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Josh Reynolds no longer works for BL

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#126
Bobss

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Honestly, I've found Josh to be very average. Fulgrim and the first Fabius Bile novel did nothing for me, and I've abandoned reads of at least three of his other books. His prose is readable but unexceptional (which I guess is to be expected at the rate he churns out novels), and I feel that he has a very strong "tell-don't-show" approach to storytelling - he has some interesting ideas he wants to get across, but I find he sets up scenes / characters solely for the sake of talking about these ideas, which is a bit distracting to me.

 

Don't agree with this in the slightest mate and it honestly sounds like a whole lot of nothing to me. As a general rule people can like whatever they want, but I think this is flat-out wrong and maybe even disparaging to Are Josh. Josh Reynolds is able to bring life to a setting and motivations to secondary and even tertiary characters with an incredibly small word count. That is textbook good prose. I have only read the Fabulous Bill trilogy once, but off the top of my head I can easily tell you about the different warlords, lieutenants and sergeants from the Emperor's Children - their life histories, their motivations and their distinguishing characteristics. It doesn't matter if that is Bile himself or some hedonist who dies at the start of book two: it's vivid, it's memorable and it's incredibly efficient. That is textbook good prose. Compare this to ADB's Black Legion series (literally my second-favourite Black Library series to date) where every member of the Ezekarion besides Abaddon and Khayon are mostly flat and are borderline reskins of First Claw. The only author whose prose can top Reynolds is maybe Dan Abnett and even then that is regarding Abnett's natural-feeling dialogue, and Chris Wraight's lexicon (Wraight's word economy is incredible; I would love to analyse his books to see how often he repeats words because it's very rare). I also have a guilty pleasure for John French's bizarre similes despite his clunky sentencing

 

Average/bad prose is Graham McNeill's constant cliches, lists-of-three, reliance on adverbs/adjectives and excessive made-up words like: 'the techpriest deployed his uberkawaii-atomflayer-pingpong-bat' or Gav Thorpe's awful syntax where his sentences are punctuated by too many commas, or Guy Haley's hilariously bad dialogue - in Plague War there is something like Mortarion telling Guilliman, 'beware brother, my scythe is very sharp.' facepalm.png


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#127
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I agree with Gongsun Zan here. But I do recognise others seem to really like him. I was bored by the Fabius books and hated Fulgrim. But then I love Gav Thorpe. I must be a heretic. Different strokes folks and all that.

#128
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I wonder what it's like working for BL that merited this kind of reaction. I had heard a few rumblings that it was not all sunshine and rainbows 4 or 5 years ago. 



#129
cheywood

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Let’s leave it at ‘People can like whatever they want’. Everyone’s got their likes and dislikes. Josh has some great stuff out there, but it’s not like every word he’s written for BL is solid gold, immune from criticism.
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#130
DarkChaplain

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He did well with dark Eldar in lukas the Trickster too. BL is crying out for an author who can handle DE.

On the general storytelling quality I’ve certainly got infinitely more enjoyment out of BL over the last two years or so. The drudgery of the mid to late heresy nearly finished me and the 40k content was pretty awful. There’s still loads of holes but there always will be.
I’m not into horror, I think the market is completely saturated with Lovecraft wannabes at the minute, it seems very in at the moment. Thats a reason I think Josh will regret leaving BL to enter a saturated market of authors writing similar things. He will scramble for air. BL has a flavour of its own and that’s what so much of the last two years have given me.

 

I think, having read plenty of Josh's original work, he's far removed from the current "Lovecraft" wave. Nevermind that this wave is just.... generally :cusse. There's been a lot of nonsense about "reclaiming Lovecraft" and all, from authors who completely miss the point of cosmic horror. I had to drop a bunch of novellas from Tor because they were trying to inject rainbows and contemporary social issues / preaching by rewriting HPL's classics. All them Shoggoths are just misunderstood you filthy xenophobe. As someone who has been craving for cosmic horror done right for the longest time, there's been very little modern work that "gets" it, or is written well enough to convey it. And frankly, it also doesn't seem like the kind of thing he would want to write.

