figures · fine detail · hobby · miniatures.

The Novelist.

I wanted to talk about these two lovely miniatures that I painted over Christmas. How they came about was rather strange in a way and I want to share it.

I will show the miniatures first and then tell of their tale.

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The images are darker than I first thought but they will suffice for now. I have also never painted tartan before, so please don’t judge me too harshly.

I painted these for Graham McNeill – that is the McNeill tartan, or thereabouts at least, after a conversation on twitter. I have spoken to him a few times here and there and have always found our conversations to be encouraging and him to be exceptionally pleasant.

So, these two came around after a conversation that went a bit like this:

GMN: (after watching the Outlaw King) I want to write a high fantasy novel with loads of warring factions.

Me: Do it, that sounds amazing.

GMN: Alright, but you’re painting the miniatures to go with it.

Me: Deal, but I want a signed copy.

GMN: Done.

I am paraphrasing of course. My husband then suggested I should paint his tartan on the back and I am loathe to turn down a challenge. These two were selected and painted up and the result is for you all to see. Of course, these miniatures now belong to Graham McNeill; when we meet in person, I will hand them over. I am way too scared to ask for a place to send them, though the prospect of meeting someone you really look up to is also rather terrifying. I will have to try not to run away in a nervous fit of excited energy…

Anyway, I do not expect anything in return, the conversation was pretty tongue-in-cheek after all and I would never impose in that way. I am just pleased that it was remembered and brought some smiles about. I also got to paint some tartan, which was fun!

40K · book review

Review: The Ahriman Series

Some of you may have noticed that I have a little* bit of a soft spot for Ahriman so, I thought it would be a good idea to actually give the books by John French a read. I looked up his blog for the reading order, loaded up the kindle and off I went. I will try and do this without too many spoilers, but the books have been out for a while and I think most of us know the outcome by now anyway.

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One day, I too hope to shoot lightning out my hands…

I enjoyed All is Dust – a short story from the perspective of a Rubric Marine. What is that you say? They’re just dust floating about in armour! This one seemed to be able to recall his name and some basic emotion when roused to battle but rapidly forgot it when he returned to the inert state. I liked this because it offered insight into what are basically suits of armour that are pushed about by sorcerers.

In the series, there are three novels and a collection of other short stories told from the Point of View of a sorcerer known as Ctesias. These are told in first person narrative and I am going to admit that Ctesias did my head in. His insights into what was going on was irritating, though I think that was the character rather than the tales he was telling, which were good. I do enjoy it when a character grates on my nerves. Not all characters are written to be liked after all and Ctesias certainly got a reaction. The outcome of one particular story was rather satisfying for me as a reader, if not Ctesias himself.

So, the story of Ahriman then. Well, he sulks a great deal. The start of the series is after the rubric and he is hiding away from what he did. The three books follow his journey to ‘power’ and ends with the (and this is the HUGE spoiler here) failure of the second rubric. The books are easy to read, well constructed and even the characters that I don’t like are engaging. There is a range of different personalities within the three novels but none of them dominate. They all get a good amount of ‘screen time’ as well. The plots are well constructed, elaborate and engaging. I know for a fact that I will read these again and not just because I am fan of the Thousand Sons.

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Just a regular day in the warp.

The one thing that these tales confirmed for me, again, is that Magnus is a giant, selfish jerk who really needs to get his head out his butt and think of someone other than himself once in a while. There was rage… I do like it when characters and books make me actually feel something! It is a real treat!

The next book I am reading is Primogenitor by Josh Reynolds. Friends have been on at me for months to read it and I managed to grab a copy at the weekend.

 

*It’s not that little really, my adoration of the Persian Space Wizard is well known and unashamed.

40K · book review · Uncategorized · Warhammer 40000 · Warhammer 40k · Wh40K

Review: Black Legion – Aaron Dembski-Bowden

BLPROCESSED-Black-Legion-coverThis book is so awesome I am going to leave the picture huge. I was fortunate enough not to wait long for the second installment of the Black Legion series, which was a relief seeing as I loved the first one.

