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)

Fly on the Wall Post Apocalyptic Saga Fan fiction part 4: The Nomad and the Beast

Before the story begins, this is kinda a return of the fan series. For those of you who are new, this was Inspired by The Fly on the Wall Podcast (hosted by Luke and Waz) post apocalyptic saga audio series. My story splinters off from a certain point from the podcast and goes in its own direction. This series is not canonical to the podcast, and is treated as a fan fiction story.

I took a break from writing the fan fiction after I felt that I was taking it too seriously. Not many people read the fan fiction blog posts, so I decided to give it a break.

But after some ideas came to mind and I felt the need to write it down, I’m ready to release part 4!

If your interested to know where this post apocalyptic saga came from, you can check out my ‘Dark Mind’ overlord, IRO, over on his blog. links below.

https://imperialrebelork.wordpress.com

You can find The Fly on the Wall podcast on most podcast sites and you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

With that, enjoy the horror!

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Luke opened his eyes as he was awoken by a loud noise coming from the back of the petrol station. At first he thought it was just a bit of scrap that dropped off from years of corrosion, after the apocalypse left the place deserted from maintenance. Man-made structures built by a an era when the world was still running, but dying from its inhabitants own meddling. In a time when only humanity was its own threat, now the game has changed where mutants and limited resources were the biggest threat. Luke took a few seconds to regain his senses after his rude awakening. Was the building unsafe?

But then he realised it wasn’t that, he heard a roar like a lion announcing it wants a challenge a worthy foe, it sounded familiar. Keith! Luke got up and ran outside with his pistol in hand, heart beating faster as he dreaded what he would discover. Glenn followed after Luke as he got his sniper rifle on the ready. Had Krakstrong finally lost his humanity to the beast that took control of his mutated animal form? Did the raiders sneak in and caught sight of the beast and engaged in combat?

It was soon became apparent that it was a lot worse than the fears Luke had dreaded. He saw behind the back of the station that Krakstrong was shoving Waz against the wall with his massive mutated arm. His grip was crunching at the symbiotic form of Waz as metal and flesh became pressured by the brutes grip. “Who were you talking to! Answer me now or I crush you!” Said krakstrong, as he gritted his teeth in disgust at the sight of Waz. It finally happened, the friendship Luke had once had was tearing itself apart. Hatred, betrayal, jealousy, anger, sorrow and fear was all the gang could feel towards each other.

Luke tightened his grip on his pistol and shouted at Krakstrong “Keith!!! Put him down, there’s no need for this violence!”. Krakstrong roared in anger as that name was said again. He hated that name, he never wanted to be human again. “I told you I’m Krakstrong!!!!!” He threw Waz towards Luke and Glenn with a crash of bodies. On the floor, Luke was pinned to the ground by the weight of Waz. His body was aching from the collision and he could feel his legs go cold. Glenn was lucky enough to have dogged the collision and helped Waz on his feet, but as soon as he did so he was smashed in the side by Krakstrongs backhanded swipe.

Glenn was knocked off his feet and landed on the ground with a loud thunk. He was knocked down unconscious.

Waz lifted himself up by self propelled symbiotic arms, springing him high up towards a safe distance from Krakstrong. “Do not interfere the great work” said Waz in a cold unemotional tone towards Krakstrong. The beast pounded the ground and prepared itself to make a full on charge.

Luke tried to get up and help Glenn but he realised his legs wouldn’t move. Were they broken? It would be a serious problem as he wouldn’t be able to reach James at the Water purification power plant facility on time. He’d die from his degrading health and fail his people, his family from the Final Apocalypse…..

He soon realised that his legs weren’t broken as he propped himself up by using his hands as support. As he inspected his legs, his eyesight began to lose its perception, blurring and strobing like a psychedelic nightmare. Luke lost his focus and dropped to the floor in a dizzy sickness. His temporary sickness was getting worse at the wrong time. Time was running out…..

Krakstrong and Waz were fighting each other on the road just a few meters away from the petrol station. The unconscious bodies of Glenn and Luke were trapped and unable to stop the infighting.

