Black Library Weekly

Black Library Weekly – W/C 22/08/16

After the spectacular releases last week (w/c 15th August), Black Library have returned to something more like normal service this week. In fact it feels a like a bit of a filler week, at least in terms of brand new releases. Let’s take a look at what we got, in the first of a new series of weekly articles looking back at Black Library releases and news.

As usual, Monday arrived and with it came a new Quick Read – in this case The Harrowing by Rob Sanders. A fun Horus Heresy story of the Alpha Legion infiltrating and assaulting a Mechanicus ark freighter, it ties in with the release of Praetorian of Dorn, but it’s not *really* a new release – originally published in the Limited Edition Sedition’s Gate anthology, it was also included in War Without End. Still, not everyone likes the anthologies, so it’s nice to have it available as an individual e-short.

No midweek releases this time, but we did get two announcements of upcoming releases. First up was the official confirmation of Black Library’s partnership with Hachette Paperworks on a serialised set of hardback 40k novels called Warhammer 40,000 Legends. Not much detail as yet, other than a date of the 7th September as (presumably) the release date of issue one.

Second was the announcement of the third in the Space Marine Legends series – Shrike by George Mann. As with the previous Ragnar Blackmane and Cassius instalments, this looks to be a fancy limited edition (1500 copies available) hardback, along with the usual ebook as well. It’s due for pre-order Friday 2nd September, with the ebook available to download on the 17th and the hardbacks shipping from the 19th September.

No new Black Library releases at the weekend either, although Games Workshop’s new Kill Team rules went up for presale in ebook format, available to download from Saturday 3rd September. In a nice touch as well, anyone who’s previously purchased the old edition of the rules is going to be able to upgrade for free.

Other than that there were a few bits and pieces in terms of limited time-only ebook collections and some new paperback editions. We got a whole raft of ebook collections, all of which have been available previously and are ‘back by popular demand’ – but only for this weekend:

On Deadly Wings: The Flyers Collection (1 novel, 1 novella, 6 short stories)
The Battle for Tallarn (1 [short] novel, 1 novella, 5 short stories – the full Tallarn series)
Ciaphas Cain: The Complete Story (9 novels, 1 novella, 2 audio dramas, 9 short stories)
Space Marines: 30th Anniversary Mega Bundle (30 short stories)
Deathwatch Mega Bundle (3 novels, 1 anthology, 1 audio drama, 4 short stories)
Space Wolves Mega Bundle (9 novels, 3 novellas, 14 short stories)
Nagash: The Story So Far… (5 novels, 4 audio dramas, 1 short story)

These all offer pretty good value for ebook fans, ranging from £15.49 for the Flyers Collection to £65.99 for the Ciaphas Cain set.

Lastly there were a couple of low-key paperback releases, which strangely didn’t show up on Black Library’s New Titles page, but each got a mention on the Warhammer App. First up was Sons of Titan by David Annandale, an anthology of four linked Grey Knights stories that’s been available in hardback and ebook formats for a while now, but finally gets the paperback treatment. Secondly there was Eye of Terra, book 35 in the Horus Heresy series, which is now available as a trade paperback – that’s the large-format paperback which is essentially the same page size as the hardbacks, just without the, um…hard back. Fans of the Heresy series who are collecting the ‘legacy’ editions (i.e. the small mass-market paperbacks) have still got a while to wait for this one – they’re only up to book 33 in that format.

EDIT: there’s actually a third paperback release, which is a little unusual. The Legends of the Dark Millennium: Shas’O anthology, previously available in hardback and ebook formats, is now available in paperback…sort of. It’s been renamed as Legends of the Dark Millennium: The Tau Empire, and now includes Phil Kelly’s Farsight novella in place of Andy Chambers’ short story The Arkunasha War. That’s an unusual move, both to rename it and to include a different story, but it’s arguably better value now with the inclusion of the longer Farsight.

Thoughts on this week’s releases
After last week’s bounties this does feel a little light, although it’s worth remembering that both Praetorian of Dorn and Legends of the Dark Millennium: Deathwatch hit the shelves this weekend, at least in Games Workshop stores.

Releasing The Harrowing as this week’s Quick Read seems like good timing given the heavy Alpha Legion involvement in Praetorian of Dorn, although as it’s already available in print it does reward the casual reader more than the hardcore fan. Nevertheless, it’s another example of Black Library’s ‘every release in every format’ policy for the Horus Heresy series.

Both of the announcements are interesting, albeit for different reasons – so far the Space Marine Legends series has had (in my opinion) one great book and one average one, but Shrike is an interesting character and George Mann seems to have a largely positive reputation for his previous Raven Guard work. As for the Partworks series, Hachette ran a tester a few months ago which showed positive signs, and there must be plenty of fans out there who’d love a nice set of hardbacks to add to their collection. Only time will tell for both of these – keep an eye out for updates on here in due course!

The weekend releases were pretty low key – it’s always nice to see good value collections, but it’s odd that Black Library brought these back just for two days, and there doesn’t seem to be any overt link with the Summer of Reading campaign, which would perhaps have been the obvious thing to do. As for the paperbacks, it’s good to have as many format options as possible, but crucially this means that Eye of Terra should now be available in high street bookshops – although Amazon lists 8th September as the release date for this format, so maybe there’s a bit more of a wait until it’s available everywhere.

Overall then, it was the sort of week that’s probably proved quite a temptation for fans of specific series or factions, but not so much for everyone else. It’s hard not to compare it unfavourably with last week, but most fans are certainly likely to be hoping for a bit more excitement next week.

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