Black Library Weekly – W/C 21/11/16

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.

The presence of the big pieces of Games Workshop news has been felt throughout this week – the follow-up from Black Library Live, the release of the new edition of Blood Bowl, and the announcement of the next big thing in Warhammer 40,000. Each of these have contributed to what’s been a pretty impressive (and potentially expensive) week for fans of the hobby, as has the inevitable shadow of Christmas looming ever larger. Read on for more details…

Last week my best guess for the next Digital Monday release was a Space Wolves/Thousand Sons short story that hasn’t yet seen a standalone release, but I was way off the mark! Instead, in one of the best surprises this year (for me, at least) we got a brand new Blood Bowl short story from Josh Reynolds. Manglers Never Lose, priced at the usual £2.49, is the first piece of new Blood Bowl fiction released by Black Library since the last of Matt Forbeck’s original novel series came out in 2007. It’s also a joyful splash of fun in amongst the usual Black Library grimdark.

A certain upcoming Horus Heresy novel was making headlines ahead of its weekend release so I was expecting a fairly quiet midweek, but no! It’s probably due to Christmas only being round the corner (it’s December next week! How did that happen?), but things seem to be ramping back up, both for Black Library and Games Workshop overall. First of all, after the excitement of Black Library Live (and it really was exciting), the cool new Warhammer Community website posted confirmation of a bunch of the upcoming titles that were revealed last weekend. I also put up a few posts featuring as many of the new titles as I found out about, which you can find here – Horus Heresy, 40k and Age of Sigmar.

Before all that excitement had chance to die down, the Black Library Christmas Store opened, up on the Black Library website, which includes various suggestions for present ideas, most of which are existing products. There are a handful of new bundle deals however, for the optimistic Black Library fan – they’re all pretty good value in that they confer savings over buying the products individually, but they’re not exactly at stocking filler prices! Here’s the rundown…

First of all there are the next four Horus Heresy series hardback bundles – the first four bundles have been available for a while, but now there’s no fewer than eight of them. The new ones include the following books:

  • Bundle Five (books 21-25): Fear to Tread, Shadows of Treachery, Angel Exterminatus, Betrayer and Mark of Calth. It’s priced at £94.50, which is a saving of £10.50 against buying them individually (Fear to Tread is £25).
  • Bundle Six (books 26-30): Vulkan Lives, The Unremembered Empire, Scars, Vengeful Spirit, and The Damnation of Pythos. Also £94.50 (Vengeful Spirit is £25).
  • Bundle Seven (books 31-35): Legacies of Betrayal, Deathfire, War Without End, Pharos and Eye of Terra. Also £94.50 (Deathfire is £25).
  • Bundle Eight (books 36-40): The Path of Heaven, The Silent War, Angels of Caliban, Praetorian of Dorn and Corax. This one is £90, which is a saving of £10.

That’s not it for the bundles, oh no. There’s also the entire The Beast Arises series in hardback, which comes in at a whopping £129.90 – that’s a saving of £25.98, or the equivalent of buying all twelve for the price of ten. Not bad. If you really want to go mad for The Beast you could also treat yourself to all twelve of the art prints, featuring the cover artwork from each of the books. It’s going to depend on how much of an art fan you are, as the bundle of all twelve prints comes in at more than twice the price of the novels themselves – £275 for twelve! Still, that’s twelve for the price of ten again…

The last bundle is another art print set, this time the second of the Horus Heresy art bundles. Priced at £110 it includes Neil Roberts’ artwork from Descent of Angels, Legion, Battle for the Abyss, Mechanicum and Tales of Heresy. Once again it’s quite a good saving, being five for the price of four. So if you fancy a stack of hardbacks or a load of art prints, now’s your time!

The weekend’s main release (for Black Library, at least) was of course Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s The Master of Mankind, the 41st novel in the Horus Heresy series! Available in the usual formats of ebook (£9.99), hardback (£20) and MP3 audiobook (£29.99) you can download it right away, or wait for the hardback to be delivered if you’re a collector like me. I picked up my copy at Black Library Live – it might not be quite what everyone expects for a book nominally about The Emperor, but it’s pretty darn good

No other brand new Black Library releases this weekend, but a fair few new editions saw the light. First of all is the very nice (but expensive) hardback boxed-set of Matt Forbeck’s Blood Bowl novels, combining all four (Blood Bowl, Dead Ball, Deathmatch and Rumble in the Jungle) for £50. It’s a lovely looking set, but I guess it’s going to depend on how much of a fan you are as to whether it’s worth forking out £50 for it.