 

Josh's work, meanwhile, has its own flair. It's snarky, clever and entertaining pulp. In a way, I'd consider him closer to the pulp masters of classic Weird Tales fame, including HPL and Robert E. Howard, in how he approaches his Royal Occultist, for example. If I was in charge of a Weird Tales style publication in the modern age (and if that kind of thing still proved popular; magazines are kind of going the way of the dodo), Josh would be one of the first authors I'd approach based on his insane ability to write short stories perfect for serialization. Just go and download the free Royal Occultists collection from his website, you'll see what I mean. It's also something that has shown in his AoS works, regarding the Hallowed Knights (who I almost painted my Warhammer Underworlds dudes as, simply based on his works, before defaulting to the gold Hammers of Sigmar to match the card and box art), or his now-canned Eight Lamentations - Josh enjoys telling stories in small chunks, while still offering enough connective tissue and references that newcomers and veterans alike can get their fill and be satisfied.

 

He'll definitely struggle more than under BL, where the audience comes baked in and he can rely somewhat on advances. But he'll do well, eventually, doing his own thing and focusing on stuff he enjoys. With how skilled he is in a variety of fields and genres, he'll have little issue doing mercenary jobs for publications and publishers as needed, and seeing how he's worked on various outside projects more in his ballpark for a while, which even other BL authors contributed to, I think he'll succeed eventually, despite the shift in career. I'll just keep buying and reading his books and shorts as they appear, and check more consistently on Amazon.


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#131
Sandlemad

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I wonder what it's like working for BL that merited this kind of reaction. I had heard a few rumblings that it was not all sunshine and rainbows 4 or 5 years ago.


Those ‘dark ages’ were when BL was GW publishing more generally, which in theory was good for consistency but in practice meant that they were putting out nearly exclusively short product tie-ins and doing stuff like removing author names from certain releases on the basis that customers ought to be buying books cos they’re a GW product and not e.g. because they like the writer’s work. Drove quite a few regular authors off, including Abnett.

They stopped that when they saw the impacts, though I don’t get the impression that Reynolds’ issues were down to that, just general burnout on licensed fiction and more mundane or traditional BL problems, like inconsistent/invisible marketing, iffy organisation and occasionally questionable editorial decisions.
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#132
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Another thing I love about Reynolds' writing is how he doesn't bulldoze other people's works. In Primogenitor and Clonelord there is constant reference to things like Fulgrim's ascension on Iydris. I thought Angel Exterminatus was a pretty bad book, but it's a milestone in the chronicles of the Emperor's Children so you can't mince it. Likewise in Apocalypse there are callbacks to Argel Tal, the Ashen Circle, Monarchia etc.


Just gotta tag in on apocalypse on how it basically references all the good word bearers in one book. You get argel tal and xaphen references, you get a lot of diabolist stuff from his own works, the armour colour again, and a bunch of references to the Word Bearers trilogy. For such a major piece at the time it basically got swept under the rug and I love a callback to it. Except in the Gav Thorpe short because his quality of word bearer was so bad, that the ideas felt tarnished by association. And marduk was in terminator armour for some reason and showing the blatant disrespect to a dark apostle, while being an acolyte.
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#133
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Another thing I love about Reynolds' writing is how he doesn't bulldoze other people's works. In Primogenitor and Clonelord there is constant reference to things like Fulgrim's ascension on Iydris. I thought Angel Exterminatus was a pretty bad book, but it's a milestone in the chronicles of the Emperor's Children so you can't mince it. Likewise in Apocalypse there are callbacks to Argel Tal, the Ashen Circle, Monarchia etc.


Just gotta tag in on apocalypse on how it basically references all the good word bearers in one book. You get argel tal and xaphen references, you get a lot of diabolist stuff from his own works, the armour colour again, and a bunch of references to the Word Bearers trilogy. For such a major piece at the time it basically got swept under the rug and I love a callback to it. 

