Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Book of Blood edited by Christian Dunn

The Black Library just last month put out their new Print on Demand line of books.  Releasing at least one new book each month, the total now stands at four.  I wanted to take a look at how this worked out, and so I bought a copy of their new reprint anthology, The Book of Blood, an anthology of Blood Angels stories, and dove in.  This is a very large book with a lot of content.  A look at all it contains:

Bloodquest: The Eye of Terror Trilogy by Gordon Rennie: The complete trilogy following a group of exiled Blood Angels as they seek to redeem their honor.  The complete series contents:

Bloodquest: Book One follows Leonatos as he recounts his last struggle against the orks, and the disgrace he found there in losing an ancient relic.  Leonatos and a small group of loyal marines set out to track down the ork warlord who has the sword, in the hopes of recapturing it and regaining Leonatos’ honor.

Bloodquest: Into the Eye of Terror continues immediately from the previous book, as Leonatos and company head into the Eye of Terror and face down a host of demonic fiends in their quest for the sword.

Bloodquest: The Daemon’s Mark finishes the trilogy.  Cloten and Lysander head back to the Eye of Terror to find their lost captain, Leonatos.  Yet, when the track down the army that captured him, they find that the enemy may not be quite as foreign as they expect.

“Bloodquest: Red Secrets” caps the saga with a prequel that looks into Cloten’s history before the fateful quest began.

The saga is very engaging.  You are quickly drawn into the story, which mixes the action with plot and characterization very well, and flows by.  The art is well done as well, especially in the second two sections.  The reproduction into this book format and into black and white was well done (although I had a couple of pages that weren’t well done, two that were shrunk and had ridiculously tiny font, and two that were blown up and extremely wavy, rendering them unreadable; this al occurred in the first book, and things were fine thereafter).

Space Hulk: The Novel by Gav Thorpe: Despite the title, this is a novella, based on the Space Hulk game.  Blood Angels Space Marines enter a space hulk and try to destroy the genestealers, aliens who have overrun the facility.  Very fast-paced, although a little lacking in characterization.  Much better than the other Warhammer 40,000 “game novel” I read, Assault on Black Reach: The Novel.  An engaging thriller.

“Crimson Night” by James Swallow: First appeared in the magazine Inferno!  We follow a group of marines trying to solve the mystery of what is going on with the planet’s population, and discover a dark secret that may implicate a fellow chapter.  Swallow creates an interesting tale that works in mystery and suspense, along with the usual action.

“The Blood of Angels” by C.S. Goto: First appeared in the magazine Inferno!  This story of a marine who goes too far, didn’t grip me, and I ended up skipping the last few pages.  Not the best of the book.

“Heart of Rage” by James Swallow: The prose version of the Heart of Rage audio drama. 

“At Gaius Point” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden:  From the upcoming anthology, Legends of the Space Marines, also edited by Christian Dunn. 

“Blood Debt” by James Swallow: From The Blood Angels Omnibus. 

I didn’t read the last three stories.  The Book of Blood is a large book, and while it is enjoyable, a don’t find the Warhammer 40,000 short stories quite as engaging as the novels.  Maybe I just haven’t been in a short story mood lately.  Regardless, I want to get to them sooner or later, and will be hitting “At Gaius Point” when I read Legends of the Space Marines, so keep an eye out.  All that said, I didn’t need to read the last hundred pages or so to know that this is a solid collection of space marines fiction.  You get a lot of content, and only one piece of it was lacking.  The print-on-demand format is a little more expensive, but it is worth it for this title.


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