The Rats Trilogy

Over the past three or four weeks this month, I’ve been reading all three of James Herbert’s books in the Rat Trilogy (well quadruple series If including The City graphic novel). After finding a copy of The City last month I was intrigued to learn more about James Herbert and his fictional works. Luckily enough I found myself a copy of The Rats early this month, and read it in just four days!

For my first ever read of a horror book, it added a sense of chill and visually disturbing imagery of the Black Rats, how they attack their prey with bloody mindless savagery. The wicked, the good, the bad and the innocent are all meals for the rats, as they care not for who or what you are so long as your flesh fill their stomachs.

The series follows the mutated Black Rats who unlike their inferior rat kin, are smarter, cunning, strong and measure at two feet and up to three including their long scaly tail. The Black Rats are not your average pest for they have a certain appetite for human flesh, which they constantly seek to gorge on their endless hunger for more.

The Rats

A short book that’s more of a novella sized story than a novel, but by no means is it lacking in quality. Set in the 1970’s, the story sees multiple perspectives of the victims that are murdered by the Black Rats, a touch of tragedy in their past life that is all to soon ended by a horrific bloody end.

There is a protagonist of sorts of a teacher named Harris, but he’s not the story’s main focus, but rather the one who has to deal with the pests. Interestingly, the story focuses on the Black Rats as they become incredibly uncontrollable in their bloodlust to the point of mass infestation.

This book was amazingly written, every chapter just wanted to pull you in and watch as the horror unfolds for each victim. Never shying away, James Herbert uses graphic and violent descriptions of the Black Rats attacks to the extreme. With blood and gore being James’s hallmark for the trilogy.

My favourite scene would have to be the underground subway attack, it was brilliantly written and I was on the edge of my seat all the way through the chapter. The combination of the dark tunnel and the rats swarming all over was bloody disturbing.

For a first book publication, this book was a good horror story, maybe some areas could improved (which in the sequel, Lair, James made a worthy successor). Some of the more seedy and lusty stuff may be too much for today’s readers, some parts even felt a slight bit misogynistic. However, because the book was set in its time in the mid 1970’s, it worked as a look back to the culture and lifestyles of the 70’s.

Get this book first if you want to start reading The Rats trilogy. Whilst the sequel books are sort of self contained books in the same cannon, it’s worth reading The Rats first to get a good understanding about the events that take place.

Lair

The second book in the series as a sequel to The Rats, Lair moves away from the city of London setting and takes us to the outskirts of the city in the countryside. Once again the mutant rats have bred in mass in their new hiding place in the country side, five years after their defeat during the London outbreak.

Like Ridley Scott’s Alien to James Camerons Aliens, Lair is a successor that amps the horror, violence and narrative of the rats revenge. Not only are the rats more vicious and cunning in their craving for human flesh, but the humans are better written in the story. This time focusing on Luke Pender, an inspector from Ratkill (an organisation who’s goal is to wipe out the mutant Black Rats) who is called upon to investigate reports of rodent sightings in Epping forest.

What’s makes this book so much more interesting is the way James Herbert had crafted his story, the environment and setting is used with great effect when used for setting up the rat strikes. You get the feeling that the forest is itself is fearful of the mutants that have made their Lair in the woodland, killing the natural cycle of nature. For they themselves are not a natural creation, but rather accidentally created by mans selfishness.

My favourite chapter is a tough one, as all the way through the book I couldn’t find much to criticise (well there are certain nitpicks in some areas), even the quieter moments are rather enjoyable to read. However, if I had to choose it would be when Pender finally finds the lair of the rat nest, I won’t spoil it, but I’ve found the whole event to be insightful on the Black Rats function in its nest hierarchy.

I see this book as James Herbert’s best book by far for The Rat trilogy in terms of the way the story was written, engaging and well written characters and far more gruesome ways with the rat attacks.

DomainThe last book in the trilogy, Domain takes a wildly different turn in the series as the situation turns in favour of the now fearful Black Rats. Set years in the not so far future in a time where tensions in the Middle East have escalated to breaking point, London is attached by five ballistic nuclear missiles that wipes out nearly all of London’s population.

However, a few were lucky enough to have survived from the nuclear bombs in time before the fallout could kill them. Unbeknownst to the survivors however, the Black Rats have finally come out of their hiding places sensing a shift in the balance. They aren’t the prey anymore, now they have become the rulers of this domain.

And they seek the fresh taste of human flesh.

The series by now has become too predictable as by now readers will have seen it all. James Herbert could probably tell the series would lose its charm if he kept churning out more of the same story of the rats. So to make this final book go out with a bang (literally) he decided to mix in a post nuclear story for his third and final book.