 

Agreed, this is the sort of thing that can be done well or poorly and Reynolds tends to do it well. Apocalypse is a flawed book, even if it's a wonder that it turned out as well as it did, but Amatnim is a gem. Beyond simple call-backs, his whole character is in dialogue with what we saw in The First Heretic and Betrayer, what it means to be a Word Bearer and still questioning yourself. He isn't "generic actually-good-traitor dude", he isn't Argel Tal with the serial numbers filed off, he's a vividly written character who we can believe saw what became of Argel Tal and Kor Phaeron and Lorgar. Reynolds clearly internalised at least some of what he saw in previous WB work and then took it in a particular direction.

 

You can see the same in the Fabius Bile books, where the final battle in Talon of Horus and much of what Nick Kyme wrote about the heresy-era character are engaged with and used as starting points. Or in Lukas the Trickster, which runs with the ideas brought up in Prospero Burns and Battle of the Fang with more subtlety and depth than almost any other 40k SW book (or, to a lesser extent, some 30k SW books).

 

Obviously over the last while on B&C while there's been a lot of discussion about authors picking up "each other's" characters/events and the issues this can cause for consistency, e.g. Jubal Khan's homeworld, Falkus Kibre's death, that one ageless Imperial Fists captain. How irritating folks find these kinds of things is going to vary but I would feel comfortable saying that if getting the details/easter eggs right is good, getting those right and then going beyond to do something fresh with the concepts and themes is even better. Reynolds isn't uniquely good at this - French and ADB often do it pretty effectively, especially when playing with "each other's characters" - but he does so reliably well and in a way that shows that he's done his reading. 

 

(As an example of what happens when an author doesn't do that, well, it feels like my perpetual punching bag but set The Crimson King against the Ahriman trilogy.)


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#134
Xisor

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Josh's work, meanwhile, has its own flair. It's snarky, clever and entertaining pulp. In a way, I'd consider him closer to the pulp masters of classic Weird Tales fame, including HPL and Robert E. Howard, in how he approaches his Royal Occultist, for example. If I was in charge of a Weird Tales style publication in the modern age (and if that kind of thing still proved popular; magazines are kind of going the way of the dodo), Josh would be one of the first authors I'd approach based on his insane ability to write short stories perfect for serialization. 

 

 

To RAMPANTLY speculate, this might be a perfect example.

 

We know that the Horror stories have been very disparate, and we know that the Crime stories are intended be much more focused, much more 'single setting hook'.

 

I could totally see a conflict of vision therein - Josh seeing a golden opportunity to really blow the case wide open, to get some sort of Grimdark Pulp Noir on the go in a way that Necromunda isn't quite right for.

 

Heinrich Johannes and the Maltese Flame Falcons, or some such. Proper wildly pulpy hardboiled crime thriller. (Or whatever a good description is, I'm ignorant of the particulars.)

 

But, given some of the other murmurs I've heard about the Crime imprint (to the extent that I don't know if I've just misinterpreted inconsequential comments by staff!) - I could see that 'single setting hook' having been aimed squarely at, say, cornering a 40k PD James/Ian Rankin/whoever's-big-in-crime-these-days market, or something like that.

 

Something utterly Crime, but also about as un-pulpy as possible.

 

If that were the bone of contention, I can imagine a very painful (over weeks and months) sort of recurring disagreement.

---

 

It'd be like any one of us who vaguely indulge the idea of "what if I turned out to be a really competent author!" (despite - in my case -not ever typing a word!), and getting the dream job of writing for BL...

 

Only to find out that we're NEVER allowed to write about Space Marines.

 

They even propose an amazing new Horus Heresy imprint that goes right back into the beating heart of the long-concluded series...

 

But still, dear B&C forumite with chance after chance to write this setting, you amazing Space Marine-focussed, Primarch-adjacent stories keep getting shot down.

