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Book Reviews

For all the emphasis which is placed upon the Emperor’s Angels of Death, it’s hard to deny that one of the things which makes Warhammer 40,000 such a great universe is the nature of its aliens. Many have far more depth behind them than the species found in much more prominent franchises such as wookies, klingons or na’vi and there is always that interesting element of how many have been reworked from a fantasy setting. Above all, this book is an essential when it comes to seeing what really makes them stand out.


Much like the sections examining the nature of the xenomorphs in the Colonial Marines Technical Manual, the book is ultimately pages upon pages of lore written with a framing device of an investigation. Following the death of the radicalist Ralei, fellow Inquisitor Brehm Sasham is sent to examine his findings. His orders are simple: Expose Ralei as a heretic and destroy any items which pose a great threat to the Imperium. Convinced to stay his hand until the last of Ralei’s captive aliens have been dissected and fully cataloged, Sasham soon finds that things may be even worse than the Ordo Xenos suspects…


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Another book in the long running Space Marine Battles series, Siege of Castellax shifts focus to the traitor legions. Having long since liberated the planet from the Imperium of Man, the Iron Warriors Third Grand Company holds dominion over countless billions of slaves. With the mineral rich planet being continually strip mined for its wealth to supply their forces on Medrengard, they soon find themselves under threat by a massive Ork WAAAGH! With their pride preventing them summoning reinforcements, the Iron Warriors will soon learn if their legendary resolve is enough to withstand this foe... 


Along with the Night Lords and Word Bearers, the Iron Warriors are the most popular Chaos faction used by writers. It's easy to see why as well. With a very different attitude to Chaos, a callous disregard for life and an iron discipline many legions have since lost, they're an interesting force to see written about. The success and popularity of Storm of Iron definitely helped in this regard. Siege of Castellax wears that inspiration on its sleeve, both to its benefit and determent. You can easily see the scope and many aspects of that book reflected here despite the Legio IV serving in a defensive role. 


The siege itself is conducted in stages, initially encountering and engaging the orks in the void and then attempting to contain them at various landing points. At every turn the Iron Warriors and their regiments are seen attempting to combat them as best they can and draw up new defensive lines. Along with being an excellent sign of an escalating conflict, we see this through the eyes of many individuals. While the many astartes of the Iron Warriors themselves are at the forefront of this, a number of slaves and soldiers also serve as viewpoint characters.

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Set during the Rebellion era, Honour Among Thieves is very much a back to basics story. Taking place between films while the initial war against the Empire was in full swing and Coruscant had yet to even be retaken, it examines the place of Han Solo during this time. Ever so much the rogue, he is tasked with the sort of mission an expert smuggler knows only too well – Find someone in the middle of dangerous territory, ensure no one finds them, and bring them back alive. Things unfortunately go awry very quickly when the person, expert rebel spy Scarlet Hark, cannot return. What she has uncovered is far too dangerous and valuable to merely ignore…


As you might have guessed from the cover, Solo himself is firmly the focus of the novel. Much more like the smuggler we saw in A New Hope than the commander of later films, a large chunk of the book is spent exploring the character’s initial thoughts at that time. His pessimism, attitude towards others and even lack of faith in either side. Most notable among these is the fact that, while he understands the Empire needs to be toppled, he believes that any effort by the Rebellion to take power will ultimately corrupt it into something just as bad. As far as he is concerned, he is looking for something much less complicated in life and does not see it as being his fight. At the story’s beginning, all he really wants is to remove the price on his head.


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Breaking away from the main ongoing saga, City of the Damned puts Gotrek and Felix in a very different place than usual. Traversing through Ostermark, the duo soon find themselves a new enemy for Gotrek to fight and a quest which pits them against the faith-bound inhabitants of the land. However, this familiar territory soon gives way to something much more sinister. Even without butting heads against the local fanatics, someone is desperate to ensure an old memory remains forgotten and the Empire's old wars are far from truly dead and buried. Something very old and infinitely malevolent lurks among the land, and it may take more than Gotrek's axe to thwart its ambitions...


As you might have guessed, this is a very atypical tale for the Gotrek and Felix series. While the series' semi-formulaic structure has never been detrimental to its originality or strength of story, this one seems to be breaking away to try something truly different.

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As many will know from the news surrounding the upcoming Star Wars sequel films, large chunks of the Expanded Universe is to be effectively swept away. Decades of stories, developments, ideas and lore are just going to be retconned into oblivion with directors pretending they never happened. While this has been met with some rejoicing, those celebrating the most only seem to be remembering the worst elements of this universe such as Darksaber or The Jedi Academy trilogy. No mention is given to the great stories which earned so much support from fans or even just how heavily fleshed out many otherwise vague organisations became. This is one of the big examples of just how beneficial that universe was.

Read The Article In Full Here

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The Jewel of the seven stars is a 1903 novel by the author of Dracula.

It begins OK, sets up an intriguing plot, then starts to drag, and things slowly get rotten from there.  There are some good parts here and there, but mostly this is lengthy story of a guy who meets a girl, and asks her father if he can take her home.  All very coy and Edwardian.  And deathly boring.

The mummy storyline goes up in dust and amounts to nothing.  Kinda reminds me of that "will it fizz?" guy from Brainiac. Well, it fizzed alright.

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The Coming Race is an 1871 Novel, with almost no plot.

What little plot there is can be summed up thus: A man follows a another man into a cave, his fellow falls down a cliff and dies, then he meets some funny subterranean cave-communists, romances one briefly, and escapes.

Most of this is a massive and really boring infodump that has no bearing on the rudimentary plot.

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LoveStar is a 2002 novel, that is mostly about a happy couple being tormented by a corporate entity.

How did this thing get published by a profit seeking entity?  Not a rhetorical question.  I want to know.

The book is entertaining, I give it that, but man, is it ever badly put together.

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Posted by on in Book Reviews

King Solomon's mines is a 1885 novel by H. Rider Haggard, that introduces us, the wolrd, to Allan Quatermain, the great white hunter.

For those who have read anything by the guy, it is in the same format: first he introduces our heroes, in much the same way as before, then what they are up to, and then they go on their long and arduous quest, which leads to them finding a long lost tribe.

War & romance happens.

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Posted by on in Book Reviews

Dr. Zhivago is a 1958 novel by soviet author Boris Pasternak.  It was most thoroughly banned in the CCCP, and generated some rather evil leers for the author from the KGB.  There is a movie, with Omar Sharif, but I haven't seen it.

The story is about the life and adventures of Yuri Zhivago, as he grows up, experiences WW1, the revolution and the civil war, and some other stuff.  He doesn't like any of it.

A large portion of the book is taken up by a doomed romance with one Larissa, who is a bit doomed, though less so than Zhivago.

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