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Krakstrong charged towards Waz like a rhino thundering towards its prey at great speeds. The massive ape form was intimidating with arms as big as logs, four arms of lethal brutality that could shred metal with enough force. He would kill this abomination Waz, it served its use as a guide and now its betrayed its friends like krakstrong knew it would. Why did that pathetic man slave think Waz would be a friend like it used to be? Couldn’t he see the machine is all that remains of this vessel?

The beast knew Waz had a role, a dark role in the complex web that ties the four friends to the inevitable showdown. He heard whispers in his mind that guided his actions, telling him to do what was right in the natural order. It told him to slay Waz now before the irreversible could happen.

Waz, son of the machine, key to the gates of the flood. The Final Apocalypse’ Said the voice in his mind.

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Waz threw away his robes and revealed his body of mutated horror as cables, metal, flesh and natural growths mixed constantly to his form. He turned his arms into blades of steel and flesh, his form bulked to match Krakstrongs size. He charged towards his foe like a juggernaut as he pounded the ground with his massive feet.

He was an abomination to everything, even to the mutants he was a stranger. But why should he care? He was the thing that would bring about the salvation of mankind and save the earth from total annihilation. All his life he had a purpose to be something better, to never succumb to the desires and self interest like the mindless selfish, dishonest and corrupted fools who splay themselves to leaders of class and political backstabbing. Never faltering in his goal to help his friends and family, and by extension to his community.

His goals have since grown to involve the whole world as his mission to protect and save, at the cost of sacrificing his connection to his friends and family. Even more so his old identity.

The Final Apocalypse was only the first step towards salvation, the site in which history would be made was only days away now. Another chapter in mankind’s journey towards greater heights. The Dark Mind was only a distraction, the real goal was yet to come.

Waz, no not Waz anymore. The Nomad, son of the machine, the key to the flood. The Final Apocalypse’ a ghost inside Waz’s mind whispered.

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James looked at down from the cliff edge where he spectated the fighting. He smiled to himself as he saw the two who were once friends fight to the death. Fate can be cruel but then that’s life is it not? Didn’t fate create the Dark Mind?

A rat came towards James and rested on his lap, chewing on a bloody remains of bone and flesh. Seeing his child enjoy its meal made his smile widen. Rats were seen as nothing more than pests, vermin that were exterminated by the thousands just for breeding and surviving in this world. Why should the humans judge themselves as the rightful rulers of earth, to kill the rats when they themselves are just as simple and verminous to themselves.

“The rats, just like the ones back in London…….” mumbled James as a memory, a memory of the original James come to mind for a brief minute. They sometimes flash before him unexpectedly, fragments of someone’s memory that appear like ghosts from another time. They were becoming more frequent, James knew why, he was too used to this form that he couldn’t separate his true self to this identity.

He’s been outside for too long, it was time to go back home.

“Let’s go, I think brother Giger will want me back soon” Said James as he pats his rat on the head and stood up. He looked below one more time at the fighting at the pet, he’d like to spectate till the end but plans are in place that needed his attention. He turns around and walks along into a puddle of dark water and sinks below its depths. As soon as he was below, the puddle sunk into the ground and left a bare dry land as if the puddle was never there.

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End of part 4

Yearly book reading challenge update and the Prince Corum book series

Back in April I’ve posted an update on my yearly book reading challenge, after reading a total of twelve books last year, I wanted to best that record by reading more books. Below is a recap list of what I read this year.

  • The Rats, by James Herbert
  • Lair, by James Herbert
  • Domain, by James Herbert
  • Chacarodons: The Outer Dark, by Robbie Mcniven
  • The Horus Heresy: Galaxy in Flames, by Ben Counter
  • The Horus Heresy: Crimson Fist, by John French
  • Nagash: The Undying King, by Josh Reynolds
  • Legacy of Dorn, by Mike Lee
  • Elric of Melniboné, by Michael Moorcock
  • A knight and his horse, by Ewart Oakshott

Today I can announce (a late one) that I’ve now passed my goal, with six more books read! This year I have so far read 16 books, three of which are part of a trilogy of books. Below is a list of what I’ve read since April’s update post.

