped part way through the fourth. Now that I listen to audio books while painting, I found the perfect opportunity to listen to the whole tale again.

Let’s get a picture of The Gunslinger in here, for it is his story after all:

Good points of the story the second time around include how amazingly well written the characters are. From the smallest role to the largest, all the characters have a surprisingly well developed sense of purpose and self. I remember taking nearly three books to decide whether I liked Roland and that when I did, it was a whirlwind. The same applies on the second reading, though perhaps not as intensely. The pace of the first four books is intense and keeps you reading, or listening, even when you know what is going to happen.

What surprised me too is the amount of phrases I use in day to day language that come from this series. Language I had forgotten the source of, phrases like ‘never in life’ and ‘say true?’ just became part of my language. It has a poetic ring to it certainly, and the different accents and nuances contained within the Dark Tower are wide and varied. The world setting is dense, detailed and wide, it is a real treat to read about and journey through. Nothing in this story is coincidence. Everything happens for a reason and the smallest detail in book one unfolds into a big part of the later story. The forward thinking of the author is incredible.

I’m still not sold on Stephen King writing himself into the story.

Everything else about the tale is great, I laughed, I cried and was taken along an emotional journey with the characters; still caught up in their lives despite knowing what happened. If you only ever read one (set of) books again, make it The Dark Tower!

40K · Age of Sigmar · miniatures.

Open Day: January 2020

I love going to Warhammer World, it has a really nice atmosphere and some great sights to see. The shops are always good to look around as well and Bugman’s Bar is good for food and relaxing. I love going on the open days too, because you get all of that, new releases and the chance to speak to the studio teams as well. I always come away feeling enthusiastic about new projects and with a buzz that lasts.

Today was the New Year Open Day and there were loads of new things to see! I have taken a wealth of pictures, as always so I will put these here first and then talk about them!

I saw a lot of amazing things today. I loved the new deredeo with the uber weapons load-out. I do have a soft spot for them though. I saw new Blood ANgel miniatures, which were cool. The Warcry Beasts were amazing. The new Tau lady was neat as well, though I am not a fan of them they looked good none the less.

The Exocrine is perhaps one of my all time favourites, because it has a silly grin on its face. How can I take it seriously with a smile like that??

I got to see a wicked diorama of Tzeentch creatures fighting the Dwarven Arkanauts, which was amazing. I love dioramas and made sure I took loads of pictures so I can use them as reference for my own work.

I also bought some cool stuff:

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Personal projects this year will mostly include Blood Angels and Ioneth Deepkin, and reading.