Black Library Weekly – W/C 16/10/17

Hello and welcome to another instalment of Black Library Weekly, my regular look at what’s been happening in the world of Black Library. Some weeks are full of interesting news, while others bring with them masses of new releases – this week has been the latter, with loads of cool new titles to get excited by. Let’s have a look…

The week opened with a new Digital Monday short story as usual, but this time it was a debut Black Library story from Mike Brooks, an established sci-fi author in his own right who some readers might be familiar with as the author of the Keiko series. The Path Unclear (£2.49 in ebook, as usual) is his first Black Library story, an enjoyable Inquisition tale that introduces some instantly cool characters, and makes it clear right from the off that Brooks gets 40k. It’s definitely worth checking out – here’s my review.

Monday also brought with it a couple of bits of news, which I’ll include here as they’re unrelated to Digital Monday. First up, covers for Crusade by Andy Clark and Hammerhal by Josh Reynolds showed up online, as part of the Summer Reading campaign that’s presumably going to be coming next year. Take a look in the Weekend section of this article for a bit more info on those novellas and how they’re being released.

The second piece of news was the quiet addition of Gav Thorpe’s Space Marine Conquests novel Ashes of Prospero to the Black Library website, as one of the books available at the Weekender in November. Have a look at the Weekender page online to see this and all the other titles which are going to be available, and check out the cover below.

That was pretty much it for the midweek period. The Warhammer Community site did post an article looking at some of the upcoming titles that have been showing up online recently, but (at risk of blowing my own trumpet) my post on upcoming titles actually has a bit more information as I’ve included the synopsis of each book.

Onto the weekend then, and there were LOADS of new releases beginning on Friday with the sixth Horus Heresy Primarchs novel – Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix by Josh Reynolds. As usual this is out first in beautiful limited edition format (£40) three months before the ‘standard’ release, so if you’re not going in on the LEs (like me) then you’ll be able to pick this up in January. I’ve got to say the LEs are looking really, really nice in this series, but it’s not just aesthetics that’s interesting here – the book sounds like it’s going to be very interesting indeed. If you’d like to know a little more about it, have a look at my RAPID FIRE interview with Josh.

Saturday then saw no less than four releases – a brand new novel, an audio drama in physical release for the first time, and two new anthologies each featuring a never-before-seen novella! Black Library, you’ve been good to us this week! Let’s start from the top, with the new novel…

Rise of the Ynnari: Ghost Warrior by Gav Thorpe, available in hardback (£18) or ebook (£9.99) formats, is the first in a new aeldari (or eldar, if you’re old school) series and the latest 40k novel to be set after the events of the Gathering Storm. If you’re an eldar aeldari fan then this promises to be a very interesting book indeed – take a look at my RAPID FIRE interview with Gav for a little more info on what you can expect.

That wasn’t it for aeldari fans, or indeed Gav Thorpe fans – following on from last month’s full release of the audio drama Eye of Night (after its initial serialised release back in April), its companion piece Hand of Darkness is now available as well. Once again released in CD (£12) and MP3 (£9.99) formats, this one is also post-Gathering Storm, and follows Yvraine as she attempts to retrieve the titular Hand of Darkness from Mortarion’s own Plague Planet. You can take a look at my review of it here, from when it was originally released in April.

As I mentioned earlier, Monday saw the cover reveals for two novellas which are going to be included in an upcoming Summer Reading campaign – Crusade and Hammerfal. Last week I highlighted an image promoting an upcoming book signing which suggested that these were also the title stories in a pair of anthologies…which are now available to order! Both priced at £4.99 for the paperback and ebook editions, and £9.99 for the MP3 audiobook editions, it looks like they’re designed to be introductions to the settings of 40k and Age of Sigmar for new fans – but at those prices, I’d say they’re also great value for existing fans looking for a short story fix!

Crusade + Other Stories is a 40k anthology featuring a new novella by Andy Clark alongside twelve 40k and Horus Heresy short stories, coming in at a whopping 464 pages for the paperback. I’ve listed out the short stories below, but from my perspective it’s great to see a real range of authors and styles, and especially to see less traditional stories like those from Peter Fehervari and John French.

