Black Library Weekly – W/C 14/11/16

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.

After a few quiet weeks without a huge amount to get Black Library fans’ pulses racing, it was starting to feel as though that was becoming the norm. This week started off slowly, but as the days passed and the weekend approached things started to hot up – looking back it’s actually been a pretty exciting week. Here’s the lowdown…

For the second week running Black Library plundered their Limited Edition back-catalogue for a Digital Monday story, drawing once again from the excellent Honour of the Space Marines anthology to release Graham McNeill’s Do Eagles Still Circle the Mountain? as a digital e-short (priced at the usual £2.49). It’s taken two years for the short stories from this anthology to see individual releases, so it’s nice to see them finally being made available. As for this particular story it’s an interesting one, which after having read and reviewed I eventually realised was the direct sequel to the micro-short Codex from the Angels of Death anthology – reading the two stories back to back makes a little more sense and gives the overall arc a clearer feel, so I’d definitely suggest you do that.

Games Workshop’s ongoing to quest to rebuild its links with the wider community continued apace this week, with the launch of the snappily-titled Warhammer Community website. The idea behind this appears to be to provide a single place where all of the hobby content that Games Workshop (and its varying elements) produces can be found, which means from a Black Library perspective the information that was previously provided via the Newsfeed will now all be found on this website.

So far there’s been some interesting content uploaded, including a couple of nice articles from John French looking at the character of Ahriman (very timely), but it’s early days yet. Only time will tell whether this website will be useful and engaging enough to really work and draw in fans, but it’s an interesting idea and has got off to a pretty good start.

There was one release during the week – the latest Limited Edition Horus Heresy release, Nick Kyme’s Sons of the Forge (available in LE hardback and ebook formats, for £35 and £19.99 respectively). It’s a short novel that’s not part of the numbered series, similar in that respect to John French’s Tallarn: Ironclad, and follows on from Nick’s earlier short story Artefacts. Pricing-wise I’d say that £35 isn’t too bad in context, given that the LE novellas tend to come in at £30 and this is considerably longer, but there’s a bit of a question mark over charging £20 for the ebook – obviously Black Library want to maintain the Limited Edition status regardless of format, and it’s good that people have the choice of buying the ebook if they want, but without the nice added value touches of the hardback it’s difficult to justify that price for the digital version.

Pricing aside, this has been available to pre-order on the Black Library website for some time now, with Friday serving as its official release date. As with Warden of the Blade it feels like there hasn’t been much in the way of hype leading up to the release of this, which seems an odd way of doing things, but perhaps that’s just the way new releases are going to work from now on. As I write this the Black Library website is showing fewer than 1,000 copies of the hardback remaining from the original 2,000 – that’s still 1,000+ copies sold, which isn’t bad for a £35 short novel, but the days of the LE releases selling out on the day of release seem well and truly behind us.

Saturday saw another Horus Heresy release, with Gav Thorpe’s latest audio drama The Thirteenth Wolf now available to download (it’s been available to pre-order for a while) and the CD version presumably now shipping. This comes in at the usual price point for Heresy audios, of £9.99 for the MP3 and £12 for the CD, and looks to be an interesting story that goes back to the Prospero arc.

For anyone lucky enough to have a ticket and be able to get to Nottingham, Saturday saw the long-awaited return of Black Library Live! I’ll post separately with some details of what took place at the event, but in the meantime there are loads of interesting bits of news already floating around the internet in terms of upcoming releases that were announced and juicy bits of information prised from authors and editorial staff. Here’s a brief summary of books/audios that I’d not heard about though…

Horus Heresy

  • Echoes of Revelation – an audio drama collection featuring Gav Thorpe, Chris Wraight and Dan Abnett.
  • Dark Compliance – an audio drama by John French.
  • Ruinstorm – book 45 in the numbered series, by David Annandale.
  • Old Earth – book 47 in the numbered series, by Nick Kyme

Warhammer 40,000

  • Farsight: Crisis of Faith by Phil Kelly – a tau novel, unsurprisingly.
  • Cult of the Warmason by CL Werner – a genestealer cults novel.
  • Calgar’s Fury by Paul Kearney – another Ultramarines novel from Paul.
  • Scythes of the Emperor: Daedalus by LJ Goulding – an audio drama.
  • Jain Zar: The Storm of Silence by Gav Thorpe – the second Phoenix Lords book.
  • The Last Hunt by Robbie MacNiven – a White Scars novel.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

  • Hallowed Knights: Plague Garden by Josh Reynolds.
  • The Eight Lamentations by Josh Reynolds.