 

It's all Solar Auxilia, Squats, Ratlings, Arbites and Rogue Traders in this dark future! Nobody wants any of that Space Marine foolishness.

 

In that situation, I can imagine even someone confronted with he opportunity of their dreams, might find it hard to keep having to not write anything about Marines, during the Horus Heresy.

 

Hell, if someone makes an off-hand comment about that being the reason why you're not allowed on the HH team - because you'll keep writing Marine stuff, even when the brief's "no Marines!"...

 

Josh's written voice is very strong when you view it through that pulp lens, I'd be devastated if the reasoning was along these lines!

 

Fortunately, as said, this was RAMPANT speculation, so it's likely irrelevant.

 

---

 

By the by, for modern Lovecraft, I've adored what I've read so far of She Walks in Shadows, so you're obviously reading the wrong stuff, DC. (Or reading it wrongly!) tongue.png

 

---

 

 

Fabius is a good example of this. It’s probably his most well known and highly regarded work at this point, but Josh mentioned he didn’t really like the character of Fabius Bile. His ability to write so well about things he has minimal personal attachment to is really remarkable.

 

Arthur Conan Doyle's not necessarily a perfect example - I suspect Josh's a bit more grounded in reality, for one thing - but it's no secret at all that he grew to dislike writing Holmes. Hence Reichenbach Falls.

 

I understand Agatha Christie was the same way with Poirot - a quirky and sort of loved git of a character - but who wasn't actually that enjoyable to write about.

 

I can entirely forgive Josh's stance on the matter. I'd be curious to know the other side of that bargain.

 

Similarly, I'd say I'm also in awe of Guy Haley's approach. I'm sceptical that that sort of grind wouldn't wear down even the stoutest of hearts.

 

Indeed, hearing Guy and Chris Wraight talk about their stressful times writing Carrion Throne & Dark Imperium... I can sympathise entirely.

 

Without speculating too much, I hope it's less dramatic for Josh than all this seems. As others have said: Josh's lived a life before BL too, it's perhaps the case that he's just got itchy feet and all this seeming melodrama has just prompted a decision.

 

That might be diminishing serious problems, or reading too much into things, but in any case: it's a damn wee shame.

 

As others have said, it's a timely reminder that books beyond BL can be quite appealing.

 

(It's an equally untimely reminder, however, as they're already publishing more of what I'm interested in than I can practically read!)

 

---

 

I do hope it's an onwards and upwards thing.

 

Spoiler


Edited by Xisor, 18 May 2020 - 09:06 PM.

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#135
Knockagh

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I do love some rampant speculation!

#136
RedFurioso

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Not a fan of his work... I prefer another Reynolds.


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#137
mc warhammer

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burt was a legend, true. RIP


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'WHEN WE CONFRONTED THE CORRUPTED, HOMICIDAL HORUS WHO ONCE USED TO SHINE LIKE THE BRIGHTEST STAR, WHO USED TO BE OUR BELOVED FAVOURITE – WHEN THE FATE OF THE GALAXY HUNG BY A THREAD – WERE WE NOT COMPELLED TO EXPEL ALL COMPASSION? ALL LOVE? ALL JOY? THOSE WENT AWAY. HOW ELSE COULD WE HAVE ARMOURED OURSELVES? EXISTENCE IS TORMENT, A TORMENT THAT MUST NOURISH US. EVIDENTLY WE MUST STRIVE TO BE THE FIERCE REDEEMER OF MAN, YET WHAT WILL REDEEM US?’

 

#138
DukeLeto69

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I honestly think the last two years and immediate future are the most interesting and exciting BL have been. I do think GW have given BL more latitude to experiment and see/prove if different fiction can find an audience/sales.

If the GW expansion into moving pictures and the Story Forge is a success this would in turn probably support even more literary experimentation by BL (I hope)!


