Ben Aaronovitch - Rivers of London
I've had this on the table for a while. I really fancied it but the modern setting kept putting me off. When I finally got to it though it really hit the spot.
It tells of Peter Grant a newly minted copper who gets pulled into special department dealing with magical thrests to the realm.
Aaronovitch cut his teeth on Doctor Who books. I have a few upstairs but haven't read any yet.
There are moments in the book when he rather gets ahead of himself (the vampires) and the book slightly runs out of steam a little about 100 pages before the end as the finale seemed very dragged out but it was a mostly satisfying ending.
It very much reminded me of Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels which is hardly surprising but it has it's own identity and is a lot more fantastical. I'm pretty interested for book two.
Ben Aaronvitch - Moon Over Soho
This is the second of these Peter Grant novels and like this first it was pretty good fun. Grant is investigating the death of a part time jazz musician. Along the way he makes the acquaintance of a new 'young' lady friend, forms a new band for his dad and discovers that there is a very dangerous black magician working some particularly bay magic around the place.
Through the course of the book we are introduced to more of the less ordinary denizens of London whilst we are also, along with Peter, schooled in the history of magic and magicians in the UK. I'm an absolute sucker for this sort of urban fantasy but am also quite sceptical and hard to please so it's got to be done right. I'm uninterested in superpowered, supernatural creatures simply roaming the streets, it's silly and it's cliched and more importantly it's naff. For me they need to be incorporated into the fabric of the mundane; to be simply another ethnic group with the city albeit ones with a rather unusual genetics. Aaronovitch manages this excellently.
It's a cool little caper with some really nifty characters who have real presence on the page. The story is fun and action packed with a lively pace throughout and an ending that opens the way for all manner of intrigue to come.
Dan Abnett - The Horus Heresy: Prospero Burns
As much fun as the other writers in the the HH series are - and some are real fun - Abnett is streets ahead. This is his third contribution to the series and it's another absolute corker.
This is the follow up to 'A Thousand Sons' which was the story of the downfall of the Thousand Sons Legion along with their Primarch Magnus. This tells the tale of the Wolves of Fenris and their eventual role as the Emperors executioners to punish that downfall.
The story unfolds from the perspective of a 'skjald' (a storyteller / historian) from Earth called Kasper who arrives on Fenris to study the wolves but ends up as their remembrancer and storyteller.
The book is subtle and nuanced throughout - not a common occurrence in pulp and particularly not in Warhammer - and the story unfolds at it's own pace without ever feeling rushed or incomplete. The moment when the book absolutely burst into life though was with the arrival of Russ, the Wolf King. The interplay between him and Constantin Valdor is wonderful. This is the moment you truly realise that Abnett intends to do way more interesting things with the Wolves than you expected.
I liked the William King Space Wolf books. They are easy, mindless fun - I didn't absolutely hate the Lee Lightner ones either. They are in a far lower league than Abnett's new version though. King's Wolves are comedy vikings punctuating their scraps with beer and banter. Abnett's are the prime military fore in the galaxy. Bezerkers yes but focussed, disciplined and utterly consumed by their calling. Their world seems real and their lives seem truthful.
It's an absolute blast from start to finish. I'm generally loving the HH series and pretty much each new installment is a cracking read but here's hoping it's not too long before there's another Abnett episode.
Dan Abnett - Inferno #30: Gaunts Ghosts Special
I don't intend to put magazines in here - not that I read very many - but this one is an exception. One issue crammed with Ghost stories. Two short stories, one interview with Abnett, a background of the Tanith First's battles and a run through of all the Ghosts.
The first short story was repeated in the 1st Ghost anthology and I'd read it before whilst leaning against a bookshelf in Borders before it went bust - presumably from too many people reading their books lening against their bookshelves. It tells the story of a sculptor visiting the Ghosts in the ruin of Vervunhive. It's a nifty little tale that I enjoyed second time around as much as I did the first.
The interview and the background info is ok but nothing that ever needs re-reading.
The comic was fun. A quick romp through the different characters as they attacka chaos base. It's got no content to speak of and the art is slightly too macho with none of the characters looking anything like they do in my head but thast was always going to be the case.
The second short astory was the previously unpublished short that was grown into the first of the novels. It really was like reading a synopsis of half the novel. I've not read First & Only for a while now though so it was a fun little nostalgia trip.
Dan Abnett (ed) - Sabbat Worlds
This is a compilation of short tales all based within Abnett's Sabbat Worlds crusade. I imagine this is intended as a space-filler whilst he recovers from his illness. Black Library have pulled out all the stops though and got all their major players on board who've risen to the occasion with a real solid selection of stories.
Graham McNeill revisits the Phantine airforce from 'Double Eagle' and shows how and why each character is so anti-social. Matthew Farrer does an almost excellent little tale about a Chaos insertion into a Mechanicus scrap yard. Aaron Dembski-Bowden has a fine stab at the death of Warmaster Slaydo. Abnett's wife Nik Vincent does a 'Traitor General' type story about Imperials struggling against the invaders.
Nick Kyme's Blueblood about the loathsomely arrogant Volpone. Sandy Mitchell produces an Arbites and Administorum tale about greed and chaos.
The defining point of the book though are the two Gaunt's Ghosts stories. The first, 'Iron Star', tells an odd little tale about Gaunt's struggle for life after he loses his eyes. It alternates between the Ghosts of his past helping him to survive the trauma whilst the Ghosts of his present fight to save his life.
