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Rate what you Read, or the fight against Necromancy

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#776
Roomsky

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The Deacon of Wounds – David Annandale

 

Stories like these remind me why 40k doesn’t need epic retellings of galaxy shattering events; why it’s a setting and not a story, and why for all that I love them BL’s best isn’t about bloody Spehss Mehrines. The Deacon of Wounds is a memorable encapsulation of what it is to be a fanatical ignorant in a galaxy of horrors you can’t possibly be prepared for.

 

And like, this isn’t Annandale’s best book. It’s not even his best Horror book, House of Night and Chain is paced far better than this. But The Gray Tears, damn. I refuse to spoil what this disease does to people, so creative and so 40k is its description. In one short novel Annandale has provided the best incursion by Nurgle in all of Black Library canon. It makes anything to do with Plague Marines seem uninspired and downright boring by comparison. THIS is what Black Library should be striving for. No-name worlds populated by insignificant people where one is free to get as out there as possible.

 

Now, the book is too short and the characters often do what the plot demands over what I’ve been lead to believe based on their personalities. These are pervasive issues that mean I give this book a 7/10. But if ever numerical ratings are arbitrary, it’s here. This is a 7/10 that stands with the 9s and 10s purely off the back of what it does do well.

 

I’m so pleased books like this are still being produced.

 

Must Read.


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#777
DukeLeto69

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That’s now on the list @Roomsky.

I am not much of a horror reader/buyer (not for any reason other than time and focus) so I have no idea whether WH Horror is “good horror”. What I do know is the stories I have read have been a refreshing change from warzones and the usual protagonists, that IMO greatly enhance 40k as a setting.

I enjoyed House of Night and Chain so I am intrigued you rate Deacon of Wounds so well yet below HoNaC!

Have to say from what I have read, the WH Horror story/novel I enjoyed most was Nick Kyme’s Sepulturum. Loved it!

P..S. Am not counting Fehervari’s The Reverie - his books inhabit a “series” all of their own!
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#778
Jareddm

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Compared to his other works, I find that you can feel how much happier David Annandale is writing Warhammer Horror compared to anything else for BL.  They just feel a little less stilted, a little more soulful compared to his other works.  Like they're more grounded in the setting.  It's hard to describe.  Not to compare them to other authors, but just to things like Damnation of Pythos or his entries in The Beast Arises series, his Warhammer Horror stories feel more fulfilling.


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#779
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Im about halfway through "The Infinite and the Divine" and it is absolutely outstanding, just so characterful and different from the run of the mill GW book.

Outstanding!


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#780
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Flesh & Steel - Guy Haley

 

The Warhammer Crime series has been a huge success, hasn't it? Not just from the world-building, the cohesive grim-dark of Varangantua, but the quality of the output. Chris Wraight's Bloodlines is one of the best Warhammer books out there, a solid 10 for its prose, storytelling and rich noir feel, and a new entrant into the "How do I introduce my non-Warhammer friends into Black Library?"

 

And Guy Haley's Flesh & Steel is nearly as good. It's good to see that whatever team planning meetings the editorial team behind the Crime series had have paid off. Flesh & Steel's Probator Noctis inhabits very much the same Varangantua as Bloodlines' Probator Zidarov. It might seem obvious to do this in retrospect, but BL hasn't always been known for its cohesive approach to world-building.

 

F&S adds to the lore of Varangantua by giving a good look into how the Ad Mech function on an Imperial world, how they keep themselves separate, but are still subject to the same flaws and foibles as the human side of the tracks. The odd-couple pairing of Flesh (Noctis, Nearsteel, humanity) with Steel (Rho-1 Lux, Steelmound, AdMech) are nicely played off each other, with Noctis and his augmetic and Lux with her recent conversion to the AdMech acting as bridges that cross the two worlds.

 

The insight into the servitor-making process is as delightfully grimdark as anything else in 40k.

 

The supporting cast are good, Noctis' cousin Previnus was a good character, and the pet felid Shebeena added a dimension not normally seen in 40k (pets!).

 

The slight downside to F&S is the same downside that marred the No Good Men short story compilation, and that is it's just too similar to what has come before. A hardboiled probator with a fondness for alcohol is tasked with investigating the disappearance of a scion of a rich Varagantuan family, where it turns out the mother was complicit in the kidnapping. This is the plot of both Bloodlines and Flesh & Steel. It's a shame the world-building editorial team meetings didn't extend to plot and narrative co-ordination as well.

