Hello and welcome to the latest instalment of Black Library Weekly, my regular look at what’s been happening in the world of Black Library. It’s been a week of not-quite-new releases, both on Monday and at the weekend, although as it’s the first full week of February it’s also brought with it another month’s worth of upcoming releases. Starting at the beginning as always…
This week’s Digital Monday short story was an interesting one, as it’s a story that was originally an Age of Sigmar audio drama, and subsequently the opening chapter of a Realmgate Wars novel. Now it’s a standalone short story – Prisoner of the Black Sun by Josh Reynolds, available for the usual £2.49 in ebook. Narratively it’s quite interesting with the Hallowed Knights starting their quest to find Nagash, and meeting up with a familiar name from the World that Was…but serialised short stories like this are always a bit tricky. I haven’t reviewed this individually, but you can read my review of the book it’s collected into – Mortarch of Night – here.
As expected, Wednesday saw the confirmation of May’s upcoming releases – five titles, with three new novels, a new audio drama and an omnibus of classic Warhammer stories. Let’s take a look at what’s what:
Wolfsbane by Guy Haley
This one was on pre-release at the Horus Heresy & Necromunda Weekender earlier in the month – book 49 in the Heresy series, and the second from Guy Haley. I’ve just started reading my copy and it’s already very interesting…I think this is going to be quite an important book in the series overall.
Blackshields: The Red Fief by Josh Reynolds
Another one available at the Weekender, this is the second Blackshields audio drama from Josh after last year’s The False War. It should be interesting to see what happens next to Endryd Haar and his men – if you haven’t listened to the first one, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It sounds like this might turn into a long-running audio series in the Garro mould, which would be very interesting indeed.
Neferata: Mortarch of Blood by David Annandale
The latest Age of Sigmar novel, this one promises to be a darker, more horror-influenced book than what we’ve seen before in the setting. There’s a stunning limited edition hardback available for this title, although strangely the standard edition isn’t yet showing up on the BL website. Whatever format you read this in, it promises to stretch the boundaries of the Age of Sigmar setting a little bit, which is very welcome.
The Voice of Mars by David Guymer
The follow up to last year’s The Eye of Medusa, this is Guymer’s second Iron Hands novel. This time around it looks like it features Iron Father Kristos, facing off against the eldar (or should that be aeldari) as well as the internal politics of his own chapter.
The War of Vengeance by Nick Kyme, Chris Wraight and CL Werner
The latest Warhammer Chronicles omnibus, this one focuses on the elves vs dwarfs conflict otherwise known as the War of the Beard. It collects together three novels – The Great Betrayal by Nick Kyme, Master of Dragons by Chris Wraight and The Curse of the Phoenix Crown by CL Werner.
So those are May’s releases – another nice mixture of settings and formats. As usual, Wednesday also saw some of the earlier releases get confirmed release dates, one of which is particularly notable as Gav Thorpe’s Ashes of Prospero is now listed as being released on the 24th February despite being listed as one of March’s releases.
The last bit of news to show up during the week was confirmation that tickets for this year’s Warhammer Fest event will go on sale on Monday 12th Feb. If you’re not familiar, this is the modern equivalent of the old Games Day events, held in Coventry at the Ricoh Arena on the 12th and 13th May. Last year Black Library’s direct involvement was rather minimal, with just Guy Haley and Paul Kearney in attendance, but there was a good selection of pre-release titles available as well.
As I mentioned last week, the main release for this weekend was another Warhammer Chronicles omnibus – The Sundering by Gav Thorpe. You can pick this up right now in ebook (for £14.99) or order the paperback (for £15) which should be in stores next weekend. To my count that’s now four of these omnibuses available, with a good few others in the pipeline – they really are the best place to start with old-school Warhammer books if you fancy making a start with the World That Was.
There were two other releases, both paperback versions of existing titles. First up we got Praetorian of Dorn by John French in mass market paperback (i.e. the small version, for £7.99), book 39 in the Horus Heresy series. If you’ve not yet read this, you can check out my review here. Next up was Shroud of Night by Andy Clark, available for £8.99, an Alpha Legion book set in the current Dark Imperium timeline. Once again you can have a read of my review here.
Thoughts on the week
The big news this week is of course May’s new releases, filling in what was otherwise a bit of a slow week for Black Library. It’s always fun to see what’s coming up and I think we’ve got a pretty solid set of releases lined up for May, with two Heresy stories, an intriguing new Age of Sigmar book (even if at 240 pages it looks a bit short), the second in an interesting 40k series and another omnibus in the rapidly-growing Warhammer Chronicles series. I imagine Wolfsbane will be the most popular of those titles, although with all of the interest around Malign Portents for Age of Sigmar I think it’s probably a good time for Neferata to be coming out.
As for the week’s releases, it’s felt a little flat for me personally. When it comes to something like the Heresy, I’m all for putting short stories out in as many formats as possible, so that as many people as possible can get to read them. For Age of Sigmar I’m not quite so comfortable with that, especially when we’re talking about something that’s already been released in two different formats, and is essentially a quarter of a serialised story. Hopefully Prisoner of the Black Sun will still be of interest to some readers – Josh’s Age of Sigmar stories are always worth a read – but personally I’m hoping that we get more brand new Age of Sigmar tales on future Mondays rather than too many of these existing stories.
The weekend’s titles were pretty much as expected, and to be fair these Warhammer Chronicles omnibuses are good value ways to get stuck into some of these cracking old books. It’s always good to see paperbacks coming out as well; Heresy fans who have been determinedly sticking to mass market paperbacks have got a cracking book to read now the Praetorian of Dorn is available in that format, and I really hope Shroud of Night does well in paperback because it’s a hugely entertaining book.
It looks like next weekend will bring the release of a new 40k audio drama – A Deadly Wit by Gav Thorpe. This promises to be really interesting; keep an eye out for a Rapid Fire interview with Gav as well as a review coming soon after!