Black Library Weekly – W/C 10/10/16

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

After a week where new titles by the truckload showed up on the Black Library website it seemed like a good bet that the new releases and announcements would slow down again. As last week went on however, that wasn’t the case – there was nothing quite as explosive as the Coming Soon section showing up, but still plenty to talk about…

First up as usual was the Quick Read for Digital Monday, which this time was a micro-short from Dan Abnett entitled Ork Hunter. An old story from way back in the early 2000s, it’s a good read but you do feel that it’s priced a bit too high – once again £2.49 is a bit much for a story this short, but Abnett is such a popular author that Black Library can clearly get away with it. A quick look at Amazon Marketplace shows that Words of Blood, an anthology featuring this and ten more short stories, can currently be picked up second hand for 17p plus £2.80 postage – that’s much better value!

Also available from Monday was The XIII Legion digital bundle, an impressive collection of Ultramarines fiction from the Horus Heresy series available for one month only. Priced at £61.12 it includes six novels, a short story anthology, a graphic novel and five short stories – all featuring the boys in blue.

  • Know No Fear by Dan Abnett
  • The Unremembered Empire by Dan Abnett
  • Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Pharos by Guy Haley
  • Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter
  • The Honoured by Rob Sanders
  • Mark of Calth (anthology)
  • Macragge’s Honour by Dan Abnett (graphic novel)
  • Censure by Nick Kyme (prose version of audio drama)
  • Stratagem by Nick Kyme (prose version of audio drama)
  • The Gates of Terra by Nick Kyme (short story)
  • Rules of Engagement by Graham McNeill (short story)
  • Honour to the Dead by Gav Thorpe (prose version of audio drama)

That’s a saving of somewhere in the region of £40, so if you’re an Ultramarines fan and don’t already have these titles it’s a bit of a steal.

The Ultramarines theme continued with the next title to be inducted into Black Library’s Hall of Fame – Know No Fear by Dan Abnett. Nominated by Laurie Goulding it’s a deserved entry for a fantastic novel. As Laurie mentions in his nomination, despite being book nineteen in the series it would actually make a good entry point into the Horus Heresy series.

Following swiftly on was another Black Library Live! 2016 announcement, this time confirming two further authors (John French and David Guymer), announcing that a new Nagash-themed tshirt will be on sale, and mentioning that every attendee will be receiving a free chapbook (a small booklet/pamphlet) containing brand new stories from Chris Wraight and Josh Reynolds. Oh, the full schedule for the day is now available as well. That’s a pretty big announcement, reinforcing just how good the day is looking, and according to the Black Library website there’s now just one more guest still to be announced.

Saturday’s big release was Shadowsword by Guy Haley, the sequel to his first 40k novel – the excellent Baneblade. Available in ebook (£9.99) and hardback (£18) editions alongside a new hardback (£18) edition of Baneblade, it promises to be another slab of characterful Imperial Guard tanker action. Are many people going to want to buy hardback copies of both novels? Maybe. I guess it’s just Black Library catering to the obsessive collectors amongst their fans, although the more cynical among us might think otherwise.

That was the only brand new release, however Saturday also saw book seven in Dan Abnett’s incredible Gaunt’s Ghosts series – Sabbat Martyr – re-released in the swanky new paperback (£8.99) format. Black Library seem to be gradually re-releasing this series in the new format over a period of years – they’re nice covers, and they bring these books in line with the larger, better-made paperback style as opposed to the old mass-market format.

Lastly the weekend also saw the release of the Horus Heresy book twenty-two – Shadows of Treachery – in audio. Priced at the usual £29.99 for an MP3 release, it’s over eleven hours of audio featuring some of the best stories in the whole series. Definitely worth a look if you haven’t already read this anthology. This is also the last of the numbered books to get its audio version, so the entire main series – all forty of them so far – is now available in audio format.

Thoughts on the week
After the previous week’s excitement I had pretty much resigned myself to a quiet week on the Black Library front, so this has been quite a surprise. Monday’s Quick Read was a fun story that I remembered from way back when and re-read in my hastily dug-out copy of the Words of Blood anthology. It was a touch cheeky of Black Library however to not make it abundantly clear on their website that this is a classic short story, while the newsfeed article (the one that shows up in the Warhammer app) actually refers to it as “a brand new short story by none other than Dan Abnett!” That’s straight-up misleading and simply shouldn’t have happened.

The midweek news about Black Library Live was pretty exciting – the lineup is looking amazing, it’s great to have the schedule and be able to start planning, and the fact that we’re each getting some free stories is just the icing on the cake. I went to the last Black Library Live event back in 2013 where attendees got a free short story anthology, and it just makes it feel a little more like Black Library are recognising and rewarding the people who are spending their time and money in attending the event.

As for the rest of the week’s releases, the main release of Shadowsword is great news not just because it’s likely to be a great book but also because it shows once again that Black Library are moving back into a period of commissioning stories that don’t just tie in with Games Workshop’s latest miniatures. That can only be good news for fans! The other releases demonstrate that Black Library are still working to tidy their existing series up, finishing off the audio versions of the Heresy and continuing to get the Gaunt’s Ghosts series back on shelves in nice new editions.

Looking ahead, this week we’re due to get Robbie MacNiven’s first audio drama, Vox Tenebris, which ties back in with the Warzone: Fenris arc. Whether that means there’s more on the way from that arc remains to be seen, but this sounds like a fun story as it features two of the characters first introduced in the Deathwatch: Ignition short stories. Continuing the Space Wolves theme the weekend ahead should see the release of the new Leman Russ book in the Primarchs series – although according to the Black Library website there’s fewer than 1000 copies still available. It’s a bit weird to have these Limited Edition versions up for pre-order before their release date, but that’s a topic for another day.

Lastly, it’s recently been confirmed that the next Horus Heresy boxed game from Games Workshop is due to go on sale at the weekend, which could potentially mean one or more tie-in Black Library releases. Keep your eyes and ears out for anything Prospero-related, although it could be that the already-announced The Thirteenth Wolf audio drama from Gav Thorpe is the only accompanying release.

As always, if you’ve got any thoughts, comments or questions – just let me know.

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