Traitor General (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts) ★★★☆½

traitorgeneral (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Traitor General
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 105K

Synopsis:

From WH40k.lexicanum.com

Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt is asked to lead a team of guardsmen on an infiltration mission to the planet of Gereon, held by the forces of Chaos in order to eliminate a captured traitor Imperial Officer who holds secrets pertaining to the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Gaunt leads eleven of his regiment to the planet where they are met by Jerome Landerson, a member of the Gereon Resistance. Landerson and the resistance lead the Gereon Twelve across the planet the fortress where the Imperial Officer is being held. Before getting there the team has to deal with chaos garrison soldiers, glyphs and wirewolves as well as the Chaos Space Marine Uexkull. To escape their pursuers Landerson leads Gaunt and his team into the Untill, home of the Partisans, an old rebel force who opposed the Imperial Government centuries ago. The Untill is a large dark swamp filled with poisonous creatures, the most notable of which being a large species of moth. The Tanith and the resistance meet with the Partisans and help defend them from Uexkhull and his squad of Chaos Space Marines. It is through this action that Gaunt is given Eszrah ap Niht, son by his father, the Chief of the Partisans. The Tanith and Resistance then leave the Untill and make for the occupation fortress.

Meanwhile the traitor or pheguth, as it is called by the Chaos forces is being kept prisoner by the forces of Chaos Magister Anakwanar Sek under the command of Mabbon Etogaur. The pheguth is protected by the life-ward Desolane, a sexless beast risen from birth to protect its wards with its life and brutally gruesome martial skills. The pheguth was captured by Chaos forces whilst on an Imperial Transport awaiting trial for desertion. However as the pheguth knew sensitive secrets the Commissariat psykers put a mindlock on him, locking away his memories and identity. The pheguth is then subjected to the prying claws of the Magister Sek’s psykers as they try to peel back the layers of psychic encryption on the pheguth’s mind. The process is excruciating but eventually meets some success. The pheguth remembers that he is in fact Lord General Noches Sturm, leader of the 50th Royal Volpone. Realising that he must of been betrayed by the Imperium and especially Gaunt, he begins to help Mabbon Etogaur form, train and discipline the Sons of Sek, a new chaos army modelled on the Imperial Guard. It is planned that the Sons of Sek will grow to rival the Blood Pact in strength, allowing Magister Sek to challenge Archon Urlock Gaur for leadership of the Chaos forces in the Sabbat Worlds.

Having reached the resistance safehouse near the location of the pheguth Sturm’s location, Gaunt asks Landerson to have the resistance gather their forces so that they may make a strike on the fortress. The resistance does so, getting slaughtered in the process but allowing Gaunt and his strikeforce to slip in to the fortress and fight their way to Sturm’s room. Upon Gaunt and his ghosts entering his room, Sturm finally remembers certain important moments in Vervunhive, concerning his desertion and his dishonourable conduct. Sturm, once again faced by Gaunt, asks once again for the right to commit suicide. Skeptically, Gaunt grants this request, allowing Sturm to finally regain some of his honour through blowing his own head off. Desolane enters the room at this point and is enraged at his charges fate, flying into a fury beating Gaunt and Mkvenner in personal combat, taking three lethal toxin-laden quarrels from Eszrah’s reynbow and is only killed by a close range hotshot from Feygor who uses Larkin’s sniper-pattern lasgun.

My Thoughts:

This was Grimdark, through and through. Yet I enjoyed every page. There is a lot of page time given over to Chaos and how it affects everything. I actually appreciated that, since I don’t play WH40K or have much reading experience. It helped fill in some gaps. Needless to say, Chaos is truly insidious and this book shows just how it warps everything it comes into contact with, even those directly fighting against it. I’ll come back to that.

There are currently 16’ish books in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series but without that knowledge, you’d think this was the last one. With Gaunt and a select few of the Tannith Ghost’s abandoned on a Chaos controlled world at the end of the novel, I don’t see how the story will proceed. I’ve assiduously avoided reading anything about the future books so as not to ruin the surprise of how they get out of this mess, but considering it is a Warhammer40K setting, I don’t imagine it will be easy or pretty. I’m guessing a lot of blood, guts and extremely dirty politics.