  • The Lightning Tower by Dan Abnett
  • Sarcophagus by David Annandale
  • Crusade by Andy Clark (brand new novella)
  • Extinction by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • A Sanctuary of Wyrms by Peter Fehervari
  • The Purity of Ignorance by John French
  • The Word of the Silent King by L J Goulding
  • The Lost King by Robbie MacNiven
  • Culling the Horde by Steve Parker
  • The Zheng Cipher by Josh Reynolds
  • Red & Black by James Swallow
  • Honour of the Third by Gav Thorpe
  • Howl of the Banshee by Gav Thorpe

Hammerhal & Other Stories is basically the same thing but for Age of Sigmar, this time featuring a new novella by Josh Reynolds along with seven short stories and excerpts from three novels. This one’s even bigger, at 512 paperback pages! I’m not quite so sold on the idea of novel excerpts, nor on the inclusion of some short stories which are really individual chapters of books first published in serial form…but on the other hand this does include Beneath the Black Thumb, which is probably my favourite Age of Sigmar short story so far. Here’s the contents – you can make your own mind up.

  • The Keys to Ruin by David Annandale
  • Beneath the Black Thumb by David Guymer
  • Great Red by David Guymer
  • Heartwood by Robbie MacNiven
  • Assault on the Mandrake Bastion by Josh Reynolds
  • Hammerhal by Josh Reynolds (brand new novella)
  • The Prisoner of the Black Sun by Josh Reynolds
  • Vengeance Eternal by Matt Westbrook
  • Excerpts from:
    • Eight Lamentations: Spear of Shadows by Josh Reynolds
    • Skaven Pestilens by Josh Reynolds
    • Overlords of the Iron Dragon by C L Werner

Thoughts on the week
I’ve got to say, I’m impressed by this week’s releases. Right from the off it’s been a week of interesting – and often unexpected – releases, and it’s great to see Black Library coming up with some really cool surprises. In terms of Monday’s short story, while I’m 100% in favour of completely brand new authors getting the chance to contribute to Black Library, I’m even more excited by the prospect of existing, experienced authors doing the same. Reading Mike Brooks’ The Path Unclear you can immediately tell that this is a confident author who knows what he wants to achieve – I’m really looking forward to seeing what he’s going to do next.

I don’t think I need to spend much time talking about Fulgrim here – if you haven’t already, I’d suggest you take a look at my RAPID FIRE interview with Josh to get a feel for just how interesting that book is sounding. Personally I’m sticking to my guns and holding out for the standard hardback, but it’s becoming really hard to keep to that decision when the Primarchs novels are looking so good! Roll on January…

Having recently read Jain Zar, I’m feeling very much up for checking out Ghost Warrior and seeing how Gav tackles the new aeldari (I’m trying really hard to use that term…but it just feels weird) lore after doing such a great job of handling their history! Once again, do check out my RAPID FIRE interview with Gav, but I suspect he’s also going to be posting some really cool stuff about this on his own website so make sure you take a look at that as well. If you’re an audio fan and you haven’t yet listened to Hand of Darkness (or indeed Eye of Night) then I’d absolutely recommend checking that out as well – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

As for the two new anthologies…well, I’m very impressed with Black Library for producing these. Why? Firstly, I absolutely love short story anthologies and I feel like they make some of the best introductions to the settings, and it feels like it’s been a while since there have been any new anthologies like this. We’ve had themed anthologies and omnibuses, but not so many with such broad selections of content. When you combine that with costing less than a fiver…it just makes so much sense. Black Library books aren’t always the cheapest, so to offer full-length books for this sort of price as a deliberate way of encouraging new readers – it’s just a really great decision.

What I’m also excited about is that there are new stories in both of these anthologies. I can see both sides to the usual argument around whether or not to include brand new content in anthologies – in the Horus Heresy, for example, quite a lot of people don’t like the fact that they might have already paid for short stories and novellas so aren’t keen on re-buying them in anthology form without anything new. Of course if new stories were included, other fans wouldn’t be happy with being asked to buy a whole book just for a small amount of new content. These new anthologies are priced so low, however, that it’s a bit churlish for anyone to complain – most of us would pay £5 for a novella anyway, so whether we’ve read the other stories or not, it’s a damn good price!

Overall then, I’m really pleased with how this week has gone. Kudos to Black Library for a set of releases that should cater to a wide range of fans!

Lastly, here’s a quick roundup of this week’s Track of Words posts:

Coming up…
Next week’s main release looks like being The Last Hunt by Robbie MacNiven – I’m pretty sure this was originally billed as being available to buy at the Weekender first, but perhaps it’s been brought forward because there are so many new titles on offer there! Either way, a new White Scars novel is always something to look forward to…

As always, if you’ve got any thoughts or comments on the week’s news and releases please do get in touch via the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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