Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Sieges in Literature

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday revolves around favourite words, which, while interesting, isn’t something that I felt I could really contribute to.  So instead, I thought I would dive into one of my favourite story elements from fiction, the good old-fashioned siege.

Now I have made it very clear over multiple reviews that I absolutely love sieges in fiction.  To me, there are few battle scenarios more awesome, more epic, and more impressive than watching a powerful attacker attempting to wipe out a fortress garrisoned by a group of desperate defenders.  Whether you are rooting for the besiegers or the defenders, there are so many outstanding moments that can be woven into a siege scenario.  From fighting on the walls, to a desperate stand in a breach, to watching an attacker slowly gain ground on the defender by a careful and elaborate series of siegeworks, artillery bombardments and the careful administration of traitors from within the walls, everything about a siege is just so amazing to me and I love reading about them in fiction.  Sieges don’t even have to be that long or epic, as even a quick and bloody siege can be pretty impressive, especially if the attackers are desperate to achieve their goals.

Fans of this blog might have noticed that in recent weeks I have read a couple of books that contain some great sieges.  Well, after getting really caught up in a few of them, it started making me think back to all the other awesome sieges scenes I have enjoyed over the years.  Naturally my only option then was to come up with a list of my favourite sieges in literature and it did not take long for me to come up with an intriguing list of books.

This proved to be quite a fun list to come up with, and it was really interesting to dive back into some books from the past to see what great sieges I could find.  I didn’t put a lot of limits on this list, and if the scenario in the book could be considered some sort of siege, I would consider it for this list.  I did try to come up with a few examples that were outside the traditional medieval castle situation most people would associate with a siege, and I wanted to show a little variety.  Despite that, most of the books I have featured on this list ended up being fantasy reads, which isn’t too unexpected.  There are a few good historical fiction reads thrown into the mix, as well as entries from other genres, and I think this ended up being a very well-balanced top ten, with my usual generous honourable mentions section.  So, lets dive into the breach and find out which glorious sieges made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:

River of Gold by Anthony Riches

River of Gold Cover

A fantastic historical fiction read that saw an outnumbered group of elite Roman soldiers take control of an abandoned fort in the middle of Africa to stop an invading army.  An excellent example of a Roman siege from historical fiction.

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Devolution by Max Brooks – Siege of Greenloop

Devolution Cover

One of the more unusual examples I could think of was the fantastic novel Devolution by World War Z author Max Brooks.  Devolution sees the residence of a small, elite community get cut off from the rest of the world by a natural disaster, only to be then attacked by a group of sasquatches driven out of hiding by the same calamity.  Forced to defend themselves against the hungry beasts, the community finds themselves in an impromptu siege against a group of monsters, which results in a very inventive and intense read.

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Warhammer: Beastslayer by William King – Siege of Praag

Beastslayer Cover

William King has featured several awesome sieges in his legendary Gotrek and Felix Warhammer Fantasy series, however, my favourite so far had to be the siege of Praag in Beastslayer.  This book-long siege sees the doomed duo face off against all manner of monsters and demon worshipers on the walls, while traitors attempt to destroy them from within.  A classic siege scenario that fit perfectly into the iconic Warhammer setting.

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Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – Siege of Aroughs

Inheritance Cover

I have a lot of love for Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, especially as it features several awesome sieges.  However, my favourite probably occurred in the final book, Inheritance, when the protagonist’s cousin, Roran, is sent to take the fortified town of Aroughs with a small force.  Running out of time and resources, Roran uses some unconventional tactics to invade it.  Not only did this show how much Roran had grown as a tactician and commander over the series, but it featured some fantastic scenes of a great siege.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Legend by David Gemmell – Siege of Dros Delnoch

Legend

Let us start this list off with the book that might have the very best siege scenario I have ever read, with Legend by David Gemmell.  Legend is an exceptional read that sees an invincible army attempt to conquer their world’s most impregnable fortress, Dros Delnoch.  Utterly outnumbers, the defenders of Dros Delnoch have one advantage aside from their six walls, they are led by Druss the Legend, the greatest hero of all time.  This is such an epic siege, which the late, great, David Gemmell, set up perfectly.  Loaded with amazing characters, you really grow close to the defenders as you watch their desperate battle to hold off an unstoppable enemy till the very end.  A must read for all fans of the siege; you will not be disappointed by this book.

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Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist by Janny Wurts – Siege of the Acoma Suite

Servant of the Empire Cover

Next, we have a book that shows that sieges don’t have to feature giant fortresses to be epic, with Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts.  The second book in the outstanding Empire trilogy, Servant of the Empire has many amazing moments, but the best is the compelling and intense siege of the Acoma Suite in the Imperial Palace.  Following a massive calamity that plunges the Empire into chaos, all the great lords flock to the Imperial Palace to be close to the action.  However, many take this as an opportunity to take out their rivals and the protagonist, Mara of the Acoma, finds herself one of the main targets.  Barricaded in her suite in the palace, Mara, her allies, and their bodyguards must fight off waves of assassins that come for them during the night.  This proves to be extremely impressive, and you really get caught up in the action watching the defenders attempting to hold a luxury apartment against an unending horde of assassins.  A clever and amazing siege that makes full use of its smaller setting and intriguing scenario to create some exciting moments.

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Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K. J. Parker – Siege of the City

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City Cover

I had to feature the brilliant and hilarious Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K. J. Parker, as it contained an extremely fun take on the siege concept.  This hilarious read sees the massive City besieged by an army of vengeful folk, intend on killing everyone within.  With their army already destroyed, the defence of the city falls to a conman siege engineer, who uses his engineering knowhow and ability to BS anyone, to establish one of the most elaborate and inventive defences ever.  This ended up being an incredible story, that perfectly blends humour and fun characters with the compelling siege scenario, to create an utterly addictive read.  I have so much love for this siege novel, and Parker followed it up with the equally good How to Rule and Empire and Get Away With It, that showed the surprising outcome to the siege, which I really loved.

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Fire in the East by Harry Sidebottom – Siege of Arete

Fire in the East Cover

While much of this list is focussed on fantasy fiction, I had to include the outstanding historical fiction read, Fire in the East, the debut novel of the amazing Harry Sidebottom.  Set in AD 255, this book follows Roman siege specialist, Ballista, who travels to the Roman town of Arete to reinforce it against a besieging Persian army.  Forced to hold out for months with no reinforcements, Ballista prepares a complex and deadly defence, while dealing with traitors and discontent from within his walls.  A fast-paced, but extremely detailed read, this is easily one of the best historical sieges I have ever read, and it made me a life-long fan of Harry Sidebottom, who is still releasing distinctive and captivating historical fiction reads.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling – Siege of Hogwarts

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Cover

After six books spent within the magical castle of Hogwarts, it was appropriate that the Harry Potter series end there, and the author chose to finish everything off in a big way.  With Harry, Ron and Hermione attempting to find and destroy the final Horcrux, Lord Voldemort sends all his forces in a massive assault on the magical school, facing off against students, teachers and the Order of the Phoenix.  This is a pretty epic siege, which, while great in the movie, comes across as a lot more exciting and complex in the novel.  Seeing the various dark forces attempt to destroy the castle you have come to know and love is pretty heartbreaking, and you can’t help but cheer at the desperate defence the supporting characters put up to give Harry time.  Throw in a ton of tragic deaths, as many of your favourite characters are brutally killed off, and this becomes a key moment in the series that you will never forget.