The second story is an excellent early Ghost story detailing the moment when the newly formed Ghosts become Gaunt's. Stuck in the middle of nowhere on an pointless mop-up action, the Ghosts find themselves besieged by Chaos converts. There's a nice little backstory about Rawne and his cronies and an even nicer one about just how much respect Dorden is held in.
I loved that last story and pretty much the rest of the book also.
Dan Abnett - Thorn & Talon
Three audio tales - two I hadn't heard before and one I have in an anthology featuring Eisenhorn (in all three) and Ravenor (in the last). As always Abnett's tales are fun and it's cool to revisit some characters I hadn't seen in a while.
The first two stories deal with Eisenhorn as a young man. In the first he is a young interrogator investigating a possible Chaos manifestation at an antique dealers. It's a groovy little tale of the callous nature of the inquisition.
The second has him on one of his first inquisitorial missions discovering the reasons behind a rash of murders in some backwater. It's a bit simple but fun nonetheless.
The final tale is the meeting between Eisenhorn & Ravenor that warns the latter about the events that are about to unfold in the Ravenor series. It's an excellent little tale featuring all(ish) the characters from each series.
Dan Abnett - Doctor Who: The Last Voyage
I've had a few of these original 10th Doctor audiobooks knocking around for a while now but hadn't got around to listening to them. Went for a walk today with my new camera around the local park which seemed a golden opportunity to give one a try.
The story is fairly light. The maiden voyage of some new type of drive for space travel. It all goes horribly wrong and everyone disappears except for a stewardess and a couple of other people. Unfortunately there're also some shiny people-things appearing and melting the non-shiny people and unfortunately there's no-one flying the ship. Into this mess walks the Doctor and sorts it out with relative ease.
It's all a little unremarkable and I really expected more from Abnett. Still, it passed some time on my wander and Tenant reads it fairly well.
Dan Abnett – The Silent Stars Go By
Abnett’s novels are always pretty solid and this one wasn’t any different.
The (Eleventh) Doctor, Amy & Rory land on the planet of the Morphans. The planet is undergoing some serious changes. The Winters are getting harder and colder and something has been making livestock disappear. The Doctor has a hunch about Ice Warriors which proves to be mostly right.
The story is full of humour and bang on characterisation and just enough action to augment a nicely rational and well paced denouement.
Dan Abnett - Salvation's Reach
My first book of 2013 and it seemed a good choice. Something big and actiony to get me through the New Year visits.
This most recent of Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts series follows on directly from the events of the previous one - Blood Pact. It deals with the plan devised from evidence given by the traitor Ertogaur and then the action itself to destroy the chaos base of the title.
It never really got going this one. Enjoyable and all that but not what you'd call essential. Truthfully it felt like half a book. When the end came it did so with such a gaping hole left for the Ghosts to fall in it simply felt unfinished.
It's probably going to be a year or two before I get to find out what happens next.
Dan Abnett - Ravenor vs Eisenhorn: Pariah
A fab surprise on a post Xmas visit to the bookshop as I didn't know this was out.
The first two trilogies - particularly Ravenor - are a real favourite of mine so I was very keen to see where this was going to go. I pretty much wasn't disappointed. It wasn't as balls out inventive and editing as the other two series openers but it did have it's moments.
That it features at its centre Bequin who spent the entirety of the Ravenor books dead(ish) and frozen was confusing but the ride to the realisation was a trip. It's pretty much all about the set-up for the series this one and it'll be a fun ride to find out just where Abnett takes this and just how badly these former allies are going to hurt each other before they take down Chaos.
Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie – Aya
This is the story of 19 yr old Aya and her friends Adjoua & Bintou in Yopougan on the Ivory Coast in the 1970s.
I’ve been seeing this book around for ages but the hardback price was off putting until I found a copy in a bargain book shop for a massive £1.99 and grabbed it.
It was a cool little read. Nothing ground-breaking or earth-shattering but really nice to read. The story is gentle and amusing but the art really made it for me. It’s a good mix of cartoony and scratchy angular indie comic art that brought the figures to life and gave the whole thing a very human feel.
Douglas Adams & Gareth Roberts - Doctor Who: Shada
This is Roberts (a Who regular) novelising Adams' script for the unfilmed Tom Baker episode, much of which Adams reworked into the first Dirk Gently novel.
Here Professor Chronotis is a retired Time Lord at the end of his regenerations who has opted to spend the remainder of his existence surrounded by his books in the anonymity of Cambridge academia. Into this idyllic dotage comes the Doctor and Romana, answering a distress call that Chronotis doesn't remember sending, and Skagra, a petulant young man with designs on godhood for which he needs one of Chronotis' books which will allow him access to Shada and the key to success in his plan.
It was a rollicking good read. Funny and pacey and typically Adams. Kudo's to Roberts as he kept himself quiet which must have been hard and a huge grin to whichever of them though up that frankly horrendous (and wonderful) Latin pun.
I absolutely loved this.
Tom Arden – Doctor Who Novellas: Nightdreamers
Now this was an odd little affair. The story revolves around the second Doctor & Jo being forced to land on a moon with gravity so odd that people swim through the air.
It’s a feudal-ish society in conflict with its neighbouring planet from whom they had exiled themselves and also with another group / race / whatever called ‘The Darklings’. On top of this there’s some sort of trickster thing running around for no apparent reason and everyone important is going mad.
Into this mess drops the Doctor who karate chops is way to the truth of the matter whilst Jo fights off the amorous advances of a drugged prince.
Essentially it was a right bloody mess but for all its many, many flaws I quite enjoyed the ride. It was after all only 100 pages and was a giggle for an evening.