The Fortress World and the Eye of Terror: Warhammer 40K: The Cadian Novels by Justin D. Hill

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Cadia Stands-small Cadian Honour-small

When I made the 90-minute commute to Glenview every morning (and the 90-minute drive home every evening), I got addicted to Warhammer 40K audio dramas. They made the long drive bearable. When I left that job four years ago I fell out of the habit, and haven’t kept up on the unfolding drama in my favorite dark space opera. I did hear rumors of a Thirteenth Black Crusade, the unexpected return of the loyal primarch Roboute Guilliman (in Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium series), and the catastrophic fall of the fortress world of Cadia, the last line of defense against the daemonic tide spilling out of the Eye of Terror. Man, you take your eye off the ball for a minute, and everything goes to hell.

Justin D. Hill’s new Cadia series seem like the perfect place to jump back into the saga. The first novel, Cadia Stands, was published in March 2018, and the sequel Cadian Honour is scheduled for September of this year (and is already available in digital format). Here’s the description for the first volume.

The brutal war for Cadia is decided, as Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed and the armies of the Imperium fight to halt the Thirteenth Black Crusade and prevent a calamity on a galactic scale.

Under almost constant besiegement by the daemonic hosts pouring from the Eye of Terror, Cadia stands as a bulwark against tyranny and death. Its fortresses and armies have held back the hordes of Chaos for centuries, but that grim defiance is about to reach its end. As Abaddon’s Thirteenth Black Crusade batters Cadia’s defences and the armies of the Imperium flock to reinforce this crucial world, a terrible ritual long in the making comes to fruition, and the delicate balance of this brutal war shifts… From the darkness, a hero rises to lead the beleaguered defenders, Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed, but even with the armoured might of the Astra Militarum and the strength of the Adeptus Astartes at his side, it may not be enough to avert disaster and prevent the fall of Cadia. While Creed lives, there is hope. While there is breath in the body of a single defender, Cadia Stands… but for how much longer?

And here’s the description for Cadian Honour.

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Future Treasures: Warhammer Horror: The Wicked and the Damned by Josh Reynolds, David Annandale, and Phil Kelly

Monday, March 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Wicked and the Damned-smallFive years ago, when I was commuting to Glenview and in the car three hours a day, I got hooked on Warhammer 40K audio books. My favorites were the Horus Heresy volumes, especially Ben Counter’s epic tale of betrayal and revenge Galaxy in Flames, but I devoured them all.

I take the train these days, and don’t keep up on the unfolding drama in the dark days of the 40th Millennium the way I used to, but I still pay attention when I can. So I was very intrigued to hear about the launch of Warhammer Horror, a new line of books and audio plays (wait… like the current line isn’t dark enough??) It arrives next month with three launch titles, the short-story anthology Maledictions, an audio drama titled Perdition’s Flame, and a collaborative novel titled The Wicked and the Damned, from three stars of the Warhammer stable. That last one is the one that really interests me, and mostly because of this description:

A chilling mosaic novel by masters of their craft.

On a misty cemetery world, three strangers are drawn together through mysterious circumstances. Each of them has a tale to tell of a narrow escape from death. Amid the toll of funerary bells and the creep and click of mortuary-servitors, the truth is confessed. But whose story can be trusted? Whose recollection is warped, even unto themselves? For these are strange stories of the uncanny, the irrational and the spine-chillingly frightening, where horrors abound and the dark depths of the human psyche is unearthed.

“A chilling portmanteau. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickling. The perfect combination of horror and Warhammer 40,000.” – Paul Kane.

Josh Reynolds wrote the popular Nightmare Men series on occult detectives here at Black Gate, David Annandale is the author of the Yarrick series and a contributor to The Beast Arises, and Phil Kelly is the man behind War of Secrets and Crisis of Faith.

The Wicked and the Damned will be published by Warhammer Horror on April 2, 2019. It is 400 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback. No word on a digital version yet. See all our previous Warhammer coverage here.


The Time of Woe is Upon Us: Warhammer: Chaos in the Old World

Sunday, February 4th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Chaos in the Old World-small

I was shopping for fantasy board games online last week, as one does, and I came across a user review of a recent title. It was glowing, and it said “This is my favorite new board game since Chaos in the Old World.”

