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Mr. R. Coleman (Marlow, UK)

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Aliens: Cauldron (Aliens (Dark Horse))
Aliens: Cauldron (Aliens (Dark Horse))
by Diane Carey
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aliens, Sabretooth Tigers, Woolly Mammoths, pirates and lots of death. Nuff said ?, 23 Sep 2009
Firstly I have to say that I found this book totally by accident, but having read the Aliens works of Perry, Schofield, Bischoff and so on many years before I quickly grabbed this off the shelf hungrily when I saw it. And whilst Diane Carey has near to fifty published books - at time of printing - I have to say that I had not heard of this author before so approach the read with slight trepidation. Now though I have to say I really had nothing to worry about.

Basic story ? A crew of a space-ship accidentally let out a partial group of Aliens in a stasis container, causing the rest of the Aliens within to be automatically loaded onto another ship as no distress signal can be sent. The new ship - after a teen mutiny - is now fully run by a the group of teenagers, who have to try and survive one of Sci-fi's greatest foes. And low and behold, the their ship contains re-cloned Mammoths and Sabre-tooth's among the cargo of other livestock destined to populate nearby planetary systems.

I think the book thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, and finished it relatively quickly - which to me is always the sign of an enjoyable read. I would certainly have no hesitation about recommending this book to people that like the Alien/Aliens genre, but I feel traditional hard core fans may well either love it or hate it in equal number.

My only real let-down in this novel was that I felt that whist her knowledge of all things maritime is to be applauded, I was left thinking far too many pages were filled out with the details of the transfer of cargo from the ships and that this space in the relatively short book (284 pages) would have been better utilised in action sequences or other ways that enhanced the story. I personally would have scrapped them and detailed either what became to the passengers left on the Virginia or given more insight to the `changeling' which seemed to appear with very little reason or rhyme and be left dangling with no apparent involvement in the story.
Also letting loose two lots of the Aliens was repetitive, so why not simply have used the freed 1st batch of eight or so wreak havoc on the Virginia and then use the transport tubes to infest the Umiak ?

Lastly, if a foetal alien can take on some characteristics of the host, I would love to have seem a woolly-mammoth or Sabre-tooth hybrid, but maybe next time Diane ?

4 out of 5, as its good, leaves you wanting more, but not totally the best Aliens book.

Orcslayer (Warhammer: Gotrek and Felix)
Orcslayer (Warhammer: Gotrek and Felix)
by Nathan Long
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 6.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Long way of perfect, but a reasonable effort !, 11 Sep 2009
Book 8 in the Felix and Gotrek saga.

I am sure that like many people who learned that Nathan Long would be taking over the reigns of the 'Slayer' series, I had apprehensions that no-one would be able to live up to William King's excellent former writing. So, I am not surprised that a few people are genuinely a little upset in their reviews on Amazon of the new authors work and his attempt to follow such an admired fore-bearer. Well, maybe a little upset is a bit mild reading some, who seem nearer to taking hold of Mr Longs nether parts in a clamp and force feeding him orc dung !!

The basic story, is of Gotrek agreeing - if somewhat reluctantly due to a previous oath - to accompany a group of his fellow kin to take back a dwarven stronghold that has been invaded by an unusually well organized army of Orcs and Goblins. However, it soon begins to take shape that there is more to this than meets the eye as dwarf treachery and unseen powers start to make themselves known.

Myself, I feel that the book is a bit better than people are making it out to be. As with all authors who take over well developed characters, Long has very deep boots to fill after King and it seems to me that he has made a valiant attempt to keep the series going and try to breathe his own `new life' in to the series. Personally, I cannot see why Kings stopped but, hey that's BL for you !

However, that said, I too do have a few issues with Gotrek and some of the actions that he seems to take. Retreating from a fight ? Even if only to find a more heroic death than an army of Orcs ? Pain ? Exhaustion ? Just not what we had come to expect from our lovable red haired and tattooed dwarf !

I also felt there were far too many Orcs and it seemed to get a little monotonous fighting the same foe every thirty pages or so, and even though Long invents new characters in line with King, they to me just do not quite seem the lovable rogues that the previous author came up with. I had always said that King seemed to be having a little poke at his BL employers with the distinctiveness and fun he had with his lovable back-up characters.

Lastly I could not understand why the new author is picking up the saga quite a bit after the end of Giant Slayer - this book is not a continuation of GS and Felix has been now travelling and recording Gotrek's travels for twenty years ! Maybe BL see a potential opening to bring back King to sew the two end together ? Only the GM of BL could answer that.

However, I still believe Long has done enough to show that he could do well with the series if only he could pay a little more attention to the characteristics that King had instilled in his illustrious duo and the fans love so much. Long will be around for quite a while writing the series from now on, and not just a ghost writer that will come in now and again and make even more ungainly jumps in the way Gotrek and Felix act. So, hopefully, any mis-givings can be corrected in future novels, and the criticisms may in time fade. Then again may there are a lot of 'Grudge-bearers' out there !!!

4 out of 5, for the potential is there, if not the whole just yet !!

Eden's Twilight (Deathlands)
Eden's Twilight (Deathlands)
by James Axler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Questionable Deathlands !!!, 2 Sep 2009
Deathlands 86.

After the recent spate of really quite good Deathlands books I feel it is a real shame that this novel has let the series slightly down a bit.

Basic story ? The group find an Urban Combat Vehicle (UCV) and team up with a previously known trader named Roberto to find the mysterious ville of Cascade, that reportedly has been left untouched and remained the same from the pre-nuke civilization 100 years prior. However, as usual they must beat others to the prize, fight off both muties and norms alike, before actually finding the secrets of the town.

