Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Books in Brief : Mechanicum by Graham McNeill

McNeill has done a fantastic job with Mechanicum, although again it’s not a return to the hellish surface of Istvaan III and the ‘hopeful’ possibility of some loose ends left by the original Heresy trilogy. As such it may be taken as another side story from the main arc, but to label it as such is to do the book an injustice.

It may not be about the warring Astartes (it’s a refreshing break from the super soldiers and their constant belly aching over loyalty and honour) but the Mechanicum are an integral part of the 40k verse and the war on Mars is pivotal to the whole Heresy campaign.

McNeill has done an Abnett like job (no offence Mr McN) in conjuring a truly awe inspiring vision of the far future, making it at once both dark and alien, but with touches of the familiar to anchor it to our past. It’s these little touches which are finally bringing the sprawling and at times contradictory 40k verse into some semblance of order.

40k Veterans will find a wealth of old favourites, now sadly missing from the game, within the pages of this tale; Knight Orders, Robots and the Scutarii. The Titan battles are suitably earth shattering, with a wealth of illumination as to their workings and the crew’s mindsets. McNeill shows the God Machines to have a lethal grace and fashions Titan combat into an art form akin to a hybrid of submarine and tank warfare.

My one quibble with the book is that the main story line again is an unfinished tale; it leads us through the early explosion of the Heresy on Mars but leaves us with the war raging and many unanswered questions. So now I’m left wanting a follow up to the main Heresy books and also this grand off shoot; crafty BL sales devils!

An exciting read, with enough depth to place it firmly up there with my favourites of the series; its lack of Space Marines (there is a guest appearance) does not detract from the action and there’s plenty of it.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Eagle Griffon Has Landed : Pt I

I've finally got my hands on the plastic High Elf Griffon kit from GW's Warhammer Fantasy Battle Island of Blood boxed set, picking it up for a very reasonable price on Ebay and have set about my 'admittedly slightly bonkers' conversion project for the Captain of my 8th Company 'The Talons' of the Blood Drinkers Chapter.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Books in Brief : Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter

Good to be back in the Heresy timeline again (Descent of Angels doesn't count, for reasons made apperent in my review); although this is another side show piece dealing with the initial moves by the Word Bearers against the Ultramarines.

The action is good, gripping and almost without pause throughout the book, there is a good range of characters within a small group of Marines, drawn from several legions, that make for surprising and interesting allies.

Counter is still learning his craft as a writer and there are moments in this book where it shows, I lost count of the amount of times someone in close combat 'used his momentum' to do something; I know that’s how it’s done but some more imagination would be nice. And descriptions of craft 'Thunking' down on decks along with other strange noise descriptions grated a little.

There are some very obvious nods from iconic films within the books dialogue, I spotted both Predator and Lord of the Rings; but these weren't unwelcome and never strayed towards the realms of plagiarism.

Also the writer seems to suffer from the same affliction of most of the Black Libraries staff, they can't keep track of numbers; killing off limited amounts of Marines with careless abandon (so much for being super soldiers who know no fear) but just when you think they should all be dead there seems to be another bunch waiting in the wings to be incinerated or eviscerated or vaporised and so on.

That said I did enjoy this book and despite it being surplus to requirments with regards the main thread of the series, it’s a steady and welcome return to form.