Before reading this compilation, I had never read any of Lovecraft's works, although I had naturally heard about him a lot. I am usually not a horror...moreBefore reading this compilation, I had never read any of Lovecraft's works, although I had naturally heard about him a lot. I am usually not a horror person (I especially avoid horror movies and the like) and so I never had much of an inclination to read him initially. I am, however, glad I finally did since as it turns out, Lovecraft is being gravely misrepresented as a horror writer — I would classify his stories more as mystical fiction, now that I've read some of them. All in all, I've really enjoyed reading these and I have already moved on to another compilation including more of his tales. But back to the book at hand.
The collection starts off on a strong point with the novel At the Mountains of Madness which is pretty gripping and I enjoyed reading it very much. Being new to Lovecraft, I had to get to grips with his unique, often convoluted writing style, but once you've adapted to the way he writes, you start to kind of enjoy it, even come to expect it from his stories, actually. He does get hung up on mentioning the fictional Necronomicon and his "mad Arab" Abdul Alwhatever a bit often and he tends to invoke "indescribable horror" which seems indeed to be literally so indescribable that he can not and will not describe it, but after a while this takes on almost a kind of comical quality about it that actually made me laugh out loud a few times while reading this book. The way the stories are organised in this particular collection makes sense from their internal chronology and the introduction by August Derleth was very helpful to place them in the overall entirety of Lovecraft's works. I did detect a certain slackening of pace and quality as the book progressed and the first two tales (At the Mountains of Madness and The Statement of Charles Dexter Ward) are definitely the best of the included ones. Although labelled as the weakest story in the book, I really enjoyed reading The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath which is more of a Tolkien-style adventure story mixed with what seems like weird LSD-induced fantasies. But even in this work, Lovecraft includes themes from the Cthulhu Mythos. All of the stories in this book actually don't seem to be part of the mythos proper, according to Derleth, but they definitely include many connected themes. The last tale in the book, Through the Gates of the Silver Key, was mostly not written by Lovecraft himself (he only revised it) and this is evidenced right from the first sentence by the much simpler style of prose. Despite the somewhat downward trend of pace and quality throughout the book, I enjoyed reading it and can recommend it if you are looking to get into reading H. P. Lovecraft.
Even if you usually don't like to read horror fiction, this book will probably be OK for you since Lovecraft's horror rarely gets expressed in detail as he mostly builds atmosphere and infers. I actually read much of this book in bed before going to sleep and I never had a nightmare once — and I am usually really prone to being scared out of my wits. This is a very nice contrast to most modern horror writers and film makers whose blunt in-your-face attitude pales before this much more literally pleasing approach. Sure, Lovecraft's way of writing can get tedious or even ridiculous at times, but generally he builds his dark scenes and creepy vistas with much skill; and he lets your imagination do the real work which is the hallmark of a great storyteller.(less)
This book starts pretty slow but gets better and better throughout, culminating in a somewhat gripping finale. All in all, it's no Dan Abnett but the...moreThis book starts pretty slow but gets better and better throughout, culminating in a somewhat gripping finale. All in all, it's no Dan Abnett but the storyline is well developed and definitely key as this is where we learn how exactly Horus got tainted by Chaos. I had wished to learn more about the war with the interex but the only thing we get is a one-line "they were beaten" explanation in the middle of the book. Seeing how Horus Rising ended with a desperate extraction of the warmaster from interex space, I had thought we would see him execute his revenge on them at the start of this novel. Maybe we will revisit this plotline at some point in the future, although it seems clear that it wasn't the XVI Legion that eradicated the interex since they immediately set off for Davin after the extraction of Horus from the interex meeting planet.