 

There are also minor complaints that some of Noctis' thought processes manage to lead him to exactly the right locations and he achieves the exact insight needed at each scene without any dead ends or the need to revisit any of the locations that are typical of teh crime genre. In comparison to Bloodlines, Haley has written a fantastic 40k crime novel, whereas Wraight wrote a great crime novel full-stop.

 

Still, it's an atmospheric read, a gripping page-turner, and bodes well for the next Crime series (as long as they pick some new plots).

 

9/10.


Edited by byrd9999, 03 April 2021 - 10:22 AM.

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#781
DarkChaplain

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Funnily enough, for me Flesh and Steel pretty clearly trumps Bloodlines. I took much longer on the latter, found the atmosphere to be weaker by direct comparison, and the character dynamics in Flesh and Steel simply much more interesting.

 

While you could boil them down to a rather similar core narrative if you wanted to, the two books felt drastically different - not least of all because the "missing person" part of Noctis' story isn't the primary hook in the first place. It basically flips Bloodlines on its head by way of finding the girl as a result of all the other stuff, whereas Zidarov uncovers things through his investigations to find the girl.

 

Things come together in both books, but they're reaching them in very different ways, with many turns that the other book couldn't possibly handle in its main narrative. The protagonists may both like their drink too much, but they're rather incomparable types, too. You could not switch them around even remotely and have the novels play out the same way. Each of them shapes and is shaped by the events on the page, with rather different spectacles. They're both dysfunctional, but for such different reasons and with such different results, I find it hard to feel overly familiar with either after reading one of them first.

 

In the end, though, I felt more engaged by Noctis & Lux from start to finish. They showed me more intriguing things, presented refreshing interactions, and the first person narrative was on point the entire way through. While Wraight gave me Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ("Blade Runner") vibes in numerous instances, presented through a downtrodden and disillusioned version of Decker, Haley gave us a fool masking his depression, self-loathing and disgust for the system he's complicit in maintaining by way of being a foppish, cocky, anti-authoritarian fool trying to escape his daemons while feeding them anyway. There is so much character in Flesh and Steel that astounds me - and we haven't even gotten much of a real look into Lux yet, in this first novel, or rather, mostly through 3rd party sources or filtered through Noctis' writings.

 

There's just a lot to unpack in Flesh and Steel that I'm eager to get a sequel onto my desk. With Bloodlines, I honestly feel like I'd be fine if it never got a full sequel, simply because it did its thing and it did it well. It just didn't have as compelling a protagonist, or appear as overly ambitious beyond its constraints, unlike Noctis & Lux.


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#782
DukeLeto69

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@DC I also preferred Flesh & Steel which surprised me as I normally prefer Chris Wraight’s work to Guy Haley’s.

I still think Bloodlines was a 8/10 and Flesh & Steel a 9/10 - both excellent and a refreshing change. Hope we get more WH Crime (but with some different protagonist POV - such as from the Criminals POV as leads.
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#783
Paceyjg

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Slaves to Darkness - 9/10. Pretty enjoyable book, on to Heralds of the Siege. I don't usually enjoy anthologies..



#784
DarkChaplain

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Heralds of the Siege has some pretty great stories. Now Peals Midnight, Duty Waits and two of Wraight's stories, Magisterium and The Last Son of Prospero, are standouts.

A lot of the stories were originally audio drama productions, which I feel they're better enjoyed as than prose - including The Soul, Severed and Children of Sicarus.

The Sanders stories are probably the least appealing to me, especially since Myriad is the sequel to Cybernetica, and that was trash in the first place.


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#785
Urauloth

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Cybernetica is remarkable for the way both its prose and its standard of editing deteriorate over the course of the novella, like a chaos spawn modelled in literature.

 

Now Peals Midnight, on the other hand, makes incredibly good use of its brief word count. It's the best of the Heresy shorts, for me.


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Its lonely cry comes shivering through the dark,

As beasts roar at the great biting flames,

"Blessed are the chains that bind him to the darkness

and cursed are the blades that leave him lame"


#786
Knockagh

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Cybernetica is remarkable for the way both its prose and its standard of editing deteriorate over the course of the novella, like a chaos spawn modelled in literature.

I’m so lucky I have the limited edition of this steaming pile of meadow muffins. It’s got quite a nice cover under the dust jacket.

Edited by Knockagh, 12 April 2021 - 08:43 PM.


#787
Jareddm

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It's unfortunate because I'm normally quite a fan of Sanders.  Plus I found The Carrion to be a really interesting character.  But the backend of Cybernetica is just so weak.  I actually enjoyed Myriad more, if more for the tech descriptions than for the plot.


