The weekend of the 4th and 5th of February 2017 saw several hundred Horus Heresy fans descend upon the Nottingham Belfry for the fifth Horus Heresy Weekender, two days (plus a bit of the Friday evening, too) of seminars, gaming and general hobby fun. If you’ve never been to one of these Weekenders, they encompass pretty much everything you can think of regarding the Heresy, with Games Workshop, Forge World and Black Library in attendance, and they give the us fans a great opportunity to spend some quality time with the people who are creating the books, games and miniatures bringing the Heresy to life.
As usual my focus was more on the Black Library side of things than Forge World – as beautiful as the all the resin goodies are, the things that really interest me are the books and the opportunities to talk to the authors (and Neil Roberts, the Heresy cover artist). More than ever before, this event was covered by a range of dedicated and hard working souls, from fan sites like Battle Bunnies or Garro on Facebook, to the amazing Warhammer Community website, so I’m not going to try and cover ground that’s been capably dealt with already.
Instead I’m going to write up a few thoughts about the event overall, picking out anything of particular interest to those, like me, who really love the Black Library side of the Heresy most of all. I’m focusing on cool new things that got me excited for what’s to come, and the organisation and setup of the event from a Black Library perspective. Without further ado…
How much was Black Library actually involved?
That’s a good question, and one that I’ve given lots of thought to over the various Heresy Weekenders I’ve been to. As with previous years, it’s clear that the majority of people attending the event were more interested in the Forge World products and the gaming side of things than the fiction, and I think that’s both inevitable and actually fair enough. It’s worth remembering that the Horus Heresy is its own actual game system these days, with legions of hardcore fans, so the fiction is only a relatively small part of the whole thing.
That being said, three of the nine seminars were entirely Black Library focused, and the various authors in attendance were available for large parts of the weekend to chat to and sign books. Over the course of the weekend five authors were in attendance – Chris Wraight, John French, Guy Haley, James Swallow and Gav Thorpe, along with artist Neil Roberts. There was also a Black Library sales stand, although it was only a fraction the size of the Forge World one, but more on that in a moment.
So overall there was a fairly good Black Library presence, in context of the overall levels of interest amongst the attendees.
Cool new stuff – to buy
One of the attractions of going to an event like this is the opportunity to get your hands on cool new products in advance of everyone else. In the past Black Library used to have event-only anthologies and loads of pre-release titles available at all of their events, but those really fell away over the last few events. This time round there wasn’t a lot of new stuff, but to my mind there was the spark of hope…There were two pre-release products available – James Swallow’s Garro book, and David Annandale’s audio drama The Binary Succession. Saturday was actually the proper release date for Garro, although it won’t be in shops until the following weekend, while The Binary Succession isn’t due for release until mid March. Now that might not sound like much, but compared to previous years it wasn’t actually bad – I was certainly glad to pick up both of those titles. Meanwhile the sales stand held copies of the latest few Heresy hardbacks (although sadly not the full range) and a handful of Heresy audios, and a few of the recent 40k special edition hardbacks like Primogenitor and Azrael.
For me, I’d have liked to have seen the full range of Heresy hardbacks (especially seeing as most of them were available in the Warhammer World store when I visited on the Friday) made available at the event, and audio dramas too – I would probably have picked up a couple more titles to fill the gaps on my shelves. It seems a bit weird not to bring them along, seeing as the event was in the same city as Black Library’s headquarters!
That spark of hope I mentioned, though? It’s not just the fact that there were actually two new titles available. I spoke to one of the sales staff who mentioned that for various reasons Black Library haven’t been able to make many pre-release titles available at these events…but from 2017’s Warhammer Fest onwards that’s due to change! Now only time will tell whether that’s actually the case or not, but it sounds promising. It also ties in with the positive steps being made with things like the Coming Soon section on the website. Fingers crossed we do see more of the pre-releases, but I hope Black Library decide to commit more resources to events like this and bring a wider selection of products too.
Cool new stuff – new titles announced
As usual there was a seminar focused purely on the upcoming Horus Heresy titles, and as usual there was a slight sense of awkwardness as the authors tried hard to talk about what they’re working on without giving too much away or breaking their NDAs. A lot of the titles included in the seminar have been talked about and/or had the covers shown previously, so I’ll just list those for completion, but I’ll add a little detail where I can to the newer ones that haven’t been covered as much. Here we go:
- February 2017: Garro by James Swallow (collection)
- March 2017 – The Binary Succession by David Annandale (audio)
- April 2017 – The Shattered Legions (anthology)
- April 2017 – Perturabo: Hammer of Olympia by Guy Haley (Primarchs series)
- May 2017 – Echoes of Revelation (audio collection)
- June 2017 – The Crimson King by Graham McNeill
- July 2017 – Dark Compliance by John French (audio)
- July 2017 – Lorgar: Bearer of the Word by Gav Thorpe (Primarchs series)
- August 2017 – Tallarn by John French (collection)
- September 2017 – Blackshields: The False War by Josh Reynolds (audio)
- September 2017 – Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix by Josh Reynolds (Primarchs series)
A bit more detail now, but bear in mind that this is based on my notes from the seminar…
The Crimson King by Graham McNeill
Graham sadly wasn’t in attendance and as far as I heard this was barely discussed, however there was an excerpt, albeit a very brief one, included in the Weekender programme. Interestingly it featured a few familiar names from John French’s Ahriman series – Sanakht, Tolbek and Menkaura, as well as Ahriman, Hathor Maat, and Lucius of the Emperor’s Children. Interest duly piqued…
Dark Compliance by John French
This audio drama (with an absolutely awesome cover from Neil Roberts) explores the concept of what Horus is doing and how, when he’s conquering worlds to create his own enclave within the Imperium. It involves an emissary who will be familiar to anyone who’s read Tallarn: Ironclad, and the story of how Horus conquered an entire world in a single day. Talk about sending a message, eh?