Back to the chaos. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m simply not going to learn much about the Emperor or how Anti-Chaos operates (it definitely isn’t Order, that is for sure). Sometimes those opposing Chaos are just as bad and you wonder, why bother to fight Chaos if this is what you’re going to have to deal with in return? The corrupting influence of Chaos is definitely showcased here, as the Resistance on the planet have had to take on the control worms (there is no better description for it) of the enemy simply to move around without being killed. Those worms change them, even in little ways and it is central point for Gaunt and his Ghosts about whether they can be trusted or not. I have a feeling that that idea of Trust and being warped by Chaos will play a bigger role in the upcoming books.

This was a great read for what it is and probably one of the best of the series so far. I’m looking forward to how the author is going to extricate Gaunt and Crew from the Chaos world and reintegrate them back into the larger group of Ghosts.

★★★☆½

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) ★★☆☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Red Sister
Series: Book of the Ancestor #1
Author: Mark Lawrence
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 467
Words: 170K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The planet Abeth was originally settled by four tribes with various abilities. The hunska have superhuman speed; the gerant have superhuman strength, the marjal can work elemental magic; the quantal can work larger magics. Children born on Abeth may have access to one (or rarely, multiple) bloodline powers. Abeth’s dying red giant sun cannot generate sufficient heat to prevent a global ice age. Abeth’s man-made moon refracts sunlight onto a narrow strip of land circling the globe. This Corridor, only fifty miles wide, is the only unfrozen land on the planet. It comprises several kingdoms fighting for control of the planet’s resources.

Nona Grey is a peasant girl living in a remote village in the Corridor. She is purchased by a slave trader who recognizes that she has hunska blood. She is brought the to capital of the Empire, where she attacks a noble named Raymel Tacsis. She is saved from execution by Abbess Glass of the Sweet Mercy Convent.

Nona trains in the arts of combat and subterfuge at Sweet Mercy. Along the way, she meets fellow novice Arabella (Ara). Various nobles believe that Ara is the Argatha, a savior destined to save Abeth. Abbess Glass convinces the nobility that Nona is the Shield, destined to protect the Argatha. With her training, Nona recognizes that she also has quantal and marjal talents. Nona also meets a mysterious student named Zole and her bodyguard Yisht. Nona realizes that Yisht is attempting to steal a valuable artifact from Sweet Mercy: the shipheart, which was left by the original settlers of Abeth. With four shiphearts, one can control the moon which is protecting Abeth from a permanent ice age. Nona and the other students defeat Yisht and save the shipheart.

In a frame story, an adult Nona and Ara are attacked by members of the Empire’s nobility. They are betrayed by Clera, a former student at Sweet Mercy. Nona attempts to convince Clera to join them against the Empire’s army.

My Thoughts:

Well, this book confirms that Lawrence is an author I cannot read. Between nuns sleeping together, young almost prebuscent girls flirting with each other, psychopathic killers (who aren’t the bad guys), a failing sun, a hopeless world being encased in ice, the devolving of technology and failing technology, plus the absolute soul destroying underlying philosophy, I got a soup that was pretty as anti-me as you could get.

While Nona was more likeable than that hellbound Jorg, she wasn’t really fun to read about either. While I didn’t hate my time reading this, by the end I had to ask myself if I cared about anything in this story enough to want to read another book’s worth (and that’s not taking into account that this is a trilogy). I answered with a resounding “NO!” If there had been even a hint that the “moon” could have been repaired, or that someone had even entertained the idea of repairing it, even that tiny, small shred of hope probably would have been enough to keep me going.

But that was the whole problem I have with Lawrence. There is no hope, anywhere. I looked high, I looked low, I even looked at sub-minor-side characters. No where did I find any hope. All I did find was an existential existence for 10 year old girls who had a choice of being raped/tortured/killed or becoming merciless killers themselves. On the killer side things, there was no justice. There was no Justice because there was no Law. There was no Law because there was no Law Giver.

As much as I despise Lawrence’s philosophy, I do have to admit that he is honest enough to take it to its logical end. It is just that that end is a maelstrom of  death, despair and destruction.