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#788
byrd9999

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The Solar War - John French

The Lost and the Damned - Guy Haley

 

 

Others have summarised these books much better than I can do on here, so I'll just post a quick summary.

 

The Solar War:

- A great start to the siege. John French did a good job of lining all the pieces up and building tension as the battle is about to begin. Abaddon took a deserved turn in the spotlight for once. My interest waned a little in the final 100 pages.

 

8.5/10

 

 

The Lost and the Damned:

- The team planning sessions must have paid off as this was a wonderful continuation of what The Solar War started. Guy Haley wove together a lot of threads that popped up in the Heresy series, but also began some much appreciated threads of his own, like Katsuhiro, one of the final conscripts into the Imperial Army and showing just how desperate the loyalists were.

 

9/10


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#789
StrangerOrders

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Decided I have not been behaving like a proper Abnett groupy so lately I have been trying to go through some of the older classics which I have previously ignored.

EISENHORN: XENOS

So my only background with the famous Inquisitor books was previously a sidenote in the Emperor's Gift and recently Pariah and Penitent. Those last two really motivated me to learn more about Eisenhorn.

There really is not much to say about this book, I expected something old and dated and not really impressive.

Boy was I wrong.

This book got my attention from the very start with how well it created a sense of atmosphere that was distinctly 40k but also unexpected unique. Every location they travel to in this book just teemed with uniqueness and character that made each really pop out. And not very much in a tropey or Pulpy 'one atmosphere' sort of way. Each society, from the wealthy elite of the Gudran to the fledgling mining settlement on some backwater, each had a weight of history to it that I just did not expect.

Hubris in particular was so bizarre and alien that it stuck out to me instantly. It is so unlike anything we typically see from the Imperium but it is not treated as anything too special in a way that broadens the setting in a way I did not think possible after so long. It makes you realize how samey most 40k settings can be while also showing how broad the horizons can be with 40k.

Eisenhorn himself is pretty distinct but I did not really think much about him in this book, he and his warband honestly struck me as a bit secondary and less interesting than the world around them. The exception here is his savant, that ancient bastard was very striking and interesting to me from the start. The others were somewhat tropey and Bequin in particular was a disappointment, but given the age of this book it is forgivable. There are so many books left to read that I am only treating those as a starting point.

Chaos and Xenos in this book though, marvelous. Bizarre and alien in the best way which no amount of needless grotesquery found in most works ever really mirror. Sometimes weird angles and what they do to people is more interesting than a World Eater complaining about his daddy issues while trying to upholster his chambers with orphan ligaments while screaming is sounding in the background.

I am being vague here, quite deliberately because the unwinding plot is honestly best enjoyed first hand.

8/10. A Fabulous read.

FIRST AND ONLY

...This one I liked quite a bit less.

My only previous background with Gaunt was picking up Warmaster and Anarch on a whim from Audible and being really impressed with them. Enough so that I figured I wanted the full picture.

Here.... it took me months. Mostly because Fortis Binary bored the life out of me. Bolterporn bores me more with time and frankly between Gaunt's perfection and the Tanith's persistant 'edgy outsiders outperform trained troopers because structure is for idiot'-ness grated on me.

But then they got off the battlefield and the book quickly got more interesting.

The Ghosts are a fun rabble when reality isnt bending over to help them. They are individually and very distinct and I was quite pleased that their obvious xenophobia was not lauded. Some characters I already knew and liked, the master Scout is honestly just so much fun and I was shocked how much I loathed Eli in his younger days. The colonal was a bit too much of a paragon but I think his purpose is to be the Big Good anchor.

Gaunt himself got shabbier as the book went on and I deeply approve. I am not sure if I agree with all of his actions and that is good, I dislike characters who are always right. He is more bitter and weathered than be lets on and I quite liked it.

The Vitrians were my favorite part of the book, I like their consistency and the fact that while it is flawed their codex is not useless.

The MacGuffin at first had me rolling my eyes but its payoff was superb and pleasently horrifying.

I am tempted to rate it highly just for the heights I know it will reach but I try to keep hindsight out of my ratings.

7/10, but Must Read for where it goes.
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#790
Roomsky

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Gaunt's Ghosts doesn't really pick up until Necropolis - but with some exceptions I generally find the series to be an upward trend. The early books are largely self contained but each gets a better and better idea of what the series wants to be and is good at. Once you hit The Lost, it's all gravy.