I think the book could have been balanced better. It is way too slow in the beginning, with all the interesting stuff happening from the middle parts onwards. I also think Horus' fall to chaos should've been portraited more gradually. Maybe it was written the way it was on purpose, but his final decision to betray the Emperor is very swift, almost a snap judgement. That seems wrong to me. But maybe that's just the way Horus is. In any case, his misgivings about the Emperor leaving the Great Crusade and returning to Terra could've been explained a bit more thoroughly before hand to better explain his inevitable fall later in the book. It is clear that this book series is the product of a writers room and that all these authors have collaborated a great deal on the design of the characters and plotlines. That is pretty cool and it seems to work well so far. Even though McNeill isn't as good a writer as Abnett, he carries the torch forward pretty well and aside from the interex thing, it all fits together very well. The only gripe I have about the overall storyline is the fact that the timescale seems too small. The Crusade has been going for over 200 years and the Astartes are practically immortal; I had expected all these wars to be spaced out in terms of years or even decades, not months and I would've also expected the fall of Horus to take more time, accordingly.
All in all it is a solid book, though, and a worthy entry in the series.(less)
I did enjoy this book quite a lot, even though I don't think it's as good as its predecessor. Not one of Pratchett's best books, in my opinion, but th...moreI did enjoy this book quite a lot, even though I don't think it's as good as its predecessor. Not one of Pratchett's best books, in my opinion, but that still means it's damn good in comparison with anything else. Lu-Tze is a great character and that whole Mrs. Cosmopilite stuff is just great fun. The book will probably also appeal to anyone who likes Star Trek temporal paradoxon episodes. Bottom line: Not a masterpiece but a very fun read. If you're reading the Discworld series, don't stop here. (less)
The Flight of the Eisenstein centres around Death Guard Captain Nathaniel Garro, how he came to avoid the massacre of Isstvan III and seized the Imper...moreThe Flight of the Eisenstein centres around Death Guard Captain Nathaniel Garro, how he came to avoid the massacre of Isstvan III and seized the Imperial frigate Eisenstein in an attempt to flee to Terra and bring news of Horus' treachery to the Emperor. It also features the appearance of Ignacius Grulgor and the first Plague Marines, a foreshadowing of what is to come for the Death Guard legion.
All in all, the book is well written an executed. This owes a lot to the character of Garro who is the embodiment of a loyalist Space Marine but also, in sharp contrast to Garviel Loken from the earlier books, starts to embrace religion and the Lectito Divinitatus which makes for a very interesting personal component to this book.
The pace of the story is generally relatively slow but tightens up considerably around the great battle scenes with the Death Guard soldiers that have turned into Plague Marines. As you would expect from any story where Nurgle is involved that heavily, the descriptions are quite graphic and disgusting and nothing for the too faint of heart. Having said that, I don't much expect any squirmish readers to read Space Marine novels, though. The story reminded me a lot of The Empire Strikes Back in places, especially the very last scene which echoes the last scene in that movie somewhat. This is, of course, a good thing.
I must say I really enjoy the doubling-back on events which we have witnessed before as it is employed in this story to shed more light on the period surrounding Horus' initial betrayal and I like the pace that the series is setting in general. I like that they aren't burning up their material and give the galaxy-changing events that are unfolding before us as much time as they deserve, almost in a historical treatise kind of way — except in the form of enthralling novels. The book is a worthy entry in the Horus Heresy saga and I can't wait for the next installment.(less)
An excellent biography. Well written and scientifically sound almost everywhere. This is probably the definitive biography of Hitler. The whole book i...moreAn excellent biography. Well written and scientifically sound almost everywhere. This is probably the definitive biography of Hitler. The whole book is fascinating, but the very first chapters on his youth doubly so. Kershaw deals with a lot of silly myths about the man and soundly refutes a lot of them. The key to understanding Hitler, and ultimately the Second World War is understanding that Hitler was human and that his followers were human. The fact that he wasn't a mythical monster makes the whole tragedy of it all so much worse.
I would say that you cannot understand the history of the 20th Century until you've read Kershaw's seminal work. Read this book!(less)
This is one of the best books I have read so far and one of the best Discworld books. It is on par with Small Gods, possibly even better. I might be m...moreThis is one of the best books I have read so far and one of the best Discworld books. It is on par with Small Gods, possibly even better. I might be massively biased since I am a budding journalist myself, but I simply think this book is amazing. I can't even begin to explain why it is so good...