The story picked up a ‘few’ years on from where the last one left off, once again being told through the eyes of Iskandur Khayon, former Thousand Son Legionary. He has become Abaddon’s assassin and seems to be struggling with the role. I won’t go into details because spoilers but I will say when he overcomes these inhibitions, awesomeness ensues.

The narrative of the novel is in the first person once again, something I found well crafted before and was not let down this time. The voice of Khayon comes through clearly throughout; you can definitely tell that he was a member of the Thousand Sons before his change of allegiance. When he is explaining things to you, he does so from the stance of a scholar – it is a little like being in a lecture. Instead of detracting from the pace of the novel, it explains things about the Eye of Terror that the reader doesn’t know. Khayon never gives up the opportunity to enlighten the reader about the trials and tribulations he and his brethren face on a daily basis!

Although the book deals with the serious, and often deadly, threats that face the newly established Black Legion, there is no shortage of funny aspects either. Each character is well established with one another and there is no shortage of bickering and sniping a one another, which provides the novel with some much needed comic moments. We all know and understand that life in the grim dark future is just that but these interactions remind the reader that there is humour too.

Also: Abaddon fights Sigismund… Well paced, perfectly written and oh my word what a page turning ending to the novel! Just amazing! The rest of the fight scenes are amazing – highlighting the brutality needed to win and the lengths of the character’s ambitions too. There is also a wicked space battle that had me turning the pages quicker than I thought possible.

It is a perfect follow-up to an epic start, I just hope the next installment isn’t too far in the future!

book review · Wh40K

Review: A Thousand Sons – Graham McNeill

Thousand Sons I had the distinct pleasure of reading this novel on the decks of the Thompson Majesty while on my honeymoon – often with a cocktail or two; it would be rude not to after all.

What a real pleasure it was to read too! I’ll start off by celebrating all of the rich description within this novel. During parts of the novel, I could easily picture the setting, to the point where I felt as though I was actually walking down some of the Tizcan streets with the characters as they spoke. Maybe that could be attributed to the warm climates I was in too but it was a real pleasure. The choice of words used paints a truly wonderful picture, one that I devoured gladly and you should too! It was as though I could smell what was being made in the markets, hear the traders calling and feel the heat of the sun too.

Characters in the novel are spectacularly well written; the leading cast are well rounded and layered. McNeill carefully ensures that the Space Marine characters are not carbon copies of each other and that they are different from the contingencies of remembrancers (humans) too. Not all the characters are likeable, they’re not meant to be, but they are well written. I found it very difficult to be sympathetic to the Primarch of the Thousand Sons; he came across as an aloof, arrogant being without a trace of thought for those he used – he was meant to. I could find solace in the fact he was well written and that his sons were far more likeable than he was.

The pace of the novel was perfect too, there were no points where the story lulled or seemed to drag on either. Each twist and turn of the novel is woven carefully together and the differences of opinion of the characters are artfully displayed.

I cannot stress enough how I enjoyed the novel and really look forward to reading a lot more about the Thousands Sons legion. I hear there are some pretty devastating turns in store for Ahriman and his friends.

book review · Uncategorized · Wh40K

Review: The Talon of Horus – Aaron Dembski-Bowen

 

Talon of HorusWell, I read this one a bit quickly! The Talon of Horus had been on the shelf for a little while now and I fancied reading something that wasn’t in the Horus Heresy saga. Those of you who know me well will also be aware that I have a bit of fascination regarding Abaddon and so this book seemed like it would be an interesting read.

The fact that I managed to read it in less than three days whereas the last book took more than a month says a great deal about how amazing this read was. I was a little wary of the first person narrative to begin with. I’ve read a few books written in this style and they have been absolute rubbish. Not the case here. The narrator has a very clear voice and it never loses focus through the novel. The reader is never left with a sense of disembodiment and the point of view is clear and maintained throughout the tale.