 

But I applaud your commitment. I was never able to finish First and Only until the audio came out - both it and Ghostmaker suffer heavily from being a bunch of stitched together White Dwarf shorts.


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#791
DarkChaplain

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Struggling through Ghostmaker myself, because it's basically just character showcases with a flimsy meta narrative to tie them together (poorly). Some of the stories are good, some are just nothing to write home about, but the lack of a proper throughline is hurting my enjoyment greatly, and making it easy to put aside for days if not weeks on end. First and Only was a much better read by comparison, because it gave me reason to carry on with it at a decent pace.

 

It's really making me recall why I have 3 of the original omnibus volumes sitting on my shelf, which have been sitting there for, like, 10 years, with Ghostmaker having been the roadblock back then, and this time as well. It's hard to want to stick with it when you have myriad more *immediately* interesting books to pick from, and a backlog even Santa wouldn't be able to work through.


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#792
Roomsky

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Struggling through Ghostmaker myself, because it's basically just character showcases with a flimsy meta narrative to tie them together (poorly). Some of the stories are good, some are just nothing to write home about, but the lack of a proper throughline is hurting my enjoyment greatly, and making it easy to put aside for days if not weeks on end. First and Only was a much better read by comparison, because it gave me reason to carry on with it at a decent pace.

 

It's really making me recall why I have 3 of the original omnibus volumes sitting on my shelf, which have been sitting there for, like, 10 years, with Ghostmaker having been the roadblock back then, and this time as well. It's hard to want to stick with it when you have myriad more *immediately* interesting books to pick from, and a backlog even Santa wouldn't be able to work through.

 

See, that's why I always tell people to skip the first two. There's some good stuff in there, but they're really not indicative of the quality the series will hit down the line. Abnett gets to build up and pay off in a way no other BL author has yet to manage, simply by being the sole contributor of novels to this 15 book series. (Oh boy, does Anarch hit with the momentum of 10+ novels)

 

I'd say biting the bullet and reading a summary of what's left is going to be worth getting to enjoy what comes next.


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#793
StrangerOrders

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Currently on Ghost Maker myself.

And while I will say that it is very much more an anthology than a proper novel, some of those snippets are quite good so far and serve to really land who some characters are. Although, again, the last novel already did a decent job there.

The Larken story is probably my favorite so far.
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#794
aa.logan

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When I think back on Ghost Maker, the Larkin story is the only one I ever clearly remember- I might concede that all of Abnett’s work isn’t *amazing*, but he’s never actually bad.

I find the early Ghosts stories entertaining enough, which is possibly helped by their low page count, and on every read through I’ve done have been pleasantly surprised how the quality kind of sneaks up on you. Which may be fitting, on reflection.

#795
DukeLeto69

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Back when Warmaster was coming out I decided to re-read the entire GG series and Double Eagle and Titanicus in timeline/chronological order. So shorts and novellas interspersed between novels.

So that meant starting with some of the shorts in Ghostmaker + Of their lives in the ruin etc before reading First and Only.

For me that worked really well.

I agree with Roomsky though, each arc of books is better than the preceding one (for my tastes).
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#796
Urauloth

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Struggling through Ghostmaker myself, because it's basically just character showcases with a flimsy meta narrative to tie them together (poorly). Some of the stories are good, some are just nothing to write home about, but the lack of a proper throughline is hurting my enjoyment greatly, and making it easy to put aside for days if not weeks on end. First and Only was a much better read by comparison, because it gave me reason to carry on with it at a decent pace.

 

It's really making me recall why I have 3 of the original omnibus volumes sitting on my shelf, which have been sitting there for, like, 10 years, with Ghostmaker having been the roadblock back then, and this time as well. It's hard to want to stick with it when you have myriad more *immediately* interesting books to pick from, and a backlog even Santa wouldn't be able to work through.

 

See, that's why I always tell people to skip the first two. There's some good stuff in there, but they're really not indicative of the quality the series will hit down the line. Abnett gets to build up and pay off in a way no other BL author has yet to manage, simply by being the sole contributor of novels to this 15 book series. (Oh boy, does Anarch hit with the momentum of 10+ novels)

 

I'd say biting the bullet and reading a summary of what's left is going to be worth getting to enjoy what comes next.

 

 

Another thing you can do is start with Necropolis and just go back and dip into the anthologies at leisure for more character background, rather than treating them (Ghostmaker in particular) as whole works. There's some stuff in there it's helpful to know later on, but you can prettymuch read them the same way you would the anthologies that came later.