★★☆☆½

Sabbat Martyr (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #7) ★★★☆☆

sabbatmartyr (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Sabbat Martyr
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #7
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 104K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

At the request of the reincarnated Saint Sabbat, the Tanith First-and-Only is summoned to the remote and tactically insignificant world Herodor. The Civitas Beati, a holy city dedicated to the Saint, is under assault from a legion of Blood Pact, led by Enok Innokenti. While the Ghosts prepare to defend the city alongside the local PDF force, Gaunt learns the truth of the situation: the woman posing as the reincarnated Saint is Sanian, an esholi whom the Ghosts encountered on Hagia. Utterly convinced that she is Sabbat, Sanian has clearly lost her mind. Lord-General Lugo – whose career has been unstable since his disgrace at Hagia – plans to use her as propaganda, and does not care that she is an imposter; he believes that he will be forever remembered as the man responsible for a miracle in the Sabbat Worlds. As far as untold thousands of pilgrims, Imperial and archenemy troops are concerned, Sanian is the true Saint.

However, things take a strange turn when Sanian actually does become the host for the Saint’s spirit, after Sabbat’s true incarnation perishes in the assault. Innokenti deploys nine specialist assassins to the Civitas Beati under the cover of the invasion. Their purpose: kill the Saint and shatter the morale of the Imperials. With the Imperial fleet all but destroyed and surrounded by an enemy who has multiple advantages over them, the Ghosts face one of their most daunting challenges yet.

The title Sabbat Martyr is a reference to the psychic message experienced by a number of Ghosts in Honour Guard. Ultimately, it is one of the Ghost’s most beloved leaders who becomes a martyr in Sabbat’s name, as he gives his life defending her from the final assassin.

Sabbat takes down Innokenti and with the death of the Chaos leader, the Chaos forces retreat and are eventually destroyed by reinforcements. Cuu is revealed as the final traitor and is killed. The book ends with one of the Ghosts, who has been getting messages from himself that have saved innumerable lives, being handed over to the Psykers and his final message being “Help Me!”

 

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, I struggled with this book. I had to check to see if it was written by Abnett because the writing just wasn’t zinging along like his previous books in this series. Part of it was there were a couple of space battle scenes and I don’t care two figs for space battles. I don’t dislike them, but it doesn’t draw my attention. However, even the ground pounder action felt almost like it was a gaming scenario from a WH:40K miniatures game instead of a battle in a story.

How magic is treated (I was going to say works, but that’s not accurate) in this universe still baffles me. It is supposedly of Chaos and therefore tainted. But then you have whole Departments of the massive army dealing with the magic, ie, the Psykers, etc. So why don’t they take in everyone with some talent and use them until they become too tainted by Chaos? Why put them “under the question”? Then you have the whole “Emperor Protects” thing, where the people are basically invoking the Emperor to protect them with his magic and you have reincarnated saint like Sabbath. How does that square with everything? All magic can’t be bad, but it is treated like it is.

The body count is pretty high and even with the injection of the Verdegast volunteers from a couple of books ago, the Ghost’s are going to need a fresh dose of people to keep things moving along. At some point though the Tanith Ghosts will lose their identity if that were to keep up. My guess is by the end of the series they’re chewed up to nothing and the few survivors are rolled into other units. We’ll have to wait and see.

Finally, the biggest reason this was dropped half a star is because of the end of Lijah Cuu. That miserable son of a gun has been a cancer within the ranks of the Ghosts and caused so much trouble that his ending should have been appropriately horrific. Instead, he’s dispatched like a rabid dog with just a couple of shots. Bam, he’s dead. No justice for the horror and betrayal he’s committed ever since we met him. That just stuck in my craw and was like vinegar and gall.

Even with all that complaining, I still enjoyed the book enough to continue on with the series. Obviously I won’t enjoy every single book and I guess this one just falls into that “I mostly enjoyed it but didn’t love it” category.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Straight Silver (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #6) ★★★☆½

straightsilver (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Straight Silver
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #6
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 107K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Still under the command of Van Voytz, the Tanith First is deployed as part of the Imperial Expeditionary Force to Aexe Cardinal, where a deadlocked land war has been raging for forty years between the Aexe Alliance (a handful of loyal nation-states) and the Chaos-corrupted Shadik Republic. Warmaster Macaroth insists that the Aexe Alliance is to remain in command of the campaign, with strained success. The Alliance employs methods of warfare considered obsolete and inefficient according to the modern standard tactics of the Imperial Guard.

Gaunt is quickly frustrated with the brutal strategies and lack of reliable intelligence, and disagrees with the deployment of the scout-specialist Ghosts as grunts in the trenches. Van Voytz and Count Golke – the Alliance/Imperial liaison – negotiate with Alliance Command and agree to a compromise: one half of the Tanith First is sent to the northern Montorq forests to scout the area, while the other is redeployed to the Seiberq Pocket – the most dangerous section of the war zone – where they are tasked with infiltrating the Shadik lines and destroying the enemy’s newly developed siege guns.