That reminded me that I’d always intended to take a closer look at Fantasy Flight’s Chaos. It’s a Warhammer game, and I’ve been familiar with the setting for decades. But these days I spent most of my gaming dollars on the far-future version, Warhammer 40,000, and games like Warhammer 40k: Relic and the terrific Forbidden Stars. Now that Fantasy Flight has lost the Warhammer license though, Chaos in the Old World was out of print, and prices were probably starting to creep up. I made up my mind at that point to spend my weekly gaming dollars on a copy, provided I could find one at a reasonable price.

That turned out to be a lot easier said than done. The cheapest copies I could find at Amazon were $279. eBay wasn’t much better — new copies were selling for as much as $300 and up. I gritted my teeth and setting in for a long search.

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Future Treasures: Warhammer 40k: The Magos by Dan Abnett

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Magos Dan Abnett-smallThree years ago, as I was commuting three hours a day to a job I hated, I found a way to add a little joy to my tedious morning drive. I started listening to the Warhammer Audio Books produced by Heavy Entertainment for Black Library.

And man, what a delight they were. Not just readings, these were full-cast audio dramas, with wonderfully produced sound effects and professional voice actors like Toby Longworth, Gareth Armstrong, Jonathan Keeble, and many others. I’d pull into the parking lot with the sound of ricocheting bolter fire and space marine battle cries echoing in my ear, and it made getting out of the car and starting the long walk into work a little easier.

I enjoyed virtually all of those action-packed audio dramas, but I think my favorite was Dan Abnett’s Thorn and Talon: From the Case Files of Eisenhorn and Ravenor, an anthology of tales of the dedicated Imperial Inquisitor Eisenhorn and his apprentice Ravenor, as they came up again Chaos plots, strange warp artifacts, and more dangerous things.

That was my introduction to the tales of Inquisitor Eisenhorn. Although truthfully, if I’d just listened to my friends Howard Andrew Jones and John Denardo, I could have saved myself a lot of time. Way back in 2009 Howard raved about Abnett’s Eisenhorn omnibus, a fat volume collecting all three novels of the Eisenhorn trilogy and a handful of shorter works:

Dan Abnett wasn’t satisfied with creating a fabulous lead character in an action-packed space opera; he sent him to fantastic places and provides a series of detective/investigative stories full of logical turns, surprises, and plenty of action.

And in his 2016 article ‘In Defense of Media Tie-Ins,” John wrote:

One of the best set of books I’ve ever read — in any genre — was the Eisenhorn trilogy by Dan Abnett. The books are set in the richly-imagined Warhammer 40K universe… Abnett is a one of the most skilled master storytellers you’ve never heard of. This is the series that I point to when anyone is quick to dismiss tie-in fiction… I don’t play the game, but that didn’t stop me from losing sleep because I couldn’t stop turning page after action-packed page, or cheering when a bad guy finally got his comeuppance.

The long-awaited fourth book in the Eisenhorn series finally arrives next month. The Magos, a fat 720-page volume, collects a dozen Eisenhorn short stories and a brand new novel. Here’s the description.

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Future Treasures: Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader: The Omnibus by Andy Hoare

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Rogue Trader the Omnibus-smallFantasy Flight released the epic Rogue Trader role playing game in 2009. One of the early fruits of their Warhammer 40,000 license, Rogue Trader allowed players to play intrepid merchant princes buying and selling outside the legal boundaries of the Imperium. I became a fan immediately, and it quickly became my favorite science fiction RPG.

Fantasy Flight lost the Warhammer 40K license last year, and the game is now out of print. I thought that would be the end of the brand, so I was pleased to see Black Library put Rogue Trader: The Omnibus on their schedule for next month. It’s a compilation of three novels and two short stories by Andy Hoare. Rogue Star (2006) and Star of Damocles (2007) chart the fortunes of rogue trader Lucian Gerrit on the Imperium’s fringes, and Savage Scars (2011) picks up the tale as the White Scars battle the T’au on the planet Dal’yth. Rogue Trader: The Omnibus arrives in trade paperback on January 23.

Explore the stars and the farthest reaches of the galaxy with the complete Rogue Trader omnibus, containing the novels Rogue Star, Star of Damocles and Savage Scars.

