Getting Started with Black Library – Warhammer 40,000

Someone asked me on Twitter recently if I’d written anything about where to get started with reading Black Library books, for someone just getting into Warhammer 40,000. That’s actually a really interesting question which I thought deserved more of an answer than I could give on Twitter, so here I’m going to have a go at answering it in a bit more detail.
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Forgotten Texts: James Wallis on The Dead Among Us

For an earlier Forgotten Texts article I looked at the short story The Dead Among Us by James Wallis, an old-school Warhammer story set in the city of Middenheim, which might be familiar to fans of the classic Warhammer book Hammers of Ulric. If you haven’t checked out that article, you can find it here. James has generously agreed to answer a few questions about writing this story, and his thoughts on the Warhammer setting today. Without further ado, let’s go straight onto the interview…

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Shrike – George Mann

The third book in Black Library’s Space Marine Legends series, Shrike sees George Mann tackle the most famous 40k-era Raven Guard character – Kayvaan Shrike. Perhaps providing something of a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t followed recently-told events in the Damocles Gulf, this follows Shrike through the years and his advancing rank as he finds himself time and again facing up against the same ork warlord, Gorkrusha. As Shrike progresses through the hierarchy of the chapter, so too does his hatred of Gorkrusha develop and grow, until it threatens to become a dangerous obsession.

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Shattered Legions – edited by Laurie Goulding

Book forty-three in Black Library’s epic Horus Heresy series, Shattered Legions is an anthology collecting together stories which have all been available before in one format or another, but not in the numbered series. Featuring Graham McNeill’s novella The Seventh Serpent as well as all the stories from the previously released Meduson collection, this is as close to a definitive picture of the Shattered Legions as we’re going to get. All three of the loyal Legions broken at Isstvan V are featured, as are various others – traitor and loyal – but it largely focuses on the Iron Hands, leaderless and damaged.

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Forgotten Texts: Know Thine Enemy by Gav Thorpe

“Though we live for battle, a war is fought with wits as well as weapons.”

An eighteen-year-old Black Library story finally given the ebook treatment, Gav Thorpe’s Know Thine Enemy is a rare foray into the Salamanders for an author much better known for his Dark Angels stories. On the Imperial world of Slato, an Eldar artefact has been uncovered by the newly-arrived colonists. Sent to defend the colony while the artefact is studied, Chaplain Ramesis and his battle brothers must fight through Eldar ambushes to reach the embattled Imperial defenders. Guided by their hatred of the xenos, the Salamanders zealously discharge their duty…but are the Eldar the real enemy?

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QUICK REVIEW: A Rare Book of Cunning Device – Ben Aaronovitch

Released as a free audiobook from Audible, A Rare Book of Cunning Device is the first story in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series to be written specifically for audio. Read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who’s narrated all of the audiobooks in the series so far, it sees Peter investigating the report of a poltergeist in the British Library, at the request of the feisty Miss Winstanley, one of the librarians. Accompanied by Professor Postmartin and Toby the dog, they venture into the depths of the library in search of whatever has been moving books and other items around the cavernous basement.
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Forgotten Texts: The Raven’s Claw by Jonathan Curran

“I see ravens wheeling, but beyond the shadows there is only darkness.”

The Raven’s Claw is the first of Jonathan Curran’s two Black Library stories, a tale of betrayal and absolution. On a war-torn Imperial world, the planetary Governor watches from the relative safety of his palace while the city around him burns in the fire of rebellion. His personal psyker, a telepath tasked with identifying threats before they take place, finds his vision clouded and uncertain, his gift strangely dampened. Meanwhile a man wakes in the darkness of a penal legion dropship, with no memory of his name or who he is, and is thrown into the grind of war.

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QUICK REVIEW: Mazlocke’s Cantrip of Superior Substitution – Graeme Lyon

Graeme Lyon’s wonderfully titled Blood Bowl short story Mazlocke’s Cantrip of Superior Substitution sees the legendary Jim and Bob commentating on a lower league match with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. Little do they know that the desperate coach of the Black Water Boyz has hired an unlicensed wizard to give his team an edge over their opponents, the Talabheim Titans. When the wizard’s spell takes effect, what seemed sure to be an uninspiring match turns into something rather more spectacular. Of course, an unlicensed wizard might not prove to be the most reliable of options for the Boyz…
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Warhammer 40,000 Legends Issue Seven – Blood of Asaheim

I’ve had a copy of Chris Wraight’s Blood of Asaheim on my shelf for a few years now, but until it was revealed as the seventh book in Hachette’s Warhammer 40,000 Legends Collection I had never got around to reading it. Having two copies on the shelf and STILL not reading it just seemed wrong, so I happily rectified the situation – you can find my review here, but suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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