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The Martyr by Anthony Ryan – Sieges of Walvern Castle and Highsahl

The Martyr Cover

One of the more recent siege-based books I have read, The Martyr is the second Covenant of Steel novel by Anthony Ryan, and its elaborate chronicle narrative quickly drags the reader in with an amazing siege scenario.  The Martyr actually has two sieges in it, but as they occur back-to-back early in the book, I decided to combine them.  The first, sees the protagonists occupy and defend a dilapidated castle against a massive host in a foreign land, which proves to be a lot of fun as the series canny protagonist and his apparently blessed leader, engage in quite an elaborate defence of their new bastion.  I got pretty stuck into this book during the first siege and was pleasantly surprised when Ryan immediately followed it up with a second siege, with the protagonists this time acting as the attackers.  Using the lessons they learned from defending the first time, they soon attempt a deadly attack on the city, which results in a particularly bloody and intense struggle through the breach.  I had an outstanding time with this book, and I was absolutely spoiled with the two sieges it contained. 

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Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie – Siege of Dagoska

Before they are Hanged Cover

The First Law trilogy is one of the bloodiest dark fantasy series out there, so naturally it is going to feature at least a couple of great sieges.  There are actually several impressive sieges I could talk about here, especially in the third book, Last Argument of Kings, but my favourite siege occurred in the second book, Before They Are Hanged.  This novel sees fan-favourite character, the crippled Inquisitor Glokta, take control of the city of Dagoska and hold it against a massive Gurkish army.  Striking a devil’s bargain with a mysterious benefactor for resources, Glokta is able to fund a sustained defence, while trying to keep the city from turning against his forces.  However, his greatest threat is within the walls, as several magical assassins are planning to kill and eat him to win the battle.  This is such an awesome siege, especially as it sees Glokta in his element as a master manipulator, and there are some amazing scenes set around it.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkein – Siege of Helm’s Deep

The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers Cover

I was never not going to include a siege from The Lord of the Rings on this list, and naturally I had a couple of good choices here, such as the siege of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King.  However, based on the recommendation of my wife, who recently re-read these books, I went with the siege of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers.  A much more fast-paced siege, the battle of Helm’s Deep sees a small force from Rohan face off against a giant army of Uruk-hai over a single night in their ancestral fortress.  A classic siege which got an easy place on this list.

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Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Iron by Graham McNeill – Siege of Hydra Cordatus

Storm of Iron Cover 2

I had a hard time coming up with any good science fiction books for this list, but luckily, I only just finished reading an older Warhammer 40,000 novel, Storm of Iron by Graham McNeill, that was essentially one giant siege.  This book sees the defender of the planet Hydra Cordatus, come under attack by a massive army of Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines, who besiege the planet’s seemingly impregnable fortress.  However, the Iron Warriors are the universes’ best siege engineers, and they soon start smashing down the walls to get to their foes.  A very elaborate and detailed siege book, there is so much incredible action in this book, and McNeill did an outstanding job setting up a siege story in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

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City of Lies by Sam Hawke – Siege of Silasta

City of Lies Cover

The final entry on this list is the extremely impressive City of Lies by Australian author Sam Hawke.  Another great fantasy read, this novel sees the culturally rich city of Silasta suddenly come under attack by a mysterious army, intent on destroying it.  With their army mostly away, the cities artists are forced to abandon their works and take up weapons.  At the same time, the book’s protagonists, a pair of poison-eating siblings, work to defeat a massive conspiracy that is building within their walls.  The encroaching attackers adds a great layer to the intrigue and politics going on within the walls in City of Lies, and I loved how well Hawke established this siege in this fantastic book.

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Well, that is the end of this list.  As you can see from the above entries, I have had a lot of fun reading about sieges over the years, and I love when they are fit into a good book.  All the above books have some exceptional sieges in them, and they all come highly recommended to those people who love a great siege storyline.  I am pretty happy with how this list turned out, and I will probably revisit this at some point in the future, especially if I am lucky enough to read some more siege-focussed books.  In the meantime, let me know what your favourite sieges in literature are in the comments below.

Throwback Thursday: Warhammer: Vampireslayer by William King

Vampireslayer Cover 2

Publisher: Black Library (Audiobook – August 2021)

Series: Gotrek and Felix – Book Six

Length: 11 hours and 13 minutes

My Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

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Welcome back to my Throwback Thursday series, where I republish old reviews, review books I have read before or review older books I have only just had a chance to read.  For my latest Throwback Thursday I continue my recent obsession with Warhammer Fantasy fiction by checking out another entry in the iconic Gotrek and Felix series by William King, Vampireslayer.

I have been on a real roll with looking at the cool fiction associated with the now defunct Warhammer Fantasy tabletop game over the last few weeks, including the fantastic novels Runefang and Van Horstman.  However, few Warhammer Fantasy books have grabbed my attention or interest more than the Gotrek and Felix series, which serves as one of the central pillars of Warhammer fiction.  The Gotrek and Felix books, which were originally written by William King, follow the titular characters, dwarf slayer Gotrek Gurnisson and his sworn human companion Felix Jaeger, as they journey around the Warhammer Fantasy realm, finding monsters to fight and kill, all in the hope of finding a worthy death for Gotrek.  This is an awesome and unbelievably exciting fantasy series that take the reader to some of the darkest parts of the Warhammer Fantasy world and sees them face off against all manner of crazy foes.

I have had an absolute blast getting through the Gotrek and Felix books over the last year, as there have been some cracking reads in there.  The previous books, Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer and Beastslayer, have all had their own unique charm, and all of them have been well written and compelling reads.  Vampireslayer is the sixth book in the series, and as the name suggests, it pits Gotrek, Felix and their allies against one of the most dangerous creatures in the Warhammer canon, an ancient and deadly vampire count.

Following their victory at the siege of Praag, Gotrek, Felix and their surviving allies, have finally been able to relax after a never-ending series of battles. However, the ever-restless Gotrek is still determined to find a worthy death to fulfil his suicidal oath, and Felix knows it is only a matter of time before they journey out to face the rising hordes of Chaos that are building around the realms of man.  But before Gotrek and Felix can head out, a new evil rears its head; one that is far more cunning and ancient than anything they have faced before.

After accepting a job from a wealthy Praag nobleman, Gotrek and Felix find themselves investigating a mysterious man who is attempting to steal one of their client’s treasured artifacts.  But the closer they look, the more apparent it becomes that their target is no ordinary man, but a powerful ancient vampire named Adolophus Krieger, who has been stalking the streets of Praag, feasting on the innocent.  Determined to slay this beast, Gotrek and Felix’s confrontation goes poorly, when the vampire outsmarts them, steals the artifact and takes their companion, Ulrika Magdova, hostage.

Determined to save Ulrika and get their revenge on their foe, Gotrek and Felix, as well as their allies, Snorri Nosebiter, Max Schreiber and Ulrika’s father, Ivan Straghov, pursue the vampire lord.  To kill Krieger, they will have to travel to one of the most dangerous places in the Old World, the haunted lands of Sylvania.  Controlled by the Vampire Counts for generations, Sylvania is a wicked place where the dead never rest, and dark creatures lurk around every corner.  Worse, their foe is powered by an ancient artefact forged by Nagash and has designs on becoming the supreme vampire ruler, leading them in a new war against the living.  With the odds stacked against them, Gotrek, Felix and their companions must dig deep if they are to kill Krieger, rescue Ulrika and save the world.  But after spending time trapped with the vampire, can Ulrika truly be saved?