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Its lonely cry comes shivering through the dark,

As beasts roar at the great biting flames,

"Blessed are the chains that bind him to the darkness

and cursed are the blades that leave him lame"


#797
A Melancholic Sanguinity

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Shroud of Night

by Andy Clark

 

A decent action-adventure/heist, Shroud of Night predominantly follows an Alpha Legion team (I’m going to call them the a-Team) tasked with corrupting a psychic beacon acting as a mini-replacement Astronomican on the dark side of the Great Rift. There’s a race against time as they’ve been tasked to do so by a Slaaneshi warlord, while a rival Khornate warband is also attacking the planet and trying to get to the beacon. Opposing all of them are a force of Imperial Fists, Adepta Sororitas, and nameless Guard. Celestine and Khârn make appearances. Shenanigans ensue.

 

Shroud of Night is at its best when exploring the interpersonal dynamics of the a-Team. They’re a group worn down by attrition, wearied by their efforts to remain “independent” in terms of ostensibly being “Chaos” Space Marines whilst also endeavoring to avoid devoting themselves (willingly) to the dark gods or being subsumed by various warlords and demagogues. As with many things Alpha Legion, it’s unclear how much of this is in earnest, hollow lip service, or self-denial, dependent on the individual in question.

 

Each one of the band bears existential scars, be it some kind of physical or mental corruption, in addition to whatever specialist role they perform within the a-Team. The Captain, Kassar, is trying to hold things together through a combination of tradition, brotherhood, and being the badass mofo nobody wants to cross. He gives off a wonderful sense of being just so gods-damned tired of it all, but still has a genuine phileo concern for his men, and he fights not for gods or ideals but for his brothers. The a-Team bickers and argues and frequently seem to despise each other, but when it comes down to it they’ll drag each other out of a firefight while shielding each other with their own bodies. Their interactions and the dynamics going on help make many otherwise tedious action scenes bearable.

 

The “heist” element is also one of the highlights of the novel. There is a planetwide apocalyptic invasion and battle happening, but for the a-Team, they’re trying to not participate in it. They’re about a dozen strong, trying to get into the most heavily defended location in the midst of it all. For them the invasion is more of a ticking clock and obstacle to overcome. Like all good heists the dramatic tension lies in how they make plans, which then go awry, and then the team has to adjust to changing circumstances on the fly and improvise. Watching their plans fall apart further strains the bonds of the team, and each progressive failure or success keeps a sense of momentum going through the a-Team scenes.

 

 

On the downside, Shroud of Night devotes some lengthy chunks to the Imperial Fists and Sororitas battling Khornate invaders. These devolve into slogs in part because the Imperial characters are flat, two-dimensional bores. The Fist Captain is gruff, by-the-book, “hold the line.” The Sororitas Canoness spouts “have faith” platitudes every other line. The Khornate forces scream incoherently and charge wildly. Khârn and Celestine here are plot devices, not characters. You’ve seen it all before and these depictions stand out not at all. This reduces the battle scenes to the equivalent of literary noise – stuff is happening, but I don’t care about it. I’m not a huge fan of the term “bolter porn”, but I think it applies here.

 

The other thing I would ding Shroud of Night for is the prose and writing craftsmanship. As I’ve noted for previous reviews, this is very much a subjective take.

 

Clark’s prose is what I’d describe as “aggressively mediocre”. I can’t quite put my finger upon it, but there’s something about Clark’s writing that just gnaws at a part of my mind. It isn’t so much that the prose is egregiously bad as perhaps bland and uneven. I would compare it to Guy Haley’s prose, but for a key difference – where Haley’s prose tends to go unnoticed for me in its bland workmanship (and as I’ve said before, I don’t mean that as a condemnation – it takes a certain talent to have the writing disappear into the tale), Clark’s prose has a tendency to draw my attention to it and not in a good way.

 

I think part of it is that the writing frequently lapses into passive voice descriptions, clunky exposition, stilted dialogue, and “tell, not show” depictions. There’s just enough in terms of what I’d class as poor or sub-par prose construction and wordcraft that it pulls me out of the immersion on a regular basis, reminds me that I’m reading a book instead of experiencing one.

 

It lacks the visceral eyeball-kick of Abnett, the carefully considered wordsmithing of ADB, the chameleonic worldbuilding of Wraight. It’s just… missing a certain ineffable magic spark, I don’t know how else to describe it.

 

Again, this may not be an issue for you, and I ain’t judging if you like his prose. It’s just a negative for me.

