Friday, August 26, 2011

Black Library Reading Recommendations

Over the course of the last several years I've had many people ask me for recommendations from the Black Library, Games Workshop's fiction publishing arm. Now, Black Library has a whole slew of novels in their catalog, some among the best sci-fi you'll ever read and some . . . not so much . . . And because of the richness of the 40K Universe, the range of topics/characters/themes covered is immense as well.

So I came up with this basic Black Library 40K Primer, to help folks choose where to start when faced with this daunting edifice of Dark Gothic fiction. It's not comprehensive, by any stretch. New books are added every month, and I'm woefully behind. Also, this is just the 40K side of things. I don't read as much BL fantasy stuff, but what I have read I've enjoyed immensely.

If you're interested in . . . :
Large noble genetically-enhanced warrior monks, start with Graham McNeil's Ultra Marines (Greek hero based) or William King's Space Wolf series (viking based), or Dan Abnett's Brothers of the Snake (more standard and only a single stand alone novel).
Super secret espionage organizations, start with Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn Trilogy
Average grunts fighting a frightening array of bad guys across a war torn universe, start with Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts series.
Evil bad guys dark-crusading across the universe, start with Graham McNeil's Storm of Iron series, or Anthony Reynolds' Dark Apostle
Average grunt combat aircraft crews fighting evil mutated humans or alien menaces, start with Dan Abnett's Double Eagle
Space combat between huge, gothic star ships kilometers long start with Gordon Rennie's Execution Hour and Shadowpoint (not sure which is first)
Very funny anti-heroes with a touch of poignant emotion, start with Sandy Mitchell's Caiphas Cain novels (caveat here: these are some of my all time favorites, but you MAY need to know more about the universe than they directly convey to really appreciate them)
And finally, if you're really into amazing epic expositional historical sagas that will show you how things WERE 10,000 years ago, and thus how they got to be how they are in the year 40,000, you've GOT to start with the Horum Heresy series, starting with book 1: Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. Same caveat as with the Caiaphas Cain novels, though.
Hopefully that helps a little bit. There are other books in the 41st Millennium  that are good, also, but in my opinion these are the best, capable of entertaining anyone, not just fans of the game and the universe. Of course, if there are any questions, or you don't see something you feel should be on this list, feel free to shoot me an email at!


Adendum: New Books

Aaron Dembski Bowden, a relatively new writer in the Black Library stable, rose quickly to the heady heights of one of my favorites. I have only read two of his books so far, but they were both fantastic. He wrote one of the Horus Heresy books, The First Heretic . . . awesome.

And his own series:
If you like books from the point of view of the bad guys . . . showing an excellent differentiation of the shades of grey within the spectrum of bad guys . . . his Night Lords novels, starting with Soul Hunter, is a great place to go.

(Good catch, Vincetegator!)

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget Aaron Dembski-Bowden's evil bad guys in Soul Hunter and Blood Reaver