  • The Knight of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Queen of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The King of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Land Leviathan (the Oswald Bastable trilogy), by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Dark Powers of Tolkien, by David Day
  • The Fog, by James Herbert

The first trilogy in the Corum series written by Micheal Moorcock.

So now that my goal has been met, I’m going to read some more books and see how far I can go before the end of 2019.

After reading the Sword Rulers trilogy by Micheal Moorcock, I was really inspired by the story and creations by Micheal, a fun and interesting series relating to the multiverse. I think it’s a series that’s hardly been talked about with today’s generation (including me for a time before I found out about Micheal Moorcock). I’ve got an idea that I’ve been working on for weeks now, that will hopefully attract more new readers to the Corum series and other Micheal Moorcock books……

Until next time,

-Bjorn

A.B.C tribute art, part 5: Deadlock in the style of Ken Walker

Medium: acrylics

Thought it’d be Hammerstein today? Well the power of Khaos can be deceiving, what’s order when you can jump the cue using magic and mayhem at your disposal?

Todays subject is Deadlock, originally created by Pat Mills for 2000AD comic, he is a wizard anarchist who serves Khaos to spread mayhem throughout the galaxy. Concepts like order, rules and obeying superiors is alien to Deadlock, for he despises such things that stands in his way. He has on occasion been at odds with Hammerstein due to both being polar opposites to each other. Hammerstein is a solider who values loyalty, order, respect, laws, rules and honourable combat. Deadlock on the other hand is an anarchist, he seeks mayhem, freedom, individual choices, power and sacrifices to Khaos.

He’s even got his own series (because he was such a badass), and he’s also met Nemesis the Warlock.

Whilst I couldn’t achieve the brilliant standard that Ken Walker did for the Hellbringer arc (it took him a month to paint six pages worth of story!) I could at least try to paint Deadlock as best as I can.

Next up, this time I will be doing Hammerstein!

-Bjorn

A.B.C Warriors tribute art part 1: Mongrol in the style of Mike McMahon

Original inked artwork using fine ink pens, ink colour pens, inks and blue glaze.

Photo editing version

Final artwork using Procreate art app

This blog post series is a tribute to 2000AD’s Sci-fi war series, The A.B.C Warriors written by Pat Mills and various artist who have illustrated the team over many decades.

I wanted to try this art project for two reasons, 1) I haven’t done an art project since my Kray Twins art project a year ago, I’m getting rusty from a lack of consistent art work. My break from art is long overdue. 2) I’ve always wanted to try and recreate the A.B.C Warriors ever since I first read them back in 2013, the first work of Pat Mills that I’ve enjoyed reading and got me into reading more of his 2000ad work. I liked how unique each character looked that suited their personality, like Hammerstein for example having a masculine and heroic physic wielding his heavy hammer. The members of the A.B.C Warriors personalities really adds weight to the story, and how each of them has a story to tell (well Blackblood is the least sympathetic bot of the lot).

The artists like Kevin O’Neil, Mike McMahon, Carlos Ezquerra, Simon Bisley, Clint Langley and many more have always made fantastic artworks for the A.B.C Warriors. Whilst the group have had big visual changes of the years stylistically, they still however retain their personalities and design over the past decades. From Bisley’s punk 80’s comic book art to Langley’s blockbuster Sci-Fi digital art, the A.B.C Warriors have a refreshing appeal for every decade and artist interpretation.

Inspired by the original cover art for A.B.C Warriors book one by Mike Mchaon, I wanted to recreate Mongrol in a similar style to Mikes work. I’ve gone for inks as I like the different effects it has when applied. Like the colour ink pens are great for covering big areas in a flat colour, and ink paints to shade areas like shadows and background. Sort of like old comic book art, but using more modern tools for the job.

The photo edit and digital art is used to refine the artwork and add a finishing touch. Hopefully this artwork will be at least a good enough tribute to the brilliant artwork of Mike McMahon.

My next subject is Joe Pineapples, one of the coolest and deadliest members of the A.B.C Warriors. I might do him in the style of Simon Bisley’s Black and White ink work, or try the deep end and go digital art like Clint Langley’s version of Joe.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

Book reading challenge 2019, progress so far

Back in February I did a post on my 2019 book reading challenge, after last years biggest record of reading books of twelve in total. This year I wanted to beat that record by reading more books, and expand my interests into literature.