There are plenty of moments in the novel that made me laugh out loud too, I don’t want to spoil any of the details but there are a few well thrown punches and dry quips that are golden. The World Eater character can be relied upon to act according to his nature in moments that are utterly brilliant.  One of the things that really resonated me with this novel was how the narrator highlighted how inhuman he was and yet in other parts would act in very human ways. He is very aware of the differences and is very keen to remind the reader of them yet his actions, at times, show the opposite

The pace of the novel is perfect. The blend of action and narrative is just right and it kept me turning the pages late into the evening and well into the day when I should have been doing other things. The action within the novel is well written, engaging and never seems to drag on as it has in some other stories I have read.

Within the pages of this novel there are some tastefully used metaphors, something I don’t normally pick up on. I am not known for subtlety after all… The part when the main characters are walking through acid rain and the colours of their former legion is washed off is just too poetic not to mention. Especially as the novel deals with the birth of the Black Legion! Hats off to you Aaran Demnski-Bowden

All in all, this was a devastatingly amazing read. You should go and read it right now. You’ll want to join the Black Legion afterwards, but that’s alright; what’s a little heresy between friends?

 

40K · book review · horus heresy · Warhammer 40k · Wh40K

Review: Fallen Angels – Mike Lee

Fallen AngelsIt seems to have taken me forever to read this book. Being busy at work has certainly not helped matters but I have finally managed to finish it! Not that the summer holidays have had anything to do with that, no sir!

I’ll start by saying that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Dark Angels book – Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon. I found the pacing a bit off and compared to the rest of the series, it was a bit of a bad egg. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t as good as some of its predecessors.

Fortunately, this one is better. The pacing at the start of the novel is slow, I will concede that point and it took a while to get going. When it did get going however, it turned into the ‘cannot put down’ page turner that I expect from a Horus Heresy novel.

The story picks up the two separate tales of cousins Nemiel and Zahariel; the two protagonists from the first novel and continues their saga. I’m not going to say overly much about what happens, I want you to go and read the novel for yourself and find out but I will say that it is exciting.

The plot of the two stories don’t really entwine with one another. Nemiel’s is based on the planet of Diamat, where the Dark Angel’s, along with their Primarch have to thwart the rebel’s attempts at securing the planet. Zahariel’s is set on Caliban along with Luther and the other ‘banished’ Dark Angels. The two plots are both engaging, when they find their momentum, and there are some astonishingly well written battle scenes to boot. There are some pretty hefty twists towards the end of the book too which were interesting, again, I’m not going to discuss them in detail but believe me, you’ll roll your eyes!

Give the book a read, it is well worth it despite the slow start!

book review · Warhammer 40000 · Wh40K

Mechanicum – Horus Heresy Book 9 – Graham McNeill

Mechanicum-A5-thumbI was fortunate enough to read this book while I was sunning myself on the beach in the far distant Caribbean, both of which was a treat.

This book was rather different than the last few I have read. Instead of focusing on Space Marines and Primachs, this one looks at how the Heresy affects the workings of the forges on Mars (The Mechanicum as the title subtly suggests…)

I found this book to be a welcome change from the material I have been reading so far. There are mention of Space Marines, however they are far from the focus of the novel. Instead, the reader is treated to the inner workings of large warmachines – Titans, and their respective Princeps. As well as following the tale of a young tech genius and her friends.

I am not going to give away what happens, that would be unfair and I hate writing review with spoilers in. The book is well worth a read, the characters are well written and although I was not as taken with them as I have been in previous books, they are still worth reading and investing in!

There is one particular piece of writing that I feel deserves a special mention – the description of what happened during a particular disaster that spread across the whole planet was particularly masterful. I was easily able to picture exactly what was happening throughout the section and the sense of impending doom that ran through the section was spectacular.

I did feel that the pace of the book was somewhat slower in places, though it never dragged. I have put this down to being used to the rapid flow of the previous novels. Not every book can run at a break neck speed and the story did not lose anything because of this.