I think this was a very good choice, as by now the Black Rats has been written to the best that James could write them. Like Alien to Aliens it would be difficult to write a third movie (without interference by the high ups) that could be even better than its previous successor. Making a post nuclear apocalypse gave James much more opportunities to make the rats still a scare factor.

However, parts of the story sadly felt flat especially toward the end, where the story kinda felt same old with the rats. It felt like I’ve seen it all and wanted something fresh and interesting to read. That’s not to say this book didn’t add anything new, the Black Rats hierarchy is explored further with a far more darker revelation about their new leader.

The humans are okay, not stand out as Lair had, some of the characters felt like they were just there to be killed off. Whilst others felt lacking like Jackson and Kate who could have been developed better early on like D.R Reynolds, who had a fascinating chapter explaining how strong she was with her profession and her weakness for her loss.

Two stand out characters were the helicopter pilot Culver and a member of Government Dealey. Both characters are polar opposites who both survived the apocalypse together, tying them in a strange way as close but not close individual. You realise at the end of the story that both characters go through big developments from where they started. Dealey especially has changed from what he’s been through to survive.

The final bomb shell to end the story is a shocker, and was to me in my opinion the main horror point of the story, even the series it’s entirety. As the pieces come together we finally get the full picture as to what the future might be when the Black Rats take over the world.

Overall I think this final book whilst not as good as Lair, is still a fantastic book to read as an enjoyable post apocalyptic story.

The City

And so we reach the fourth and last of James Herbert’s Rats story, his final story takes place several years in the future where the ruins of London have become the rats territory.

This was my first look into James Herbert’s work and where this whole interest in reading his work started. I picked this up by chance not knowing anything about James Herbert and his bestselling horror book series. I’m glad to have found this graphic novel, as it’s opened my interest to try and read more variety of books than just Black Library.

This graphic novel doesn’t add anything to the ongoing story, an the story itself is not much to say. We don’t know much about the protagonist, the Traveler, and what happens to the character in the aftermath of Domain.

It’s sad to say that this final story is not worth reading unless your a collected and fan of James Herbert’s Rats series. The art however is gorgeous in the way Ian Miller illustrates a torn and ravaged landscape of post apocalyptic London.

Going back and reading this graphic novel after reading all three books has finally made some sense, parts before I isn’t have a clue about until now. It’s worth reading all three books before reading this if you want to know what game before.

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With that, I’ve finally finished reading this long and compelling series that James Herbert had created. I’ve really enjoyed reading this book series and broaden my tastes for more Sci-Fi/ horror fiction stories.

Although James had sadly died in 2013, and his fiction will not be as known as the more notable mainstream fiction. I’d like to think that James is still a well respected writer that still has a following of readers who praise his talent of work. I’m glad to have read his fictional work, and hope to read more of his books like The Fog and 48.

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you have enjoyed this post and learnt something new today. Are you a fan of James Herbert’s work? Have you read any of the books from The Rats Trilogy? Comment below and share your views on your favourite book by James Herbert, and which book from The Rats trilogy did you like most?

I’m not quite finished yet with The Rats trilogy just yet. I’m planning on doing a spoiler post on big plot points in the trilogy, and speculate on the revelations in the series finale.

Then I’ll be doing one last post on what I’d change and improve on the graphic novel, The City. So stay tuned for both posts soon!

Until next time!

-Bjorn

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2019 book reading challenge!

2019 book reading challenge!

After counting how many books I’ve read last year, I was surprised to learn that I made a big record of reading twelve books (one being an Omnibus so it’s technically fourteen books), so this year I want to beat that record by reading more books this year. I still have some books left to read on my book shelf, including the Soul Drinkers six book series.

Below is a list of what I’ve read last year, (R) means re-reading books I’ve already read to have a second read to learn things I’ve missed, (S) means second hand book that I’ve brought and (C) means continuing a book I haven’t progressed further from reading years ago but finished this year.

Books I’ve finished reading in 2018

  • Gaunts Ghosts: The Founding, by Dan Abnett
  • (R) The First Heretic, By Aaron Dembski Bowden
  • (R) Horus Heresy: Brotherhood of the Storm, by Chris Wright
    (S) Horus Heresy: False Gods, by Graham McNeill
    The Primarchs: Fulgrim the Palatine Phoenix, by Josh Reynolds
    The Primarchs: Lorgar the Bearer of the Word, by Gav Thorpe
    The Primarchs: Sons of the Emperor, by various authors
    Warhammer AoS: Soul Wars, by Josh Reynolds
    Fifteen Hours, by Mitchel Scanlon
    Warhammer AoS: Winters Heart, by Nick Horth
    Warhammer AoS: The Red Hours, by Evan Dicken
    (C) United States of Japan, by Peter Tieryas

That’s quite a lot of book I’ve read last year, especially finishing an omnibus! Admittedly, some of the books on the list were an on and off progress that were a year or two ago started.

