Black Library Weekly – W/C 28/11/16

Hello and welcome to another instalment of Black Library Weekly, where I take a look at the Black Library-related news from the week just gone – announcements, pre-orders and new releases.

It’s been another bumper week after last week’s bounties – a different feel to things, but a lot of interesting releases throughout the latter half of the week. Christmas continues to loom large with the opening few titles from the 2016 Advent Calendar, while the mixture of new and re-released titles carries on as it has for the last few weeks. There was also an interesting announcement which will be of interest to fans of ebooks…

For the first week in a very long time, Monday didn’t come with any new releases! Presumably that’s because of the Advent Calendar which was, unsurprisingly, due to start on Thursday 1st January. The only news to filter through on Monday was the opening of a couple of new job opportunities with Black Library – if you live in or near Nottingham and fancy a job as a commissioning editor, now’s your chance! If you were wondering why that particular role has become available…

In a move that’s caused surprise throughout the Black Library fan base, commissioning editor and arch-heretic Laurie Goulding – the man responsible for everything Horus Heresy-related in Black Library – is leaving for greener pastures. We don’t have many concrete details yet about what he’s off to do, but I recently interviewed Laurie and you can read a little bit about what’s happened in part two of the interview.

The next bit of interesting news is the long-awaited move to make Black Library ebooks available on the Kindle store! At present they’re only available in the UK and EU, but we’re told they should be available in the US in early 2017. To begin with Black Library have made something in the region of 200 titles available to download, with the first of the Age of Sigmar releases – Chris Wraight’s The Gates of Azyr – currently available for free! Presumably more titles will be added as time goes on, although it remains to be seen whether there will be any differences in pricing between the Kindle store, iBooks and the Black Library website. Keep your eyes peeled…

After those bits of news, the first releases started trickling through with day one of the 2016 Advent Calendar, in the shape of a Horus Heresy audio drama from Dan Abnett – Perpetual. At £2.99 on its own (as opposed to as part of the £39.99 subscription) it’s down the bottom end of audio dramas price-wise, but while it was pretty light on action it was an interesting continuation of Oll Persson’s story from Know No Fear and then Unmarked. For a 27-minute, full-cast audio drama that’s pretty good value!

Friday then saw the second Advent release – John French’s The Maiden of the Dream, which sits alongside his previous story The Purity of Ignorance as a ‘story of the Horusian Wars’ in preparation for the upcoming novel The Horusian Wars: Resurrection. Priced at £1.99 it’s another action-light story that’s more focused on character development than lots of explosions, and is all the better for it.

Friday also saw the full release for Josh Reynolds’ Fabius Bile: Primogenitor, which has been available to pre-order for some time now in all the formats – ebook (£9.99), standard hardback (£18), MP3 (£29.99) and Limited Edition hardback (£40). If you can stretch to it, the hardback is gorgeous – bound to resemble Fabius’ famous coat of many flayed faces, it’s easily up there as one of the best limited editions Black Library have ever released. Seriously – go get it if you can!

The weekend saw the next two Advent stories released, starting with Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Horus Heresy story Into Exile and continuing with another Josh Reynolds tale – this time an Age of Sigmar story called The Road of Blades. Both are priced at £1.99 and both are absolutely worth checking out – Aaron’s story for an interesting look at Arkhan Land, who shows up in The Master of Mankind, and Josh’s for a story which sets up one of his forthcoming novels and shows that not all Khorne champions are mindless lunatics. After its first few stories, this year’s Advent Calendar is looking pretty good!

Of course no weekend would be complete without a few re-releases, and this was no different. Probably the highest profile of the two was another Aaron Dembski-Bowden title – Space Marine Legends: Ragnar Blackmane. Over a year after its original Limited Edition release it’s nice to see this excellent book get a wider release, in ebook (£9.99) and standard hardback (£12.99) formats. The fourth book in the Age of Sigmar Realmgate Wars series – Call of Archaon (featuring stories by David Annandale, David Guymer, Guy Haley and Rob Sanders) – also saw a paperback release, priced at the usual £8.99 and joining the first three books in the series to get the paperback treatment.

