I often try to do things a little differently here on Track of Words, but sometimes it’s worth just jumping on the bandwagon and going for it – like with blog posts looking back at the year that was. Last year I wrote a 2015 In Summary blog post, and I’m doing the same this year – taking a look at how 2016 was for me as a reader and a blogger (let’s not talk about what it’s been like in the rest of the world…*shudders*). I’ll try not to ramble too much, so let’s start off with a few numbers…
Stats! We all love stats…
- 197 posts added to the site.
Ok, that’s quite a lot. In fact, compared to 135 in 2015 that’s an increase of about 45% – no wonder it felt like a busy year! Here’s how those posts break down…
- 91 were quick reviews of short stories or audio dramas.
- 56 were book reviews.
- 50 were other types of blog articles (like this one), including:
- 3 interviews (over 4 posts) with Black Library authors.
- The first 18 weeks of my Black Library Weekly posts.
- 1 competition to win a subscription to Warhammer 40,000 Legends.
That’s 147 reviews in total, which probably comes to somewhere in the region of 46,000 words. Blimey, that’s a short novel! In fact, it’s almost the same length as one of The Beast Arises books! Fancy that. As for the other 50 posts, I’ve no idea how many words they come to…but given my propensity to write REALLY long posts I reckon they must come to well over another 50,000 words – so that’s a second novel! Hmm, maybe I should be writing books and not blogs…
Anyway, less of the back-slapping about how much I’ve written, as the next numbers are all about what you guys have been reading.
- 439 posts in total were viewed (compared to 248 in 2015).
What?! 439! Guys…that’s amazing. Seriously – if you’re reading this, and you’ve been on this blog before, thank you! I mean it; that’s a lot of blog posts that have been read by at least one person, which is awesome. Especially given that over the last three years I’ve written 448 posts in total – so last year all but NINE of them were read at least once. Wow.
How about which posts are most popular, then? Well the three most popular reviews were:
- Meduson – Black Library Anthology.
- Warhammer Quest Silver Tower: Labyrinth of the Lost by Andy Clark.
- The Master of Mankind by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.
Excellent choices there guys, really good! Interesting that Meduson was at the top again, given that it was the top review in 2015 as well – I guess Black Library’s choice to make it a Warhammer World exclusive at first just generated more interest…
As for non-review posts, the three most popular ones were:
- Black Library – How to Lose Fans and Alienate Readers?
- Warhammer – The End Times Series.
- Interview with Laurie Goulding (parts one and two combined).
Hah! That’s the second year running that my grumbling post about prices and book length has been at the top…I really ought to write a follow-up to that one. I BET it won’t be as popular though. The Warhammer End Times post was popular last year too – the death of the Old World is still a pretty powerful moment!
I’m SO pleased that my interview with Laurie has been popular, as… a) I really enjoyed chatting to Laurie, as he’s a super cool guy, and b) he had SO MUCH cool stuff to talk about. So much so, in fact…I *might* be getting him back on the blog again…maybe…if you’re nice…
Highlights and lowlights
I couldn’t write this sort of post without looking back at my personal highs and lows, could I? Let’s start off with the highlights…
The Beast Arises
Ok, so this series technically started in 2015, but only one book came out that year! 2016 was absolutely the year of The Beast for me; sure, the series wasn’t perfect…but it was damn good. More than that though – when have you ever seen a series like that released one book a month? It was just so cool to be able to follow things month by month, and get a resolution within twelve months. And OMG THOSE REVELATIONS! So many WOW moments in that series…
Black Library’s back, baby!
2015 was fun, but it was a bit of a fallow year in Black Library terms. 2016 however, saw Black Library bounce back in style. EIGHT numbered Horus Heresy books (nine if you count Garro); the return of pre-orders and the Coming Soon section on the BL website; a new FABIUS BILE SERIES; more Peter Fehervari stories; the return of Black Library Live and the announcement that the Black Library Weekender will be back next year; new Fabius Bile; cool books from new authors like Paul Kearney, Justin D. Hill, Andy Clark, Robbie MacNiven and Ian St. Martin; BLOOD BOWL stories; did I mention new Fabius Bile?
Seriously, that was awesome! So much good stuff, and SO much cool stuff coming up in 2017. I can’t wait…
New, non-Black Library series
It’s not all about Black Library books; I read some cracking books in 2016 that are all leading into new series, and I’m really excited to see what comes next for this lot. A selection of these would be: Nomad by James Swallow, a gripping real-world thriller from someone I usually associate with Black Library and Star Trek; The Vagrant by Peter Newman, a fresh and exciting fantasy tale complete with talking sword and hilarious goat (honestly, the goat’s great) that’s already winning awards; The Vinyl Detective by Andrew Cartmell, an unusual crime novel that will appeal to Ben Aaronovitch fans and music lovers alike. Check them out!
Ok, so this isn’t technically a reading highlight…but I’ve really enjoyed doing my first author interviews here on the blog. If you haven’t checked them out (and why not?!) then head over to this page where you can see them all, and enjoy hearing from Black Library authors John French, Ian St. Martin and Laurie Goulding. Each of whom are lovely, lovely guys who have loads of cool things to say about their work and the worlds of Black Library. I’ve got cool plans for more of these in 2017, so keep your eyes peeled…
So those are a few highlights (I could have kept going, but I figured you’d all have got bored); now let’s take a quick look at a couple of lowlights. Thankfully, I really couldn’t think of many!
Actually I REALLY couldn’t think of many of these. First up was The Sand Men, which sold me on the promise of being a cool sci-fi story and ended up being a sort of weird family drama that’s equal parts deathly dull and completely unbelievable. After that the only other disappointing books really were Curse of the Wulfen, Cassius and The Red Path; the problem for me with all of these was basically that they were just a bit dull and formulaic, Cassius because (in my opinion) it all felt a bit phoned-in and the others because (I suspect) they were constrained by having to tie in with stuff going on elsewhere in Games Workshop. Which leads us nicely on to…
Okay, okay, you’re right – yes, Black Library makes tie-in fiction. There’s a difference though between tie-in as in ‘set in a shared universe that also contains game systems’ and tie-in as in ‘the novelisation of events taking place in the games’. I’m all for the first, and getting increasingly bored with the second. See, when Black Library authors get free rein to have fun and explore mad little corners of the universe they tend to turn in great stories, but when they’re given really strict guidelines (which I suspect amount to “here’s a story that we’ve written for a background book…go turn it into a novel”) they just don’t have the opportunity to be as creative. The Age of Sigmar books that I’ve read have all struggled with this to a certain extent, but it’s been the books (and short stories) that have tied in with events taking place in 40k that have been the worst culprits. It’s a shame, but I suspect we’re going to see less of that from now on…hopefully, at least!
I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again. 2017 is looking AMAZING for Black Library fans, and I can’t wait to read some of the books coming out. For me it’s not all about Black Library though, as I’m looking forward to new books from James Swallow, Andrew Cartmell, Katherine Woodfine and Neil Gaiman…I’d say Scott Lynch too but I’m not holding my breath…
I’ve also got some cool plans for the blog overall, so keep an eye out for some changes (for the better I hope) over the next few months. If you’ve got this far (in which case thank you!) and you’ve got any comments, suggestions, shouted instructions etc. – let me know by leaving a comment here or getting in touch on either Facebook or Twitter.
Thanks again to everyone who visited the blog in 2016, and here’s to an excellent 2017!