King once again shows why his Gotrek and Felix books were the defining Warhammer Fantasy series with this epic and fast-paced read.  Vampireslayer is easily one of the stronger entries in the series and takes its distinctive protagonists on an intense and captivating adventure that I deeply enjoyed.

Vampireslayer had an amazing fantasy narrative, and I think this was one of King’s more impressive and enjoyable stories.  Taking off right after Beastslayer, the initial story sees Gotrek, Felix and their allies still at the city of Praag, planning out their next adventures.  They quickly find themselves dragged into another adventure when a distant relative of Ulrika reaches out to them for help with a mysterious threat.  This initial part of the book was rather interesting, and not only does it have some great follow-ups from the previous entry in the series but it also sets up the narrative and the current characters really well.  There is a fantastic cat-and-mouse game going on in the early stages of the novel, as the protagonists attempt to discern the new evil they are going up against, while their vampiric assailant, Adolophus Krieger, puts his plans into motion.  Following the first encounter between the heroes and the vampire, which is set up and executed to drive up anticipation for later interactions, Krieger escapes and the protagonists are forced into a deadly chase across the world.

The rest of the novel is primarily set in the dread realm of Sylvania, and sees the protagonists chase after the vampire and his kidnapped victim.  This second part of the book is filled with some fun and exciting classic horror elements as the protagonists go up against a variety of foes from the vampire count’s army.  There is a lot of great action, fantastic chases, and some substantial character development occurring during this part of the novel, as the author brings together many of the threads from earlier in Vampireslayer, while also introducing some intriguing new supporting characters.  King makes particularly good use of multiple character perspectives throughout this part of the book, and I loved seeing the conflicted thoughts of the main protagonists (minus Gotrek as usual), as well as the many plots of the villain and his new minion.  This all leads up to the big confrontation between the protagonists and their foe at the legendary Drakenhof Castle, as the heroes face off against an army of the undead and the vampire himself.  The action flows thick and fast here, and King pulls no punches, showing the brutal and dark nature of the Warhammer Fantasy universe.  I did think that the final confrontation was a bit rushed, with the anticipated battle against Krieger lasting only a short while, but it was pretty fun to see.  There are a couple of good tragic moments in this conclusion, as well as some interesting developments for some long-running supporting characters, and King brings everything to a good close as a result.

I think that one of the things that made this story particularly enjoyable was that it was a lot more focused than some of the other books in the series.  This was mainly because it was the first book since Skavenslayer not to feature a sub-story that focused on recurring villain, Grey Seer Thanquol.  While Thanquol’s perspective was good for Skavenslayer, its use in the following novels, while usually very fun and entertaining, seemed a bit unnecessary and often affected the pacing or stole the impact away from the book’s actually antagonists.  This became more and more apparent in Dragonslayer and Beastslayer, especially when Thanquol’s actions rarely had any impact on the main plot.  As such, not having a Thanquol focused side story in Vampireslayer was a bit of a blessing, and it really increased the impact of the remaining storylines.  It also ensured that the parts of the book told from Krieger’s perspective really pop, as he was the only villain you could focus on.  I had a brilliant time with this impressive story and it ended up being an excellent adventure to follow.

Vampireslayer proved to be a pretty awesome entry to the wider Warhammer Fantasy universe, and I loved the cool details and references that King added in.  Like most of the books in the Gotrek and Felix saga, Vampireslayer can be read as a standalone novel (probably more so than the last three books in the series), and very little pre-knowledge about the Warhammer Fantasy or the previous books in the series is required to enjoy this excellent book.  King does a great job of once again introducing the key elements, recurring characters, and wider evils of this universe, ensuring that new readers get the information they need without making it too repetitive or boring for established fans.

One of the things that makes Vampireslayer standout a little more from some of the recent entries in the series is the move away from Chaos focused opponents and instead brings in a new faction from the universe in the form of a vampire and his undead hordes.  This is a fantastic change of pace, and I rather enjoyed seeing one of the more compelling factions from the game, even though I have bad memories of facing my brother’s Vampire Counts army.  King does a brilliant job diving into the lore and history of vampires and the general undead in the Warhammer universe, and the protagonists get a good crash course on them, which new readers will deeply appreciate.  I loved seeing a vampire antagonist in this novel, especially as it is one of the classic Vampire Counts types (a Von Carstein vampire).  This vampire has a lot of the classic European elements associated with Dracula, and it was fun to see the protagonist deal with this sort of creature, especially as Krieger takes the time to taunt them in a way they’ve never dealt with before.  King also adds in several of cool units from the Vampire Counts book, and it was pretty fun to see them in action in some brilliant fight scenes.  I also deeply enjoyed the dark setting of Sylvania, where much of the story takes place.  Sylvania, a Warhammer realm based deeply on Transylvania and ruled over by vampires, has always captured my imagination and it was fun to see it used in Vampireslayer.  You really get the sense of fear and despair surrounding the countryside, and all the locals, many of whom are just a step away from becoming some form of creature, are a depressing and scared group.  Watching the characters attempt to traverse this land was really entertaining, and I think all these awesome Warhammer Fantasy elements helped to make this great story even more impressive.

I also found some of the character work in Vampireslayer to be pretty intriguing, as King examines several great characters in this book.  The central two characters are naturally Gotrex and Felix, although not a great deal of character development went towards them in this book.  Gotrex is his usual gruff, murderous and unreadable self, who is essentially shown as an unkillable beast at this point, and you really don’t get much more from him, especially as Gotrex’s perspective is deliberately not shown.  Felix also doesn’t get much growth in this book, although he does serve as a primary narrator, recording and observing the events of the book.  Despite this lack of growth, Felix is a great everyman character to follow and it is really entertaining to see his quite reasonable reaction to facing off against the evils that gravitate towards Gotrek.

A large amount of focus went to the supporting characters of Max Schreiber and Ulrika Magdova, who have been major parts of the series since Daemonslayer.  The attention on both has been growing substantially through the last couple of books, especially in Beastslayer, and they had a massive presence in Vampireslayer.  Max, the team’s wizard, is pushed to the brink in this book after investigating a dangerous magical artefact and having his companion Ulrika kidnapped.  Max, who has always had a crush on Ulrika (it was pretty creepy at first, but better now), becomes obsessed with saving her before its too late, and this drives him to some extremes in this book.  Ulrika, on the other hand, must survive the evil attentions of the book’s villain, especially once the vampire takes an unhealthy obsession with her.  I must admit that I have always found Ulrika to be a fairly annoying character (which isn’t great when she’s usually the only female figure in the books), however, this was one of her best appearances as she goes through a physical, mental and magical wringer.  Her attempts to resist the vampire are extremely powerful and her eventual fall to darkness is one of the more compelling and best written parts of the book.  This was an excellent outing for both these supporting characters, and it actually serves as a wonderful final hurrah, as I know they don’t appear in many books in the future.

