Book reading challenge 2020

My challenge has begun to read at least 20+ books until the end of this year, and the extra challenge of reading all of my Warhammer Army books.

This post will be updated when I’ve finished reading books, which I’ll add a small roundup on my thoughts on how it went.

Warhammer Army Books:

Warhammer Fantasy Army Book: Bretonnia (finished 6/1/20)

This was quite an enjoyable read for an army book that’s about twenty years and more old! Whilst it does use elements from existing fiction and tales, it does have a lot of interesting stories and structure for how Bretonnia is organised and function in the Warhammer world. If you put aside the glaringly obvious knightly tropes, the book actually has some interesting stuff like the False Grail, when Duke Maldred betrayed the Chivalry code and ended up being killed by the red pox.

There are pages in the book that explore the lore behind Mousillon as this once splendid and mighty land that was just as magnificently as the capital of Bretonnia. Comparing it to now as an abandoned place that’s overrun with undead and Skaven, a miserable ruin that is still rumoured to be haunted by the laughing ghosts of Maldred’s Court.

I’m not sure wether Mousillon is covered in the next ed of Bretonnia, but it would’ve made a great setting for a Warhammer Quest!

The short stories were enjoyable to read with some insights into the Bretonnia setting, where common men may need to arise to the challenge as a Knights Errant to slay an Ork Warboss, or to do a deed to earn his right as a Knight of the Realm. These aren’t silly stories that are just written up to fill in spaces, these stories really help the reader to understand the ideology of Bretonnia as a Chivalry coded society.

I like this book a lot, it’s got great imagery, lore and wealth of useful inspiration. Nigel Stillman, the writer of the book along with artists including Wayne England, John Blanche, David Gallagher, Des Hanley, Paul Smith, Mark Gibbons, Toby Hynes and John Wigley have done an amazing job at putting together this army book. I’d rate it on my top ten list of must have army books for any collector.

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Warhammer: End Times Thanqoul rules book (finished 7/1/20)

Not much to say on the book, but the info on the new Skaven units was pretty cool.

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Warhammer AoS: Malign Portents (finished 5/2/20)

This expansion was a prologue to AoS 2.0 marking the supernatural and paranormal events leading towards the Necroquake. The book features rules for the Harbingers, four seers of each grand alliance who can scry the portents and discern their meaning for the future. Along with these new characters are the Malign portents rules, where a Harbinger can use points to spend an ability each turn.

It also features rules for playing in Shyish, as well as expanded rules for Skirmish, narrative play and match play.

This book was the start of AoS becoming a much more appealing franchise, twisting the hopeful and colourful setting into a grim and morbid phase in the narrative. With a new AoS logo to represent the changes, Malign portents was the stepping stone for what would lead on to future instalments that retained the hopeful aspect and moving it with the darker side of the Mortal Realms.

I liked the background material, as it explained the setting from the Age of Myth to Age of Sigmar, as well as the events leading towards the Time of Tribulations. You get all sides of the event from prospectives of Sigmar, the Chaos Gods, Nagash and even the Grots.

Rule wise I can’t say much as I haven’t played them yet, I’ve been meaning to get some games played using the expansion book. My only criticism would be that the Harbinger Keyword should be available to selected hero models for factions like Wizards or priest. For example a Ogor Mawtribe Butcher can be a Harbinger as they are wizards, they’re like seers for the Mawtribe with their magics in cooking. I think having this rule apply to all factions would’ve been a really interesting addition to the game. But having it only got the new models tied to the expansion at the time was the selling point.

Overall, nice book. I wish later expansions had the same price tag, it was accessible due to the cost of it only being £15. I thought that was a sweet deal!

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Warhammer Age of Sigmar Chaos Battletome: Clans Pestilence (finished 7/2/20)

My first AoS Battletome during 1.0, a decent book to read with some interesting concepts. I liked the idea of Clans Pestilence searching for all thirteen Great Plagues to sway the Horned Rat into the aspect of the Pestilence.

However, because it was a standalone faction book away from the rest of the Skaven, it felt odd in a way that the faction was split up. Although back then AoS was more like a Skirmish game of small factions.