Lastly, Games Workshop carried on its recent run of interesting new books with two titles this weekend, with the pre-orders for two new books that will have Chaos fans grinning. First up is the Traitor Legions codex supplement (£20 in softback or £14.99 as an ebook), featuring new rules for all nine of the original Traitor Legions – some of those rules have been made available elsewhere, including in the new Wrath of Magnus book, but it’s likely to be quite a popular book I suspect. Continuing the Chaos theme is Index Chaotica: Apocrypha (£20 in hardback or £14.99 as an ebook), which is a collection of Chaos-themed articles gathered from all manner of sources over the last thirty years or so. If you like your Chaos background, this is probably the book for you.

No Black Library novel/novella to accompany the Wrath of Magnus arc though, which is interesting. Robbie MacNiven’s Legacy of Russ covered the story up until the beginning of the events contained in the new background book, but we haven’t seen anything yet from Black Library that details what comes next. If you’ve not read Wrath of Magnus…there’s some pretty interesting stuff happening on Fenris and in the rest of the Imperium!

Thoughts on the week
It’s certainly been an interesting week, with a few key things happening. For me personally, the news about the Kindle store wasn’t that big a deal as Black Library ebooks were already available from iBooks or the Black Library website, although clearly some people were keen to see them on Kindle as well. Whether that’s going to result in any price differences across the various sources remains to be seen…

For me the bigger news early in the week was Laurie’s announcement, which may prove to have fascinating repercussions over time. Like him or not, Laurie’s ended up being a vital part in the Heresy machine up to this point – he’s clearly maneuvered the series into a position where he’s confident it can be finished off without his assistance, but there’s still a few key events to come. Only time will tell whether we’ll be able to detect any obvious signs of his absence in the final books!

In terms of releases, in my opinion it’s been a great week. I always love the Advent Calendars, as they’re a great way of binging on loads of new Black Library content, and the first few stories in this year’s collection have been really good – bearing in mind that I tend to enjoy the slower, more thoughtful stories more than the full-on action ones. As always, if you’re only interested in specific storylines or series then it’s probably best to pick and choose which you buy, but if (like me) you’re a fan of all settings and series, I really would recommend buying the Advent subscription. At a smidge under £40 it’s pretty good value – eighteen ebooks at £1.99 would be £35.82 on their own; add in six audios at £2.99 each (£17.94) and you have a total of £53.76. That’s a saving of £13.77, which is over 25% of the total!

As for the novels this week…Ragnar Blackmane is great, and definitely deserves a non-limited release, so if you haven’t already read it then now’s the time to get involved. It’s always nice to see paperbacks, so any Age of Sigmar fans waiting for the Realmgate Wars books to come out in paperback should enjoy Call of Archaon. For me though, neither of those compare to Fabius Bile: Primogenitor, a book I’ve been hotly anticipating ever since listening to Josh’s excellent audio drama Fabius Bile: Repairer of Ruin. At the time of writing I’m about three quarters of the way through reading it (in the LE version, about which I’ll say again – it’s amazing!) and loving every page, so keep an eye out for a review coming up soon. A short review would probably be something like this – BUY IT NOW!

Coming up…
As usual, let’s take a look at Black Library’s Coming Soon section – next week we’re due two new releases in the shape of Mark Clapham’s Space Marine Battles novel Tyrant of the Hollow Worlds (it’s about Huron Blackheart, which sounds tasty) and the Limited Edition hardback of Gav Thorpe’s Space Marine Legends: Azrael novel. Both of those are already available for pre-order, with the hardbacks both due to start shipping on the 12th December. Tyrant… is also due out in ebook, which should be available to download from Saturday 10th December.

Interestingly that’s it for December in terms of new books, according to the Coming Soon page. That does leave the weekend of the 17th and 18th December without any new releases, while none of the books in January’s Coming Soon section are currently available to pre-order. Personally I’d quite like to see the pre-orders stop, as I preferred it when Black Library made a bit more of a fuss about each weekend’s new releases, but I do understand why people like pre-orders (planning ahead and all that) so I imagine there will be a few people hoping that January’s titles will be available to order beforehand.

As for the 17th and 18th, perhaps there are still some surprises in store for us; or perhaps we’ll have one weekend with no temptation! For the last few years the Advent stories have been followed by a brand new book on Christmas Day, so it’s also possible (I’d actually say probable) that the following weekend will see something cool get a surprise release…

As always, if you’ve got any thoughts on the week’s news and releases please do give me a shout to let me know!

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