The final character from Vampireslayer that I need to talk about is the book’s primary antagonist, the titular vampire Adolophus Krieger.  Krieger, a centuries-old creature with connections to Vlad von Carstein, serves as a brilliant villain for this adventure novel, especially as King takes a substantial amount of time to dive into his history, personality and motivations.  Rebelling against his sire and attempting to become the next vampiric master of the Old World, Krieger is shown as a complex and intense being with some major issues.  Not only does he have to temper his intense ambition, but he also finds himself mentally deteriorating towards savagery and must constantly fight for control as his afterlife’s goals comes to fruition.  King does a great job capturing this compelling figure throughout the book, and I particularly enjoyed his introductory chapters where his temper and inability to suffer fools is shown with gruesome results.  Krieger has a brilliant presence throughout the novel, and he was a great villain opposite Gotrek and Felix with his gentlemanly airs (he has a great comeback to a line from Snorri Nosebiter).  I deeply enjoyed all the outstanding characters in Vampireslayer, and King did some superb work with them throughout this novel.

After reading paperback versions of Dragonslayer and Beastslayer, I’ve finally gotten back onto the Gotrek and Felix audiobooks with Vampireslayer, which was a lot of fun to listen to.  The audiobook format did an amazing job of capturing the dark tone and fast-paced action of this intense novel, and I felt that listening to Vampireslayer on audiobook really helped me appreciate a lot of the book’s more interesting details.  With a runtime of just over 11 hours, this is an easy audiobook to power through, and I personally managed to get through it in a few days.  This great audiobook was further enhanced by the excellent narration of Jonathan Keeble, who has narrated most of the other Gotrek and Felix audiobooks.  Keeble has an amazing voice for this sort of novel, and I loved the fantastic way he was able to move the story along at a brilliant pace while also enhancing the book’s horror and action elements.  I particularly loved the range of excellent voices he attributes to the various characters, many of which are carried over from his previous audiobook experiences.  All the characters get some distinctive and very fitting tones here, which I think worked extremely well.  Examples of some of the best voices include Felix, whose calm voice of reason, serves as the narrator’s base tone for most of the story; Gotrek, who is given a gruff and menacing voice that contains all the character’s barely restrained anger and regret; and even the new vampire character, Adolophus Krieger, who is gifted a French/European accent to match the classic vampire vibe that goes with the Vampire Counts characters in Warhammer, and the character’s likely origins as a Bretonnian Knight.  This expert voice work was extremely good and I had a brilliant time listening to this version of Vampireslayer.  As such, this format comes highly recommended and it is usually one of the best ways to enjoy a cool Warhammer novel.

Vampireslayer was another epic entry in the fantastic and ultra-fun Gotrek and Felix series by William King.  Bringing in a great new opponent who pushes the protagonists to new lows, this was an excellent adventure novel that shows some of the best parts of the Warhammer Fantasy world.  With a captivating and fast-paced narrative, this was one of the better entries in the series and I had an outstanding time getting through Vampireslayer.  An awesome read for all Warhammer and general fantasy fans, especially on audiobook.  I love this series so much!

Vampireslayer Cover

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WWW Wednesday – 3 August 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Darkening by Sunya Mara (Trade Paperback)

The Darkening Cover

I just started reading an intriguing new young adult fantasy novel today with The Darkening by Sunya Mara.  The Darkening is an intriguing and exciting novel set in a city surrounded by a magical storm that is slowly eating it away.  The story follows the daughter of a notorious rebel who joins the city’s elite magical guards to free him and get revenge on an evil prince.  I have made some decent progress on The Darkening and it is proving to be quite an awesome read with an outstanding story to it.  I am aiming to finish The Darkening off by the end of the week and I think this is going to turn out to be one of the better debuts of 2022.

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older (Audiobook)

Star Wars - Midnight Horizon Cover

I have also recently started listening to the audiobook version of the cool Star Wars tie-in novel, Midnight Horizon.  Part of The High Republic sub-series, Midnight Horizon is a young adult read that follows a group of young Jedi as they investigate Nihil on the planet of Corellia.  A continuation of several other great young adult High Republic books, such as Into the Dark and Out of the Shadows, Midnight Horizon has an interesting story to it so far, and I am really powering through it.  This is another book that I am hoping to finish off by the end of the week, and I am very curious to see how Midnight Horizon ties into some of the other High Republic books out there, such as the pivotal novel, The Fallen Star, which was released around the same time.

What did you recently finish reading?

Warhammer: Vampireslayer by William King (Audiobook)

Vampireslayer Cover

 

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor (Trade Paperback)

Dirt Town Cover

 

Tribe by Jeremy Robinson (Audiobook)

Tribe Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade Cover

 

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 27 July 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Warhammer: Vampireslayer by William King (Audiobook)

Vampireslayer Cover

Many people will be unsurprised that I have once again drifted back to the world of Warhammer with Vampireslayer, another entry in the Gotrex and Felix series by William King.  Set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, Vampireslayer is the sixth entry in the Gotrex and Felix series, which follows a mad dwarf slayer and his human companion as they travel across the land seeking out every deadly monster they can find.  As the name suggests, Vampireslayer will see them face off against the hordes of the undead after a deadly vampire takes one of their companions. I have been deeply enjoying this epic series over the last few months, will all the previous entries (Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer and Beastslayer), being extremely fun and loaded with action.  I have only just started Vampireslayer, but it is already proving to be a compelling and awesome read for me and I look forward to seeing what violence and death lies in wait for me.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Lawless Land by Boyd and Beth Morrison (Trade Paperback)

The Lawless Land Cover

 

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry (Audiobook)

The Omega Factor Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Stay Awake Cover

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Throwback Thursday: Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf by William King

Space Wolf Original Cover

Publisher: Black Library (Paperback – 1999)

Series: Ragnar series – Book One

Length: 266 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Welcome back to my Throwback Thursday series, where I republish old reviews, review books I have read before or review older books I have only just had a chance to read.  For this latest Throwback Thursday I dive into the world of the Space Wolves chapter of Space Marines with the classic Warhammer 40,000 novel, Space Wolf by William King.

The Warhammer 40,000 expanded universe is truly blessed with the sheer range of unique stories that it contains.  From pulse-pounding crime novels (Kal Jerico: Sinner’s Bounty), deeply fascinating novels about aliens (Ruin, Reign and Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh!), haunting horror tales (The Bookkeeper’s Skull), and even brutal war stories by common soldiers (Steel Tread and First and Only).  However, at the end of the day, most of the more intriguing stories focus on the iconic and awesome Space Marines.  These genetically enhanced and over-armoured warriors are often the true MVPs of the Warhammer canon, with some great series based on them (for example, the 50+ book Horus Heresy series).  There are a ton of great Warhammer 40,000 series around the Space Marines that I am exceedingly keen to get into, and I was recently lucky enough to find a copy of the first book of one of them which I immediately dived into.

That book was Space Wolf by William King, who I best know from his epic work in the Warhammer Fantasy franchise with his Gotrek and Felix series (check out my reviews for Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer and Beastslayer).  Space Wolf is the first book in King’s six-part Ragnar series (also known as the Space Wolf and Wolfclaw series).  Focused on the character of Ragnar, a legendary member of the Space Wolves chapter, this series sounded really cool, especially as I have been really enjoying King’s writing lately.  I ended up having a great time with this novel which contains an awesome and very fun story.

In the far future, humanity is constantly at war with aliens, daemons, traitors, and heretics, all of whom wish to tear the massive and fragile Imperium of Man to shreds.  Humanities best and often last line of defence are the mighty Space Marines, the Emperor’s angels who fight the very worst xenos and spawns of the Chaos Gods.  Out of all the Space Marine chapters, one of the most respected, feared and honoured chapters are the Space Wolves.  Born from the genetic material of their legendary founder, Leman Russ, and bearing the touch of the wolf, the Space Wolves have stood tall time and time again.  But how does a mere man become a bestial and lethal Space Wolf?