Comparing his to the Skaventide army book there are a lot of thematic differences in the way the book is presented. In terms of art, imagery, writing and style of presentation. Clans Pestilence was themed as a plague ridden faction but in a sort of hopeful presentation of AoS 1.0. With Skaventide, the book takes on a darker turn that harkens back to the Skaven 7th ed and the End Times book 4: Thanquol.

I don’t dislike the book as I at lest like some of the ideas and threads sown into the faction, however, it just wasn’t a Skaven book to me.

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Warhammer Fantasy Battles Army book: Skaven 7th ed, written by Jeremy Vettock (finished 20/5/20)

Ah yes! This army book is by far one of my all time favourite Warhammer Army books produced by GW. Written by Jeremy Vettock, a man who has much wisdom when crafting the villainous side of the Warhammer fantasy world. Especially the Under Empire and its many aspects of the Greater Clans and the backstabbing society, rules by the council of Thirteen.

As a kid I was absorbed by the way the book paints the different places and factions within the Skaven army, the marsh nightmare of Skavenblight, the hellish pit of Hellpit to the fallen Dwarf city of City of Pillars. The artwork was a very influential part of my teenage years being inspired by the imagery in the book, I’d even say it was the golden age of GW art (for Skaven).

The only down side was the lack of information on certain names characters, would’ve been interesting to learn more about the Lords of Decay and their rise (or fall) to power.

This book is a must for Skaven fans, even for AoS Skaven players as it’s the holy Horned Rat bible of all things verminous.

Reading books

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Soul Wars, by Josh Reynolds (finished 28/1/20)

This is my second read on this book, as I needed to take notes on the lore and information on the Free-city of Glymmsforge. It took me longer than expected to read as I had to take notes for information on Glymmsforge, but it took me less time to read compared to my first read two years ago.

This book is still in my honest opinion the best AoS book to date, its one of the better AoS stories that not only focuses on the Necroquake event and the battle of Glymmsforge, but the setting of the Mortal Realms. AoS at the time had little to no background that really made sense, it was disjointed, very high fantasy that sounded silly.

But when Soul Wars came around, it paved away much of what would make AoS much more gripping, the setting had a lot more weight than just ‘a load of realm’. This book was the one that got me into AoS and see its potential despite my distrust with GW after the End Times.

Reading this book again, it’s actually presented a lot more things that I missed out, including stuff like Grungni using automata machines to mine Mallus, Glymmsforge having 12 saints for all twelve mausoleum gates and a character from one of Josh Reynolds books made a cameo appearance.

Overall, a fantastic book worth reading.

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The Island of Blood, by Darius Hinks (finished 3/2/20)

I liked reading this book as a short but fun story about a classic Warhammer Fantasy Battle pitying the High Elves against the Skaven. As this book will be reaching its tenth anniversary this year, I thought I’d read it again after nearly a decade ago since I last read it.

A lot has changed since this book was released and I’ve learnt much more about the lore, as well as being more attuned to reading. It’s still a fun story with the Skaven taking much of the centre stage as backstabbing mad rats, trying to scheme and weave plots to storm the Island of Blood to claim the Phoenix Stone.

Tied to the 8th ed release of WHFB, this novella story links to the narrative of the boxed game. The studio team even made a gaming board to represent the battlefield of the Island of Blood, a chaotic warped place that defies natural law. I was lucky enough to have seen the gaming board at Warhammer World way back during my early days in the hobby.

There’s not much to say about the book in terms of lore bombshells, but it’s a nice little story that sits in the history of WHFB. It’s a major inspiration to my hobby experience when I was developing my painting skills and collecting models. It’s also my pathway to collecting Skaven!

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Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realmgate Wars vol 2, Ghal Maraz-War in the Hidden Vale by Josh Reynolds (finished 4/2/20)

This was my first Warhammer AoS book I’ve read way back during 1.0, back when the setting was going through the rough phases of being established. Back then reading this book was confusing at times, I didn’t feel like I knew much about he works of AoS and who the Stormcasts were as individuals, to me hey seemed carbon copies of golems.