Tallarn by John French
This one is going to collect together the full Tallarn story arc, including the novellas Executioner and Ironclad, and some (if perhaps not all) of the accompanying stories. I saw someone speculating on this online and pointing out that the audio dramas The Eagle’s Talon and Iron Corpses have already been included in prose format in the Eye of Terra anthology, so that suggests that this one’s going to include everything but those two.
Blackshields: The False War by Josh Reynolds
Seeing as Josh wasn’t there to discuss this, it was skipped over quite quickly. According to Josh’s blog it’s going to feature Endryd Haar, an ex-World Eaters legionary who previously featured in Forge World’s sixth Heresy book Retribution.
Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix by Josh Reynolds
Once again this didn’t get much attention, other than for the rather lovely cover. It’s interesting how quiet this has been kept, considering that David Guymer has already been confirmed as writing the Ferrus Manus book – which we now know will be at least book six in the series, with three already released (up to Magnus), Perturabo listed on the Coming Soon page, and Fulgrim now confirmed.
So not a huge amount of information to be honest, but this does now mean that we know the Heresy release schedule (unless there are surprises to come) up until September of this year.
As with the last couple of Weekenders, there was a sense that this wasn’t as well organised as it could have been. I’m not going to turn this into a rant, nor spend too long talking about organisation given that I’m focusing mostly on Black Library stuff, but it’s worth at least mentioning. Let’s just make a quick bullet list of concerns that spring to mind:
- The event schedule wasn’t confirmed until the Sunday before the event, which didn’t give us much chance to plan (and it actually had mistakes, as well).
- There were some…difficulties getting into a couple of the sessions, which seemed to revolve around strange decisions about what to do with the main seminar room. The advertised hobby clinic sessions seemed to be cancelled in order to extend the room, then the final session of the weekend generated a huge queue despite the room seeming to be ready and available plenty of time in advance. Not ideal, and just a little strange.
- There were three Audio Drama sessions listed on the schedule, but with no information about what they entailed. I’d hoped they would be sessions with some of the staff involved in creating the audio dramas, but as far as I could tell they were more like chances to listen to some of the audios. I popped down for one session, but it turned out to be an author signing instead.
- There were two Author Reading sessions listed as well, although it looked like the authors hadn’t actually been asked to prepare anything! Luckily Guy Haley had an excerpt of Perturabo on hand that he could read from, although it seemed rather impromptu.
On the one hand these all seem a touch nit-picky, but on the other hand they did have a noticeable impact on the event. I should be clear here that the whole thing did feel better organised than last year, which is great to see. There were definitely some areas for improvement though; small but important things which can have an impact on people’s enjoyment of an event.
The big question for Black Library fans…
Will there be a Black Library Weekender, and when will it be? As you’ve probably guessed, the answer looks like being a resounding yes…but the date hasn’t been confirmed yet. Last year at Black Library Live it was ‘confirmed’ that there would be a Weekender, although nothing official has been released about it since, but chatting to staff at the event the consensus seemed to be that it was indeed going to happen. Keep your ears peeled folks, as that should be very interesting indeed, in light of all the positive changes happening!
A very quick rundown of other cool things
I can’t finish this article without very quickly mentioning a few cool things that came to mind over the weekend:
- Adeptus Titanicus games: the Specialist Games guys ran two amazing games of the upcoming Adeptus Titanicus, using 40k scale titans! I joined in with the first game, on Friday night, and it was brilliant! Masses of fun was had by all.
- Early registration: this year we could register and start buying new Forge World products from 5pm Friday, which was a great idea. There were still big queues, but slightly smaller than usual!
- The sheer number of cool new Custodes models: so. Much. Awesomeness!
- The people: I’ve made some great friends at these events over the years, and this year I was introduced to Alec from the Heresy 30k forum. If you’ve not already, go check it out. Alec is a great guy, and came all the way from LA!
So that’s my (fairly) quick round up of the Weekender. If you didn’t bother reading it all and just skipped to the end, here’s the overview – it was great fun, better organised and managed than last year’s (although there’s still room for improvement), and while there was nothing earth-shattering from a Black Library perspective it was great to meet, chat with and listen to all the brilliant authors who attended.
Roll on the Black Library Weekender…November here we come!