Licensed by ancient charter, Rogue Traders explore the uncharted regions of the galaxy, seeking new worlds to exploit on behalf of the Imperium. The fortunes of Rogue Trader Lucian Gerrit and his family are in decline, and his inheritance amounts to little more than a pile of debt and misery. In a final, desperate gamble to restore his family’s former glory, Gerrit strikes a deal on a forgotten Imperial world in the Eastern Fringe, but his timing could not be worse. The alien tau are seeking to expand their empire across the Damocles Gulf, and soon Gerrit is caught in the middle of a clash between two mighty star-spanning empires, neither of which is willing to back down.

Rogue Trader: The Omnibus will be published by Games Workshop/Black Library on January 23, 2018. It is 800 pages, priced at $21 in trade paperback. Read more at the Black Library website.


How to Worldbuild a Good Sandbox: Four Rules from the Warhammer 40K Universe

Thursday, April 7th, 2016 | Posted by M Harold Page

Honour Guard Dan Abnett-small

Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K universe is one of the best sandboxes around.

I’m working on a sandbox Space Opera setting.

Sandbox is the tricky part; a “sandbox” is a storyworld that lets you tell (or experience — if you are a gamer) all sorts of different kinds of story. Essentially, I’m building my Discworld.

Oh, you say, just make it big with lots of different kinds of settings plus spare blank spots on the map.

Yes, that gives you lots of flexibility (though less than you’d think). However, the stories won’t be — sorry, I can’t think of a better word — branded.

I mean, the asteroid miners over here and the fight against the dark lord over there, don’t need to belong in the same universe and the reader (or player) won’t really feel as if they are revisiting the same place.

So a good sandbox is one that maximises the possible range of branded stories.

Spend time with a 12-year-old tabletop gamer and you quickly realize that — in this light — Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K universe is one of the best sandboxes around. You can could dump just about any Space Opera SF story into it, and it would still feel like 40K. To do Firefly, just plug in Orcs, Inquisitors and Space Marines and Imperial Guards. To do Starship Troopers tell a story about the Imperial Guard. To do Star Trek, just follow a Tau captain on their five year mission.

Less so in the Star Wars universe.

Firefly Wars would need a local civil war as backstory, since the cleanup after the prequels feels like it would involve more mass graves. Your Alliance could be the Empire, but the Empire doesn’t really feel as if it would do dark secrets — why bother hiding them? — or have secret super soldier programs– it has Stormtroopers and Sith anyway. Starship Troopers could be about the latter-day Stormtroopers, but the moral ambiguity would be lost. Star Trek…? No, not without taking a ship to a different galaxy and then it would not feel like Star Wars. It would lose its brand.

So the 40K ‘verse is a far better sandbox than the Star Wars one.  How can this be? It appears to follow four basic rules…

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New Treasures: Warhammer: Lords of the Dead

Monday, March 14th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Warhammer Lords of the Dead-smallI really enjoy these Warhammer omnibus editions. They’re a tremendous bargain, for one thing. They typically contain 2-3 full length novels, plus the assorted short story or two. I’ve collected more than a few, and while I especially enjoy the science fiction offshoot, Warhammer 40K, the straight-up Warhammer volumes have proven to be a reliable source of modern sword & sorcery, most notably the tales of Gotrek & Felix, C. L. Werner’s Brunner the Bounty Hunter, and Kim Newman’s The Vampire Genevieve.

I’m extremely interested in the new omnibus Lords of the Dead, which includes the first two novels in the End Times series: Chris Wraigh’s The Fall of Altdorf, and The Return of Nagash, by Black Gate blogger Josh Reynolds, author of our popular series on The Nightmare Men. Here’s the description.

The fate of The Old World hangs in the balance. Heroes rise and fall as they battle the Ruinous Powers in a last desperate attempt to save the mortal realm. The Gods of Chaos only want total destruction and their victory seems inevitable……

The Return of Nagash

As the forces of Chaos threaten to drown the world in madness, Mannfred von Carstein and Arkhan the Black put aside their difference and plot to resurrect the one being with the power to stand against the servants of the Ruinous Powers and restore order to the world – the Great Necromancer himself. As they set about gathering artefacts to use in their dark ritual, armies converge on Sylvania, intent on stopping them. But Arkhan and Mannfred are determined to complete their task. No matter the cost, Nagash must rise again.