Next up is Robbie MacNiven’s Legacy of Russ. I suppose technically you could say that it’s a new release actually, as it hasn’t been available before as a single title – it collects together eight of Robbie’s short stories to form a single book, available in ebook (£9.99) and hardback (£15) formats. It also nicely ties in with the cool new stuff available to pre-order from Games Workshop, but more on that shortly.

Back to the Heresy, and Gav Thorpe’s Angels of Caliban is now available in large format/trade paperback for £12.99, taking us up to four different formats for that title. New paperbacks are also available for Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s excellent The Talon of Horus and the Legends of the Dark Millennium: Astra Militarum collection, both available at the standard £8.99 price tag. That’s it for Black Library, but it’s also been quite a big week for Games Workshop with…

The Wrath of Magnus! It’s been some time since the first part of War Zone: Fenris came out, but it’s finally here alongside some genuinely lovely new miniatures for the Thousand Sons. It’s all available for pre-order at the moment, with the campaign book Wrath of Magnus available to order in all the formats – standard hardback (£45), Limited Edition hardback (£120), standard ebook (£39.99) and enhanced ebook (£44.99). It looks like a couple of new codex supplements (for Chaos Space Marines and the Inquisition) are also due out in the next week or two, and while there’s not been any confirmation of accompanying Black Library releases, you would assume (although you can never tell these days) that there will be at least one novel coming out as well. Having said that, there was nothing in White Dwarf…

Thoughts on the week
While our wallets might not necessarily agree, it’s been nice to get back to a week that’s jammed full of cool new stuff to buy and get excited about. To be honest, this week could have involved nothing else other than The Master of Mankind and it would have been pretty good, but there’s been plenty more good stuff to go with that. For me, Monday’s short story got me fired up for Blood Bowl and reminded me that it’s ok for Black Library stories to have a little humour – I now can’t wait to get a league set up and play some games!

It’s nice to see all the bundles and paperbacks coming out, as it’s always good when we get more options and some slightly more cost-effective ways of getting hold of books, but there’s been a genuine sense of excitement building around the Wrath of Magnus campaign and all its associated miniatures. If you’re not a fan of the rest of the hobby, and only read the Black Library books, then I guess it’s nothing to get worked up about, but I suspect it’s going to contain some big events that will have repercussions for the rest of the 40k storyline – and it’s got a daemon Primarch in it! That’s cool, right?

Lastly, another quick word on The Master of Mankind. I’ve been reading various reviews and bits of commentary on it so far, much of which as usual has come from people who haven’t yet read it, and it’s interesting to see how divisive it’s already proving to be. There’s no doubt that some people will be expecting it to show things through the Big E’s eyes, and hoping for sweeping explanations of why The Emperor abandoned the Great Crusade, what He thinks about the Primarchs, and so on – and it doesn’t deliver on any of that. For me, that’s a massive plus point – I don’t want to see all the cool, conflicting mythology around The Emperor get explained away and rationalised. I like that he’s different things to different people, and I think Aaron’s done a grand job of portraying that. I said it in my review and I’ll say it again – each time we see Him, it’s through one person’s eyes only. That means each of those scenes is subjective, and should (in my opinion) be considered through the lens of the viewpoint character’s personality and outlook.

Ultimately though – just buy it, read it, and see what you think. Is it Aaron’s best work yet? Perhaps not, at least in my opinion, but it’s still a very, very good book!

One last thing, because I meant to include it earlier but forgot. If you look carefully on the Black Library website you’ll see that on each book’s individual page there’s the option of adding it to a wishlist, which is a nice idea. Just sign in, and you can add things to your own list as a reminder for later, or to send to friends/family for suggestions! Amusingly, when I added something today it showed up alongside a title from way back in 2014 – I don’t even remember this functionality being there before, but clearly it was!

Coming up…
Let’s take the now-standard look at Black Library’s Coming Soon section – it’s December next week so we’re onto the next month’s titles, beginning with Josh Reynolds’ Fabius Bile: Primogenitor. If anyone’s a fan of nice Limited Edition versions, I urge you to get hold of this – it’s wonderfully disgusting, and (in my opinion) easily up there with the First Edition version of The Talon of Horus as one of the best of the Limited Editions so far.

It looks like Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Space Marine Legends: Ragnar Blackmane is getting the standard hardback release next weekend as well – the first of this series to get the standard release. Of course starting on the 1st of December is 2016’s Advent Calendar, currently available in the usual subscription form – that starts up on Thursday, so keep an eye out for the first few short stories and audio dramas later on next week.

Lastly, as we’re about to hit December I’d expect the Coming Soon section of Black Library’s website to be updated fairly soon, with either additional titles for February and/or maybe a few new titles for March. It’s looking like 2017 is going to be a great year for new Black Library stuff!

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