Straight Silver is the first novel in which the Tanith First does not see a campaign through to its conclusion: after successfully taking out the siege-guns in the Seiberq Pocket and repelling a Blood Pact flanking manoeuvre in the Montorq Forest, the Ghosts are withdrawn from the front lines and redeployed to Herodor.

 

My Thoughts:

Another book in the series that doesn’t disappoint. Action, politics within and without, drama, tension, this is everything I want in a ground pounder sf book.

The story line about Lija Cuu (who is an insane psycho who kills his allies as easily as the enemy) ramps up and Mad Larkin (a sniper who seems to be one of the better guys) pretty much loses it. Larkin is completely intimidated by Cuu though, so I’m not sure that justice for Cuu will come from Larkin. Cuu is definitely set up as the Bad Buy within the Ghosts. He cleverly kills another Ghost this time around and once again it is blamed on the enemy. Cuu makes me want to kill him (which is the whole point of the character, but still…)

The greater political game was good in that it put Gaunt in his place. Not that it was necessarily enjoyable to read about a competent man being over-ruled time and again and watching the bad decisions play out, but it keeps him from becoming a Candidate for Emperor in the reader’s minds. Gaunt is a great commander but he’s not in overall charge and the story does a good job reminding us of that.

While these books are not great tomes of literature, they are still well written, enjoyable and I can see why Abnett has made a name for himself as an author of franchise fiction.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Guns of Tanith (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #5) ★★★☆½

gunsoftanith (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Guns of Tanith
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #5
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 104K

 

Synopsis:

WH40K.Lexicanum.com

In the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, the heretical forces of Chaos are fighting back hard. Dangerously overstretched, their supply lines cut by degenerate enemy troops, the Imperial forces grind to a halt. Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and the Tanith First-and-Only must recapture Phantine, a world rich in promethium but so ruined by pollution that the only way to attack is via a dangerous – and untried – aerial assault. Pitted against deadly opposition and a lethal environment, how can Gaunt and his men possibly survive?

The novel begins with the Tanith First training to take part in the airborne assault on Cirenholm, a dome-city perched above Phantine’s toxic Scald. The archenemy’s elite Blood Pact have captured the city, which the Imperial forces plan to use as a staging ground for their campaign to reclaim Ouranberg, one of Phantine’s largest cities and a major source of promethium. After the Ghosts successfully infiltrate the Blood Pact’s defences and prevent a disastrous loss for the Imperium, Lord-General Van Voytz re-considers his approach on the Ouranberg invasion.

A number of Ghosts are hand-picked to form specialist kill-teams, placed in a regime of additional jump-training and covertly deployed into Ouranberg prior to the invasion. Codenamed Operation Larisel, their mission is to kill Sagittar Slaith; the Chaos commander of the Blood Pact holding Ouranberg. Doing so will break the morale of the Chaos worshippers and enable the Imperial forces to recapture Ouranberg with greater ease. The task is made more daunting with the prospect of thousands of Blood Pact troopers and Loxatl mercenaries standing between them and their target. However, the rest of the Tanith First face their own trials as they await deployment; a great unease is brewing between the Tanith and the Verghastite soldiers, and a crime case involving several Ghosts highlights this divide.

 

My Thoughts:

Something about ground pounding marines in a science fiction setting really does it for me. While the Horus Heresy deals with demi-god levels of warriors, Gaunt’s Ghosts are nothing but baseline humans. The common man fighting the forces of Chaos with gun and sword.

Both invasions, the first being a general free for all with everyone and the second with 4 teams of 4 infiltrating and attempting to assassinate Slaith, are just jam packed with fighting. More fighting than you could shake a Power Sword at!

The little side story about about the divide between the original Tanith and the newly integrated Verghastites keeps things from becoming to fight’y, if you know what I mean. Plus, the whole murder of a civilian and Cuu the bastard incriminating another Ghost added some spice to the story. I have to admit I’m looking forward to Cuu getting his just desserts, hopefully in an appropriately horrible way.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Honour Guard (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4) ★★★☆½

honourguard (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Honour Guard
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

From the Wiki and Me

The Ghosts are sent to the Shrineworld Hagia, religious capital of the Sabbat worlds and homeworld of the revered Saint Sabbat herself, to reclaim the holy world from the clutches of Pater Sin and his so-called Infardi. During their campaign to reclaim the Doctrinopolis – the planet’s central city – Gaunt, who has command of the ground forces, is forced into a trap set in one of the most holy structures in the city. A warp-beacon is activated in the process, and a Chaos fleet advances on Hagia to obliterate the Imperial forces.

