For the third year in a row Black Library have run their Summer of Reading campaign – after 2015’s three week-long campaign it appears we’re back to a single week for 2016 (so far, at least). What a week it’s been, though – seven brand new short stories, including two new Horus Heresy tales and two different Inquisitors. That’s right, not only is there the first Black Library outing for Inquisitor Covenant, but there’s also a long-awaited outing for Gregor Eisenhorn!
There’s been an impressively high standard of stories here, even more than previous campaigns, and with the majority of them apparently leading into upcoming releases or progressions of story arcs you might actually say that this is more like the Summer of Foreshadowing. Most of this is unconfirmed as yet, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what *might* be coming up off the back of these stories.
NOTE: I generally prefer to keep things as spoiler-free as possible, but this time round it’s going to be quite tricky. I’ll add in a nice big [SPOILER ALERT] tag any time it looks like I might run the risk of spoiling things for anyone who hasn’t read the story yet.
If you haven’t checked them out already, click on the title of each story to go to my review.
Blackshields by Chris Wraight
A pair of Mortarion’s sons face off over a foetid swamp world, where the Death Guard excel. While neither of them are loyal to their father, they certainly don’t see eye to eye either. Blackshields have been talked about mostly by Forge World up until the recent Deathwatch Codex, and this (as far as I’m aware) is their first *overt* mention in a Black Library release. There’s also a character in here who might be familiar to anyone following the Forge World Horus Heresy books. With that in mind, this one could be a red herring, just a teasing hint regarding the mystery of the Blackshields…or it could join the likes of Daemonology and the excellent combo of Scars and The Path of Heaven as indicators that Chris Wraight is the man who’s going to tackle the fate of the Death Guard and their much-anticipated encounter with Grandfather Nurgle. Here’s hoping!
Foreshadowing level: Possible.
Gates of the Devourer by David Annandale
Titans! Lots of Titans! Titans squashing bugs, and taking on a *really* big bug! Can you tell that I enjoyed this story? Now this one is definitely a link to something that’s coming up – Annandale’s upcoming novel Warlord: Fury of the God-Machine. Exactly how the two are linked isn’t confirmed as yet, but [SPOILER ALERT] given the way this one ends, there’s a good chance this is going to lead directly into the novel. As for the timing of the novel, it seems convenient that we’re getting a book all about Titans just as Forge World are re-making the Adeptus Titanicus game, right? The game is apparently set during the Heresy, and this story is very much 40k, but still…
Foreshadowing level: Confirmed.
Deathwatch: Swordwind by Ian St. Martin
A Mortifactor gets out of the Deathwatch and goes back to his Chapter, who aren’t really too happy with him. After all [SPOILER ALERT], he survived where a hero of the Chapter didn’t. This one has also got a confirmed link – with Ian St. Martin’s first novel, Deathwatch. At the time of writing (i.e. having only just started reading Deathwatch) it looks like this might only be a tenuous link, but it’s there nonetheless. What’s interesting however is that this feels very much like the opening chapter in a wider story not about the Deathwatch but about the Mortifactors. I’ve not heard anything on the grapevine about that, but from what he’s done with this story I’d be very interested in seeing a whole novel about these guys.
Foreshadowing level: Pure speculation.
Stormseeker by Alec Worley
Space Wolves versus dark eldar in a dogfight to the death, only one of the Wolves hasn’t properly placated the machine-spirit of his gunship…bad news. This is the one story in the seven that doesn’t appear to have any ties whatsoever. It doesn’t look like it links in with any of the Warzone Fenris stuff that’s come out recently, and narratively there’s nothing to suggest it’s leading into a wider story. It could theoretically be the start of a new series by Worley that’s more of a standalone Space Wolf series, but that seems unlikely. The Wolves are one of the most written-about Chapters so it’s probably just a case that Worley got this one as a tester, and we’ll maybe see him tackle something different with his next one.
Foreshadowing level: Negligible.
Myriad by Rob Sanders
Loyalist Mechanicum elements launching raids from a secret base…using Moles, Termites and Helbores (who used to play Epic and Adeptus Titanicus?!). Also one of my favourite Heresy-isms – ‘Abominable Intelligence’! If you’ve read Cybernetica then you’ll be able to see the clear connective tissue between these two stories – if you haven’t, why not? Cybernetica is awesome – go read it now! Anyway, there’s definitely more story to tell regarding Mars so it seems a safe assumption that this is going to lead into another release. Also, and this is definitely a [SPOILER ALERT] – the Tabula Myriad, Lennox, Synk et al are clearly going to have some fun after the way this one ends.
Foreshadowing level: Unconfirmed, but seems likely.
The Purity of Ignorance by John French
Hands up who remembers the Inquisitor game – anyone? I’ve got my copy of the rulebook by my side, and it certainly conjures up some memories…like never being able to remember all those bloody stats and rules! Complexity aside, Inquisitor Covenant was my favourite of the Inquisitors in the game (I’ve still got my 54mm miniature of him) and it always seemed a shame that he didn’t get any love from Black Library. Clearly John French thought so too, and so he gets a lovely introduction here with a story that’s [SPOILER ALERT…sort of] just a *little* reminiscent of French’s first Black Library story – Hunted. Now, it’s subtitled ‘A story of the Horusian Wars’ (not to be confused with the Horus Heresy…this is different), so…it does rather look like Mr French is following up his incredible Ahriman series (in case you hadn’t noticed, I LOVE that series) with something a little left-field but similarly awesome!
Foreshadowing level: Probable.
The Keeler Image by Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett doesn’t need me to sing the praises of the Eisenhorn and Ravenor books – they’re well-deserved classics, and I’m sure it wasn’t just me who was very excited to read a new Eisenhorn story. Well, sort of new – if memory serves, The Keeler Image was originally slated to be released in audio format many moons ago, but for some reason it never surfaced. Talking about this story is basically one big [SPOILER ALERT] so I won’t say too much, but suffice to say the titular ‘Image’, and the discussion Eisenhorn has around it…whoa (in the immortal words of Keanu Reeves). As for foreshadowing, I could talk about Penitent, the long-awaited sequel to Pariah, until the cows come home…but Abnett’s schedule looks as ferociously busy as ever. Last time I heard him talk at a Black Library event he was talking about his next Gaunt’s Ghost novel – Warmaster – being next in line, and tying in with a Space Marine Battles novel by Matt Farrer, with Penitent somewhere further down the line. I’d give my left arm (I’m not even sure I’m joking) for that to come out soon, but realistically…
Foreshadowing level: Unlikely any time soon.
So there you have it. Obviously this is (mostly) pure speculation on my part, and I may well be massively off the mark with some or all of these thoughts. Also, who knows? Maybe there’s going to be another week or two in the Summer of Reading campaign – if that’s the case, watch out for more reviews and (hopefully) more rambling thoughts like this.
If you’ve got any ideas of your own off the back of these stories, let me know!