Thursday, 31 July 2014

'Plague World' - Dana Fredsti (Titan Books)

Having been ambushed in San Francisco, which is now fully engulfed in the zombie plague, Ashley and the wild cards must pursue the enemy to San Diego. There they will discover a splinter of their own organization, the Dolofónoi tou Zontanoús Nekroús, which seeks to weaponize the plague. But that isn’t the worst news. The plague has gone airborne, making it transferable without physical contract. It cannot be controlled by anyone, so reports of the zombie swarm are coming in from across the United Statesand across the world.

Yep, when I said there were only a couple more zombie series that I was waiting to finish reading, before quitting the genre for good, Dana Fredsti's series is one of them. Despite their veering into Urban Fantasy territory at times (nothing wrong with that, just not something that I'm interested in), the 'Ashley Parker' books have been a lot of fun to read and there was never any doubt that I would be around to see the conclusion. I'm assuming that 'Plague World' is the final book by the way although I could be wrong. With the way that the titles have gone ('Plague Town' and 'Plague Nation') it's hard to see where the series could go after 'Plague World'. 'Plague Moon' might be a possibility (although I wouldn't have thought so) but I can't see it going any further than that. And that's fine. Everything has to end and it's always best to end on the best note that you can. Like 'Plague World'; a book where, if it is the last in the series, rounds things off in the best that it can.

I seem to find myself saying this a lot just recently but 'Plague World' doesn't really do anything new when set against the preceding two books. Various relationships are played out against an increasingly violent zombie apocalypse and Ashley finds herself having to make tough (even heart wrenching decisions) just to survive each day. People who have read the first two books will see instantly that nothing has really changed in the delivery and, in fairness, we shouldn't really expect it to. This is how the series has built itself up and, three books in, you shouldn't really expect any massive changes.
I'm not a hundred percent sure how I feel about this though. I shouldn't expect a big change (and especially not when Fredsti has far more important matters on her hand in terms of tying everything together) but I couldn't help but feel like a change in pace perhaps, or some real surprises (more on that in a bit) could have really made the difference.

Like I said though, Fredsti has a series to conclude (or plot-arc, I still can't decide whether there are any more books to come) and she does it pretty damn well, tying up loose ends amidst a backdrop of zombies and secret government organisations gone rogue. It's an explosive finale even if some of the revelations weren't exactly revelatory, at least not to me. Things were signposted a little too clearly for me and that robbed certain scenes of the intensity that Fredsti clearly had planned. By the end of the book though, all plot strands are neatly tied off and that added a sense of closure that I really appreciated.    

It's not all bad though, far from it. 'Plague World' has all the action and excitement of the first two books with an unsettling feeling that no-one is truly safe, even if they are a Wild Card with immunity to the zombie plague. Fredsti strikes a good balance between showing the apocalypse through the eyes of Ashley and how it is spreading across the world at the same time. I liked that approach as it really added some depth to the narrative.

I've been moaning about the constant zombie media references, in the preceding books, but with 'Plague World' came to find it all a little endearing in a geeky way (the book, not me). I've realised that what we have here is essentially 'Ready Player One' with zombies and I loved 'Ready Player One' (so can't really complain if  someone else adds their own spin on that approach).

I said yesterday that I'm done with zombie books and unless there's an excellent series out that there that I've forgotten that's still the case. I've heard it all now and nothing new is being said. This being the case, 'Plague World' is a good novel to sign out on. It may have its issues but it rounds off the zombie apocalypse whilst offering some hope for an uncertain future. Kind of how I feel actually :o)
Fans will get a lot out of the ending; newcomers should do themselves a favour and give 'Plague Town' a shot.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Books in the Post! 'Not so much 'in the post...' Edition...

I'm just over a week into the new job (seems to be going well, thanks for asking), right in the middle of a town centre full of book shops that I'd never been in before. That soon changed very quickly and seeing as I have had the mother of all book/DVD culls the other day, I felt a little justified in bringing a few books home with me. If you ever find yourself in Bromley (it could happen) have a look in 'Time Trek', a tiny little comic shop just up the road from Bromley South station. It doesn't just sell comics; if there's a gap on the shelves then the owner seems to have a great habit of filling it with books. You can't argue with that, especially when you come home with books like these...

I can't help but pick up old 'Conan' books, even if I already have all the original tales. Partly it's because of the covers, partly it's because every so often you will find tales from other contributors and I'm very interested in reading these where I can. Mostly it's because I'm really into old books, at the moment, in a strange nostalgic way. Old books are great. They've already been around longer than I have and it's likely that they will still be around when I'm not. I want to be a stop on their journey.
I already have 'Doctor Who and the Leisure Hive' on DVD but couldn't resist picking up a copy of the book for a pound (again, nostalgic memories of marmite on toast and watching 'Doctor Who' as a kid). Don't ask me why I picked up 'The Time Trap of Ming XIII' though. Seriously, I have no idea. I hope it's a good read...

'The Rituals of Infinity' was the final 'Bromley buy', turning up during a speculative peek inside Oxfam. I've more or less read/have all the 'Eternal Champion' books that I want so it's time for a look at some of Moorcock's other sci-fi writing. We'll see how it goes with 'The Rituals of Infinity'. On a side note, it's always really nice to see an old book in as good a condition as 'The Rituals of Infinity'. My edition was published in 1971 but, apart from a slightly faded cover, wouldn't look out of place in a bookshop today given how well it has been looked after. I like that :o)
'Time Bomb' was a lucky win on Twitter but I've read enough of Scott Andrews to know that I'm more than likely in for a bit of a treat here.
I'm at the end of the line with zombie novels, there is nothing new to be said and I find myself wondering if writers are covering the basics well enough for reading zombie fiction to be worth my time. There are a couple of series that I want to finish off though, Dana Fredsti's 'Plague' books being one of them. I am well into 'Plague World' at the moment; you might even see a review this week all being well.