With just eighteen days until the fleet (large enough to wipe out the liberation force even if the fleet were a quarter its current size) arrives, Gaunt is given one last chance to redeem himself by the arrogant and pompous Lord-General Lugo: recover the Saint’s remains and holy relics from the Shrinehold in the Sacred Hills for evacuation. The Ghosts are appointed as the honour guard of these relics, and together with units from the Pardus armoured regiments they form a convoy and journey into the mountains. However, much of Sin’s Infardi horde has pulled back into the hills; leaving the Ghosts with no choice but to fight the heretics while at the same time fighting the elements and navigating the unfamiliar terrain.

Several of the wounded, left back in the city, start hearing a voice telling them “Sabbat Martyr” in their heads. They band together and meet Gaunt at the shrine. Turns out they are all needed to activate a secret weapon left by Sabbat to protect her homeworld. The Psychic Weapon is activated and destroys every creature on the planet with the taint of Chaos. It also destroys the chaos beacon and scatters the approaching chaos fleet.

My Thoughts:

As long as you turn off your brain about the super psychic weapon (as in, why aren’t those things being studied and recreated now, instead of lying around for 6000 years), this was a lot of fun to read.

Abnett mixed things up by introducing a whole host of armoured tanks to complement the Ghosts and their being strictly infantry. Not a big mechanized tank fan though, so it didn’t do much for me. I did like that Abnett addresses how taking on new “Ghosts” affects them as a unit.

Gaunt is revealed to be a very religious man, with him venerating, if not worshipping, Saint Sabbat. Since there hasn’t been any of that to date, I wonder if I’ll see any more of it in later books. I highly doubt it however. It came across as more superstition than devotion though. I suspect most of that is because the religious side of Warhammer 40K is some paint on it, not something integral to it like a load bearing beam.

Gaunt gets in trouble with the over-General and while he succeeds at the end of the book, what happens politically wasn’t written about. I suspect that will play a big part in the beginning of the next book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Ragged Man (Twilight Reign #4) ★★★★☆

raggedman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Ragged Man
Series: Twilight Reign #4
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 612
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

At the end of the previous book Isak killed the son of Lord Styrax, the most powerful man in the world. In his rage, Styrax did not just kill Isak, but sent him directly to Ghenna (hell) to be tortured forever. Isak had dreamed about this scenario and he and his friend Mihn, the failed Harlequin, had set in motion a plan. Mihn had covered himself in magical tattoos of invisibility to both physical and spiritual entities. With the help of a witch, Mihn travels to Ghenna and recovers Isak. Upon their return though, Isak is a thoroughly broken man and it is up to Mihn to nurse him back to some normalcy.

Styrax is a broken man by the death of his son and heir and it takes the child Azeur to snap him out of his funk and to begin leading his Menin army again. Azeur posits a passive coalition with Styrax without revealing it’s actual goal and Styrax agrees. Styrax forces a non-aggression pact with the Farlan since Lord Isak is dead and half their army destroyed. They accept since if they refuse they’ll face civil war. This allows Styrax to concentrate on the one man who might be able to stop him, King Emin.

Azeur has set in motion its plans for the Harlequin nation and has recruited them to act as preachers and messengers for it. They begin by slightly changing their stories to make the gods appear more buffoonish or tyrannical or any extreme than originally intended. The Harlequins also begin preaching about a child savior that will lead the entire land without any interference from the gods. King Emin sees the danger of this and hires men and women to kill these preachers. Many Harlequins are killed but almost nobody understands what is going on, as Harlequins have always been neutral parties before this.

Styrax and his army marches on the kingdom of Narkang and begins razing it to the ground. Isak and Emin concoct a plan, one throw of the dice, where all will be won or lost. Emin confronts Styrax and his army at a castle and a huge battle ensues. Isak catches Styrax in a trap because he doesn’t try to kill him. Isak forces the gods to help him and they strip all memories of Styrax from the land and take Styrax’s identity from him. Styrax is now the Ragged Man, a legend of a man who lost his soul and now kills in the shadows to try to get it back. The Menin army falls apart without any memory of Styrax but Emin and the kingdom of Narkang have paid for this victory in more blood than they can truly afford.