Honestly, they've only been due to Warhammer Horror and Crime for me. Looking back, I've spent more time (re)reading classic books from BL than new ones. Between G&F, Cain, Gaunt etc, I've only really kept up with the HH and occasional excursions elsewhere. And a lot of the time, I felt lukewarm on what I read, including the Heresy. I like their big audio drama push, and Haley's Primarch novels have been excellent. But just flipping through the catalog again, there's been a lot of stuff released, but not much that I really got excited over in the end (or indeed finished). Doesn't help that I can't get into Necromunda.

It's been quite a long time since I last thought I'd have to get in on this or that novel right away and make way on my reading pile, besides Horror. And thinking on it, the last reveal events didn't exactly excite me either.

They certainly did let loose a little, but there's still been a surprising amount of tie-in marketing stuff, and certainly no shortage of Marine fiction. There's also been a substantial amount of reissues and omnibuses - which, honestly, have excited me more, especially when it comes to WHFB omnibuses collecting stuff that was quickly out of print in its day.

You see for me I have seen an increase in the number of books away from the front line and actively exploring the politics and world building I prefer. Last two years (ish) have seen (that I have read)...

Wraight - Vaults books and Watchers books + Valdor (reading now loving it)
French - Horusian War books
Abnett - The Magos + Warmaster & Anarch + Saturnine
Brooks - Rites of Passage (Navigator Houses) + Road to Redemption (great Necromunda book)
Hill - Terminal Overkill (great Necromunda book) + Cadian Honour
Harrison - Honourbound
Kyme - Sepulturum (IMO an excellent Horror book and Kyme’s best book by far)
Fehervari - Requiem Infernal (should have been labelled Horror)
Annandale - House of Night and Chain (his best book)
That is off top of my head...
+
Relaunch of Necromunda
Launch of Horror
Impending launch of Crime

Note the lack of Space Marine books in that list! Generally speaking what most of those books have in common is good (sometimes excellent) world building and a focus on less powerful protagonists. They provide good insight to the setting not just the wars.

Hence why I am happy and feel this has been a great time to be a BL fan.
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#139
Knockagh

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Amen duke, it has indeed been a golden couple of years
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#140
DarkChaplain

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I generally agree with you, don't get me wrong. But unlike you, I've found plenty of those books to not be for me.

 

I thought I'd love the Horusian Wars (and did, for the short stories), and then when Resurrection released, I was stoked - just to find it a repetitive mess with characters that just felt distant, uninteresting and uninvolved, all while the same plot patterns kept repeating. It felt like a carrot on a stick, dangling in front of the reader, without ever actually letting them eat the carrot.

With The Magos, I generally liked it, but damn me, that ending was rushed, even for an Abnett novel. That it was written instead of Penitent, and is now over 2 years old still without Penitent, which I've waited since the hardback of Pariah for, it ticks me off even more now than it did at the time of its announcement. Half of the book was also "just" old material recollected.

As for Necromunda, I'm happy it exists again these days, but I can't get warm with it, no matter what I try. It's not my setting, including aesthetically.

With Vaults of Terra and Watchers of the Throne, I'd be in agreement, but somehow still haven't found the motivation to read the follow-ups (Thieron not being a PoV character in The Regent's Shadow is part of it, oddly enough).

 

But looking at it, a lot of these are projects and series that started before 2018; Wraight's books kicked off in 2017, same for Horusian Wars (well, even earlier going by shorts), Cadian Honour follows on from 2017's Cadia Stands, Heresy is Heresy, Eisenhorn is Eisenhorn, and Fehervari's Dark Coil is hopefully gonna stick around for another decade. Looking at trilogies announced or started since 2018, beyond the new imprints, has me scrambling for titles I find personally interesting =/ That, browsing the BL catalog, countless entries are reprints or Omnibuses doesn't make it easier for me to recall books from the last two years :')

 

 

Full agreement on the Warhammer Horror entries, and Requiem Infernal, though. Those are basically what kept me invested last year, and I hope Crime will do the same until Horror is back for the end of the year.