Any of these books catch your eye. Have you read 'The Time Trap of Ming XIII'? If so, can you tell me if my £2.50 was well spent...? All comments welcome ;o)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

'Archaon: Everchosen' - Rob Sanders (Black Library)

In the north of the world the forces of Chaos gather, awaiting their moment to strike. At their head is the Everchosen, the warrior who will lead the final, cataclysmic assault that will usher in the End Times and the reign of the Ruinous Powers. But he was not always thus - he was once a man, a devout servant of the warrior-god Sigmar. What could cause such a soul to fall to the worship of the Dark Gods? What dark events could have put a knight of the Empire on the path to becoming the harbinger of the world's end? And just who was the man who will become known to all as Archaon?

Games Workshop's 'Warhammer' setting has always sat in the shadow of its far future sibling, rather unfairly I think as the Old World is just as rich and detailed a setting as that of the Imperium of Mankind. I always thought that the Old World would benefit from having someone like Horus to be a huge threat and push the narrative in new directions (otherwise it really is just one battle after another) and, a few years ago now, it got one in the form of Archaon, Everchosen of Chaos and the man to bring in the End Times.

It never happened of course. How could it when Games Workshop's strategy is to keep its settings in a state of 'on the precipice but gamely hanging on'? For me though, the introduction of Archaon was a real sign that some effort was being made to make 'Warhammer' as dynamic and interesting as Warhammer 40,000.

So, you have a character like Archaon and the immediate questions are who is he and where did he come from? Rob Sanders is the man tasked with answering these questions and he does so with some aplomb, despite the character already being part of established canon (meaning that everyone knows Archaon will make it through the events of this book and that his destiny is certain). With this book it's very much about the journey, rather than the destination, and Sanders shows us key moments in the life of Archaon where demonic influences war against fate itself to ensure that destiny is fulfilled. There's almost a hint of the meta-fictional about it with Sanders effectively writing about something that is effectively 'writing' the life of Archaon; ripping out whole chapters and starting again if the narrative doesn't flow satisfactorily. It's a really thoughtful approach that breaks up the 'hack and slash' elements of the plot and really gets you thinking about what you are reading.

Central to all this is the man Archaon himself and Sanders charts his life with a certain grim relish. At least that was the feeling that I got when Archaon accepted his destiny in several dramatic pages of blood, fire and falling masonry. Yep, while Sanders may not make it the overall focus of the plot, he still proves himself to be more than capable of writing the 'blood and thunder' moments that typify Warhammer novels. Large buildings are destroyed, mythical beasts wipe out armies and Archaon bestrides it all like the avatar of Chaos that he is. There is no doubt now that Sanders can write stirring scenes with the best of them. And while the destination is assured, Sanders puts enough obstacles in Archaon's way to keep things interesting (intrigue and double crosses abound) and develop his character further, especially his feelings for Giselle and her quest to save him from a path that he has no intention of leaving.

One of the issues that I've had with Sanders' writing, in the past, is that he takes the detail of military structure to ridiculous lengths, overshadowing the actual plot with talk of which regiment is subordinate to which commander and so on. Sanders falls victim to this indulgence again in that he doesn't leave a lot of room in the Chaos Wastes for anything but war bands, all of whom carry their own allegiances, feuds etc. This time it really works though; the Chaos Wastes are all about conflict and champions trying to carve out power for themselves. How else would you show this than by sticking at least one different war band in each paragraph? It still comes across as convoluted at times but that's just how it should be.

By my reckoning, Archaon still needs to complete a few more trials (to be worthy of the Chaos Gods) which means more books in the series You can sign me up for all of them if 'Archaon' is anything to go by, a book that overcomes inherent issues with ease and is exactly what good Warhammer fiction is all about. If you like fantasy then you really need to give 'Archaon' a go, sooner rather than later.

Monday, 28 July 2014

'Impact' - Adam Baker (Hodder)

The world is overrun by an unimaginable horror. The few surviving humans are scattered in tiny outposts across the world, hoping for reprieve - or death. Waiting on the runway of the abandoned Las Vegas airport sits the B-52 bomber Liberty Bell, revving up for its last, desperate mission. On board - six crew members and one 10-kiloton nuclear payload. The target is a secret compound in the middle of the world's most inhospitable desert.

All the crew have to do is drop the bomb and head to safety.
But when the Liberty Bell crashes, the surviving crew are stranded in the most remote corner of Death Valley. They're alone in an alien environment, their only shelter the wreckage of their giant aircraft, with no hope of rescue. And death is creeping towards them from the place they sought to destroy - and may already reside beneath their feet in the burning desert sands.

Despite a couple of small dips along the way, I'm looking at you 'Juggernaut' don't pretend that I'm not, I've been a big fan of Adam Baker's post-apocalyptic thrillers (does the series have a name?) which are easily the most bleak and apocalyptic books I've read. This is a world where the only hope is false hope, even death won't save you once the virus takes hold. Looking at those last few words, I think what also appeals to me about these books is that they have gone far beyond your regular run of the mill zombie novel and into some strange area of SF that comes complete with its own intriguing possibilities. Have you ever read a book where the alien virus has ideas other than infecting the populace? Welcome to 'Impact'…

We're four books into the sequence now and in some respects, Baker doesn't really do a lot that is new. A group of survivors are stranded in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world as the world dies around them; at first just in the background and then right up close and personal. You could take that sentence and apply it to any one of the preceding books. There is a sense of 'if it isn't broke…' here; Baker has got the mixture of danger, high stakes and tension pretty well refined and the end result works even if it is becoming a little formulaic now. Good news then for fans of the first three books who might not want anything to change; you know what you are getting and that leaves more time to chill out by the pool while on holiday. 

Not such good news for someone like me though who has enjoyed the preceding books but did have issues with 'Juggernaut' in particular. As with that book, I just found there to be too much desert in 'Impact' which rather focuses the attention on the fact that, for large chunks of the book, nothing actually happens. To be fair, the characters can't do anything apart from wait to see whether they are rescued before they die (and are conserving energy etc), they're stuck in Death Valley! It does make for (the wrong kind of) slow reading at times though and that's not what you want when you have been promised bigger and better things.

Baker does ultimately deliver though. Those creeping moments beneath the sands of Death Valley are cleverly drawn and shed a little light on what direction Baker is taking the virus in. Action may be sporadic but it's brutal when it happens and clearly illustrates a world that has gone past the tipping point and is heading into oblivion (the events of 'Impact' take place just before/during those of 'Terminus').

