The Emperor Expects, A Review

Much like the previous entry in the series, I wrote a review for book three of The Beast Arises series on Goodreads and thought I’d post it here for anyone who would like to have a read of it.

The Emperor Expects is the third book in The Beast Arises series and maintains the level of quality set in the first two entries in the series. I will say up front though, that the page count is still an issue for me; at two hundred and twenty two pages, it’s even shorter than the previous book.

The narrative moves between three different story threads. The Adeptus Mechanicus and the survivors of the events of book one, Vangorich and the continuing political machinations on Terra and Captain Kulik, commanding officer of the Imperial navy vessel Colossus.

There was no part of the book that felt like a chore to read but there were some chapters that I looked forward to more than others, with my favourites being any featuring Kulik and the Imperial navy arc of the story.

Again, the action and the intrigue is equally well written but I think what really helped me along with this book, is that I’m a fan of Gav Thorpe’s style of writing. I feel he handles character development and action equally well and seeing that he’s written a book is often a good enough reason for me to pick it up.


Predator Prey, A Review

I recently read Predator Prey, book two of The Beast Arises series and wrote a review of it for Goodreads.  For anybody who’s interested, I thought I’d pop the review here.

I started reading this before Christmas but for a reason I still can’t quite put my finger on, just couldn’t get into it and I ended up drifting away from the book. It’s rare when this happens to me, I never like to leave a book unfinished and it wasn’t a conscious decision this time, I put it down about ninety pages in and ended up not picking it up again for the better part of two months. As a result of this, when I committed to reading it all the way through, I decided to start again.

It picks up up not long after the catastrophic ending to the first book, with the Imperium in bother from a seemingly unstoppable Ork Waagh and after the introductory chapter a new addition to the character roster of the series makes her appearance.

Lux Allegra, a commander in the planetary defence force of the largely marine hive world of Undine is in charge of a unit attempting to lead the rulers and assorted rich folk to safety and she is in the thick of the action right from the start.

This sets up just how difficult even an individual Ork and by extension an Ork Waagh is to stop. It does this by having the invaders dropping from he skies in ships, that in most cases plunge into the oceans, meaning the Orks have to swim and wade to their targets. The Orks make it to shore in their thousands and with even a single Ork being many time the physical match of an average human, you can probably imagine what this means for the defenders of the hive cities of Undine.

After a very well written game of cat and mouse between Allegra and a truly massive Ork, she manages to get herself and her charges to the relative safety of a submarine. This is just the beginning for her though, as she ends up in charge of a make or break mission to halt the invasion of her world.

Allegra is only one of the characters though and it’s not long before we’re reintroduced to Vangorich, head of the Officio Assassinorum and an assortment of other returning and new characters.

The book mainly moves between Allegra, Vangorich, a Black Templars Space Marine fleet and The Fists Exemplar Space Marines desperately trying to defend their homeworld. Whereas the first book largely focused on the actions of the Imperial Fists, book two is much more of an ensemble affair.

Despite my false start when I first tried to read it, it’s actually a very good book, with both the action and the political machinations on Terra being particularly well written and I have to admit I particularly enjoyed the struggle of the Fists Exemplar; probably because I’m a sucker for fights against impossible odds.

My main issue with it and the reason I’ve only given it four stars, instead of five, is its length. Two hundred and forty nine pages is not a massive amount for the price of a hardback book and it makes me wonder if the page count has been skimped on to pad out the series with an extra book or two.

This single criticism aside, it is a very good book and well worth a read, as it covers a period of Warhammer 40,000 history not very well explored and it’s always good to have a bit more meat on the bones of the background of a universe.


The definition of a bookworm in a dictionary is ‘Someone who reads a lot’.  I was expecting it to be worded in a somewhat more flowery fashion but it’s accurate and in a dictionary I suppose accuracy is what you’re looking for.

Bookworm is a label I’d be quite happy with.  As with its dictionary definition, it’s accurate, as I read a heck of a lot of books.  It’s an almost vanishingly rare occasion when I don’t have a book or two on the go.

I had a bit of a rocky start as far as reading is concerned and have been told that when I was a wee nipper and first learning to read that I found it so hard to pick up, that I frustrated anyone who tried to teach me.  It’s a long time ago for me and obviously I don’t have vastly detailed memories of being that young but apparently one day it all clicked into place and that’s when this whole reading lark started for me.

I started out with the Mr Men books and my Mum accrued quite a collection of them for me.  It was the late seventies and the Mr Men were incredibly popular at the time; most little kids were into Mr Men, even if they only watched it on the telly.

