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 Melnibon√©, 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

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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 Melnibon√©, 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.

~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~

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

_____________________

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.

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.

~~~~~~~~

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