It's those moments of revelation that really make the book though. Are we dealing with a virus or something far more complex that may have ideas of its own? All I'll say is that there had better be another book, just one more, so we can have a little closure with that. And when you find out the reasons behind the doomed mission it just casts the whole book in an entirely new light. Human failures led to the apocalypse and human selfishness will ensure that there is no way back. Seriously, you have a nuclear bomb to use against a rampaging techno-virus and that's the first thing you think of doing with it? Baker makes his point crystal clear and leaves you wondering whether we will actually deserve the end when it happens. Okay, so maybe not a book to read by the pool after all (I finished the book and wanted to find a puppy to cuddle…)

These books can be read in any order (from what I can see) so newcomers should be able to pick up 'Impact' and just get going with it (although I'd say start with 'Outpost', my personal favourite). They'll have a great time with it as well, 'Impact' overcomes its issues to deliver a tale that is worth staying with right until the very end. It really does go out with a bang...

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Most Awesome 'Upcoming' Post You Will Ever See...

Whatever book you are thinking of right now, this is a hundred times more awesome than that. Yep, even that one...
Check this out,

Made in close cooperation with Mattel and He-Man® historians, The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe collects over 30 years of behind-the-scenes material, lore, and classic imagery!
In 1982, the world was introduced to He-Man® and Masters of the Universe®. What followed was a cultural sensation that changed the landscape of children’s entertainment forever! Join Mattel and Dark Horse in this comprehensive retrospective chronicling the decades-long epic journey of He-Man® from toy, to television, to film, to a true pop culture phenomenon!
The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe includes rarely seen images of concept sketches, prototypes, and more from Mattel’s archives. Featuring beautifully restored art from master illustrator Earl Norem—celebrated artist of the most memorable He-Man® images!

I don't know about you but I love the title 'He-Man historian'; I love living in a world where a person might call themselves a 'He-Man historian'. Why didn't they teach this history when I was at school...?
Anyway, pretty damn awesome isn't it? :o) Look out for 'The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe' in April next year. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Laura Lam's 'False Hearts' picked up by Tor UK

I'll admit that I could have written that title a little differently but, right now, I like it just the way it is :o) From the press release,

Julie Crisp, at Tor UK has pre-empted World English Language rights for False Hearts and an untitled novel by Laura Lam from Juliet Mushens at The Agency Group in a six figure deal.

Julie Crisp, Editorial Director at Pan Macmillan said: ‘I was completely hooked from the first page by Laura’s writing. To me it was like reading Hunger Games meets Blade Runner meets The Shining Girls. Thrilling, addictive and completely page-turning. Laura’s an amazing storyteller and I’m thrilled to be working with her and Juliet on this exciting novel’

Raised in Mana’s Hearth, a retreat that’s closed off from the rest of society; denied access to technology or modern medicine, twin sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When their lives are threatened they finally manage escape to San Francisco and a life that’s beyond anything they could have imagined.

Ten years later, Tila returns to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the Police arrive and arrest her for murder - the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life. For the police believe that Tila was involved with the Ratel, a powerful crime syndicate. But during her investigation she discovers disturbing links between the twins’ past and their present. Once unable to keep anything from each other, the sisters now discover the true cost of secrets.

Juliet Mushens from The Agency Group said 'False Hearts is an adrenaline-fuelled thriller, packed full of twists and turns with a compelling heroine at its heart. Laura is very talented and I am thrilled that Pan Macmillan will be her publisher.'

Laura said ‘This year has been a roller coaster, and this is definitely one of the highest highs. I loved writing False Hearts so much and I think Macmillan will do such a wonderful job introducing the world to Taema and Tila. This is a dream come true.’

I somehow never got round to reading Laura Lam's 'Pantomime' (but then I never get round to reading a lot of books) but heard enough good things said about it to be very interested in reading 'False Hearts' when it is published (at the beginning of 2016). I know it's a way off yet but will you be reading 'False Hearts'? And what have I been missing with 'Pantomime'?

Friday, 25 July 2014

Catching Up With Some Comics.

And the week of 'hardly any sleep' begins to draw to a close with a faint hope that things might improve now the weather is starting to cool off a little bit (or maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part) I've run out of films to watch on Youtube (well I haven't but you know what I mean…) so I thought I'd catch up on some of the comics that I have waiting patiently on my phone.

Me and comics have been going through a bit of a sticky patch just recently; it's either a case of nothing new catching my eye or old favourites feeling like they are running out of steam. It was really good then to see Eric Powell returning to the form we all know he is capable of with 'Goon: Occasion of Revenge #1' (Dark Horse). While the Zombie Priest may no longer be a threat, his brethren want to take over the town and the Goon and his friends may be the only people who can stop them.That is, of course, if past secrets don't come to the surface and destroy them first… 'Occasion of Revenge' is a real return to what Powell does best, coarse humour with an edge of horror, to unsettle readers, and moments of pure pathos. If that wasn't enough, Powell's artwork offers up a bleak dreamscape where it's all too easy to see where the nightmares might lurk (the first sight we get of Mudd in particular, this is what Powell is all about). I read this issue on my phone but I can see myself buying the comic as well, just so I can really appreciate the full affect of what Powell has done. I feel like I've come home with 'Occasion of Revenge', it's glorious.

I've read a few back issues of 'Groo', enough to know that teaming him and Conan up has the potential to be very funny indeed, if not quite classic comic book fare. 'Groo Vs Conan #1' (Dark Horse) is all about setting the scene but already we can see how that inevitable confrontation is going to pan out and I will be there if the humour in #1 is anything to go by, loads of wry chuckles from me while reading :o)

What I really liked about this book was how well each of the artists work dovetailed together; really well handled when you consider how different each artists work is.

I've been going off Conan a little just recently (too much of the same thing I think) but 'Groo Vs Conan' looks like it could be just different enough to prove a refreshing diversion from Conan's normal fare. Like I said, not quite classic comic book reading but I'll see how the next issue goes and then take it from there.