The first books that I remember being my responsibility to look after were an Asterix omnibus and two movie adaptation books made specially for children.  The Temple of Doom and Return of the Jedi, a Ghostbusters one came later and in the case of all three, I read the books before I saw the films.

By the time I was about eight, give or take, I developed a love for those incredibly technical military hardware books that have cutaway drawings of tanks, planes and battleships.  It was mostly the pictures I liked the books for, as I was very enthusiastic when it came to drawing too and they made for great inspiration.  I did have a stab at reading them but as you might expect, apart from one of them, which was written with the younger reader in mind, most of what I read went totally over my head.

Strangely, given my age at the time, I looked after these books and still have them to this day.  They’re still in surprisingly good condition and I even understand the big words now.

I think I got my love of this type of book, along with a vast assortment of other factual books from my Grandad.  He had everything from history books, to nature books, to books of ghost stories and whenever we visited, he was always happy to let me sit next to his bookcase and leaf through any one of them.  Although given his love of non-fiction in books, he was surprisingly capable of telling some incredibly fictional tall tales, that me, my bro and my sister believed every word of.

I also read Choose your own Adventure books round this time and went from there to Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf.  I started my collections of those last two series thanks to a book club in my secondary school library, were you could save a wee bit of money each week until you had enough to buy a book.

It was also at this point that I started reading all manner of horror, fantasy and sci-fi books; mainly horror, as I’ve always had a soft spot for the more gruesome side of fiction.

I carried on much in the same way, right into adulthood and then when the Black Library came along I really got into their stuff.  I still read a good variety of other books, but I’m a big fan of Warhammer 40,000 fiction, particularly the Horus Heresy series.

More recently I’ve been listening to a vast spread of books that I may never have got around to in paperback, thanks to an Audible subscription (the Sherlock Holmes stuff narrated by Stephen Fry is particularly good).  It lets me read even while I’m working, so it’s perfect for me as I seem to have less spare time for reading these days.

When I started writing this, I was expecting it to come in at around three or four hundred words.  A quick little blog about my love of the written word but somewhere along the way I seem to have decided that being concise is for noobs because I’ve just noticed that this is going to be around the eight-hundred words mark.

Reading is a very individual activity and I’d love to hear from anyone who has anything to say about their own love of books, as you may have noticed that I’m a big fan of them.  Some genres more than others but I’ll give most a shot.

It seems I had a lot to say about reading and I realise I’ve rambled a bit, so if you’ve stuck with me, thanks very much, you’re a champ.

Heavy Metal

There was a time when I lamented the phasing out of metal models and while I still enjoy painting a one piece single miniature that’s made of metal, I now have a somewhat modified opinion of metal versus plastic.

Quite simply, when it comes to larger, multi-part models, plastic is easier to work with.  It mostly cooperates, does what you want it to do and goes where you want it to go.  A similar model, cast from metal however, hates you and wants you to fail.

A plastic model will be clipped from the sprue, glued together, cleaned up, maybe a smidge of liquid green stuff here and there and hey presto, you’re ready to rock and roll.

With a metal model, you clip off all the little tabs, spend ages hunting down all those chameleon like spindly bits of flash, spend the better part of a couple hours going at it with files and modelling knives and then when you think you’re ready to assemble it, you find more of those spindly flash things.

Then you start drilling copious amounts of holes into it, so you can pin it, just to stop in collapsing under its own weight.  When it’s finally assembled, then you have to break out the green stuff to fill in all the gaping chasms that have been left by ill-fitting joins. *

After all this you can start painting it.  You’ll probably get the undercoat on and notice another one of those spindly bits that you’d mistaken for a detail, so you have to carefully remove it.

Also, it weighs a tonne, so don’t drop it, or you’ll be more than a little bit sad.

Even once you’ve painted the model, there is a practical benefit to plastic, over metal, the weight difference.  There was a time that the average carrycase was incredibly heavy, not because it felt like it was filled with metal, but because it was filled with metal and depending on the army, you might be lugging two of them.

So, in general for multi-part stuff at least, plastic is better than metal and whereas I wouldn’t exactly say that I hate working with metal, it is at the very least a challenging and time consuming material when it comes to larger scale stuff.

20180122_175521-1.jpgThis blog has been brought to you by a Doombull.  A model currently held together with five pins and in need of two more.

Now resin.  Resin is a ramble for another time.


*Special mention needs to go to those little bits. The ones that are too small to pin and are annoyingly reluctant to adhere to anything, except your fingers.