On the planet of Fenris, Ragnar Thunderfist is a young warrior, content to work on his father’s ship and contend with the many dangers of his fierce and low-tech home world.  During a raid upon his village by a rival tribe, Ragnar is killed in a mightily duel after felling many enemies.  However, this is not the end of Ragnar’s journey; instead he finds himself waking up healed, resurrected by one of the mysterious Wolf Priests who watch over the planet.  Taken from the ruins of his village with other worthy aspirants, Ragnar learns that he has been chosen to become a member of the next generation of Space Wolves.

However, earning the right to join the Space Wolves is no easy task, and Ragnar soon embarks on a gruelling and lethal training regime that will test him to his very limit.  Working to hone himself into a living weapon, Ragnar will face trials, monsters and deadly rivalries as he attempts to prove himself.  But even if he is found worthy, the greatest trial involves the final transformation into a Space Marine.  The Canis Helix, which is implanted into all Space Wolves, bears a dangerous curse, which may turn even the strongest of wills into wild beasts.  Can Ragnar overcome the bestial rage that comes with this awesome gift, or will he lose his mind before he can serve the Emperor?  And what happens with the legions of Chaos arrive upon Fenris?

Space Wolf Cover 2

This was another exceptionally exciting and compelling read from William King, who perfectly starts another epic Warhammer series.  Space Wolf had a very different tone and structure to some of King’s other books that I have enjoyed, and I found myself getting really invested in this intriguing story of survival, self-discovery, and destiny.  Starting with an intriguing glance at the present, Space Wolf jumps back into the protagonist’s past, showing Ragnar’s formative years and the events that led to him being chosen by the Space Wolves.  Primarily told from the perspective of Ragnar, with a few sections told by an antagonistic alternate narrator, Space Wolf quickly turns into a fascinating examination of the intense training faced by potential Space Wolves recruits.  Most of the story follows the various stages of this intense military training and eventual genetic modification, and it was absolutely fascinating to see the changes the protagonist goes through.  While there is a lot of focus on expanding the lore and the character changes associated with it, King tells a concise and powerful story that really dives into the mind and personality of its protagonists.  This extended and brutal training sequence and initiations eventually leads up to the protagonist’s first mission as a Space Marine, which sees him and his team, many of whom you have also come to know, face off against an insidious foe on their own home world.  This last part of the book provides a ton of action, some intriguing horror aspects, and the introduction of a compelling antagonist who will likely show up in future entries in the series.  This final section really brings the entire narrative together extremely well, showcasing what the protagonist has been working towards, while also resolving some great character arcs.  I had a really fun time with this entire novel, and it has definitely made me keen to check out the rest of the series when I get a chance.

One of the most intriguing parts of Space Wolf was the way that it fits into the wider Warhammer 40,000 universe.  Specifically, this novel serves as a particularly good introduction to the legendary Space Wolves Space Marines chapter, who are one of the more popular factions in the extended universe.  King chooses to look at them from a rather unique direction, showing them purely from the perspective of the protagonist Ragnar, an inhabitant of a Norse-esque society with no concepts of space travel, advanced technology, or the wider universe outside of their lands, and whose understanding of the Emperor, the Chaos Gods, the Space Marines and more comes purely from myths and legends.  As such, for much of the novel Ragnar and his fellow initiates have no idea who the Space Wolves are, or what they have been chosen for.  The snippets they continue to get slowly inform them of the wider picture, and it was fascinating to see their blind faith that they were working towards something greater.  Their eventual initiation comes as a great shock to them, and seeing these previously simple warriors become elite Space Marines with knowledge of the wider universe results in some awesome and intriguing scenes.  I found it really fun to see the similarities and differences between the characters when they were normal and when they were Space Wolves, and it was fantastic to witness how their harsh roots results in Space Marines with some major Viking vibes to them (it’s one of the things that make them such a cool chapter).

However, King also ensures that the reader is given some intense insight into the dark side of the Space Wolves.  While their training is often harsh and lethal, and their treatment of the tribes of their home planet is very manipulative, there is something far more worrying lying beneath the surface.  The genetic manipulation that goes into creating them awakens a beast within them, with many losing their sanity or even their humanity entirely, reverting into beastlike creatures known as the Wulfen.  King does an awesome job highlighting the various ways in which the characters are changed, body and mind, throughout the course of Space Wolf, and there are some powerful scenes where they are forced to battle to control their new inner nature.  This really ends up being a particularly fascinating and well-balanced examination of the Space Wolves chapter, and I honestly could not think of a better introduction to this faction.  This cool lore, as well as the Norse-inspired aspects and Nordic-like wild settings, serve to beautifully enhance the entire narrative, and King’s choice to show all events from an uninitiated character’s perspective was just brilliant.  The use of Ragnar as a narrator also ensures that readers unfamiliar with the Warhammer franchise can also easily enjoy this novel, as they can learn about the wider universe at the same time as the protagonist.  Established fans, on the other hand, will get a lot of joy out of seeing the Space Wolves in this much detail, and they will no doubt have fun viewing the myths and unique interpretations that the various Fenris tribes place on the Space Marines and other elements of Warhammer lore.  As such, this is a novel that will really appeal to a lot of different readers, and anyone with interesting in fantasy, science fiction, or even historical fiction, will probably have a great time reading Space Wolf.

Finally, I must highlight how good Ragnar was as a point-of-view protagonist.  Not only do we get the great insights into Space Wolves initiatives that I mentioned above, but there are multiple intriguing personality and mental aspects to his character that come across extremely well in the narrative.  Ragnar starts the book as a young warrior whose life is changed in a single day as his tribe is destroyed by a rival clan, his family is killed, and he himself is killed and then resurrected by the Space Wolves.  Worse, he is resurrected alongside the man who killed him, Strybjorn Grimskull, and is forced to train and work with him, despite their hatred for each other.  This results in a great deal of inner struggle for Ragnar as he is constantly torn between his honour and new responsibilities to the Space Wolves and his desire for revenge against Strybjorn.  Watching these two constantly circle each other through the training parts of the novel is awesome, and their issues get even more intense once they undergo the genetic change and become Space Wolves with bestial urges.  These intense inner issues and rivalries proved to be an excellent central plotline for much of the novel, and I felt that they dramatically enhanced the entire narrative very well, adding in some much need drama, comradery, and character development.  I cannot wait to see more of Ragnar and his fellow Space Wolves in the future, especially after how his first mission turned out.

Overall, Space Wolf was just as impressive and awesome as I hoped it would be.  William King did an exceptional job writing a fantastic introductory Space Wolves tale, and he continues to remain one of my absolute favourite Warhammer authors, especially with the excellent range he showed here.  Readers will love this outstanding dive into the Space Wolves and the wider Warhammer 40,000 universe that this novel contains, and Space Wolf is a highly recommended novel to anyone looking for an action-packed and exciting read.

Space Wolf Cover

Amazon

WWW Wednesday – 8 June 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Master of Furies by Raymond E. Feist (Hardcover)

Master of Furies Cover

 

Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen (Audiobook)

Star Wars - Brotherhood Cover

 

The Sandman – Act II by Neil Gaiman (Audiobook)

The Sandman - Act II Cover

What did you recently finish reading?