All in all, I rather enjoyed the change of focus of the novel and would recommend it as a decent read.

book review · Warhammer 40000

Battle for the Abyss – Horus Heresy Book 8 – Ben Counter

Ben Counter Battle For The AbyssNow, I know this book has not been the most popular in the series. When I said it was the one I was reading next, my sister, and several other people, warned me that it was ‘a bit rubbish’ (I am paraphrasing) and that I should skip it.

I am glad I didn’t listen to them!

Alright, so it’s nowhere near as good as the first three books in the series, but then again that is going to take a lot of beating.

Lets start with the positive.

Excellent characters: They are well written, carefully thought out and each have their own goals. None of them are perfect and for most of the novel, none of them actually get on either. I’m not going to spoil the novel for those that want to go away and read it but for me, ‘Rambo-Space Marine’ was one of the highlights of the book. The mental images that the writing brought to mind were perfect!

Solid Story Line: There is a good plot to the novel which I never thought I would like. The setting is space and it involves a lot of ship combat – something I never thought I would like about a novel. However this is the exception. There is a lot of it in the book and it is very well written. Ben Counter knows his stuff!

The Negative.

Pace: I would have thought that a book with so much going on in it would be a bit quicker. Such is not the case however. There are parts of the novel that are plodding and slow and I feel that with another round of editing, it could have been so much better. There are a lot of dead words and without these ti would have been a much more exciting read.

Generally speaking, pace is the only thing wrong with the novel. Counter is a master at writing and I really enjoyed reading this book.

 

 

 

40K · hobby · Warhammer 40k

Update

Seven Model Army...Just a quick update to let folks know where I am up to and what I have spent the last few days doing in regards to the hobby.

I am part the way through Battle for the Abyss and I am enjoying it. Not as much as Legion but I find I am liking the story and the characters. This is a bit of a surprise as it has been mostly ship based so far, not something I thought I would like.

I have been painting some Space Marines with heavy weapons and they are proving to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve run out of regular guys to paint so need to get my act together and get some put together to fix this little problem – pictures of that (failure) to follow.

The novel writing is also coming along well, I have hit over fifteen thousand words and am going strong with it. Most days I smash my pitiably low target of one hundred words and I am loving getting to know the characters and how they react in different situations.

On a much sadder note, I did not get the job as a writer for Games Workshop.

book review · Warhammer 40000 · Warhammer 40k

Legion – Dan Abnett

LegionI don’t know if I have the words to say how much I loved reading this book. I could not put it down. Admittedly, there have been a few in the series that have been like this for me. After Descent of Angels I was a bit worried the series might be falling off. I had nothing to worry about because this little gem of a book followed it up.

It is the first that features the Imperial Guard being the focus of the novel rather than the Space Marines and their Primarchs. The story begins with a torture scene and then details the events that lead up to that moment.

The plot in the book twists and turns in masterful loops and I did not see the ending turning out the way it did. There were a few key elements that I did manage to figure out but man, I did not expect the ending to do what it did. It is a real credit to Abnett, who told the tale masterfully well without giving away everything too early. It never felt as if it dragged and the pace was as punchy as I have come to expect from this series.

The characters within the story are well written and are not cardboard cut outs or cliche ridden fools. they each play their part well and come off as well rounded individuals. Not a single person in the novel annoyed me, though I did get a bit angry with some, it was for well motivated reasons rather them being badly written. I genuinely cared about how the characters acted and what happened to them too and after Istsvan III, (There were tears and ice-cream) I have been most reluctant to do so.

There was only one point that was a bit abrupt, which was towards the end. I won’t go into details because spoilers but it felt as though it was a rush at the end and a neat tie off rather than an actual ending. It just read as forced which was a shame.

That said, it did not spoil the rest of this amazing novel for me. I really look forward to reading the next one in the series and hope it is as pacy as this one!