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Only War for Christmas: How to Defend Warhammer for Teenage Boys

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

Kurtzhau army

…telling stories, reading books, engaging with craft…

Older relative: “Well I’m not buying him  (nose wrinkle) Warhammer.”

Fellow parent: “Oh God, Warhammer. We’re trying to steer him away from that!”

Another parent: “But it’s sooo expensive.”

It’s the run up to Christmas and people want to know what older and teenage boys want, and — just like with books — the boys, the geeky ones at least, want the wrong things.

Except of course, I think these are right things and I want to yell:

There’s this thing you can get that coaches boys in applied game theory, and keeps them telling stories, reading books, engaging with craft, and gathering with friends away from a screen (sometimes even organising them). It also enables them to talk to older boys and adults as peers, and take their place in a multi-generational community… No, it’s not an educational game. No… it’s not an after school club… It’s… Warhammer!!!

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In the Trenches: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts: Straight Silver

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015 | Posted by Sean Stiennon

Straight Silver Dan Abnett-smallThe world of Aexe Cardinal has been largely separated from galactic civilization for several centuries. Their technology is roughly on the level of ours around the time of the First World War — which is significant, because for almost half a century, the dominant nations of the planet have been in a deadlock with the Chaos-tainted Republic of Shadik. Their war is fought between lines of trenches across an ancient, toxic no man’s land. In all the ways that matter, it is the First World War, amplified in scale, duration, and stakes.

And who better to break a deadlock than the Imperial Guard, spearheaded by the tough-as-nails bravos of the Tanith First-and-Only?

The title, Straight Silver, refers to the foot-long war-knives carried by all the Tanith. I typically imagine them looking something like the classic Swiss bayonet. It’s a fitting title, because the cramped spaces of trench networks offer plenty of opportunity for blade-work.

After the intense battles of Honor Guard and Guns of Tanith, though, Straight Silver feels like a quiet interlude. There’s still plenty of fighting, but the only encounter which really stood out to me was a last-ditch defense of an isolated manor occurring in the last 20-30 pages of the novel. There’s another lengthy sequence where Gaunt personally leads a team across no man’s land to take out a battery of massive bombardment weapons, and while it’s certainly solid, it doesn’t particularly stand out from the other, similar sequences in the series.

Part of the problem is that, in recreating the conditions of a World War One style deadlock, Abnett hasn’t really given the Shadik troopers any unique features to make them more than generic bad guys — not even funny hats. It’s also not specified exactly how Chaos has affected them. The Shadik Republic thus stands out among the Ghosts’ adversaries only for its blandness.

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Tanith Airborne: Warhammer 40k: Gaunt’s Ghosts: The Guns of Tanith

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 | Posted by Sean Stiennon

The Guns of Tanith-smallThe Guns of Tanith
A Warhammer 40K novel
Volume 5 of Gaunt’s Ghosts
By Dan Abnett
Black Library (315 pages, $6.95, May 2002)
Cover by Adrian Smith

The Guns of Tanith opens with another first for the Ghosts: A training sequence. After redeeming himself for the disaster on Hagia, Gaunt and the men of the Tanith First-and-Only are being deployed to Phantine. Phantine’s industrial history spans so many millennia that most of the planet is covered by smog toxic enough to make human life impossible. The remaining Phantine cities are perched on mountains whose elevations rise above the poisonous clouds. So naturally, when the time comes to liberate Phantine settlements from the occupying forces of Chaos, ground assaults aren’t an option. Thus, en route to Phantine, we find the Ghosts in training for an aerial drop assault, supported by Phantine’s elite aerial corps.

The training sequence reintroduces us to some familiar faces: Twitchy sniper Larkin, soft-hearted giant “Try-Again” Bragg, scout leader Mkoll, and the rest of the crew, along with some relatively new arrivals, particularly Commissar Viktor Hark, who joined the Ghosts in the previous volume to supplement Gaunt’s split role as both Commissar (a kind of propaganda officer) and Colonel of the Ghosts. Hark, as neither Tanith nor Vervunhive, is in a position to be a little harsher, a little more detached, and perhaps a little more objective in his disciple than Gaunt can ever be. He’s a fair man, and fits well with the Tanith, but is more at ease with the brutal reality of a commissar’s duty to enforce iron disciple.

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