But recently I wanted to give this book a second chance and read Josh Reynolds story, since it’s a novella within a book. I didn’t want to read Guy Haley’s novella as I really disliked the pacing of the story. He’s a great writer, I enjoy a lot of his works, even his Primarch book, Konrad The Night Haunter was a good read despite conflicting material. But his story in Ghal Maraz, The Eldritch Fortress, was terrible to read. If it was written as a novel of its own, I’d say it would’ve been significant improved.

However, It’s not his fault as the setting was still expanding from fresh, and this book was a tie in to the second expansion of the Realmgate Wars. So I’d imagine Guy had to follow notes from the book to the letter.

Anyways what did I think to Josh Reynolds story? It was good, not the best of works but a decent story to read. It follows the story of the Hallowed Knights journey to find Alarielle and establish a connection of alliance with her and Sigmar’s armies.

The novella suffers the issue of feeling point a to point b plot, as the story is paced from event to event. Comparing it to Soul Wars, it lacks character that the time needed to establish character and places to fully immerse yourself in the setting.

The book does have a few good points such as Gutrot Spume, a jolly pirate who’s quite charming in his own sick way. The characterisation of Morbidex Twiceborn was quite enjoyable to read as a bloated Nurgling/Plaguebearer who’s a jolly loudmouth.

Whilst this book still feels very loose in my opinion, it does however lead on to expanded instalments by Josh Reynolds, relating to Gardus Steel Soul. Exploring more on his backstory and how his journey has developed. I’ve read only two instalments (one a short story and the other a novella), but I’ve found those to be much more enjoyable to read.

Speaking of which, I think it’s about time I gave Hammerhal a second read after reading it a few years ago. I need a refresh on the story.

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Yorkshire Ghost Stories, published by Bradwell Books (finished 10/2/20)

I got this book last year when I went to Yorkshire for a week, I thought I’d read up on Yorkshire’s supernatural side of things.

I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this book! Some of the tales aren’t that spooky as it’s just sightings or odd events occurring. Some however……….

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Into the Flux, by Michael Moorcock (finished 12/2/20)

A short story about a descendent of the Von Bek line, as hes tasked by the distant future of Europe to travel in time. Tasked to the future to see how the world would be if the European machine carried as it were on its own decision making. However, as Von Bek tries to return to his time things go horribly wrong as he is casted across the time stream.

It’s not the best of Michael Moorcock’s work as I found the story not being as good as his other works. The way the Grail turns up in the story seemed to be just a reference in relation to the first Von Bek book.

That’s not to say it’s a terrible book, as the introduction to the Europe in the not too distant future has some relations to today’s European Union. Like how big it’s becoming like a colossal machine that’s constantly maintained by society living within it. Those within the background worry about its expansion where they can’t foresee where it may go, what choice is the right one to ensure its survival.

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Creed, by James Herbert (finished 25/2/20)

I didn’t like this book which is a shame as I really like James Herbert’s work. The paparazzi side of the story is the best part as James describes how they think and see in their day to day business.

The horror side of the story felt like a big let down, it just didn’t have that visceral horror like the Fog or The Rats Trilogy. I wanted to enjoy this book, alas the whole supernatural side of things just didn’t work for me.

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The Horus Heresy Primarch series: Magnus The Red, Master of Prospero (finished 11/3/20)

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The Horus Heresy: Betrayer, by Aaron Dembski Bowden (finished 6/4/20)

Also, I’ve read several short stories relating to Angron and Calth, before reading Betrayer. However, I won’t be including short stories for my reading challenge.

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Hamilcar Bear-Eater: Champion of the Gods, by David Guymer (finished 14/5/20)

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Konrad, by David Ferring (finished 24/6/20)

Not a bad book to read, but it’s very dated considering it’s about 30 years old pre Black Library. Whilst I liked certain aspects of the story like the female Dwarf character, Anvila, the mercenary called Wolf and chapter pages describing the encroaching horror of Chaos. However the book seems to go in different directions that ends abruptly.

I can forgive the author though as I did enjoy reading the book despite a few chapters being filler.

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Wolves of Fenris, by Chris Wraight (finished 12/7/20)

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