Azeur can begin its plans in earnest now that Styrax isn’t around to keep it in check.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I’ve said it before, but I am watching Lloyd’s writing skill increase right before my eyes with this series. The first 2 books were pretty rough but now, things are flowing smoothly. His skill in handling multiple points of view no longer leaves me stumbling about and the awkwardness from before is almost gone. It’s not perfect, but it is noticeably different. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever noticed such a skill increase from an author before? Maybe I never started with one that was so amateurish though. But whatever, this was good!

Mihn’s journey to hell and back was a bit slow and not very action oriented. It had me worried that the entire book was going to be like that. Thankfully, once the main story switched back to Styrax and King Emin, things got moving. The battle at the end of the book was massive. It was enjoyable. It was everything I wanted from a big epic fantasy book.

While I had serious reservations about recommending this series based on the previous books, I’d now recommend this series as long as you’re willing to deal with Lloyd’s lack of skill in the first couple of books. I realize that is a back-handed compliment, but it’s the truth. But even with that, I’d still recommend starting with Lloyd’s God Fragments series. It starts off, skill-wise, where Twilight Reign ends.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Necropolis (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #3) ★★★☆½

necropolis (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
Necropolis
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #3
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The world of Verghast is comprised of Hive cities, which are great manufactoring cities that enable the Empire to continue its war against Chaos. Rivalries exist however and war between cities is not unknown. One such war breaks out and the city we read about call on the Empire for help, as their capture will severely curtail the current Crusade in space.

Gaunt, his Ghosts and several other Imperial forces descend to put an end to the spat. However, things are not at all what they seem. The head of the city is insane and tries to open it up to the enemies. The enemies are revealed to be the entire population of the opposing Hive city, all chaos tainted into fanatical death troopers. It is also revealed that some higher Chaos lord, Asphodel, is behind it all.

Gaunt and Co destroy the enemy but effectively lose the city in the process. The book ends with the surviving population heading off to start 2 new smaller Hive cities and most of the militia and those who fought with Gaunt becoming part of the Ghosts, as they too lost their home.

 

My Thoughts:

I think this was the darkest Gaunt’s Ghost book yet. The Ghost’s rival, the Bluebloods, led by some Captain or General, pretty much loses it and the general tries to run away. Gaunt, as a Commisar, sentences him on the spot and gives him his gun to kill himself. The coward turns it on Gaunt and Gaunt has to kill him. About time as far as I was concerned. Those bluebloods were bad news for everybody.

The body count was in the millions. People die in such large numbers that it was almost incomprehensible. I also didn’t even bother to keep track of peoples’ names because chances were greater that they would be dead in the next chapter than not. The focus was more on the politics dividing the city and on the workers who were fighting in the trenches.

In many ways this felt like a campaign scenario from the game Warhammer40K. I could almost hear the dungeonmaster (or whatever the controller in a game of WH40K is called) telling the facts of what the players were facing and the dice rolling. Scent of a Gamer is a blogger I follow who does miniatures and I kept picturing posts from his blog about various projects he’s done.

I have been wondering how 30,000 Ghosts were going to last 10+ books when we lose so many each book. Well this book answered that in spades. Take on survivors from other lost worlds. Now we’ll have to see if what makes the Ghosts the Ghosts morphs into something else with the influx of new blood.

Overall I enjoyed this and while it threatened to get a little too dark for me it never crossed that threshhold.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Grave Thief (Twilight Reign #3) ★★★☆½

gravethief (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Grave Thief
Series: Twilight Reign #3
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 548
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

With the fall of Scree, the gods have been enraged at what the Shadow has done. Unfortunately, all this has accomplished is to make the priest of various gods more warlike and to incite them against their own citizenry. This in turn places a huge strain on the Kingdoms that are trying to oppose Styrax and his Menin, who are taking city after city.

Styrax’s goal is to take all of the crystal skulls and to become a god himself. He is studying a puzzle at one of the conquered cities and unearth’s another skull. He also happens to set free its guardian, a very big and very cranky dragon.

While this has been going on, Isak has been trying to keep his kingdom from tearing itself apart. The priests are out of control and have hired their own mercenaries to act as their law. Eventually Isak declares a Crusade against Styrax and his godless Menin. This accomplishes getting all the nutjob priests out of the way and allows Isak to oppose Styrax and hopefully slow him down before he reaches Farlan.

