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Book Reviews

Posted by on in Book Reviews

The Iron Heel is a 1908 sci-fi novel by Jock London.

One of the first distopic novels, not the first, as Gulliver's travels is earlier, and does count.  (So would "a modest proposal," come to think of it.)

The plot, such as it is, is that in the future there exists a diary of a guy who was some sort of guerilla hero way back in 1910.

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There are two new Andalites in town, and Ax isn't sure if he should have ableist or homophobic about it.

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The latest in the rapidly growing list of limited edition novellas produced by Black Library, The Purge sees focus return to Anthony Reynolds’ ensemble of Word Bearers.

The 34th Host, also known as the 34th company of the Perpetual Spiral chapter, lays siege to the Perception system in Ultramar’s Five Hundred Worlds. With the last of the Ultramarines engaged in a bloody last stand, Captain Sor Talgron commits his troops to finally finishing off the remnants of Guilliman’s legion. Resenting his battle-brothers’ urgent need for faith in higher powers, Talgron has become increasingly jaded with their clandestine operations.

Ever the loyal soldier to Lorgar, he none the less bitterly remembers the operations and choices he was called to make before Rogal Dorn at the outbreak of the Heresy. However, the Ultramarines are far from beaten and they yet have one hand left to play. As Talgron moves to face them one final time, the fickle hand of fate may yet tip the balance of power against him…

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Greg takes a look at the first book in the Guardians of Ga'hoole series. Did he find it a HOOT... No, I'm sorry, I can't do this, no owl puns, I'm so sorry!

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Today I’d like to talk about one of my favourite series of books, the Asian Saga by the late author James Clavell. I first encountered these books when I was living abroad in Japan when my roommate was reading the book “Shogun”. I picked up a copy myself a few months later and promptly fell in love, tracking down the rest of the saga over the next year or so and devouring each of them.

I’ve since re-read the whole saga at least once, but certain favourite books have been re-read a good few times. Clavell sadly passed away in 1994 and was apparently planning a few more books in the saga, this really is a loss as the novels are some of the most entertaining and well-written books I have ever read.

The series consists of six books and it is more appropriate to refer to them as a saga as the series is not in the traditional sense of a continuous story with the same group of characters, but each takes place in different country, and often in a different century. Clavell may not have intended the saga to be so far reaching after the first three books, as they are largely independent of each other, but with the last 3 books he worked to weave them all together to make a coherent narrative and it works incredibly well.

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Of all the legions in the Horus Heresy series, the ones who keep getting the short end of the stick are the Iron Hands. With its legionaries often stuck playing second fiddle to a book’s true protagonists, with no character study of Ferrus Manus in sight, and even the Death Guard having been offered more time in the limelight of late. This book is the one which finally corrects that, and it was well worth the wait despite the lack of Ferrus. However, what makes this one truly interesting is its focus upon aspect all too often overlooked in Warhammer. A genre which is key to the franchise but is far too often brushed aside in many tales: Horror.


Set in the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre, the book follows the surviving astartes of the Shattered Legions. Having been scattered to the winds and reduced to guerrilla tactics, few survived the great betrayal and they now fight in the name of retribution. However, the scars of that nightmare conflict remain fresh and the Iron Hands of the Veritas Ferrum find their hatred directed as much at their fellow survivors from the Salamanders and Raven Guard as their arch foes. However, as they enter the Pandorax system, none among them truly realise that true damnation them on the world of Pythos…


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Much like Angel of FireKenobi is a book which becomes infinitely more entertaining once you realise what the author is attempting. Taking stylistic elements and genre conventions of Wild West tales, Miller shows elements of the universe in a very different light. While Star Wars tales have always retained certain basic elements of the Wild West, especially in scoundrels like Han Solo and Tatooine itself, the novel wholeheartedly embraces it.

Set only a short time following the events of Revenge of the Sith, the novel's opening sees Kenobi returning to Tatooine with Luke. Handing over the infant to his aunt and uncle, the Jedi then attempts to enter exile far off, isolated from all others. However, after so many years in service to justice, the Jedi can hardly ignore calls for help. Especially when lives are at stake.

You'll soon be able to see the Western tropes not long after starting the book. There's a landlord with too much power, a streak of avarice and a spoiled, cruel offspring, Kenobi is a stranger new to the town with a desire for justice, there's a decent family trying to make a living in a harsh wasteland, there's Tusken raiders besieging farms, and things are becoming more complicated with every passing day. Most of the analogues fit together surprisingly well, and once you fully realise just how closely the book is trying to make itself into a sci-fi western, it generates its own kind of charm. Sure it might be a little cliched at times or delve a little too deeply into certain tropes, but that's what everything Star Wars does, and it tends to do it well. In many respects it's handled in a Firefly manner, blending together it and science fiction extremely close together, far better than anyone would have guessed.

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Posted by on in Book Reviews

Hello and welcome to The Book Bag! Today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! I love it when authors deliberately try to make it seem as though their stories could be entirely real. My first encounter with this was the Harry Potter series, all the way back in first grade. In the books, Muggles (or “non-magical beings”) encounter magic, their minds are wiped. So, the books could be real and we’ve just been mind-wiped! For all I know, I met Harry Potter at the library yesterday! The point is, I know that the books are not real but it’s fun to imagine that they are. The Lorien Legacies series takes it one step further by naming the author as Pittacus Lore, an ancient Lorien who is hiding out on Earth...possibly. In reality, Jobie Hughes and James Fray collaborated to create the series. Now, what is it?


The Lorics are an ancient alien race. However, an evil race of aliens known as the Mogadorians attack their planet. Only nine Loric babies and their Cepans (captains/mentors) are sent with them. The Cepans will train them to use their powers (also known as Legacies) to defeat the Mogadorians, who are hunting them. If they succeed in slaying them all, they will conquer the Earth. The various titles of the books (I Am Number Four, The Power Of Six, The Rise Of Nine, etc.) come from the Loric teenagers themselves. They were referred to only as their number. On Earth, they move from town to town when potential Mogadorians arrive, changing their identities. Finally, the Lorics can only be killed in numerical order. Once one of them dies, the others have a horrific scar burned onto their ankle as an involuntary warning signal. Three have already died. Number Four is the protagonist.

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