I'm always looking for new comics to try (especially right now when nothing really stands out and begs to be read) so… Any recommendations? Comments please :o)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

'Ghost Shark' (2013)

This week, I have learnt that I will watch anything in an attempt to get to sleep (it was too hot last night so I couldn't…) I'm really hoping for a change in the weather soon otherwise my brain will turn into cheese through watching awful films on Youtube. Films like 'Ghost Shark' for example…

Every now and then, a film comes along that is perfectly summed up by its title and 'Ghost Shark' is very much one of these. It's a film about the ghost of a shark that takes revenge on the inhabitants of a small coastal town and, as the title also suggests, this involves people dying in all manner of stupid ways as said shark is able to manifest wherever there is water (tiny puddles, a kids waterslide, a car wash, you name it…) It’s very much a one trick pony with people dying and not a lot else happening (thank goodness there's some variety here then) but a little tension goes a long way and 'Ghost Shark' can be effective, at times, with those moments that are designed to make you jump even when you know something bad is about to happen.

Luckily for 'Ghost Shark' then, it's also a film that doesn't take itself seriously at all. How can it with a name like that? It's all about laughing at the dodgy CGI (torso-less legs still trying to walk, makes me laugh every single time) and watching Richard Moll chew the scenery as Finch, the drunken lighthouse keeper who knows more than he is letting on.
'Ghost Shark' is ridiculous but all the more entertaining because of it. 'So bad it's good'? Quite possibly. If I'm not going to get any sleep then this is the kind of film I want to be watching while I wait to drop off...

And yes, I really did pick the dumbest looking picture for this post. It was actually a surprisingly difficult job... ;o)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Cover Art! 'My Life As A White Trash Zombie' - Diana Rowland (Corsair)

'My Life As A White Trash Zombie' has been around for a little while now (since 2011, thanks for helping me out with that one internet!) but yesterday was the first day that it came through my door and the first time that I had paid any real attention to it other than a cursory 'not another zombie book...' thought a couple of years ago. And so a cover art post was born...

I'm a little partial to covers that have the title etc going up the side (don't ask me why, I have no idea...) so 'My Life As A White Trash Zombie' was off to a good start as soon as I opened the package. I also like it when an artist takes one look at the title and then proceeds to completely nail it with the artwork. Nice work, Dan Dos Santos! It's sleazy, not too gory (less is more) and comes with a hint of humour that I'm really after in my reading right now. Which is why I'm reading 'My Life As A White Trash Zombie' pretty much as you're reading this. Have a look at the blurb and then tell me if you have already read the book and what you thought of it...

Angel Crawford is a loser.

Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she's a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who's been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.

That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn't have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there's a job waiting for her at the parish morgue--and that it's an offer she doesn't dare refuse.

Before she knows it she's dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey--just when she's hungriest!

Angel's going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn't, she's dead meat. Literally.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

'State of Emergency' (2011)

I've been having a bit of trouble getting to sleep recently and have found myself watching films on Youtube in an attempt to wait out the insomnia. Looking back at what I have just written, this doesn't seem like a clever move at all. Oh well, back to the ol' insomnia drawing board…

But yeah, I've been watching films and one of those was 'State of Emergency'. I'm still slowly going off zombie fiction but I can't resist a zombie film, mostly because of the suspense and gore. 'State of Emergency' follows similar 'zombie apocalypse' themes; a man attempts to survive in the middle of an outbreak (toxins accidentally released from a chemical facility) and finds shelter with a dysfunctional group of survivors. It's just a shame that it doesn't follow those themes particularly well…

It's often occurred to me that a zombie apocalypse could become pretty boring once you've secured your shelter and are waiting to see what happens next. Nothing can get in but you can't get out either and if you don't have some entertainment to hand then you're pretty much screwed really. In 'State of Emergency', the survivors hole up in an empty warehouse where the only thing to do, once the offices have been searched, is to sleep and eat. There are a couple of scary moments, in a '28 Days Later' kind of way but with far fewer infected, but the rest of the film really shows you how tedious a zombie outbreak can be (and not in a good way either…) And why didn't they notice the manhole, in the warehouse, until it was too late? They checked everything but the floor… Ooh that made me cross...

None of this is helped by a cast that seem to exist just to fill in a 'cast shaped gap' in the film. You could make an argument that they are all in shock but my money is on poor direction/lack of acting ability. It's painful to watch them interact as they all seem to be looking for cues that the other actors don't supply. 'State of Emergency' is beautifully shot (and the flashback sequences worked very well) but I was so glad to see the end credits roll up. An apathetic film that seems to rely on inducing that same feeling of apathy in its viewers so they don't switch off.

Monday, 21 July 2014

An Evening With George R.R. Martin & Robin Hobb

Sorry for another copy and pasted post but I started a new job today (another one!) and all my attention was on that. Erm... So there you go.
Normal service will resume soon(ish) but in the meantime, here's a tasty little piece of news from Harper Voyager...

We are very pleased to be announcing that HarperVoyager will be hosting an event with two of their highest profile authors, George RR Martin and Robin Hobb. The event will take place in a central London venue on 19th August 2014. Tickets will go on sale later this week.

We will be partnering with blinkbox Books, who will be live streaming the full event for free, which means that those who are unable to come to the event can still watch and enjoy it.

Demand for tickets will undoubtedly be high, but HarperVoyager and blinkbox Books newsletter subscribers will be first to hear about tickets, so do sign up for information as soon as it is released!

Sounds pretty good until you realise that those tickets are £45 each. That £45 does include a hardback copy of 'Fools Assassin' but even so, that's pretty steep (or is it just me?)
I'm just the guy who brings the news though ;o) If you have a spare £45 burning a hole in your pocket, an evening with GRRM and Robin Hobb is as good a way to spend it as any. Or you could give it to me, I could do with some money ;o) 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

'I like the look of that!' (Another Occasional Series...) - 'Two Hundred and Twenty One Baker Streets' - Edited by David Thomas Moore (Solaris)

I've been too busy sheltering from the heat, and keeping the two littl'uns cool, to get any reading done today but I did see this on Amazon (not too hot for some online shopping...) and thought I'd share if you haven't seen it already.