Warhammer: Broken Honour by Robert Earl

Warhammer - Broken Honour Cover

 

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf by William King

Space Wolf Original Cover

 

Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild

Blood Sugar Cover

 

The Sandman – Act I by Neil Gaiman (Audiobook)

Sandman Act 1 Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Against all Gods by Miles Cameron

Against all Gods Cover

 

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Book Haul – Second Hand Books – 5 June 2022

Hello all, some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting for a couple of weeks.  Well there is no need to worry I have just been away on a much needed holiday and haven’t had much of a chance to do any writing.  I just got back today and I thought I would celebrate by doing a book haul post.  Specifically I thought I would do a post looking at all the second hand books I managed to grab while I was away.

So, it turns out that even when I’m on holiday I’m unable to stop thinking about books.  Throughout my trip I visited several of Australia’s very best second-hand bookshops and spent a descent amount of time perusing the shelves and finding some awesome reads.  I actually ended up with quite a collection of fantastic novels as a result, including quite a few Warhammer novels, which I have been rather enjoying lately.  I am extremely happy with this book haul and it is going to keep me extremely busy for the next few months, although it looks like I’m not going to be short of content for my Throwback Thursday posts.  So let us see what I managed to pick up.

Broken Honour by Robert Earl

Warhammer - Broken Honour Cover

The first book I managed to get was the fantastic and fun Warhammer Fantasy novel, Broken Honour by Robert Earl.  This was an exciting and enjoyable novel about a group of prisoners who are released to act as mercenary soldiers against a rampaging army of beastman.  I have already read and reviewed this awesome book and it ended up being a lot of fun.

 

Space Wolf by William King

Space Wolf Original Cover

I was also lucky enough early in my travels to find a copy of Space Wolf by William King.  As the name suggest, this novel examines the legendary Space Marines chapter, the Space Wolves, and shows a young recruit as he encounters the trials and tribulations of becoming a Space Marine.  I was quite excited to read this novel, especially after loving King’s Gotrek and Felix novels (make sure to check out my reviews for Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer and Beastslayer), and this was another book that I have already managed to read. I deeply enjoyed Space Wolf and I will hopefully get a review up for it soon.

 

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

The Defence Cover 2

I also picked up a copy of The Defence by Steve Cavanagh, the first book in his excellent Eddie Flynn series.  I had a lot of fun reading the latest book in this series, The Devil’s Advocate, last year, and I look forward to going back and checking out how the series started.

 

Over the Edge by Jonathan Kellerman

Over the Edge Cover

Another series that I was quite keen to go back to the beginning of was the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman.  I have been deeply enjoying the latest entries in this series over the last couple of years (check out my reviews for The Wedding Guest, The Museum of Desire, Serpentine and City of the Dead), and I thought it would be good to see some of the earlier books.  As such I ended up grabbing a copy of the third novel, Over the Edge, mainly because it had such an interesting story to it.  These books tend to be pretty self-contained, so it should be pretty easy to dive into, and I am sure that I am going to get really addicted to this older mystery.

 

The Chronicles of Malus Darkblade – Volume One by Dan Abnett and Mike Lee

Malus Darkblade Volume 1 Cover

Back in the day I was a massive fan of the Malus Darkblade comics so I just had to grab a copy of this massive volume when I saw it.  Containing the first couple of Malus Darkblade novels, this book will follow the titular Dark Elf as he journeys through the wilds attempting to find several ancient relics in order to reclaim his soul from a demon.  Facing off against monsters, creatures of Chaos and his own treacherous people, this is an epic adventure series and I cannot wait to fully sink my teeth into it.

 

Van Horstmann by Ben Counter

Van Horstmann Cover

An interesting Warhammer Fantasy novel that sees a talented wizard go to the darkside and attempt to unleash a deadly dragon hidden under a magic school.  Sounds like an excellent and fun read to me.

 

Kingsblade by Andy Clark

Kingsblade Cover

An entire book about the Imperial Knights (giant war walkers), yes please! Of course I am going to have a blast with this one.

 

Faith & Fire by James Swallow

Faith & Fire Cover

I have heard some great stuff about James Swallow’s writing and I cannot wait to see his take on the infamous Sisters of Battle in this awesome sounding novel.

 

Forged in Battle by Justin Hunter

Forged in Battle Cover

Another interesting soldier-focused book in the Warhammer Fantasy realm, Forged in Battle sounds like a fun and action-packed read that I will no doubt have an amazing time with.

 

Grudge Bearer by Gav Thorpe

Grudge Bearer Cover

I really love the Warhammer Fantasy dwarfs (who doesn’t), so picking up a novel about them attempting to settle one of their legendary grudges was a real no-brainer for me.  Plus, it is written by the legendary Gav Thorpe so you know it is going to be good.

 

Oathbreaker by Nick Kyme

Oathbreaker Cover

The more the dwarves, the better!

 

Grey Seer by C. L. Werner

Grey Seer Cover

I was particularly happy to pick up a copy of Grey Seer by C. L. Werner as it sounds like an amazing read.  Grey Seer focuses on the Skaven character of Grey Seer Thanquol, a legendary schemer and sorcerer who was a major antagonist of the early Gotrek and Felix novels. Grey Seer spins off from William King’s novels and sees Thanquol get dragged into some deadly Skaven politics.  Thanquol was an exceedingly entertaining antagonist in the Gotrek and Felix books and I can’t wait to see what happens when they get a novel all to themself.

 

Runefang by C. L. Werner

Runefang Cover

A very fun book about a group of adventurers setting out into territory controlled by the undead in order to find one of the legendary Runefangs.  This sounds like an extremely cool story, and I am very tempted to check it out as soon as possible.

 

The Konrad Trilogy by David Ferring

Konrad Saga Cover

I was lucky enough to find good quality copies of the entire Konrad saga, including Konrad, Warblade and Shadowbreed, and I look forward to reading them.  One of the earlier Warhammer Fantasy series, the Konrad books sound like impressive fantasy adventures and I look forward to seeing how different the earlier books were to the more recent additions of this canon.

 

Space Marine by Ian Watson

Space Marine Cover

The final book I received was Space Marine by Ian Watson.  Just like the Konrad novels, Space Marine was one of the earliest novels in the entire Warhammer 40,000 canon, and shows a different side to the extended lore that was ironed out over the years.  Following a group of Imperial Fist cadets, Space Marine has an intriguing story to it, and I am very curious to see the early days of the extended universe.

 

 

Well that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Books with Dragons on the Cover

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday participants are tasked with listing their top books that have covers with a specific design element chosen by the blogger, for example books with certain colours, items or animals on their cover.  I thought that this was a pretty clever idea for a topic and I decided to go big with it and choose book covers that have the ultimate animal for my list, dragons.

Let’s face it, we all love dragons!  They are some of the coolest creatures in mythology, with multiple cultures having their own version or alteration of the dragon in their storytelling traditions.  Due to how iconic there are, the use of dragons in storytelling naturally transferred itself across to the world of fantasy fiction, becoming one of the most classic and well utilised monsters or companion creatures in books and movies, such as The Hobbit and the A Song of Ice and Fire series.  As such there are multiple book covers out there that feature dragons to some degree and I was curious to see which ones amongst them were my favourite.