At the same time, Azeur the Shadow has been born in human flesh. He attaches himself to a duchess of one of the soon to be conquered cities so as to remain under the radar from King Emin and Isak. He sets priest and citizen against the other so that at the right time they will look to him as a savior. He is growing at a rate of years in months time and at the time Styrax takes his city is about 5 years old.

Some of the gods, the lower hierarchy, realize that this time is an opportunity for them to rise. As such, they begin bonding with mortal humans and creating a new level of human power structure. Duke Vesna, one of Isak’s closest allies, is one such human. How it all plays out and what the final cost will be is yet to be seen.

The book ends with a battle between Farlan and Menin. Isak knows he can’t best Styrax so he follows a plan (that is unknown to us the readers) hatched by his Secretary of Everything. Isak kills a huge amount of the Menin with magic and then kills Styrax’s only son. Styrax kills Isak and sends him to hell using the power of his crystal skulls.

 

My Thoughts:

Much better. Now that I’m not floundering around trying to get adjusted to Isak as a character, I could concentrate a bit more on Azeur and Styrax. Of course, with Lloyd killing Isak right at the end, I’m not sure WHAT the next 2 books hold. I highly doubt Isak is “really” dead though. If he is, then I’ll be wicked pissed off in the later books.

I still have issues with Lloyd starting a chapter and not naming the character we follow until several pages in. It is annoying. Plus the character point of view shifts with only an extra line break still gets me. I’m getting better at picking up on those though, even if only subconsciously. I guess Lloyd is training all his readers to be his own personal cadre of Manchurian Candidates.

I didn’t like that some of the characters we’d really been invested in in previous books, King Emin, etc, were sidelined. I almost feel like I need to re-read the first 2 books just to place the new’ish characters like Styrax and his son into better context. I know I read about them in earlier books with all of my attention on the main character, what they did has slid right out of my mind. I think that comes down to the author not handling multiple characters and locations as well as he needs to.

There were also a couple of places where the words that were written weren’t the words meant. I can’t bring any specifics to mind but it is the kind of thing that needs a copy editor to look over and find.

On the positive side, what I am reading is reminding me and more of what I read, and liked, in the God Fragments series. The similarities in authorial voice are much more noticeable. Whereas the first book of this Twilight Reign series had me scratching my head over the fact that the same author wrote them, now I can see it. And I’m liking what I’m seeing.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Ghostmaker (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2) ★★★☆½

ghostmaker (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Ghostmaker
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Imperials are on the world of Mothraxx trying to prevent the forces of Chaos from taking it. On the morning of the final assault Gaunt walks among his troops and talks to various ones. Each time he talks with a trooper we get a story flashback from that soldier about a previous battle. We get 5-10 of these and then move on to the battle.

Mothraxx was home to a Lord of Nature (I don’t know the proper term in WH40K vernacular) and there is a gateway to a Homeworld that Chaos wants to invade. Humanity has been drawn there by the will of the Nature Lord even while thinking they’re doing it for themselves. A huge battle ensues, the Nature Lord gives his life to hold off the Chaos Forces and one of the Psykers, an Inquisitor goes to the Homeworld to close the gate.

Humanity destroys the forces of Chaos and everyone is less sad.

 

My Thoughts:

Having a bunch of short stories to fill in past battles worked really well. Considering how many troopers die, getting some backstory before they die feels more satisfying. At the same time, you don’t get invested enough in somebody that you’re emotionally scarred when they get their head ripped off by some Chaos warrior or their guts torn out and eaten or something like that.

The psyker who gave her life was introduced with just a hint of possible romance for Gaunt, so I knew she had to disappear. Can’t have attachments in this universe! Outside of Gaunt, his cabin boy and some of the ranking officers, anybody is liable to be killed off. I’ve adjusted my thinking for these books so it doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me though, still, is the very nature of this universe. If Chaos is bad, and the Inquisitors hunt down any human with psychic powers, using psychic powers, how does that work? And the Emperor. I’m going to have problems with him just existing, so get used to me complaining about him. He is as Chaos’y as Chaos so why does Humanity worship him? Grrr, I just don’t understand.

As Ground Pounder SF goes though, this is pretty enjoyable. Gaunt’s Ghosts are scouts and fighters so no spaceship to spaceship battles. I’m all for that!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)