Sunday, July 27, 2008

GENERAL: Bi-monthly book update

Two months have flown by so here is my latest bi-monthly book update.

Books bought.
  • Sniper One, Sgt Dan Mills
  • Soldier, Mike Jackson
  • Imperial Armour: Apocalypse
  • Battle for the Abyss, Ben Counter
  • Warhammer 40,000 5th edition
While not strictly Games Workshop books I am including Sniper One by Sgt Dan Mills and Soldier by Mike Jackson in my update. That's because I'm not generally a fan of Military fiction or history but I am interested in how it may inform my gaming activities. In particular I think both books can help me when it comes to writing scenarios, background and my own fiction.

Sniper One was an interesting read. It's a real-life account of a Sniper platoon under siege in Iraq. Bad points first. It made me appreciate the quality of writing in the other books I read, even Black Library novels. The narrative could have been much more compelling, as there was a great story in there somewhere, but it wasn't shaped very well, and the descriptions and characterisations were poor. It was also distressing to see that the hyper violent, racist, misogynistic, meat-headed, Manichean morality of stereotypes of squaddies was firmly in place.

The good points included the fact that the book shone a light on what our armed forces are doing in these far away places - and this is often in conflict with what the politicians are telling us. From a gaming point of view, all the little details were great; the terminology and fetishisation of weapons, the reasons why missions are made and succeed or fail, and the squabbling behind the scenes about resources and policy. All of this could be used in 40k fiction (with Imperial Guard naturally) to create an authentic milieu.

I also bought Imperial Armour: Apocalypse. It was inevitable I would buy this book as I am getting more and more interested in Forge World products and I love the idea of Apocalypse. I wasn't blown away though. It's functional enough I guess but has even less background material in it than I had presumed. Still, it will enable me to get some of Forge World's glorious models on the tabletop.

Brothers of the Snake was not the type of book I was expecting. I thought it would be a straightforward novel but it is actually a collection of loosely linked short stories. I got the feeling that Dan Abnett wrote these over a long time period and drew them all together to be released at once, in a similar way to the start of the Gaunt's Ghosts series. They also differ in style and tone from his previous books as most of the stories are told from a 'distance.' The best comparison I can make is that it reads a bit like the Silmarillion, in that actions are described in generalities rather than specifics. The use of a 'long lens' helps to show the Marines as superhuman and legendary figures, something that other Black Library novels have often failed to do. Brothers of the Snake does a good job describing the variety of missions a Chapter might undertake, and convincingly portrays the rituals surrounding a Space Marine Chapter. I'd still recommend the book but it's not as satisfying as I'd hoped.

40k 5th edition is a 300 page hard backed monstrosity and will take some reading. It looks gorgeous so far, though.

Battle for the Abyss is also currently on the reading stand.

Books read.
  • Brothers of the Snake (paperback)
  • Imperial Armour: Apocalypse
  • Sniper One, Sgt Dan Mills

Here's what I already own and still need to read:
  • Imperial Armour Three: The Taros campaign
  • Liber Chaotica
  • Storm of Chaos
  • Imperial Infantryman's Primer (Damocles Gulf edition)
  • The Life of Sigmar
  • Faith and Fire
  • Storm of Iron
  • Dark Apostle
  • Cardinal Crimson
  • Warriors of Ultramar
  • Dead Sky, Black Sun
  • 13th Legion
  • Kill Team
  • Annihilation Squad
  • Space Wolf
  • Ragnar's Claw
  • Grey Hunter
  • Soul Drinker
  • The Bleeding Chalice
  • Crimson Tears
  • Battle for the Abyss
  • 40k 5th edition
  • Soldier

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