You can't go wrong with a bit of 'Sherlock' these days and Solaris have taken this one step further (as they like to do) to give us a collection of tales of the great detective the likes of which I'll bet you haven't seen before. Check it out,

The world's most famous detective, as you've never seen him before! A dozen established and up-and-coming authors invite you to view Doyle s greatest creation through a decidedly cracked lens. Read about Holmes and Watson through time and space, as they tackle a witch-trial in seventeenth century Scotland, bandy words with Andy Warhol in 1970s New York, travel the Wild Frontier in the Old West, solve future crimes in a world of robots and even cross paths with a young Elvis Presley... Set to include stories by Kasey Lansdale, Guy Adams, Jamie Wyman, J E Cohen, Gini Koch, Glen Mehn, Kelly Hale, Kaaron Warren, Emma Newman and more.

I could never get into the original stories as a kid (I wonder what I'd think of them now...?) but this sounds like it could be a lot of fun. It won't be around until October though so there's a little waiting to do yet...
Will you be reading it? Are you in possession of an advance copy and reading it already? Tell me, tell me now! :o)

Friday, 18 July 2014

A Little More News About The Gollancz Festival...

Remember that post where I mentioned the upcoming Gollancz Festival in Waterstones, Piccadilly? Okay, here's a hint, click Here...
All caught up? Cool because Gollancz have released a few more details about what will be going on. Here's the copy and pasted bit from the press release,

Today, Gollancz has shared news of sensational new additions to the line–ups of both rooms at Waterstones Piccadilly, including Joe Hill (Horns, NOS4R2) and Connie Willis (Blackout/All Clear). They will be releasing the dynamic schedule of daytime digital author events in due course. For updates on digital events please register your interest at and follow @gollancz #gollanczfest.
Room 1 at Waterstones Piccadilly will have a reading from Patrick Rothfuss, bestselling author of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, followed by a series of panel events with award-winning authors covering the sense of wonderment in SF, the elements of SFF that make it impossible to cross genre boundaries, and whether fantasy, by definition, is consolatory.

In Room 2, Gollancz’s talented 2014 debut novelists (our ‘Class of 2014’) will talk about their novels and experience of publishing, and three bestselling authors will give solo talks, readings and interviews:  Joanne M. Harris will discuss the use of different narratives as a means of exploring stories; Joe Hill might share an insight into having your work become a Hollywood film; and Patrick Rothfuss will give a solo talk and tremendous audience Q&A.

The entire event will be punctuated with performances of SFF inspired songs from The Bookshop Band.  

Gollancz can now also confirm that the Gollancz Festival Goodie Bags, available to every ticket-holder, will include two Gollancz novels, and an exclusive Pat Rothfuss The Slow Regard of Silent Things book plate.

I'm not going to lie, that thing about SFF inspired songs made me squirm in terror when I first read it. I'm probably being unfair but there is nothing more painful, to me, than the thought of someone singing an ode to their love of Terrahawks (I'm not picking on Terrahawks by the way. Ok, maybe I am a little).
The rest of it looks good though and if I book a ticket I will finally find out what a book plate is. I think you can count me in :o)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

'Offline' - Kealan Patrick Burke (Free Reading!)

Internet trolls are disgusting creatures but they still have their uses from time to time, seriously.

While waiting for Hope to go back to sleep, I like to have a peek on Twitter and see what one particular troll is up to (no names here, the fun lies in watching him get taken down, not having him appear here). Kealan Burke's name was mentioned, in one conversation,and this led to me finding 'Offline' as a free read on Smashwords (via Honey BoomSlang, best blog name ever...)

Welcome to the digital age.

Cell phones and text messaging allows us to keep in touch with each other no matter where we are...

Instant messaging has brought us closer together...

Social networking allows anyone not only to contact you whenever they want, but to learn everything they need to know about you too.

When it's the right person, it can be wonderful.

When it isn't, it can be murder.

'Offline' is only 19 pages long which makes it very difficult to say anything meaningful without totally spoiling it. What I will say is that it is an incredibly creepy read that had me wanting Mandy to just turn her computer off and stop talking to the strange guy at the other end. She doesn't though and I had a sick feeling in my stomach as the almost palpable sense of horror compelled me to keep reading. And just when I thought that I had a handle on what was going on, Burke threw in a really nasty surprise that I never saw coming and even had time to offer up a little social commentary as well. All in nineteen pages.

'Offline' is a nasty little slice of horror that wants you to read it and say, 'Oh god... no!' right at the end. And you will.

Not sure how long 'Offline' is a free read so I would click on that link now if I were you.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cover Art! 'Retribution' - Mark Charan Newton (Tor UK)

I found this on the Tor UK Blog and it seemed like just the right time to share as I've been reading 'Drakenfeld' these last couple of days (with a little break for Adam Baker's 'Impact'). If you haven't seen this already, have a look...

This seems like an odd thing to say but I'm not too keen on the blue background; makes it hard to see the writing and the detail behind the shield. If I'm being honest, it looks like someone has sneezed black ink on some poor unsuspecting book... I do find myself more and more appreciative of a good font though (no idea of what that's all about...) and I love the swirls on display here. What? 'Swirls' is a perfectly serviceable technical term (ahem...) What I'm not so keen on is the cover as 'fantasy camouflage', something that you wouldn't be afraid to be seen reading on the train to work. I can see why it's done like this but it still makes me feel a little sad.

Here's the blurb,

WHEN JUSTICE FAILS, REVENGE FOLLOWS... Having just solved a difficult case in his home city of Tryum, Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld and his associate Leana are ordered to journey to the exotic city of Kuvash in Koton, where a revered priest has gone missing. When they arrive, they discover the priest has already been found - or at least parts of him have. 

But investigating the unusual death isn't a priority for the legislature of Kuvash; there's a kingdom to run, a census to create and a dictatorial Queen to placate. Soon Drakenfeld finds that he is suddenly in charge of an investigation in a strange city, whose customs and politics are as complex as they are dangerous.

