Black Library Weekly – W/C 19/12/16

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. This week it’s a slightly later instalment as a result of yesterday being Christmas Day – I hope everyone had a lovely day, assuming you celebrate Christmas!

The Advent Calendar has now finished, and boy has it ended on a high note! The majority of the week’s news revolves around the Advent stories, so once again I’ll take a look at these stories first of all, before taking a look at what else has been going on. Let’s get straight onto the last six…

Advent
It’s been an interesting mix of stories for the final week of the Advent Calendar, with two Heresy stories, two 40k stories (including one audio drama), one Age of Sigmar tale and another Blood Bowl story. The standard overall has been fantastic – although this week saw the first slightly disappointing story, it also saw some of the best. Once again the prices have remained consistent – £1.99 for short stories and £2.99 for audio dramas. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Exocytosis by James Swallow: a Horus Heresy story featuring Calas Typhon and Luther, in which neither legion have much trust for the other and Typhon takes his next steps along the path to damnation.
  • Pantheon by Guy Haley: an Age of Sigmar tale in which two gods relive a story from an earlier age, somewhere between the Old World and the Age of Sigmar. A fascinating look at a different age, and an unusual structure.
  • The Art of Provocation by Josh Reynolds: a 40k audio drama featuring Lukas the Trickster, and possibly the funniest story ever released by Black Library. If you only get one Advent story, make it this one!
  • Unearthed by Rob Sanders: a 40k short story which pits the Inquisition against the Alpha Legion, with disappointingly predictable results. The only real misstep in the whole Advent series.
  • Da Bank Job by Andy Hall: the final Blood Bowl story in the collection, which sees an ork team taking on the Reikland Reavers despite a massive discrepancy in ability. Worth it for the cameos alone.
  • The Last Son of Prospero by Chris Wraight: a Horus Heresy story featuring Revuel Arvida. Massively spoilerific if you haven’t read The Path of Heaven, but mind-blowing if you had. Of all the Heresy stories in the collection this is the most exciting.

So that’s it. The Advent Calendar is over and done with for another year! I’ll talk in more detail about the overall collection in a separate post, but in terms of these last six titles they’ve included some of the best Black Library stories for a long time. On the one hand Unearthed was pretty disappointing, as though the author was just going through the motions really, but on the other hand we got a couple of fascinating Heresy stories, another delightful Blood Bowl story, an unusual but really interesting Age of Sigmar tale and a 40k audio drama that had me laughing out loud.

I really can’t recommend The Art of Provocation enough, as it’s a great introduction to the character of Lukas, but also a genuinely hilarious story that works beautifully as an audio. There’s so much entertainment to be had from listening to a reckless but highly capable Space Wolf wind his Wolf Lord up, especially when he implies that he may in the past have slept with said Wolf Lord’s mother. Or possibly sister. It’s like nothing else in Black Library, but it’s an absolute joy – bravo, Josh Reynolds. Bravo.

I ought to mention The Last Son of Prospero, by Chris Wraight, which Black Library cunningly kept back until the final day of Advent. It’s surprisingly spoilerific, but assuming you’re up to date with the Heresy it comes with a hefty surprise, and ends up posing some very interesting questions even as it potentially answers one of the crucial ongoing questions that’s still hanging over the series as a whole. It’s also just a fantastic story, once again showing just how good Chris Wraight really is!

So we’ve had the full 24 Advent stories now, but Christmas isn’t over for Black Library fans!

The Weekend
With Christmas Eve and Christmas Day both falling on the weekend there wasn’t much chance of a normal weekend’s releases, but that’s not to say there weren’t any releases at all. In fact there were quite a lot actually, as well as free shipping on all online orders until the 31st January. Here are a few details of the first releases:

  • Tales from Warzone Fenris: a digital collection pulling together all three previous releases – Curse of the Wulfen by David Annandale, and Robbie MacNiven’s Legacy of Russ and Vox Tenebris (audio drama). £19.98 for the three essentially means you’re getting Vox Tenebris for free, so that’s a pretty good price.
  • Wallpaper Collection – The Beast Arises: wallpapers from all 12 books in the series, in various sizes. All from the same artist – Victor Manuel Liza Moreno. £5.
  • Wallpaper Collection – The Realmgate Wars: wallpapers from all 10 of the Realmgate Wars books, from a range of different artists. £5.
  • Wallpaper Collection – The Horus Heresy (volume 2): the second collection of Heresy wallpapers, all by Neil Roberts, covering books 11-20. £5.

So those were the first few releases – nothing new, but these good value digital collections are always welcome. After that, we saw the usual Christmas Day release…or in this case releases!

First up was the ebook of Garro by James Swallow, book 42 in the Horus Heresy series. An unusual one, this takes the various Garro audio dramas and turns them into a single novel, with additional scenes to tie them all together into a cohesive narrative. At £9.99 it’s the standard ebook pricing, while the hardback is due for release at some point in early 2017. That’s pretty cool, and follows on from the early release of the Pharos ebook last year.

It wasn’t just Garro however, as Black Library also introduced a new campaign that takes over from the Advent Calendar – the 12 Days of Christmas. Running from Christmas Day to the 5th January this is going to be a series of offers continuing the Christmas cheer, and it kicked off with a free short story! Graeme Lyon’s The Librarian’s Acolyte was previously made available to anyone who paid to join the ‘Librarium’, which gave early access to new ebooks, but it’s now available for anyone to download for free on the Black Library website.

Thoughts on the week
As Christmas weeks go this was a pretty good one! The one disappointing Advent story aside, there were a load of great new releases as well as a few interesting collections, and the 12 Days of Christmas campaign is another welcome sign that the Black Library of old is really back. Gone are the days of genuinely exciting books being few and far between – there’s so much great stuff coming out at the moment.

About the only criticism I can think of for this week is that there was a distinct absence of physical books, which might have disappointed anyone who doesn’t like reading ebooks. That being said, it’s to be expected given that it was Christmas week – it’s not like any physical books would be posted out anyway! Whatever you think about ebooks, they’re a great way of delivering content to readers there and then, which is an ideal situation over the holidays.

The final thing to just mention is the Caligari Archivum, the collection of stories set alongside the upcoming Inquisitor – Martyr computer game. The first of these, Above and Beyond by Aron Nemeth, was available to download from the Black Library website for free (although it seems to have disappeared now), and was an interesting story, albeit flawed. Presumably the rest of these will be released over the coming weeks and months, although whether they will be available on the Black Library website is unclear, given that they’re not actually produced by Black Library. Either way, it’s cool to see more 40k fiction being generated and given away for free.

Coming Up
First of all we’ve got the remaining eleven days of the 12 Days of Christmas campaign, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the Black Library website to see what’s included in those offers. As I’m writing this the second day has been revealed to be a discounted pair of Limited Edition hardbacks, although I’ll talk more about those in next week’s post.

As for new releases, again at the time of writing the second of two ‘digital premieres’ has been released – after Sunday’s release of Garro, the second one was an early ebook release of Carcharadons: Red Tithe by Robbie MacNiven. The hardback is due to ship from the 9th January onwards, so the ebook is out a couple of weeks early. As for the next releases though, it looks like Rob Sanders’ Cybernetica (the standard hardback) is due for dispatch/download about the same time as Red Tithe, which means that nothing’s been confirmed for the weekend of the 31st December/1st January. We’ll see if anything shows up!

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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