This year I’ve already finished four books, and today I’ve finished reading my fifth book!

Books read so far in 2019

  • (S) The Rats, by James Herbert
  • (S) Lair, by James Herbert
  • Legacy of Dorn, by Mike Lee
  • (R) Horus Heresy: The Crimson Fist, by John French
  • (S) Horus Heresy: Galaxy in Flames, by Ben Counter

In January things were pretty quite so I had tons of time to get reading some books. I’m hoping to get more of my backlog of books read this year as well as buying mire second hand books, only rarely buying new books unless I really like it.

So what’s on my list to read going forward? Well I’m currently reading the third and last book in James Herbert’s Rat trilogy series (and so far, holy sh!t is it a horror fest to read, guys a genius when it comes to writing fiction!). I’ve also got some Warhammer AoS and 40k books to read as well.

Here’s what’s on my incredibly long list of books to read, I won’t be able to finish all of these books this year tbh, but I’m hoping to pass my previous record.

  • Domain, by James Herbert
  • Warhammer AoS: Nagash, The Undying King, by Josh Reynolds
  • Titanicus, by Dan Abnett
  • Space Marine Hero’s, by various Authors
  • Souls Drinkers: Redemption, by Ben Counter
  • Soul Drinkers: Annihilation, by Ben Counter
  • Seraph of the End: Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at sixteen book 1 and 2 by Takaya Kagami
  • Horus Heresy: Path of Heaven, by Chris Wright
  • Horus Heresy: Betrayer, by Aaron Dembski Bowden
  • Horus Heresy- Primarchs: Magnus Master of Prospero
  • Inside the Firm, by Tony Lambrianou
  • Elric of Malnibon√©, by Michael Moorcock
  • The sailor on the Seas of Fate, by Michael Moorcock
  • The land Leviathan, by Michael Moorcock
  • Warqueen, by Darius Hinks
  • Drachenfels, by Jack Yeovil

Wish me luck!

-Bjorn

12 days of Winter: day six, Red moon (Before New Grim)

The Red moon rises as the Grim cult causes untold damage to the county

During the night on the 18th December, 1999, at 18:37pm, eyewitnesses saw a strange sight as the moon arose in glowing red. At first it was believed just gossip from the locals at the beach, until many eyewitnesses across the county saw the same anomaly.

It’s theorised that it might be climate change that’s causing the earths atmosphere to turn far distant astrological objects red. Caused by a mix of chemical pollutants, the atmosphere is weakened by as of yet unknown substance thats causing a faster rate of climate disorder.

However, other researchers have disproved this theory as earths atmosphere seems to be normal in America, China, Greenland and many other countries. Instead oversea researchers believe it’s just one small area that’s affecting the sky.

Whatever the cause might be, the public have taken this sight with a mix of surprise, curiosity and fear. Recent rise of a small religious group calling themselves the Grim, proclaim this is a prophecy of things to come. They believe the world will end by the first day of 2000, destroyed by mankind’s own sins.

The group has been growing since the 12th May of last year after the Wolds incident, which saw their leader Huston Ferren, 48, display a gathering of followers on the Wolds northern area. He was convicted of modern slavery and acts of cruelty to the helpless, he was jailed for 26 years for acts of pure evil and may likely never see the outside world in his life time.photo taken of graffiti of the Grim cult symbol at the Wolds incident.

But since his imprisonment, his cult religious group have grown vastly with reports of increased violence and property damage by the group. As of last week, the group have been deemed by the authorities as an extremist group, and will be arrested on site by local enforcers of the GJS.

The question that everyone has on their minds right now is when will order be restored and how long will the government take before anarchy ensues?

Written by Garrneth Derrick

12 days of winter: day four, My top ten recommended Black Library books

Apologies for getting Day 4 of my seasonal blog post late, it took me some time to edit this post right before deadline schedule!

After four months of reading The Founding Omnibus for the Gaunts Ghost series, I felt like I’d achieved not only that I had read three books in a short space of time (very rare of me to do that). Ive also learned a lot more about the Warhammer 40k universe even more through the eyes of mortal characters. Dan Abnett is truly a master at writing very engaging and unique characters and stories that are relatable.