Kuvash is a city of contradictions; wealth and poverty exist uneasily side-by-side and behind the rich façades of gilded streets and buildings, all levels of depravity and decadence are practised.
When several more bodies are discovered mutilated and dumped in a public place, Drakenfeld realizes there's a killer at work who seems to delight in torture and pain. With no motive, no leads and no suspects, he feels like he's running out of options. And in a city where nothing is as it seems, seeking the truth is likely to get him killed . . .

And did I mention that the link, at the top, also leads to a chance to win a copy of 'Drakenfeld'? I have now :o)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A 'Did Not Finish'... 'The Remaining: Aftermath' - D.J.Molles (Orbit)

So this is the second 'Did Not Finish' of July; this time in a genre where I would normally finish a book no matter how bad I found it. What's up with that? I've been slowly going off zombie fiction anyway but, now more than ever, life is just too short for books that aren't worth my time. I never thought I'd say this but there are more important things to do than read and this is why, despite a promising start with 'The Remaining', 'Aftermath' was eventually put down never to be picked up again.
Here's the blurb,


Nothing has gone according to plan.

To Captain Lee Harden, Project Hometown feels like a distant dream and the completion of his mission seems unattainable.

Wounded and weaponless, he has stumbled upon a group of survivors that seems willing to help. But a tragedy in the group causes a deep rift to come to light and forces him into action. In the chaos of the world outside, Lee is pursued by a new threat: someone who will stop at nothing to get what he has.

The thing about zombie fiction is that it inevitably follows the same lines, it has to really. The zombie apocalypse happens and people try and survive it, facing tough decisions along the way. The zombies themselves are almost incidental, it's all about characters made compelling through examination of what they are up against.  And it's this examination of Captain Lee Harden (and that surname is surely no accident...) that killed this book, probably the rest of the series as well, for me.

Harden's military training makes a lot of sense in terms of the overall plot but also has the unwelcome side affect of rendering him pretty much invincible in a world that needs a lot more vulnerability in its main characters if the story is going to work. He is just too good and this lessens the impact when supporting characters die (they clearly serve no other purpose than to be zombie fodder/propel Hardens arc forward).

I could forgive that though if Molle's wasn't so intent on giving all of Harden's actions a military grounding (explaining them all laboriously). We had all this in the last book dammit! It served a point then, it's boring now. I got to a point where I skipped to the end, to see who made it through (no surprises there), but had no interest in going back and reading the rest of the  book. That's that for me, let's see if I have better luck with the next book...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Books in the Post! 'Reader's Block...' Edition

So last week was a bit of a write off not just for the blog but for reading in general. I've got loads of stuff going on right now but usually I can zone out with a book. Not last week though, out of all the books I picked up I was lucky if I made it past two pages of each, maybe two and a half. I know I joked about it the other week but maybe it really is time for a 'Belgariad' re-read. If I can't even manage that then clearly reading isn't for me any more... ;o)

Luckily some books came through the post, last week, that look like they could give me a bit of a kick start. Maybe... Have a look and see what you think.

I'm not going to say too much about 'The Fourth Gwenevere' as I would totally be repeating the post below this one. To summarise; looks interesting, will be reading.
I always meant to read Tom Pollock's 'Skyscraper Throne' books but somehow never did. 'The Glass Republic' arrived first but I need the first and third books to arrive before I make a serious go of this series *watches for the postman*

Hope: "That's Judge Dredd, you like Judge Dredd Dad..."

I sure do and I'm really keen to see where the 'Chaos Day' plot leads to next. It's not often that Mega City One has a catastrophe that it really might not recover from...

In a world where zombie fiction is increasingly failing to hit the mark for me, Adam Baker has enough about his work to come up with the goods more often than not. 'Impact' could be the book that gets me over this reading issue I have right now. As could 'Smiler's Fair' as well; I read this way back in the day, when it was on submission with Hodder, and I'm looking forward to reading it again. 'Smiler's Fair' really is that good people!

So that's me then and I'll leave you with a promise that this week will see a lot more posts than last week. Should be easy, shouldn't it? See you tomorrow ;o)

Friday, 11 July 2014

Some Cover Art That Caught My Eye...

Because, what with one thing and another, that's all I've had time for this week. If I've read one whole page of a book I'd be surprised...
Cover art still catches my eye though (kind of the whole point of it really) and so I thought I'd share a couple of pieces that stood out. Check them out...

Gwenevere, Arthur’s Saxon wife, is a problem. As the dynastic cement between the British and the Saxons, her marriage to the Arthur will result in a child that will unite both sides. At least, that would have been the plan, had the Great Duke Arthur not died and left the petty kings of Britain to squabble over his title.
Only Morvran, Arthur’s chief fixer, has the wit to see that the Fourth Gwenevere is the key to maintaining a crumbling peace. But when she  is abducted, it seems that all hopes might disappear with her.
For, in a world where swords and horses have names of honour, where poets speak as oracles of a shifting truth and the raiding of Saxon warriors is set to ruin Britain, perhaps it’s only the Fourth Gwenevere herself who has the real solution?
Doesn't that look gorgeous? Sometimes that's all you can say about a cover, you just let it say the rest  for itself. The blurb describes the book as a 'magnificent precursor to John James 'Votan' and 'Not for all the gold in Ireland'; I really want to read 'Votan' so will definitely be reading 'The Fourth Gwenevere' (once I get this whole 'readers block' thing sorted).

 I found this in the micro-library (for 'micro-library', read 'phone box'...) and, having never read anything by Van Vogt, thought I'd enjoy a bit of free reading. It's a very slim book so definitely be read. Look at that cover though... A gentle reminder of of more innocent times when an SF novel would not be ashamed to be seen in  an SF cover. I know that cover art sells books and the whole point is to sell as many books as possible (that you can read on the train without people knowing that you're reading SFF...). I just wish that more genre fiction looked like this though, or maybe I'm just feeling my age a little. What do you think? (About the cover, not my age...)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Books in the Post! 'Still a little shell-shocked...' edition

I'm so glad that last week is now officially consigned to the annals of history, never to be experienced again. It started off with a job (short term contract) that was pretty dire and with a paycheck to match. You're thinking that it probably couldn't get worse than that, I didn't think so either until I was fired on Friday (for having an interview for another job on the Thursday). The pay was awful but it was better than no pay at all!
Five minutes after I got home though, I was offered the job that I had interviewed for :o) My nerves were shot (gin took care of that later...) but all's well that ends well.