To pull this list together, I had a think about all the best books that featured cool dragon-related cover art.  There were quite a few of these awesome, dragon-covered novels so I decided to limit myself to only using books that I have actually read.  In addition, because dragon-centric series tend to use images of the creatures across multiple entries, I will limit myself to one novel from each franchise, just to create a bit of variety.  This still leaves me with a pretty impressive collection of novels to choose from and I had to do some severe cutting to get it down to a top ten list with my typical honourable mentions section.  I think the list turned out pretty well as there are some great novels below with awesome dragon imagery on their covers.

I will quickly note that I did have a couple of issues finding good quality pictures of some of the relevant covers I wanted to feature here, particularly for some of the older novels, but I have still tried to feature them as best I can.  Apologies in advance if some of them don’t turn out perfect.

Honourable Mentions

The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell

The Voyage of the Forgotten Cover 2

I love the cover but chose to only feature this as an honourable mention as the book hasn’t come out yet.

 

A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist

A Darkness at Sethanon Cover

A couple of the alternate covers for this great book feature dragons on them, but this was the best looking one of them.

 

She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker Chan

She Who Became the Sun Cover

 

Usagi Yojimbo: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy

A great use of a dragon in the cover, even if the dragon in the title is more of a metaphor for firearms.

Top Ten List:

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Shadow of the Gods Cover

An incredible novel with an incredible cover.  Easily one of the best uses of dragons in cover art that you are likely to ever see.

 

Dragonslayer by William King

Dragonslayer Cover Combined

This fantastic Warhammer tie-in novel is spoiled for choice when it comes to dragons on its various covers.

 

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Guards! Guards! Cover 2

One of the best Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, I love how well the dragon is used, both in this original cover, and in the novel’s exceedingly clever mystery.

 

Black Leviathan by Bern Perplies

Black Leviathan Cover

An extremely epic and distinctive cover for a fun action fantasy novel.  Black Leviathan, which is the English edition of Perplies’s original, German novel, The Dragon Hunter, actually has two fantastic cover variants with dragons on them, although I think the one the English version shown above is a lot more visually impressive.

Black Leviathan alternate cover

 

The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker

The Bone Ships Cover

All three books in Barker’s The Tide Child trilogy featured iconography of the series’ water-dragons, but I think the first entry, The Bone Ships, looks the best.

 

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Eldest Cover

You can’t have a dragon-based list without featuring an entry from Paoloini’s Inheritance Cycle.  All four novels in this series featured dragons on their cover, although I think that this cover from Eldest was the most striking.

 

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree Cover

A very beautiful cover for this complex and intricate fantasy novel.

 

Warcraft: Day of the Dragons by Richard A. Knaak

Warcraft - Day of the Dragon Cover

Several great Warcraft and World of Warcraft tie-in novels feature dragons on their covers, but my favourite of these is Day of the Dragons by Richard A. Knaak, which was an awesome story.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Cover

Was there ever a chance I wasn’t going to feature this classic cover on this list? Of course not.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Cover 2

 

Dragonclaw by Kate Forsyth

Dragonclaw Cover

The original cover of the first entry in Australian author Kate Forsyth’s The Witches of Eileanan series, Dragonclaw, had a great dragon picture on it, and it serves as an excellent first impression of an amazing fantasy book.

 

 

Well, that’s my list.  As you can see there are some incredible books out there that make great uses of dragons on their covers.  All the above novels are really good, and you will have an incredible time reading them, while also appreciating their stunning, dragon-filled covers.  I had a lot of fun coming up with this list, and I will have to think about replicating it with another creature, item or colour in the future.  In the meantime, let me know what your favourite books with dragons on the cover are in the comments below.

Top Ten Tuesday – Warhammer 40,000 series/novels I want to read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was Books Too Good to Review Properly, which is actually a pretty interesting topic.  However, I honestly couldn’t think of enough good examples to write a full list about so instead I decided to do something a little different and talk about a literary tie-in franchise I am really getting into, Warhammer 40,000 fiction.

Over the last year or so, I have really reinvigorated my childhood love for the Warhammer franchise, an awesome and elaborate universe that revolves around its iconic tabletop games.  While I have not gotten back into the modelling and gaming that I used to have a lot of fun with, I have started diving back into the associated novels and audiobooks set in the universe.  The Warhammer games have an incredibly impressive and complex background universe, containing an elaborate history, outrageous characters, morally grey factions, and some dark and gothic settings.  For years, this has proven to be an exceedingly rich ground for various forms of fiction, and there now a massive catalogue of Warhammer associated novels, with many new ones introduced each year.  I have had a lot of fun recently getting into several of the more interesting novels, including the 2022 releases Steel Tread and The Twice-Dead King: Reign, all of which have proven to be excellent and intense novels.  However, despite my best efforts there are still a ton of other awesome sounding series and novels out there that I really want to get into.  As such, I thought I would take the time to list out some of the Warhammer series/novels I most want to get into as a bit of an inspiration to guide me in my future explorations of this outstanding franchise.

To come up with this list I went through the impressive catalogue of Warhammer novels out there and tried to pick the unfamiliar entries that interested or appealed to me the most.  I limited this list exclusively to the science-fiction based Warhammer 40,000 novels, mainly because I am not as interested in some of the latest Warhammer Fantasy book (I was a bigger fan of the universe pre-Age of Sigmar).  Despite these limitations, I still ended up with a substantial list of awesome sounding books and series, all of which I feel have a ton of incredible potential.  I managed to eventually cut it down to my favourite ten, with a generous honourable mentions section.  I think this list ended up really representing those Warhammer 40,000 series/books I want to read the most, and I am very happy with how it turned out.  So let us see what made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:

Kal Jerico Series by Gordon Rennie and Will McDermott

Kal Jerico Cover

While I read the most recent Kal Jerico book, Sinner’s Bounty, last year (highly recommended), I haven’t had the opportunity to check out the original Kal Jerico trilogy (Blood Royal, Cardinal Crimson and Lasgun Wedding) which I know I will deeply enjoy.

 

Baneblade by Guy Haley

Baneblade Cover

An awesome tank-based novel set inside the Imperial Guard’s most heavily armoured tank.  I have had a great time with Warhammer 40,000 tank novels recently I would be really excited to check this book at out some point, as well as its sequel Shadowsword.

 

Double Eagle by Dan Abnett

Double Eagle Cover

One of the things I love about the Warhammer 40,000 universe is the sheer range of cool military stories out there.  An interesting sounding example of this is Double Eagle by Dan Abnett, one of the best Warhammer authors out there.  Double Eagle spins off from Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series (check out my review for the first book in this series, First and Only), and follows a group of elite fighter pilots as they try to save a world from Chaos invasion.

 

Flesh and Steel by Guy Haley

Flesh and Steel Cover

An awesome standalone murder mystery novel set in one of the universe’s biggest cities.  I love the idea of a pure murder mystery novel, rather than something focused on war, intrigue and survival, and just for something a little different I think I will make an effort to read Flesh and Steel this year.