Focus, Focus, Focus

I lack focus when it comes to painting my own stuff.  I can be happily painting a model on a Friday and then when I come back to painting on a Saturday, I’ll sit down, pick up a completely different model and start painting that.  My painting area is a wasteland of half finished models and it’s a problem I’d rather like to deal with.

It’s weird really because this hobby malady only effects my own models and when I’m doing commissions, I’m not the fastest painter in the world but I’m pretty relentless and usually meet my targets.  When I started out I’d overrun sometimes but thanks to some incredibly understanding customers I had the time to sort that problem out and it’s probably because of those top-notch dudes that I’m still commission painting today.

I think the reason I’m not as disciplined when it comes to painting my own stuff, is that there are no repercussions if I float away from one of my own models, it’s only myself I’ve got to worry about and it seems I’m a very lax taxmaster when it comes to keeping myself on course with my own models.

This is a problem that I touched on in my Pile of Shame blog a while ago and it seems I didn’t listen to myself then, so here I am revisiting it again.  My Pile of Shame has not diminished.  Some of the models have been plucked out of it and painted but others have been added and although the Pile of Shame is not a literal pile of models, it’s how I’ve come to visualise it and it’s not a pretty picture.

So here we are, still in January and the year is still fresh, so I’m going to attempt to demolish the Pile of Shame and get to a point that I can actually buy some new models without feeling guilty about all the old ones gathering dust.

I’m always going to have unpainted models, I can accept that but I want to get rid of all the part finished stuff.  The cleaned, assembled, undercoated and then forgotten for something new and shiny stuff.  So that’s what I’m going to be targeting this year.  Not the things still on sprues, or nestled comfortably in their packaging but all those other poor sods that are, quite literally in some cases, gathering dust.

White Dwarf Review – January 2018

20180102_085302-1.jpgThis issue is packed to the brim with Nurgle stuff, Age of Sigmar Nurgle stuff to be precise and it all kicks off with a super snazzy piece of cover art, featuring a Lord of Blights.  The viewpoint is set at a low angle and I imagine it’s from the perspective of a cowering peasant whose village has been overrun and is about to meet a very unpleasant and pustulant doom.

Codex Chaos Daemons gets its new release this Month and that’ll be one of the few mentions 40K gets because it’s almost wall to wall AoS from here on out.  There’s the Maggotkin Battletome, that serious looking gentleman from the cover, a gaggle of Daemons and my favourite release of the Month, the brand spanking new Great Unclean One.

It’s a very impressive model, packed with detail and character.  There are all manner of ruptured guts, boils, scabs and general grossness.  It’s massive, almost the size of the Forgeworld version I believe, it’s a painter’s dream and I very much want to paint one.

There is another of those cool character Nurglings that comes with the model too and I think those little chaps deserve a special mention.  These cheeky little guys have been popping up in a lot of the Nurgle releases since the current 40K was released last year and they inject a nice bit of humour into the kits; which is kind of appropriate when you consider the carefree lives these little stinkers lead.

The letters page is kind of just there.  Nothing stands out, either good, or bad but it was a decent read nonetheless and I hope it sticks around.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re a little light on 40K content this month but there is a wee getting started article for Orks.  It’s a bit of a light and fluffy page filler but it’s not bad. I would much rather have had the Adrian Wood interview that’s hanging around on the Warhammer Community (if you haven’t already, take a look, it’s a great read) but I’ll take my 40K where I can get it this month.

I’m not too impressed with the latest Temporal Distort.  August 2013 is hardly a classic from the mists of time.  With all the wonderful issues that have come and gone over the years, why pick an average one that’s this recent. I’ve probably got older condiments in my fridge.

The short stories that used to crop up in White Dwarf were always something I enjoyed and it’s nice to see a couple this month.  They’re part of the lead up to the Malign Portents thingy that’s coming for AoS and they’re quite good. I hope this becomes at least a semi-regular feature.

Reading is a passion of mine and one of my favourite pastimes.  I was frustratingly slow to learn, I’m told, but once I picked it up, my appetite for reading was voracious, but that I think is a blog for another time.  My point, I suppose, is that I read a lot and as a result of that, and my love of 40K and 2000AD, I’ve read an awful lot of Dan Abnett’s stuff.

The interview with Dan Abnett is the highpoint of the issue for me.  He’s one of my favourite authors and I’ve read a lot of his stuff.  Not all of it, I’m not superhuman.  He’s written so much that there may be two of him; human cloning perhaps?

He spoke at length about Gaunt’s Ghost’s.  A large part of this was about continuity and how tricky it can be to keep everything straight and also quite a bit concerning character development.  I could go on about the interview for far longer than necessary but suffice to say, there’s a fourth Eisenhorn book coming, which is apparently old news.  Well, old news it may be but it’s new to me and I’m super stoked.