With all of that going on then, there wasn't a lot of time for books last week. It was somehow fitting then that only two arrived. Have a look...

'Aftermath' is the sequel to 'The Remaining' (reviewed Here) and it's a bit more of a slog than I was expecting. Not sure if it's me or if the problems I had with 'The Remaining' have reared their ugly heads again. I'll give it a few more pages and let you know.

'The Relic Guild' though... This is more like it, I'm only a few pages in and already there's no doubt that I'm in for the long haul. Gollancz are clearly doing very well with their debuts this year, have some blurb,

Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.

It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high.

Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.

The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth - and the lives of one million humans - Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.

I reckon there'll be a review in the next couple of weeks.

What else am I reading? Well, I'm finishing off Rob Sanders' 'Archaon' (not bad at all) but other than that I can't seem to concentrate on anything for more than a few pages at a time. It might even be time to dig out some comfort reads (it's been ages since I read 'The Belgariad'...) What do you read when you're in a similar spot...?

Friday, 4 July 2014

‘Hobo With A Shotgun’ (2011)

Now there’s a title that pretty much says it all and leaves you wondering what on earth you are going to say next… It’s also proof that I will watch anything, on Youtube, when Hope decides she wants to sleep in my bed and is all elbows and feet. Happy days...

In a journey to earn his way out of poverty, a homeless man pulls into a city of urban chaos, where crime prevails and the city’s crime boss reigns with violent and bloody malice. Seeing this urban landscape filled with armed robbers, corrupt cops and abused prostitutes, the Hobo soon abandons his plans and turns vigilante in order to deliver justice to this city of filth the only way he knows how--with a 20-gauge shotgun. Mayhem ensues as he tries to clean up the streets and make the city a better place for future generations. However with the city’s evil crime boss Drake standing in his way, will the Hobo’s own brand of street justice prevail?

‘Hobo With A Shotgun’ started out in life as one of the fake trailers in ‘Grindhouse’ but took on a life of its own and became a full length movie in its own right. And what a movie it is! The plot is simple and quickly shoved to one side in favour of an orgy of over the top violence. Gangsters, pimps, corrupt cops (and more, the Santa Claus guy was just plain wrong…), ‘Hobo’ throws it all into the mix and serves it up with a sauce of blood and shotgun shells. Rutger Hauer delivers some absurd lines in his own special way and makes them all the more chilling for it; Molly Dunsworth is also noteworthy as ‘hooker with a heart’ Abby.
I don't really know anything about Grindhouse films at all but I have a feeling that the whole 'exploitative' angle is the whole point of this kind of film (anyone want to chip in here?) If nothing else, it does give our Hobo cause to take up his gun and start shooting the bad guys.

And… That’s it really. ‘Hobo’ doesn’t have anything deep to say and that’s the whole point really. 86 minutes of entertainment so brainless that you can easily forgive the film for its flights of fancy (seriously, where did the demons suddenly appear from?) and the fact that it is as corny as hell. I think I would have enjoyed ‘Hobo’ more if I was drunk but it worked just fine for what it was, fun but ultimately forgettable (the lack of meat on these bones doesn't do the film any favours). Now to watch ‘Machete’…

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A ‘Did Not Finish’… ‘Touched’ – Joanna Briscoe (Hammer)

There once was a time when I would finish any book that I started, no matter how bad it was. I used to think this was either down to a forlorn hope that the book would improve or my subconscious somehow punishing myself for picking up the book in the first place (it happens). The real reason though was that I had a lot more time to indulge in bad plots, cardboard characters and so on; time that I don’t have at all these days. Even if a book has a great plot and characters full of life, if the book doesn’t work then I’ll be putting it down and moving swiftly on to something else. This is the sad fate that befell Joanna Briscoe’s ‘Touched’ yesterday, ‘sad’ because ‘Touched’ looked really promising at the beginning. Here’s the blurb…

Rowena Crale and her family have moved from London.
They now live in a small English village in a cottage which seems to be resisting all attempts at renovation.
Walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, celings sag.
And strange noises - voices - emanate from empty rooms.
As Rowena struggles with the upheaval of builders while trying to be a dutiful wife and a good mother to her young children, her life starts to disintegrate.
And then, one by one, her daughters go missing ...

I’m a bit of a fan of ghost stories and ‘Touched’ looked like it had all the ingredients to be something pretty special along those lines. And it worked for a bit as well with a slow build up of tension and a few little moments that made me shiver once I realised that something entirely different had just happened. Briscoe has a real gift for making these moments seem really matter of fact, lulling the reader into a false sense of security, and then very gently letting you know that things aren’t right at all…
I really enjoyed that but what I didn’t get on with at all was that the plot was very clearly signposted (at least it was to me). It got to the point where I ended up skipping to the end to confirm suspicions that ended up being well and truly confirmed. There was no point reading on to an ending that I could see coming, not with this book (there wasn’t enough to hold that kind of interest), so I didn’t.

It was a shame as ‘Touched’ really felt like it could be have been something special (it's very well written) but if the story is effectively over before it really gets going then there’s no point in carrying on reading. I know I’ve said that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination but ghost stories really need to have it the other way round. Oh well, on to the next book…

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

‘The Godwhale’ – T.J. Bass (Gollancz)

I never seem to read as many SF Masterworks as I mean to. There’s a bookshelf, in my house, full of books where I’ve thought to myself ‘ooh SF Masterwork, I really need to give it a go’ and then promptly forgotten about it. At the rate my reading is going at the moment, I have enough books on this shelf to keep me going for the rest of the year and it is way past time that I started on the twisty turny (filled with obstacles) road to reading redemption. So here goes…
‘The Godwhale’ is a title that has always intrigued me as whales are a little god-like sometimes aren’t they? Both majestic and mysterious… It’s also a title that defeated me the last time I tried reading it, a few months ago, so it seemed like the appropriate place to try and make some kind of dent in my ‘SF Masterworks’ shelf. I made it through this time, but all the obstacles from before were there. Before we get into that though, have some blurb…

Rorqual Maru was a cyborg - part organic whale, part mechanised ship - and part god. She was a harvester - a vast plankton rake, now without a crop, abandoned by earth society when the seas died. So she selected an island for her grave, hoping to keep her carcass visible for salvage. Although her long ear heard nothing, she believed that man still lived in his hive. If he should ever return to the sea, she wanted to serve. She longed for the thrill of a human's bare feet touching the skin of her deck. She missed the hearty hails, the sweat and the laughter. She needed mankind. But all humans were long gone ... or were they?