Loads more cool things took place over the course of the day, but one of the highlights was undoubtedly the announcement that the Black Library Weekender will return in 2017! No dates have been announced as yet, but that’s excellent news for fans of Black Library events.

It wasn’t really mentioned at Black Library Live! but on Sunday the 2016 Advent Calendar subscription went up for sale on the website. For anyone unaware, for the last few years Black Library have released a selection of short stories and audio dramas over the course of December, which are available either as individual purchases or via subscriptions, whereby you pay up front but make a saving on the overall cost. This year is no different – the subscription costs £39.99 for eighteen short stories and six audio dramas, which apparently works out as twenty-four stories for the price of eighteen. Not bad. In previous years there have been differing themes for the Advent Calendar stories, but this year it looks like there’s going to be a mixture of Horus Heresy, Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Age of Sigmar and…amazingly…Blood Bowl! No word yet on confirmed titles, but details may emerge over the next weeks.

Thoughts on the week
It’s been…pretty good! Like I said earlier, the week felt like it started off slowly and kept on building up, although it’s possible that I was influenced by actually being at Black Library Live and seeing all the newly revealed titles, covers and so on. One thing that’s certain though is that there’s going to be a lot of interesting Black Library content coming up in the next weeks and months, on top of what’s already been released. That’s on top of the cool new stuff coming out from Games Workshop, including a load of new Thousand Sons miniatures, the next instalment in the Warzone Fenris campaign, and some new codex supplements!

The actual releases this week weren’t mind-blowingly exciting, especially with the Digital Monday story being something of an in-between tale, but I think it’s important to remember that we still got two new Horus Heresy titles! Not everyone’s going to be keen on them, given that a) only a relatively small proportion of fans want to buy a £35 hardback, and b) audio dramas aren’t for everyone, but it’s still new Heresy content!

For me the most interesting release was the Advent Calendar subscription. I’ve really enjoyed previous Advent Calendars, so I’m hoping for more good stuff, and while £40 isn’t a small outlay, it’s the equivalent of £1.67 per story (and therefore per day). The fact that there’s going to be a range of settings featured, including Blood Bowl of all things (which has got me very excited indeed), suggests that this could well be a very interesting month of new stories!

I don’t want to talk too much about Black Library Live here, as I’ll go into more detail elsewhere, but it’s worth saying this at least – it’s so, so good to see Black Library engaging with the fans like this, as part of Games Workshop’s overall strategy at the moment. The whole event felt well organised (for the most part), fun, and – crucially – open. At some events there’s been a sense that Black Library wasn’t really opening up, but here there were discussions going on left, right and centre about what’s coming up, and what’s happened in the past. It was great to see. Oh, and Master of Mankind was available to pick up and get signed by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. That’s exciting!

Coming up…
It’s becoming difficult to anticipate what’s going to come up as a Digital Monday short, although the last two weeks have given us stories taken from the same anthology. Of the remaining four stories in that (limited edition) anthology, two are already available in other non-limited anthologies (Ahriman: Exodus and Legacy of Caliban) while two are yet to see a general release at all. Of all of these, I’d say the most likely to be chosen next – given what’s happening in the Games Workshop world at the moment – is Chris Wraight’s Fatespinner, as it’s a tale of Space Wolves and Thousand Sons…

As for the next weekend release(s), the Coming Soon section of the Black Library website only shows a single item remaining in the November section – the £50 Blood Bowl: The Boxed Set by Matt Forbeck. It’s listed as starting shipping on the 28th November, which fits with a Saturday 26th release to tie in with the new Blood Bowl game hitting stores on the 25th. As to whether there’s going to be anything else…well that’s anyone’s guess.

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

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