Black Library Weekly – W/C 12/12/16

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.

Christmas is fast approaching, so the Advent Calendar has been in full flow once again with seven more stories this week. There’s not been a vast amount of news or further releases though, so it’s going to be a slightly shorter instalment than usual. As with last week, I’ll take a look at all of the week’s Advent Calendar content first, then move on to the rest of the news and releases. Let’s get started…

40k has dominated the Advent releases this week, accounting for 4 of the 7 stories, although we’re not necessarily talking about ‘current’ 40k for all of these. The Heresy accounted for 2 of the remaining 3, alongside another Blood Bowl story. As with the previous releases, for anyone buying these individually they’ve stuck to the standard pricing of £1.99 for short stories and £2.99 for audio dramas. Here’s a little detail on what we got this week:

  • The Embrace of Pain by Ian St. Martin: a 40k audio drama featuring Lucius the Eternal, introducing us to Lucius and his cronies in advance of Lucius: The Eternal Blade coming out next year. Worth it for the gross SFX and Lucius’ delightful sneer.
  • The Painted Count by Guy Haley: a Horus Heresy short story following on from Pharos, and featuring the enjoyably loathsome Gender Skraivok. Remember his daemon sword, the one he gave away? It’s back.
  • Becoming by Andy Clark: a 40k short story setting things up for next year’s Kingsblade. It’s about Imperial Knights, so check it out for massive walkers kicking ass, but also for an insight into how the knightly houses approach defending their home.
  • Doc Morgrim’s Vow by Josh Reynolds: more Blood Bowl, following on from Manglers Never Lose as the Manglers head to Norsca to play against an all-slayer team. That’ll go well, right? Strangely (and happily) reminiscent of Gotrek & Felix.
  • Valerius by Gav Thorpe: a Horus Heresy audio drama that follows on from Weregeld, both narratively and tonally. Check it out for subtle, atmospheric SFX but don’t expect a happy ending.
  • The Aegidan Oath by LJ Goulding: an Ultramarines short story set in M32, looking at why nobody knows about the Pharos by 40k. Links to the Imperium Secundus arc and the upcoming Scythes of the Emperor stuff, and unusually melancholic.
  • Carcharadons: The Reaping Tithe by Robbie MacNiven: a 40k short story and the prequel to Carcharadons: Red Tithe which comes out in January. Worth taking a look just to see how scary the Space Sharks really are.

Seven really great stories; it’s hard to pick a highlight, but if pushed I’d say The Aegidan Oath. It’s got a 900+ year old Ultramarine in it, and there are SO many great little hints and references scattered throughout. Don’t expect lots of fighting, but do expect to come away wanting to read more about the Ultramarines in M32, and the Third Founding!

Both of the audio dramas were, once again, excellent. While Valerius is the more subtle of the two (Lucius the Eternal doesn’t really do subtle) and is less of an obvious choice for an audio, the SFX actually work really well, although The Embrace of Pain definitely takes the prize for most disgusting SFX of the year. Both of them are great examples of just how good the Black Library audio dramas are getting.

As I mentioned before there’s lots of 40k here, although the Blood Bowl story is an absolute gem and definitely worth checking out. Bear in mind that the strange sort-of-Warhammer Blood Bowl world is the closest we’re going to get to the Old World, so reading these stories is like stepping back into the familiar warmth of all your favourite old Warhammer novels. Seriously, check it out.

Have a look at the Advent Calendar page on the blog for links to all of the reviews so far, and keep an eye out for the remaining reviews between now and Christmas!

New releases
I suppose it’s not surprising, given how close we’re getting to Christmas, but other than the Advent Calendar there really hasn’t been much else released this week. There were no books scheduled for release either during the week or at the weekend, although Saturday did see the next Eisenhorn book – Malleus – get its audiobook release (MP3 for £24.99). That’s well worth picking up if you like your audiobooks, not just because it’s a great story but also because, like the Xenos audiobook, it’s narrated by Toby Longworth…who’s awesome.

In terms of other new stuff for you to spend your money on, the only other releases were a few new Gallery Prints – a beautiful but very expensive (£95) signed The Master of Mankind print, along with regularly priced (£30) prints of the Azrael and Fabius Bile: Primogenitor covers. I saw the posh The Master of Mankind print at Black Library Live and it’s lovely – it’s bigger than the usual ones, and even higher quality – but that’s a lot of money for an art print…

There was however one more release, and a free one at that! You may have heard about the upcoming computer game Inquisitor: Martyr, which is due out sometime soon I think. To accompany the game it looks like there’s going to be a range of short stories and novellas set in the Caligari Sector where the game takes place, and the first one is available to download now. Entitled Above and Beyond, by Aron Nemeth, you can download it from the Black Library website in the usual ePub and Mobi formats. I’m not much of a gamer so I doubt I’ll play the game, but it’s cool to see some stories coming out alongside – although I suspect they’re nothing to do with Black Library so they might not necessarily hold to the same standards. Only time will tell…

It’s not just releases that have been thin on the ground – there’s not been a lot going on in terms of newsworthy items either. Probably the biggest story of the week was the first few days of Warhammer TV on Twitch, which saw three days of content featuring live games and interviews that you can now check out on demand as well. I caught a few bits of the live streams and checked out a bit more later on, and overall it was impressive – I’m not 100% about the coverage of the games, but it was great to see the interviews and I found the whole thing an enjoyable source of background entertainment while I was putting some Blood Bowl models together!

If you’ll forgive me a small moment of self-promotion, one interesting thing to happen this week for me personally was that I recorded my first ever podcast contribution – an hour-long appearance on The Imperial Truth. I bumped into Greg at Black Library Live and he subsequently invited me onto the show, very kindly – we spent my first contribution discussing the first few Horus Heresy stories from the Advent Calendar, and also The Master of Mankind. If you like podcasts then please do check it out, and let me know what you think! I’ll hopefully be joining Greg on a regular basis, so head over to The Imperial Truth and subscribe!

Lastly, via the magic of Facebook, one final snippet of interesting news. Robbie MacNiven, who seems to be not far off Josh Reynolds’ level of prolific, has announced that he’s written the novelisation of the brand new Dawn of War III computer game. You might remember the CS Goto Dawn of War novels from back in 2004-06 – having never played the game I never got round to reading the books either, but it should be interesting to see what Robbie comes up with. Maybe this is a good time to go back and revisit them…

Thoughts on the week
Once again it’s been a week dominated by the Advent Calendar releases…given that there’s not really been much else released! There’s not a great lot more to say really, on top of what I’ve already said. I’ve still been having frustrating problems getting hold of each day’s Advent story, which has been a bit disappointing, but ultimately I’ve still managed to download and read/listen to all seven eventually, so all’s well that ends well.

With only a few more days until Christmas there’s not many more Advent stories to go, but keep your eyes peeled on the blog for a review of each one, as well as a retrospective blog post once the whole set has been released.

Coming up…
Well, other than the remaining Advent stories there’s nothing officially confirmed for next week. Chances are there’s going to be at least one novel released as an ebook on Christmas Day – my money’s on Garro by James Swallow. Other than that, I’d imagine there’s not going to be too much coming out until the first week of January. That being said…maybe there’s going to be more surprises!

As always, if you’ve got any thoughts on the week’s news and releases please do give me a shout to let me know!

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