I’m really liking most of the new Nurgle stuff coming out, so I found the Nurgle Designers Notes to be an interesting read.  The names of some of the characters are a bit wide of the mark, but I suppose you can’t have everything.  I particularly like the way that since Dark Imperium was released last year, they’ve been plastering their models with nurglings.  Nurglings are some of the most characterful models that Games Workshop have ever produced, right up there with snotlings and it’s good to see them being embraced in such a big way.*

This cheeky chappy isn’t one of the most recent batch but he’s a good example of the new wave of nurglings.

They also seem to have re-connected the fantasy and 40K worlds.  There was a time that Warhammer Fantasy shared its continuity with 40K.  I can’t remember the exact details but the Old World was in an impassable warp storm, or it was trapped in the warp, or something like that.

Over time they rolled that back, presumably because it would’ve been a continuity nightmare to keep it all straight and as far as I know it was no longer the case.  Well now they’re re-linked, sort of.

They mentioned in the designers notes that the Chaos Gods and daemons of Age of Sigmar are the exact same gribbly nasties that plague the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  As it stands it’s not a game changer for both sets of background, but it’s kind of cool.

The review of the year does exactly what it sets out to do and reviews the year, doing it quite well.  It’s a nice read and there’s not much more I can say really.

Something I wasn’t expecting is the Imperial Guard mutation health warning advert.  It’s slotted in between two articles with no mention and is just sat there with no context.  I love little surprises like this.  It’s silly, smirk-worthy and I hope we see more of this sort of thing.

Despite not playing Age of Sigmar, at least thus far, I can get on board with a good battle report and this month it’s Fyreslayers against the Maggotkin of Nurgle.  An interesting pair that I don’t recall seeing match up against each other previously.

I can say nothing about how tactical, or balanced the armies were, except to say that two Greater Deamons seems like overkill.  Both forces did look cool though.

There’s a good bit of back and fourth in the scrap for the first couple of turns and it looks like it could go either way for the first turn, or two but it becomes obvious early on who’s going to win and by the end of the game, the result is so one sided there is only a single army on the table, with not a shred of its opponent left.  Whereas this does happen on occasion, this time it felt pretty overwhelming, as if one side was totally outclassed and never stood a chance.

The Ultimate Guide covers the undead, with a bit about all the assorted minions of Nagash and a wee bit about the big cheese himself.

I was unsurprised to find that the undead work much along the same lines as they did in Warhammer, with the background even being quite similar.  Personally I have no problem with this because as an Age of Sigmar background rookie, it was nice to have something familiar place into context.

New stuff is always good and this month there’s a scenario for Necromunda, a quest for Warhammer Quest and the first two scenarios of a campaign for LotR.

Barring one game of Necromunda, I haven’t had a chance to get stuck into any of these games yet and whereas it seems unlikely that I’ll ever play LotR, I can see myself playing Warhammer Quest, even if it does lack the depth of the original.  As for Necromunda, I’ll definitely be playing that; I just need my pennies and my spare time to catch up with my itent.

The Golden Demon stuff is, of course amazing. From the wee LotR single miniatures, to the massive 40K behemoths, they’re all top drawer.  My favourite this month though is the Nurgle Dreadknight, for its pure retro coolness.  It looks like it’s stepped right out of one of the early to mid-nineties Golden Demon awards and that’s a period of the hobby that I loved.  There was some really crazy and imaginative stuff floating around then and obviously that’s still the case now, to a point but then, you couldn’t move without coming across a model, or army converted to within an inch of its life and it was awesome.

After the GD stuff there’s an ‘eavy Metal article about painting Nurgle stuff, both daemons and people.  It has contributions from several painters and covers why they chose particular colour schemes and which colours compliment each other, as far as the assorted ways you can paint Nurgle stuff is concerned.

As a painter, it’s always nice to read this sort of article and I’ll always be happy to see more along the same lines.

A new Tale of four Warlords begins this month and even though it’s Age of Sigmar, I’m determined not to rashly pre-judge this one, as I did the previous 40K one.

Barring the last couple of parts, I just skimmed over large parts of the last one and now wish I hadn’t because I really enjoyed those last couple of parts.  Well, I’ve learnt my lesson and this time all the words and pictures are going into my noggin.

The armies this time round are Maggotkin, Witch Aelves, Malignants and Ogor Beastclaw Raiders and since they’re all just starting, there isn’t a great deal of content to it, barring them all having a bit of a chat about their chosen colour schemes and what they bought to start them off.  There’s nothing about why they chose what they did, which is a shame but you can’t have everything.