So how have I done so far?

Well, I’ve done a lot of reading so far, a lot more faster than I used to read. In fact I’ve noticed how quicker I am at reading books and how I’m more imaginative reading the action/ character developments.

Here’s what I’ve read so far this year.

  • The Rats, by James Herbert
  • Lair, by James Herbert
  • Domain, by James Herbert
  • Chacarodons: The Outer Dark, by Robbie Mcniven
  • The Horus Heresy: Galaxy in Flames, by Ben Counter
  • The Horus Heresy: Crimson Fist, by John French
  • Nagash: The Undying King, by Josh Reynolds
  • Legacy of Dorn, by Mike Lee
  • Elric of Melniboné, by Michael Moorcock
  • A knight and his horse, by Ewart Oakshott

Ten books read so far! It’s only month four of twelve and I’m already near over the record mark! I must admit I wasn’t sure if I could read as much book with enough enthusiasm and interest. But I’m actually enjoying reading books now that I’m using instrumental music as background noise when I’m reading, as well as setting daily/weekly goals to read a certain amount of pages.

I’ve still got many more books to read yet before the year is done, I’m now planning on setting a goal of re-reading books I’ve read years ago. This is a fun way of having a new perspective on books that I’ve read before, and learn things that I’ve missed out on my first read.

For example, I’m currently reading Warhammer End Times: Return of Nagash, by Josh Reynolds, which covers the first of five stories in the apocalyptic event that broke the Old World. Last time I read this book was way back in 2014/ 2015, so there’s been enough of a gap since I’ve read it to consider trying it a second read. Oh Mannfred, such an ambitious schemer and a fool you were!

Until next time!

-Bjorn

The future of The Rats after Domain?

The future of The Rats after Domain?

After reading all three books of The Rats trilogy (and The City graphic novel), I’ve decided to look back and theories the connections of each books revelations to the end bomb shell book of Domain.

Below I’ll be giving brief catch ups with each books endings relating to the rats, and where there origins started. This will relate to my theory on the series finale, and how it effects the future in a post- apocalyptic world rule by the rats.

This post will have major spoilers for The Rats, Lair, Domain and The City!!!

In the first book we find out through the course of the story that Under-Secretary, Foskins, had found information about the Black Rats origins. They were created by an atomic bomb test in New Guinea, which a professor (Zoologist) by the name of William Bartlett Schiller took one of the rats back to the U.K.

He went to a canal in London in a small house and started breeding the brown rats with the black rats, resulting in the creation of the mutant breed. However to no ones surprise, the Black Rats break free and start breeding and infesting London’s sewer network.

Harris (protagonist), knew where this old canal house was went straight to it to reach Foskins in time, during the big purge against the rats in an abandoned city of London. When inside, Harris finds all sorts of stuff in a study room including a black board with a faint image of a rat. It’s only when he goes downstairs does he finally realise how significant this place is.

For within this house we find our first White Rat, a mutated monstrosity who’s obese, crippled, hairless and distinctly has two heads. We also find it’s mutated bodyguards who are much bigger than the Black Rats. After battling his way through the bodyguards (and found out the fate of Foskins), Harris kills the mutant rat king.

Meanwhile as the military massacres the hordes of Black Rats from their hiding places (using ultra sounds to attract them), a few however were trapped in a storage room unable to get out. The mother rat gives birth to a strange White Rat before she dies from stress, the White Rat leads its kin away from the city.

In Lair, the protagonist by the name of Pender, finds the new nest of the Black Rats, which reveals more about its hierarchy system. I’ve listed this below to quickly explain the lowest to highest in the rats lair.

  • Black Rats are the foot soldiers who deliver fresh meat to its superiors, decapitated heads are much needed to the brood.
  • Bodyguard rats are much bigger and stronger than the foot solider, who guard the mutated white rat and it’s group of similarly afflicted kin.
  • White Rats are mutated monstrosity’s who tend to be leaders or in place of authority to the Lair. They demand food on a constant basis to replenish their hunger, for their crippled affliction makes them useless to hunt for food.
  • White Rat (king) is the leader of the lair who bends all to his will and demands for more fresh heads to eat. Being bigger than its kin, this rat has two heads, one being useless apart from either eating or sniffing, sight is blind.