If you like Discworld or Terry Pratchett or if you are interested in journalism, newspapers or printing, you simply MUST read this book. You MUST!(less)
I learned a lot from this book. It seems weird, since all the information contained in this can also be found for free on the internet, but there is d...moreI learned a lot from this book. It seems weird, since all the information contained in this can also be found for free on the internet, but there is definitely value in having this around in a format that makes it easy to access while you paint. Having everything collected in one place is also worth a lot, all indexed with the official Citadel colours etc. Definitely worth buying if you want to up your painting game.(less)
**spoiler alert** I have been a log time fan of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It started when I was around 14 and got into playing the table top game...more**spoiler alert** I have been a log time fan of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It started when I was around 14 and got into playing the table top game but quickly discovered that I enjoyed painting the miniatures and reading the various books and codices a lot more than actually playing the game. When I went to Australia in 2000, I lost track of all this and later sold my Imperial Guard and Space Marine armies. I recently rediscovered all things 40K with the release of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (which is an excellent game, BTW) and also started painting some miniatures again. When I was looking to read up on the backstory of the Adeptus Astartes and remembered the books I'd read all those years ago, many people on Google+ recommended the Horus Heresy cycle and especially the first installment of that series, Horus Rising. I was interested to see if these books would hold up against my hazy childhood memories and how it would be to read 40K books in their native language since I had only read the German translations of things when I was a kid. I was delighted to find Kindle-compatible ebook versions at the Black Library and downloaded Horus Rising by Dan Abnett immediately. I finished the book this morning, this is my review:
This book is really good. It isn't exactly highbrow fiction, but then, we are talking Warhammer 40K so that would hardly be appropriate. In fact, Abnett manages to embody the dark, gritty spirit of the 40K universe perfectly while still managing to pull off the slightly more innocent feel of the Crusade era (this book is set roughly 10 millenia before the actual 40K time period, an era when the Emperor was still alive-and-walking and Space Marines were organised in mighty Legions that roamed the cosmos looking to unify the disparate strands of humanity scattered throughout). The story is riveting, the characters are grand and Horus actually comes across as a likeable persona. A lot of this book only works if you know a little bit of the backstory and what will happen later, ie. Horus rebelling, killing his father (the Emperor) and taking the Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus with him on the dark path of Chaos. Abbaddon, for example, works so well as a character in this book exactly because you know he will turn into Abaddon the Despoiler later on. What totally floors you is the fact that both he and Horus are actuall funny in this book. Abnett managed to put a human face onto these larger-than-life figures of Warhammer 40K myth which makes their later fall even more tragic and intriguing. To understand this while reading the book, you need to know what happens later. So in this case, I actually think general spoilers are beneficial to the reading experience. If this stuff can even be considered spoilers, we are talking about canon that has been established decades before this book was written, after all. In any case, I strongly suggest at least reading an abstract of the "historic" aftermath of the Horus Heresy before beginning the actual reading. Armed with this knowledge, even someone who has no prior knowledge of the 40K universe will enjoy this book immensly. Well, if you don't object to brutal warfare and flying limbs and gore, that is — this is a book about Astartes, after all.
All in all, this book offers solid scifi action and amazing insights into the Great Crusade, the early Imperium of Mankind and the way of life of the Space Marines. A must read for Warhammer 40K fans and a decent page-turner for everyone else. The 40K universe may not make the most sense in all of science fiction, but it is definitely the most grandiose, the most over the top and the most fun you can have with dark scifi. And isn't that exactly what we read books for? Well, I know I do and this book does it all for me: From Captain Loken's awesome dry wit to the bolter rounds chopping apart horrible alien warriors to the very last sentence that is a delicious little nod towards Star Wars, it was an absolute pleasure to read every single page of this novel.(less)
**spoiler alert** Definitely not one of my favourites of the Horus Heresy series so far. I don't really mind the fact that this book completely deals...more**spoiler alert** Definitely not one of my favourites of the Horus Heresy series so far. I don't really mind the fact that this book completely deals with pre-Heresy stuff as I'm not opposed to change it up a little here and there, but the story itself just didn't grip me. The first part of the book (which makes up more then two thirds of the actual text) is basically a fantasy story and deals with the Dark Angels before the coming of the Emperor and before they even got the name "Dark Angels". I found this part rather dull and I guess it just wasn't what I had expected from a Space Marine novel.