The modelling article this month gave me a real feeling of nostalgia.  It was proper scenery building, drainpipe offcuts and bits box junk.

Dan Harden needed some scenery for his Tau, Armies on Parade board and he built a tower, a water tank and a shield generator and they all looked really good.  Okay, so most people don’t have access to such amazing bits boxes but it’s a really good article and a massive step in the right direction.

The big army of the month in the collecting section is a massive Ork Horde, by a guy called Iain Gonzalez.  It’s an impressive beast of a force that has been put together in chunks over the course of a few years, using simple, but effective painting techniques and it really captures what I think an Ork army should look like.

There’s also a piece featuring a bunch of Blood Bowl teams that folk have painted and it’s a bunch of models that makes me want to paint my own team and play.  It’s one of those games that I’ve always thought looks super-fun but just never seem to quite get around to it.

The Battleforce Challenge is, unsurprisingly, exactly what it sounds like; a boxed army, be it a Battleforce, or one of the larger Talons of the Emperor style boxes, painted to completion in a month.

It’s a design studio challenge but one that could be easily adapted by a gaming group, or even an individual looking to set a painting target.  It’s sounds like a lot of fun but I’d certainly need to focus myself, as I’m a bit of a painting butterfly as far as my own stuff is concerned.  I paint a heck of a lot of stuff but find it hard to stay pointing at any one thing.

As would probably be expected the modelling and painting section is Nurgle all the way this month.  It’s got a guide for painting Plaguebearers, Beasts of Nurgle and a more general painting guts guide.  There’s a lot of good content here and personally, I’ll find the bit about painting guts particularly useful, as I’d like to step up my gut painting game.

I don’t have a favourite from the readers models this month.  Every single one of them are very well painted indeed, but, for me at least, there’s no one model that has that extra bit of wow that would push one ahead of the others.

In the Bunker, much like the rest of the issue is very AoS heavy, with the only concession to Warhammer 40,000 being a look at some of the little yella fellas from Matt Hutson’s Imperial Fists army.

The main feature is the continuing Firestorm campaign, which this month takes the form of a wee, four-way battle report.

As seems to be becoming the norm, a solid issue.  A little light on 40K for my liking, but it can’t be bolters and battle-tanks all the time I suppose.  The Nurgle stuff all looks awesome, although as mentioned earlier, I’m not really taken with most of the names; a lot of them sound daft, daft in a bad way.

The Dan Abnett interview was my favourite thing in the whole issue, as you may have noticed, I’m a bit of a fanboy in that respect and I would quite happily have read it if it had been twice as long as it was.

The January issue gets four out of five jolly little Nurglings.


*Not literally.  That would be rather messy.


It has not escaped my attention that my blog has been a little neglected of late; if you look closely you can probably see some tumbleweed blowing about.  Apart from the fact that I kind of lost my writing mojo, there’s no real reason for it.  I didn’t even get a review out for the December issue of White Dwarf (which is something I might still do, as much for the sake of completeness as anything).

Now all the pre-crimbo juggling of stuff that needed doing, is done and all the Christmas excess is out of the way, I can put my back into re-establishing a routine and this blog is part of that.

I’m hoping to have a lot to write about, as I have a busy and hopefully exciting year ahead of me.  My schedule is quite jam packed.

I have several short stories on the go and I’d like to get them finished soon.  One of them was only started last week but there are, I think, three others that were started last year, so I need to finish them before I start anything else.

Next on the list.  I finished the first draft of my first book last year and realising how much work it was going to need to get it to anything approaching a finished state, I kicked it off into the long grass.  I realise this was an incredibly daft thing to do, as ignoring it for a while isn’t going to make it any easier to sort out when I pluck up the courage to revisit it.

So, I’m going to scoop up all the stuff I need for research and research the heck out of it until I’m capable of putting a bit meat on the bones of the world I’ve built.  At the moment, the story is all there, if a little jumbled but everything else is a bit sparse and needs quite a bit of work.

Speaking of work, things are looking up in that regard.  Commissions have picked up and I’m finally making some regular money from my commission painting.  I’m also looking into taking the plunge with an eBay store, as I’m in a decent enough position to maintain one now; so, fingers crossed in that regard.

Amidst all that I want to fit in some time to paint my own stuff and perhaps even play some games with the fruits of my labour.

I know things won’t go exactly as I want them to over the coming year but I’m hoping that I manage to stick pretty close to that big list of stuff and get some things done.