I finally finished ‘The Godwhale’ yesterday and I’m really glad that I made the effort. It was a bit of a slog though and I have a horrible feeling that all the reasons it was a slog are the reasons the book is justifiably an ‘SF Masterwork’… What does that say about me and my reading? These days I’m very much reading for pleasure and ‘The Godwhale’ doesn’t quite deliver on that score. It’s not a book that you can while away a lunch break but it is a book that will really get you thinking about the direction our world could conceivably head in. I loved the way that Bass did this by the way, showing the reader how the world changes (over thousands of years) in between Larry Dever’s waking up from medically induced comas. It’s a great way to cram a lot of change into a small number of pages and we get to share Larry’s shock as the world changes through his eyes; a very effective narrative approach that throws the reader right into the middle of things and leaves them trying to make sense of it all.

And what a world it is! A starkly realised world of ‘Nebishes’ living underground and having their entire lives regulated by social lottery and AI. A world where, on the surface, half-starved tribes of humans risk death to steal from the jealously guarded vegetable gardens as the oceans no longer support life. Bass has clearly put some real thought into how the damage we are doing to our world right now will affect us in the far future and it is all so plausibly done with the creation of a society that literally has nowhere else to go but under the ground where space is at a premium and humanity adapts accordingly.

Life will find a way though and it’s this that gives ‘The Godwhale’ a note of hope that leaves the reader optimistic for the future rather than reaching for something alcoholic. The re-emergence of Rorqual Maru and the arrival of Larry Dever throw a well ordered, if dying on its feet, world into change and evolution that drives the plot forward to that optimistic end. Larry’s trying to make sense of the world forces change when others realise that he might have a good point with his questions. It’s not just what he does in the ‘present’ either, Larry’s actions echo down the ages with a pleasing hint of things just coming together. Rorqual Maru trying to do the job she had been created for forces change in the dynamics of both the Nebish and Benthic people as they suddenly have to deal with a new presence in their lives, the ‘Godwhale’ (something that is beyond their control and understanding).

The resulting plot is both ecological commentary and a cautionary look at how the demands of the far future could ultimately shape us. It’s also a testament to the strength and determination of humanity to overcome these obstacles and forge forwards (the Benthics more so than the Nebish, it has to be said). It’s stirring stuff, in its own understated way, or it would be if Bass didn’t smother it with an overabundance of maths and medical terminology. This isn’t the best way to make a high concept tale accessible to the casual reader (hence my going on about it being a slog) although I understand that it actually backs up the concepts at the same time (hence my believing that ‘The Godwhale’ is a Masterwork, it simply has all the ingredients to be so).

It felt like a tough one to call then but it’s clear that ‘The Godwhale’ is perfectly justified to sit in the ‘SF Masterworks’ collection. It’s so good in fact that I’m going to have to search out a copy of ‘Half Past Human’ (a prequel) and read more about this world. If nothing else, that kind of reaction makes the ‘Masterwork’ title very apt. 'The Godwhale' isn't a light read, by any means, but one that is worth sticking with.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

‘The Great Maw’ – L.J. Goulding (Black Library)

I’ve been reading these stories two at a time and enjoying them, for the most part, so much that I didn’t really give much of a thought to how many were left on my phone. So just the one story today then and it could well be the most interesting one out of the last weeks offerings…

Legends tell of the origins of the ogre race and their mysterious god. Many of these tales centre around the mythical figure of Groth Onefinger. Here is one such saga, recounting the story of the great cataclysm that overtook the ogres and drove them from their lands, of the birth of a great and hungry deity that drives all of that savage race to fits of incredible greed, and of Groth, the saviour of the ogre race and first prophet of the Great Maw.

The Old World is a rich and fertile source of stories to be told although most of them inevitably focus on the battles that make up the game. Fair enough really, that’s the whole point of the setting after all. This ‘same old, same old’ approach works due to the energy and enthusiasm of the writers and it also highlights just how unusual a tale like ‘The Great Maw’ is; a Warhammer tale that doesn’t feature a pitched battle at all, not one.

What we have here is a tale of how the once civilized Ogres became the creatures they are today; feared by sensible folk and about to invade one of the outlying regions of the Empire. Why are they doing this? No-one really knows as whatever it was Baron von Streissen said to the Ogre Gurthodd led to the Baron’s unfortunate demise and the imminent outbreak of war. A meeting is convened where our narrator stresses that an understanding of Ogre culture might (just might) lead to a solution. And so the tale begins in notes passed to the university of Nuln that tell of The Children of the Maw…

I really enjoyed the unique structure of ‘The Great Maw’; well, unique to this setting anyway. A story within a story isn’t something you come across in Warhammer fiction all that often if at all (I can’t think of any other examples) so fair play to Goulding for treading a new path and making it work for the most part. I say ‘for the most part’ as the ending of each story is a little too abrupt and leaves more questions than a short story really needs to. I prefer my short stories a little more complete than ‘The Great Maw’ ended up being. This isn’t a deal breaker though as the preceding oral history offers a fresh look at the Ogres of the Old World (I’d never seen them as being a civilized culture in the past) and feeds, no pun intended, into the whole thing of Warhammer setting being about tragedy and people holding off the darkly inevitable. Even the so called ‘evil’ races can have a little bit of tragedy in their past and there’s something about this even handed approach that I like.

‘The Great Maw’ ultimately falls short on account of being just a little too open ended for its format but the structure of the tale, along with the insights that it offers, make up for this and result in a story that Warhammer fans should enjoy. You can’t say fairer than that really.