Then there is a big jump in the timeline and we land right in the action as the Dark Angels, now the actual I Legion fighting in the Great Crusade, face off with followers of what I presume is a cult of Tzeentch. I actually really enjoyed this part of the story and had hoped we would see a lot more of this since, in my mind, that's what a Space Marine book should be about. Sadly, that part of the book was relatively short and gets cut off abruptly in the end. We also never find out what exactly happened to Luther and how his final betrayal will come about. I presume this will be followed up on in another book but most certainly not the next in the series, so it left me very disappointed.
This is a bit sad as I've always been a huge fan of the Dark Angels and this part of the retelling of their backstory hasn't gripped me at all. I can only hope it will get better in the next book when we get to the actual fall of Caliban. At least I hope that will be the focus of the next Dark Angels novel in this series.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book is the conclusion of the initial trilogy in the Horus Heresy cycle. In this book, Horus finally goes all in and openly ann...more**spoiler alert** This book is the conclusion of the initial trilogy in the Horus Heresy cycle. In this book, Horus finally goes all in and openly announces his intent of fighting the Emperor to become not only Warmaster but also supreme leader of the Imperium. Horus lures the remaining loyalist Space Marines in what will become the main traitor legions (the Sons of Horus, the Emperor's Children, the World Eaters and the Death Guard) into a trap with the intent of wiping them out. This book deals with the hopeless battle of those loyalist Astartes as they fight their former brothers in arms that have fallen to what will later be known as the influence of Chaos and which subsequently ruthlessly betray their oath to the Emperor and kill everything in their path.
Picking up the strands from the preceeding two novels, Counter did a great job on this. The book is almost as good as Horus Rising. It's off to a bit of a slow start but gathers speed rapidly and the final third of the book is jam-packed with massive destruction and the heroic, over the top fight scenes one would expect from a Space Marine novel. All in all, it is very well written and I can't wait to see where the story will pick up as the end is a very nice cliffhanger-y setup that makes me want to know what happens next on Horus' march towards Terra and his final confrontation with the Emperor. Speaking of Horus, he's definitely the bad guy now. Where he was actually likeable in the first novel, we now have a Horus that is surely tainted by Chaos, a booding, dark figure that shows no mercy. I kind of missed the actual point where he becomes convinced that the Emperor is actually trying to ascend to godhood and leave his subjects behind, I think that should've been explained a bit more thoroughly in the second book. All in all, the change from benevolent-but-ruthless Warmaster of the Crusade (ie. "the good fight") to evil pawn of Chaos went a bit too fast for my liking. But considering that this book spans a few months and mostly deals with the plight of the loyalist Marines, it is somewhat understandable that this transformation wasn't the centre of this last book. I really hope we'll see Garviel Loken again. I enjoyed it immensly to follow this character through the trilogy and I even became kind of attached to him. Tarvitz is also great in this, he's the real hero of this novel. A shame about Tarik, though, he was the most likeable Astartes we've met so far (and actually funny, too).
All in all a very nice read and over way too fast, although saying that, I think the general pacing was very well done. I can't wait to read more by Counter in this series.(less)
This is the weakest book in the Horus Heresy series so far. The writing style in general works well enough, but I was not getting pulled in with the c...moreThis is the weakest book in the Horus Heresy series so far. The writing style in general works well enough, but I was not getting pulled in with the characters at all — they seem somewhat bland and it is very hard to identify with them. Now, a lot of that is due to the fact that the Emperor's Children in general are a bunch of egomanical, elitist, arrogant bastards which McNeill does portrait quite nicely; the downside of that being that there is no real protagonist in the novel. The person one would probably identify with most, one of the remembrancers, naturally doesn't make it to the end of the book in one piece.
But the biggest failing of the story is the fact that we never really understand what happens to Fulgrim. Neither when he picks up the Laeran sword nor in his dealings with the Eldar does it become completely clear what exactly happened to the Primarch to prompt his fall and association with Slaanesh. The plot of the Eldar trying to warn Fulgrim and the way it all eventually goes to hell is plausible alright, but the details on Fulgrim's personal journey and final adoption of belief in Chaos could have been executed a lot better. Additionally, the fact that McNeill actually kills off a Primarch in this book doesn't have enough of an impact. Ferrus Manus' death should have been a much bigger deal and possibly the lynchpin for the whole story. Aside from this, I do like how McNeill handles the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V: that is very well written and the book picks up much needed speed at the end.