I’ve decided that I wanted to do my own top ten books I’d recommend reading for new and old readers. I’m a bookworm by heart, reading is one of my many hobbies in my past time.

My rules for picking this list goes like this:

  • Only one author per slot and only one book that they’ve written, if it’s in a anthology, I’ll mention where the book.
  • Can’t be multiple books/ series in one slot, for example, Gaunts Ghosts, Horus Heresy, The Beast Arises and etc. Only one title in the series can be chosen.
  • Must be books I’ve read and finished.

So with the rules set, I’ll now reveal my chosen top ten Black Library books I’d recommend. Enjoy!

10) Space Marine Battles: Slaughter at Giants Coffin, by L.J Goulding

My first pick is this novella story by L.J Goulding, featuring the near decimated chapter of the Scythes of the Emperor. This story is very action packed with one of the best Space marine vs Tyranids I’ve read so far. Following the fall of their home world of Sotha, the Scythes of the Emperor arrive on a Death world, where they prepare to rebuild their numbers after narrowly surviving the clutches of Hive Kraken.

This story is a sad tale of loss to he eyes of the space marines, what it truly means to be a space marine during times of darkness.

If your interested in reading more action packed stories with Tyranids involved, this book is certainly one to read.

9) The Dance of the Skulls, By David Annandale

A short Age of Sigmar story about Neferata and her ways of politics, this story focuses more on character motivation and discovering how the undead aristocracy functions. It’s an interesting insight into the lives of the living and dead celebrating and dine in the realm of death.

This short story is a great read if your keen to know more about the Soul Blight vampires, as well as the Neferatas personality and actions when dealing with obstacles from rival houses.

8) The Emperors Architect, by Guy Haley

One of my favourite traitor Primarchs got his own pre Heresy books a few years ago as part of the Primarchs Horus Heresy book series. Then about year ago or so, a short story Written by Guy Haley about Perturabo was included in the Sons of the Emperor Anthology.

It adds onto the early years of Perturabo and how the people of Olympia view him as either a monster or a saviour. Personally, this short story was by far the best one out of all of the stories in the anthology, as it added more mythos to character that isn’t widely known.

The Emperors Architect is a fascinating story about Olympia after Perturabo reunited with his father, the world now in imperial compliance. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to see what life was like during the Great Crusade.

7) Time of Legends: Malekith (part of The Sundering trilogy series), by Gav Thorpe

My first Black Library book was Time of Legends: Malekith, The Sundering Trilogy. This book got me started in the world of Warhammer and it’s fictional setting, a tale that grips me still to this day.

It’s a tragic story that not only shows what Malekith was like before he was corrupted, but it also showed the Warhammer World before the time of men.

I recommend reading the whole trilogy if your keen to learn more about the Durchii’s past, and what started the whole elven civil war.

6) The Labyrinth, by Peter

Need a horror story to read that’s not Genestealers? Well, The Labyrinth reads like an unfolding nightmare as it plunged one Sons of Malice marine into a nightmarish battle for survival.

I really liked the flow of this story as it unravels mysteries about the horrors that the Sons of Malice will face, the end twist is jaw dropping! I can’t spoil the story here, but I’d recommend reading it if your into horror/ Sci Fi Horror.

5) Fifteen Hours, by Mitchel Scanlon

This book to me feels very much like a Sci Fi story that is inspired by WWI, a young adult at a very young age joins the army to fight a war far away from his home. If I could describe this book in one word, it would be “tragic”. You see the Imperium not as a glorious force like the propaganda would have you believe, but instead a disorganised power that is slowly crumbling away.

Take my advice when reading this book, skip the first chapter and read on, and stop before the last chapter and read the first one. Trust me, it’ll make the story worth reading without spoilers, as it ruins the story by revealing too early the main protagonists fate.

4) The Horus Heresy- Vengeful Spirit, by Graham McNeill

I have many favourite books from the Horus Heresy series which I can’t include them all here, but I picked my personal favourite which is Vengeful Spirit. Drawing story lines from many books (by the same author and others) into a plot that would be epic in scale and drama that unfold.

Want full on Astarte action? Imperial knights? Titans? Lore? Mystery? Well this book has it all, as the battle of Molech sees the Sons of Horus take on the loyalist in a full on warfare.

3) The End Times: Return of Nagash by Josh Reynolds

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include the End Times onto my top ten list, even if I haven’t read many books from the series. This book is arguably my favourite so far, with unexpected deaths, more deaths and probably my favourite team up of Arkhan the Black and Mannfred Von Carstein.