 

So overall I’d say Shroud of Night is pretty decent; it has some fun characters and moments, held back by some uneven pacing and depictions. You probably won’t regret reading it, but it won’t change your conception of what a 40k novel can be.

 

Arbitrary Rating: 6.3/10

To Taste

 


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#798
byrd9999

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A great dissection of the novel and Andy Clark's prose :) 

 

I know what you mean about his writing style. I read the highly-praised Gloomspite (I know it's AOS, but bear with me) and the actual events of the novel sound great as a summary, the whole thing felt flat while reading it. The prose was a dry recitation of events, as if the writer doesn't know how to make it exciting. There was no narrative momentum or oomph.

 

I would struggle to find a specific example, because it's not bad per se, but it didn't grab me or even make me want to keep reading.

 

I read the novella Crusade and that was just awful, but I gave it a pass because it seemed written as a beginner's introduction to the 8th edition setting, so Ultramarines were by-the-book and the Death Guard were moustache-twirling piles of phlegm.


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#799
cheywood

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I personally don’t mind Clark’s prose overmuch, but I agree he’s a very plot and character reliant writer. If he comes up with an interesting story like Gloomspite or writes a unique faction like the Alpha Legion his work’s, in my opinion, worth reading. However his more cookie cutter works seem to turn into slogs. I’d put a lot of BL’s writers in this category come to think of it.

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A Melancholic Sanguinity

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Yeah, putting my thoughts down about Shroud of Night has prompted me to think further about why Clark's prose doesn't work for me - and, frankly, about reading novels as a whole. Where I ended up going was some of my experience with the video games industry, and the concept that some designers refer to as flow state.

 

Essentially, flow state is a state of mind a designer is trying to get a player into. I've seen it compared to a zen trance or meditative state. It's when a player is engaged deeply with the mechanics and gameplay loop to such an extent that they're totally immersed. Note that this isn't about graphical fidelity or visuals, necessarily - it's specifically the gameplay: navigating the environment, aiming while dodging incoming projectiles, giving units orders, etc. Even failing and retrying a challenge can be part of this. A vital part, actually.

 

The key thing is, there's a sort of "Goldilocks Zone" to this. If the player fails at the gameplay challenge before them too frequently, the difficulty becomes an immersion breaker. However, if the game offers too little or no challenge, that lack of difficulty also becomes an immersion breaker.

 

It's like the human brain is wired to crave overcoming challenges that demand our participation - and both "overcoming" and "challenges" are key foundations to that formula.

 

 

So, what does all that have to do with 40k novels? 

 

The more I reflect, the more I realize that the prose of any given work plays an analogous part to that gameplay loop in terms of creating a personal flow state when I'm reading. Sentence construction, length, word choice, dialogue, paragraph formatting, how a scene starts or ends; they're all things that you don't notice - but your brain does, if that makes any sense.

 

For instance, take Camba Diaz's stand at the bridge in Saturnine. Damn awesome, right? Compare that to Beta Bequin's opening narration in Penitent. Also damn awesome.

 

Those sequences are composed very differently, but they fit in with the context of their respective works such that one delivers the insane manic press of a man fighting to the death and mentally condensing everything to the immediate instant with snapshots of lucidity, the other, musings of an educated young woman reflecting on the fractal, supernatural world of blurred allegiances, personal loyalties, and murky identities she's stumbled into.

 

In both instances the writing itself is engaging on a level that pulls me into the story, like a mental lubricant that enables my cognitive gears to mesh with the book. It's not that I don't notice the writing, but that it enhances the story itself, improves the entire experience.

 

 

To carry on the flow state analogy, I'd say folks like John French and Matt Farrer tend to push the upper end of the "difficulty" scale - their prose is often dense and esoteric, in need of thinking and mulling over and picking through. In reverse, Guy Haley would fall into the lower end of it for me - his wordcraft exists: it's not an active hindrance, but it isn't particularly engaging or interesting in its own right.

 

Andy Clark just misses that Goldilocks Zone flow state for me. There are bits and scenes where I'm like "alright, alright, solid stuff", and then the next scene there's a sentence or a line of dialogue or something that jars me out of it, gets me thinking about how I'd rewrite this line or change that sentence construction or sew that person's lips shut.

 

If I were to use a game comparison, reading Shroud of Night felt a bit like playing a game where I'd have fun for a couple of minutes and then hit a gameplay stretch where I was grumbling about this mechanic or that clunky control, and then another sequence would come along that was fun, and then back to frustrated.


Edited by A Melancholic Sanguinity, 12 May 2021 - 12:55 AM.

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