All told this is not a bad book but it isn't brilliant either. It also includes a lot of pretty disturbing things, but you'd expect that from a story that deals with the wholesale fall of a legion into the ruinous influence of Slaanesh. If you're planning to read the whole Horus Heresy saga (as you should), I would definitely not pass this one up, even if it is somewhat on the weaker side.(less)
I really liked this one. Great Warhammer 40K book. Not so much of a Space Marine novel, though. It's more of an Imperial Army (ie. Imperial Guard) sto...moreI really liked this one. Great Warhammer 40K book. Not so much of a Space Marine novel, though. It's more of an Imperial Army (ie. Imperial Guard) story. While the book is nominally about the Alpha Legion, they feature more on the sidelines and the whole book is told from the viewpoint of Army personnel. I enjoyed the John Grammaticus character a lot. I hope we get to see him again...
The plot is pretty cool as well. One think I didn't like was two places where it seems like there is part of the story missing. The actual fall of Nurth isn't discussed at all, which was a bit disappointing after the huge run-up and then there's the end which feels really abrupt. I doubt we're ever getting a direct sequel so that left me a bit empty at the end of the story. Other than that, a great book and a nice return to form for the series after going downhill for a bit.
As a final remark, I find it really ironic that the Alpha Legion basically brings about exactly what they are trying to prevent. One could almost think the Cabal itself was a rouse for Chaos. I wonder if we will ever find out. In any case, it hasn't exactly endeared the legion to me, I must say.(less)
**spoiler alert** Coriolanus certainly isn't one of Shakespeare's best plays, it is also a pretty unknown one at that. With most playwrites, this woul...more**spoiler alert** Coriolanus certainly isn't one of Shakespeare's best plays, it is also a pretty unknown one at that. With most playwrites, this would mean the piece is terrible, but we are talking Shakespeare here after all...
The play in question, although classified as a tragedy, deals with the mostly-historical account of Roman general Caius Marcius, who, in the time of the First Republic, conquers the Volscian city of Corioli and comes home as a hero of the people whereupon he gets bestowed with the cognomen that gives the play its title. The play starts out pretty lame and I have to admit it often misses the trademark wit and those divine lines that I so enjoy about Shakespeare. The fact that he desperately tried to be witty with all the character names doesn't help either, in my opinion. The pace picks up once Coriolanus is cast out of Rome and the speech he gives at that occasion is the first highlight of the play. The last act is where the play really gets interesting and this was the first time I really got into it. Especially the last three scenes sees the playwrite in his usual form and the final murder of Marcius does Shakespeare's name fully justice. The biggest problem I have with this plot is that the tragic element just didn't work out for me due to the fact that I just couldn't sympathise with the main character — he mostly comes across as the arrogant ass that his enemies are trying to convince everyone he is, which really is a bit ironic and I doubt that was the intention.
All in all, still an interesting read, especially if you are into Ancient Rome or just want to read everything the man has ever written. I just wouldn't at all recommend it if you are just getting into Shakespeare. You would be much better served by Richard III, Macbeth, one of the Henries or even Hamlet.(less)
I did enjoy this book quite a bit. The story arc fluctuates a somewhat throughout and it has its slow stretches, but the action (especially towards th...moreI did enjoy this book quite a bit. The story arc fluctuates a somewhat throughout and it has its slow stretches, but the action (especially towards the end) makes up for it. This story shows that the traitor legions are not, as one would expect, completely dedicated to Horus's cause but that they are quite heterogenous. The plight of the loyalist World Eaters and the Thousand Sons made for a really interesting tale.
I also really enjoyed how Kor Phaeron was portrayed. It feels like the series is picking up steam again. The space battles and boarding actions provided a nice change of pace from the previous few books. All in all, an enjoyable read that has left me wanting for more Horus Heresy action. Luckily, I have the next few books at hand...(less)