List:

Eisenhorn Series by Dan Abnett

Eisenhorn Cover

The first entry on this list is a highly regarded series made up of some incredible Warhammer novels, the Eisenhorn series by Dan Abnett.  Following the titular Inquisitor Eisenhorn as he attempts to stop the spread of Chaos by any means necessary, this series depicts the character’s slow fall from grace, as his methods become more radical.  This series sound intense, and I love the idea of a morally good character whose crusade consumes him and makes him what he hates.  I have heard a lot of praise about the Eisenhorn novels, and it is one that I am going to make a huge effort to read soon.  I also plan to read the spin-off Ravenor and Bequin series, which continue some of the Eisenhorn storylines in interesting ways

 

Ciaphas Cain Series by Sandy Mitchell

Ciaphas Cain Cover

Out of all the Warhammer series out there, the one that sounds the most entertaining to me are the fantastic Ciaphas Cain books by Sandy Mitchell.  This series revolves around Commissar Ciaphas Cain, a pragmatic, cowardly survivor who is the complete opposite of the traditionally hard-laced and fanatical Imperial Commissars.  Told from the perspective of Cain, an apparently unreliable narrator, these books detail his many unintentional adventures which result from his unsuccessful attempts to avoid combat.  This series is supposed to be extremely hilarious, and I cannot wait to see a somewhat lighter adventure in this typically dark universe.

 

Ultramarines Series by Graham McNeill

Nightbringer Cover

Th next entry on this list is the Ultramarines series by acclaimed author Graham McNeill, which follows members of the iconic Space Marines chapter, the Ultramarines.  I have heard that the books are very good, as they follow a unique protagonist, Captain Uriel Ventris, whose originality make him a pariah amongst his own chapter, who doggedly follow the set tactics of their founder.  This series contains some extremely awesome sounding books with interesting plots, and I think I will like contrasting these adventure novels with some of the other Warhammer books I am reading.

 

Last Chancers Series by Gav Thorpe

Last Chancers - Armageddon Saint Cover

I have been meaning to read the next entry on this list for a while as it sounds extremely cool.  The Last Chancers books follow condemned members of an Imperial Guard Penal Legion who are undertake suicide missions to earn reprieves from their harsh sentences.  Essentially the Warhammer 40,000 version of The Dirty Dozen or Suicide Squad, this series takes is convict characters to some dark places and bloody battles.  I love the idea of this awesome sounding series and I know I will have an outstanding time reading them.

 

Dark Imperium Series by Guy Haley

Dark Imperium Cover

One of the more intriguing recent series that I had to feature on this list was the Dark Imperium books by Guy Haley.  The Dark Imperium series follow the recently resurrected Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, as he attempts to save the Imperium from the rampaging forces of Chaos.  However, to succeed he must first clash with his demonic, traitor brother Mortarion, in a brutal conflict known as the Plague War.  I love the sound of this incredible series, especially as it has some of the first conflicts between Primarch’s in this period of Warhammer 40,000 lore.  Apparently very awesome, I look forward to seeing the full deranged action of this series.

 

Cadia Series by Justin D. Hill

Cadian Honour Cover

In my opinion, some of the best Warhammer 40,000 novels don’t follow genetically enhanced gods or murderous alien creatures, they instead focus on the simple human soldiers thrust into the middle of the wars beyond their comprehension.  While I am currently reading one of these series with the Gaunt’s Ghosts books, another series that caught my eye are the Cadia books by Justin D. Hill.  This series follows a Cadian regiment, made up of dedicated soldiers whose ancestors have served as a bulwark against the forces of Chaos for millennia.  However, these books have a twist to them as they show the Cadians at their lowest point.  The first book, Cadia Stands, follows various soldiers during the final battle for Cadia in the 13th Black Crusade, which eventually sees the planet destroyed and the forces of Chaos reign victorious.  The other books, Cadian Honour and Traitor Rock, follow the remnants of this regiment in the aftermath of the defeat and examine the shame and despair they feel for losing their world.  I love the idea of the complex stories attached to these dispirited troops and I will have to try and read this series soon.

 

The Space Wolf Series by William King

Space Wolf Cover

Another awesome series that really caught my eye were the classic Space Wolf novels by William King.  While I best know King for his Gotrek and Felix Warhammer Fantasy series (including Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer and Beastslayer), the author has also spent time in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, exploring the awesome Space Wolves chapter.  Essentially a group of Viking inspired Space Marines with werewolf issues, the Space Wolves are a lot of fun and I can’t wait to learn more about them and their epic adventures in this great sounding series.

 

The Horus Heresy by various

Horus Rising Cover

The next entry on this list is a big one with the massive Horus Heresy series, which is essentially a combined magnum opus of all Warhammer 40,000 authors.  Featuring input from the best authors of this genre, The Horus Heresy series tells the powerful and massive story about the infamous historical betrayal known as the Horus Heresy, where half the Primarchs and their Space Marines fell to the corruption of Chaos and launched a brutal civil war the split the Imperium of Man in two.  Made up of more than 50 separate books, this ambitious series details the origins of the Primarchs, the reasons behind their betrayal, and the subsequent brutal war that followed.  Epic in scope and featuring some compelling and emotional stories, this long-running series has a lot of fans, and I will love to try and read the entire thing if I can find the time.

 

Dawn of Fire Series by various

Avenging Son Cover

Another modern series that has also caught my attention is the intriguing Dawn of Fire series by several key Warhammer 40,000 authors.  This series will focus on the Indomitus Crusade, a massive crusade to retake Imperial space lost to the forces of Chaos.  Currently made up of Avenging Son by Guy Haley, The Gate of Bones by Andy Clark and The Wolftime by Gav Thorpe, this series sounds like a captivating and gritty war series, and I look forward to learning more about the most recent major battle in Warhammer 40,000 history.

 

Blood Angels Series by James Swallow

Blood Angels Cover

The final series I want to highlight on this list are the intriguing Blood Angels books by James Swallow.  Like the Ultramarines and Space Wolves series above, the Blood Angels books focus on members of a specific Space Marine chapter, the Blood Angels.  I have a lot of love for this iconic group of Space Marines as the Blood Angels are a particularly troubled Chapter, due to their rage and blood related curse.  While there are some other great Blood Angels books out there, the one that has most caught my eye are the novels by James Swallow that follows a group of Blood Angels caught amid a deadly and insidious conspiracy.  A fantastic and deeply intense sounding series, I cannot wait to see the full details of these books soon.

 

 

Well, that is the end of this list.  As you can see, there are some very cool and impressive sounding Warhammer 40,000 series/novels out there that I am very interested in reading.  I am pretty happy with how the list turned out, although they are a little Imperial Guard/Space Marines focused.  Still, all of the above books sound incredibly epic and I really hope I get the chance to read them at some point in the future.  I might try to dive into a couple of these books at some point this year, although I wouldn’t mind finishing off the Gaunt’s Ghosts books first.  In the meantime, let me know which of the above series interests you the most and if you have any suggestions for great Warhammer 40,000 novels to check out, let me know in the comments below.

WWW Wednesday – 19 January 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie (Trade Paperback)

Unforgiven Cover

I started the awesome Australian thriller Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie this week.  This is a dark and shocking novel that follows a former child molestation victim turned vigilante as she is forced to once again confront the serial killer that tormented her as a child.  A grim but captivating novel, I cannot wait to see where this novel goes next.

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray (Audiobook)

Star Wars - The Fallen Star

I am still going with The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray.  It is a pretty awesome Star Wars story, I just haven’t had as much time to listen to it.  I should hopefully finish it off in the next week or so.

Never by Ken Follett (Audiobook)

Never Cover

I still haven’t made any progress with Never yet, but I am hoping to get to it this week.

What did you recently finish reading?

Beastslayer by William King (Paperback)

Beastslayer Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Burning Road by Harry Sidebottom

The Burning Road Cover

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.