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#141
DukeLeto69

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@DC for sure if they not floating your boat then so be it.

Totally feel your pain re Penitent. Big worry with that one is the delay has been sooooooo long now that it can never live up to expectations!

On Horusian Wars I agree the shorts have actually been the best thing with French exploring different prose and approaches. IMO the second novel was much better than the first which I only appreciated on a second read. No idea when we will get novel 3.

IMO the Wraight books have all been excellent and exactly what I was hoping for.

IMO Warmaster/Anarch was a superb “end” to Gaunts Ghosts (it isn’t the end but you get me).

The Magos was a curious but welcome surprise that I really enjoyed, including the tie together of all those seemingly disparate shorts. The actual The Magos story should probably have been a novella though.

Edited by DukeLeto69, 19 May 2020 - 04:17 PM.


#142
Shinros

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Well that sucks, he was the reason why I got started writing myself. 


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#143
Carach

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 Looking at his list of rejected pitches a while back on Twitter made me seriously upset

At risk of reopening old wounds, do you still have this list floating around somewhere? Genuinely curious

 

Here you go:

 

https://twitter.com/...882796977979393

 

 

 

40K story. Fabius Bile and co. capture a Genestealer Patriarch for research purposes. Things go...poorly.

 

This and the other Fabius Bile short story idea would have been hilarious


Edited by Carach, 21 May 2020 - 06:08 PM.

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#144
b1soul

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About the Horusian Wars...haven't read but great covers

#145
Bobss

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I thought I'd love the Horusian Wars (and did, for the short stories), and then when Resurrection released, I was stoked - just to find it a repetitive mess with characters that just felt distant, uninteresting and uninvolved, all while the same plot patterns kept repeating. It felt like a carrot on a stick, dangling in front of the reader, without ever actually letting them eat the carrot.

 

I was planning to read these next. I'm currently rereading the Ahriman trilogy, but based on this post I can sorta guess what the issue is here: the Ahriman trilogy is sometimes hard-going but expertly relies on a strong sense of payoff at the end of each novel (and the trilogy wholesale) for things to fit together and feel rewarding. It isn't like, say, the Black Legion series where quite literally every sentence of Khayon's musings on the warp and the Long War is a pleasure to read. So if there isn't that Tzeentch-y-style payoff in these books then I can definitely imagine how dense and dry they are going to feel

 

I'm still pretty excited for them though. John French's Inquisition is a bit more witch-hunting hats and ornate bolter shells made with dust from the Golden Throne (lol) than Chris Wraight's, erm, intelligence forces approach in Vaults of Terra


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#146
Knockagh

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It’s probably fair to say that the Horusian Wars novels weren’t the classics everyone hoped for. After years of being starved of inquisition novels and far too many HH books I think the whole BL reading community was beside themselves with excitement over the Horusian Wars. It was always going to be tough to meet the expectations. I’ve enjoyed them but they ain’t eisenhorn. I reread the first one and enjoyed it far more the second time. Really enjoyed the second book and many of the shorts have been fantastic. Personally I think it was a mistake to make the inquisitor so dull a character, if I remember right French did this deliberately, which is weird I think. The other characters though are great. Worth a read, no doubt. But there is better inquisition stories out there, if you haven’t read them all already! Wraights inquisition books are in my opinion absolute classics on par with eisenhorn if you haven’t got there yet
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#147
Kelborn

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With all the new stuff happening in 40K, having Josh onboard for that new series would've been awesome! *cries and returns to Joshs Black Pyramid novel*


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#148
Roomsky

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With all the new stuff happening in 40K, having Josh onboard for that new series would've been awesome! *cries and returns to Joshs Black Pyramid novel*

 

Only the good [LEAVE BLACK LIBRARY] young.

 

I doubt Reynolds would have been especially enthusiastic over the idea of such a close tie-in. Perhaps it's for the best.


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