After a dispute with one of the Black Rats who the White Rat king was feasting on its new meal, the Black Rat strangely disobeyed its orders and attacked its king. Tearing its throat out and forging on its flesh, along with the rest of the Black Rats. The bodyguards and its White Rat masters were killed off too, making the lair go into outright chaos.

In the end, Pender managed to escape as the army destroys the abandoned house with rockets and explosions, supposedly killing off the Black Rats forever.

But a few survived and went back to the city…..

In Domain, it’s revealed that the rats have a Mother Creature, a massive White Rat who commands all to her commands. Not only is she like her white kin, but she can also breed to create more rats.

After the nuclear apocalypse the rats had grown bolder and left heir nest to find a world in ruin. Regaining their confidence they terrorise many survivors, killing them and taking food back to the nest.

By the end of the story, it’s revealed later on in the last chapter that when the protagonist looked back at the horror he witnessed seeing the Mother Creature, he realised that her litter looked awfully familiar. They were human in appearance with rat features, almost as if the litter were an evolution in the rats cycle. Did mankind evolve from rats, not apes?

Finally in The City, we discover yet another Mother Rat in illustration, and a first visual illustration of what this human/ rat looks like.

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So with all that information out of the way, what can this all mean?

From everything I’ve gathered from all three books, and how the author developed his stories, I have theory.

The Rats are a product of a nuclear blast which changed their DNA to make them abnormally stronger, smarter, more cunning than their smaller kin. However, it has caused a mutation where a few newborn become the white rats. Eventually these rats become deformed and crippled either by genetic failure or it’s part of the hierarchy gene that makes them above the Black Rats. Like bees, the rats produce a unique litter that will lead its nest if ever the King or Queen is slain.

One rat may become the mother creature, who breeds many rats including her own white kin. Unlike her own kind, her newborn are alien to the Black Rats who see them as a threat. But they won’t harm them for their Queen has total command over the nest.

These newborn are the next evolutionary step in the rats species to evolve into more humanoid beings. Wether they are the return of mankind’s ancestors or something entirely more disturbing will never be answered.

This is the true horror of James Herbert’s trilogy of The Rats. Whilst each book is horror filled with rat attacks and mutilations of victims, these pale in comparison to the real horror that connects all the books.

Domain ends the trilogy by showing mankind’s downfall for its recklessness with nuclear weapons, massacring everyone and everything on this earth. The rats, a product of nuclear bomb tests decades ago (the irony that mankind had created such horrors) were a mistake created by mankind’s recklessness (and a professors stupid idea to breed them). The rats took this opportunity to rise up from their long absence from the upper world.

They breed and kill the now weakened but surviving groups of mankind, whilst their queen breeds a new race to rule the earth.

The true horror is that the rats have become the next dominant species of earth, and theses new breed of humanoid rats will inherit this world once mankind becomes extinct. The rats hate them and are more than willing to kill them, but this new breed may live long enough to survive as long as their queen is still in power.

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Whilst the revelation of the new inheritors of earth is an interesting theory, it’s only what I think might happen. You may have your own theories on what The Rats trilogy ending could mean, I’m interested to hear your own theories in the comments below!

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you have enjoyed this post and, hopefully you may be interested to read more or James Herbert’s literature.

Next up I’ve got one more post on The Rats series with my own ideas to improve The City, and how I would give it more meaning as a finale to the series. I’ll explain the positives and negatives of the original story, and wether it could continue the saga with a sequel if James Herbert had continued the series.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

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Sources:

  • Herbert James, The Rats First published in 1974 by New English Library. Edition 1999 Re-published by Pan Books
  • Herbert James, Lair First published in 1979 by New English Library. Edition 1999 Re-published by Pan Books.
  • Herbert James, Domain, First edition 1984 published by New English Library.
  • Herbert James, Miller Ian, Balchin Judy, The City, First edition 1994 published by Pan Books.