Black Library Weekly – W/C 17/04/17

Hello and welcome to another instalment of Black Library Weekly, my regular look at what’s been happening in the world of Black Library. The sixteenth week of 2017 started with a bang, kicking off a week that was topped and tailed by surprise releases. Oh, and the small matter of confirmation that 8th edition of 40k is coming soon – I’m not going to focus on that until there’s cool new Black Library fiction released to accompany it, but it’s interesting news for sure! Anyway, let’s start where we usually do…

Every Monday in 2017 so far has brought with it a new short story…until now. For the first time this year, Monday did not see a new e-short – instead, it saw the launch of Audio Week 2017, which you can read more about here. The gist of it is that two new audio dramas, both by Gav Thorpe and split into three parts each, became available – either as a subscription (£19.99 for all six parts) or individually (£3.99 per part). The subscription was the obvious choice, as it offers a £3.94 saving – the equivalent of getting one part for free. The six parts were released over the week, with the first available on Monday and the remaining parts appearing as the week went on.

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The two audio dramas are called Eye of Night and Hand of Darkness, the titles referring to dangerous artefacts that Abaddon picked up back during one of his earlier Black Crusades. They each feature one of the cool new characters from the Gathering Storm arc, with Inquisitor Greyfax in Eye of Night and the eldar Yvraine in Hand of Darkness…plus Guilliman appears in both of them! Suffice to say they’re both very entertaining, and include some of the best SFX and voice work of any Black Library audio drama so far…

There wasn’t a lot going on during the week other than the continuing Audio Week, with one part of the two audio dramas becoming available every day barring Wednesday, which saw the third part of Eye of Night and the first of Hand of Darkness going up for sale/showing up in the subscription. I’d gone for the subscription, cautiously hopeful that THIS TIME it would come off without a hitch…but no. In typical fashion, on Tuesday I went to download my subscription (if you’ve not done this before, you re-download it each day, and in theory there should be one further part/story in the downloaded folder each time) only to find that while I had indeed received two files…the second one was only 5 minutes long, instead of the expected 22. Sigh.

To be fair to Black Library, by Wednesday the problem was fixed and I was able to download everything that should have been available by then, and the response I got from their customer service team was very apologetic. Nevertheless, it’s just so frustrating that EVERY TIME they do a subscription something goes wrong. Every. Single. Time. Still, the rest of the week’s releases went off without a hitch.

That was pretty much it, the only thing of note being that for a short while there was a section displaying on the Black Library website labelled ‘Tales from the High Seas’. This contained links to six stories, all featuring ships, pirates, or otherwise something maritime – Fell Cargo by Dan Abnett, Dreadfleet by Phil Kelly, Cold Light of Day by Rob Sanders, Voyage of the Sunspear by Ben Counter, Elfslayer by Nathan Long, and Bloodstorm by Dan Abnett and Mike Lee. It looks like these have been chosen to tie into the computer game Manowar Corsair, although they’re not discounted and there currently doesn’t seem to be anything other than a link to the game’s website on the page of each book. Oh, and the ebook of Fell Cargo has got a new cover. Perhaps more will come of this in due course…

I’d been expecting the weekend to herald just a single release – Daedalus by LJ Goulding, a Scythes of the Emperor audio drama that ties into the ongoing series of Scythes releases. That did indeed see the light of day, available in the usual CD (£12) and MP3 (£9.99) formats. Excitingly though, a second new titles appeared out of the blue – Calgar’s Fury by Paul Kearney, in hardback (£18) and ebook (£9.99) formats.

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The second Ultramarines novel from Paul Kearney, and technically his third if you include the ill-fated Dark Hunters: Umbra Sumus, it was mentioned way back at Black Library Live! 2016 but hadn’t been showing on the Coming Soon section of the BL website. For me, that makes it all the more enjoyable – I love the surprise of seeing something unexpected pop up, and I think that’s somewhat spoiled by the Coming Soon section, although I appreciate I’m probably in the minority there.

That was it for the weekend, but with three hour-long audio dramas and a decent sized novel, I’d say that this week has given us plenty to get stuck into!

Okay, well if you’re still desperate for something to read…you could check out the first part of my latest author interview – with Dan Abnett! Part two will be on its way soon…

Thoughts on the week
The big news is really the two new audio dramas for Audio Week, not just because it’s cool to see new audios, but also because they’re the first stories to have been released for 40k as it stands right now – i.e. post-Gathering Storm. Sure, if you don’t like audio dramas then you might not be too happy about it, but if that’s the case then I would ABSOLUTELY suggest that maybe now’s the time to give audios a try…the standard of production is just getting better and better, and these are genuinely impressive!

As for the two new titles on Saturday, they’re both cool…but arguably not the sort of releases that are likely to get fans hot under the collar. Personally though, I’m really pleased for both of them. I’m enjoying the way that Laurie’s Scythes of the Emperor stories are coming in small chunks to gradually build up a full picture of what’s going on – although that’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes. If you picked up the recent micro-short Terminal Velocity then Daedalus should link in quite nicely, I suspect.

I read and reviewed Paul Kearney’s previous Ultramarines novel Calgar’s Siege last year, and I was really impressed. He’s a well established author outside of Black Library, and I think it shows in his writing, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing him tackle Marneus Calgar and the boys in blue again. The only thing that’s odd is the fact that the BL website lists this as a Space Marine Battles novel…but it doesn’t look like one! I wonder if this is the start of things to come, especially given that the Amazon description (at least the US one) for Guy Haley’s upcoming novel The Devastation of Baal talks about the ‘popular Space Marine Battles series’ being ‘relaunched’. Only time will tell, but Calgar’s Fury certainly doesn’t fit the usual design language for the series…

Oh, and as I mentioned earlier the news finally broke (we’d all been expecting it) about the new edition of 40k. If you’ve had your head in the sand and haven’t yet read all about this, you can check it out over on the Warhammer Community page. Hopefully I’ll have more to talk about once the next wave of 40k fiction appears…

Coming up…
I’m very excited about next week. If you like Inquisition stories, and if you like Chris Wraight books (you do…right?), this is a great moment – the release, at last, of Vaults of Terra: The Carrion Throne! I’m assuming that the limited edition hardback will be officially ‘released’ on Friday, with the standard hardback and ebook following on Saturday – that seems to be the trend these days. I can’t wait!

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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