It’s sad that the End Times (supplement gaming books) didn’t do well with the community, with only five books that hardly covered every faction and story plots. However, BL did the best it could to make the End Times enjoyable to read, with Josh Reynolds writing a the rise of Nagash.

Interestingly enough, Josh Reynolds had the opportunity to return to writing the undead in several AoS stories including the Realmgate Wars, Soul Wars and short stories.

2) Into the Malestom (part of the anthology book by the same name), by Chris Pramas

Now you may be wondering why I’ve picked this short story for second place. It’s a story that not only shows what Warhammer 40k is like in the grim darkness of the far future, but also how loyalty means nothing in a galaxy that neither cares nor remembers your sacrifices.

A lone Astarte named Sartak returns to his chapter after years of absence, that chapter is none other than the Red Corsairs. With a White Scar marine in on the plan, they attempt to take down Huron Blackheart!

Sartak considers himself to still be an Astral Claw, disowning his legions new identity. But his loyalty is tested as gradually the story takes a turn for the worse. The ending (which I won’t spoil) has got to be one of favourite endings where it really sticks with the theme of Warhammer 40k.

1) Necropolis, A Gaunts Ghost novel, by Dan Abnett

You’ll have already gussed I would put a Gaunts Ghost novel as my number one recommended book. I’ve chosen Necropolis as my chosen book due to it’s sheer gripping rollercoaster ride of a story of Hive city siege warfare, as Gaunt and his ghosts most defend a city against a vast chaos military might.

Dan not only writes characters that we already get aquatinted with in previous books, but also adds new characters that are funny, tragic, strong, intelligent and some being complete aresholes.

If your into grand scale siege warfare and want to see what Hive society is like when war hits home, I’d recommend reading this book!

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With that, my top ten book recommendation is done! I hope you have enjoyed this post and maybe interested reading a sample or two of the books I’ve mentioned. I haven’t read every single BL book and popular books, so I’m still reading so many books!

I’ll be back again today with day 5 of 12 days of Winter. See you soon!

Before New Grim: #3- The day the world stopped turning

Date: 8/10/Y2K-045

Subject: Recovery of video recordings of F.day

To: BRM HQ

Recently our recent scout team operation had found old recordings from damaged but still recoverable CCTV information, out in the ruins of Freeman area. Theses recordings and still Picts recorded the hours leading up towards F.day, as the city was decimated by three atomic warheads by [classified]. I have stored these recordings into the historical archives of F.day files, to ensure City Grims fate will not be forgotten.

I request that I may be given permission by General Brandon to meet Atom, to discuss F.day and the next phase of reclamation of New Grim.

Regards,

Marina J. Hester

City Grim, 30/12/99 at 18:00pm

City Grim, 30/12/Y2K at 12:00am. The day F.day began after New Year celebration.

City Grim, 30/12/Y2K at 12:02am. The day City Grim was bombarded by atomic warheads.

12 days of winter [day 6]: The Grey-mane Dynasty lore series- the art of the Grey-mane, year 1

12 days of winter [day 6]: The Grey-mane Dynasty lore series- the art of the Grey-mane, year 1

This year was the start of a long series of my homebrew lore series on the Grey-mane dynasty for AoS. The lore was planned to tie all of my AoS factions from an origin root that would spread out and build many perspectives from different factions.

However, the story couldn’t be fully realised without the help of visual imagery art. So this year was an effort for me to not only build my lore series, but also to provide visual art of my stories.

Today, I would like to show you guys a whole years worth of art from ‘The Grey-mane Lore Series’, ranging from portrait art of the Grey-manes themselves to the landmarks that define the dynasty’s history and heritage. Enjoy!

Arashar The Master Alchemist, Grey-mane of Metal.

Future sight of the second fall

Realm map of the Grey-mane dynasty land in Aqshy.

The Corrupted constellation above mount Silver Throne.

Map of the Grey-mane city.

Roar of the Lighting God.

The Stagrot Gladiators heraldry.

A dynasty falls, the Dark Gods rejoice.

The birth of the land

Matron of the Shadows

Oaken the Ancient Ghuldryad, Grey-mane of the Beast.

Croscarvro, Whight king of the Frost Crosil Crypt, Grey-mane of Death.

Lord Celestant of the Grey-mane truce.

Towers is the Celestial Order.

Palace of the dynasty.

The Fire Horse Freeguild.

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Thank you for reading this post. If you have any questions, post a comment below and I’ll reply back as soon as I can. Thanks!

-Bjorn