Whilst the ghost author (Nick Pollotta) does a reasonable job of keeping the story going after extremely confusion fire-fights, the sheer amount of questions raised and character characteristics that change from previous books may well have the reader pulling their hair out ? Since when did Mildred start telling the armourer JD Dix about blasters and gunpowder ? Why the hell did the group not blow the hell out of the village in the end for storing long-pig for emergencies ? How the hell did Pete lay the land-mines without being attacked by the Kraken ? Why did the Hell-hounds change nature suddenly and not rip MacIntyre to pieces ? Why did Roberto's attitude to Ryan change so swiftly ? When did Jak suddenly start loving MRE Packs ?

The author also creates ideas like the droid battle, but fails to make enough of it, or explain why droid was fighting droid. Invents a mutie called the Kraken that all the group recognise but I for the life of me after reading the whole series cannot remember ! There is also an insinuated link of Krysty to one of Pete's gang, but again that goes nowhere.

Lastly - I think that if I ever see the abbreviation UCV ever again in a DL book I feel I hunt the author down and find out exactly how much he got paid for every time he put UCV on a page - 5 I think on some pages (Monotonous sir!!!)

So, I guess for all the inconsistencies with the characters and sheer amount of unanswered questions I'll give it a 3, since there are a few reasonable ideas.

Hereticus (Eisenhorn Trilogy)
Hereticus (Eisenhorn Trilogy)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable - if somewhat rather quick - ending to the series., 24 Aug 2009
Hereticus is the third and final volume of Dan Abnett's excellent trilogy concerning the adventures - and lifetime history pretty much - of the Inquisition's own Gregor Eisenhorn, as he takes on everything alien, chaos and generally daemonite in his own unique style !

Firstly I have to say that timeline wise Abnett only advances 50 years from the end of the second book Malleus, which is quite a relief after the 100 year jump from Xenos to Malleus !

Story-wise, life for Gregor seems to be settling down to normal - well as normal for as it is for an Inquisitor - when most of his friends and associates are assassinated at precisely the same time on various different worlds throughout the galaxy. This in turn leads Eisenhorn to flee with his surviving padre of close friends, to take time to find out who is behind the plot and try to seek vengeance for their deaths.

I found that like the previous two novels in the series, the stories read well and were certainly well thought out, and I finished the book in just a few days which to me is a sign of money well worth spent. However, saying that, I would like to say that I do not think this series or type of book is one for the Black Library and Warhammer and 40K reading virgins out there, since the first time reader I feel will be well lost in the sheer amount of depth that Abnett on occasions tends to go into. I still feel that there is more in Abnett's mind than he can get onto the paper, and the book certainly ends far quicker than the build up !

Bad things about this book ? Well obviously it really is advisable to read the first books Xenos and Malleus in advance, since alot will not be clear if your picking up this book first, especially as the main villain of the peace originates from the first novel. The changing of Cherubael to a less aggressive daemon was - though understandable - was also a bit of a shame and the appearance of Ravenor and the mysterious Eldar seer really seemed to go nowhere in my own opinion. Also but with no dis-respect to the author chaos seems to be riddled throughout my copies of this series, for not only was chapter 20 missing from Malleus, but my copy of the first edition has two chapter 18's.

Lastly, I am sure that those of you out there that may want to collect the stories of Eisenhorn, a further short story is contained - as usual - in the Omnibus edition of these books, and another short story appears in `Crucible Of War' to my own knowledge - though there is probably more.

Still, 4 out of 5 as I felt Abnett maybe was pushed for the end to the series far quicker by the publishers and could not get everything into the book it should have had !

Malleus (Eisenhorn Trilogy)
Malleus (Eisenhorn Trilogy)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Death to the Heretics !!! (even in missing chapter 20 !!), 9 Aug 2009
Malleus is the second novel in Dan Abnett's trilogy of books concerning the adventures of Gregor Eisenhorn, Inquisitor and general despatcher of all things evilly chaotic, xeno related or just plain heretical scum of the Warhammer 40K universe.

Firstly though, I would like to say for those people that have not as yet read the book that the time-line in Malleus actually picks up approximately one-hundred years after the events at the end of the first book `Xenos'. And certain characters have actually passed by the way during the preceding century - the aide Midas Bentancore being a prime example. However, the majority of the time-enduring major players all return and keep to their previous character traits. That said, once again Abnett is full on with his introduction of new characters, un-described flora and even alien sword fighting techniques that may well have you turning back to try to understand what he is saying !

After the events of the first novel Eisenhorn - after being declared heretic himself - sets out through the cosmos to find out just who was behind the conspiracy of `Xenos' and the mysterious daemonhost known as Cherubael. This in turn leads him into further animosity not only with his `bounty' but also with his own Inquisition as-well.

Once again, like nearly all of Abnett's books that I have read to date, the story reads smoothly, I finished it in a few days and was on the whole enjoyable, but I did start to feel in places that it was on occasion tending to be a little too close to the storyline of the first novel - afterall the last book ended in full out conflict over heretical artefacts. It is also quite heavily sci-fi and not one I would recommend for a young audience.

Bad things about this book ? Well, in my copy, BL 2001 1st print, once again the proof reader or printers need throwing into the `Eye Of The Warp', for though there were far less grammatical errors, my copy had no Chapter 20 ! All the pages of the novel but no 20 - straight from 19 to 21 ! Investigate that chaos Eisenhorn ! I also got the feeling that when Abnett was writing about the rune-laced sword `Barbarisater', he had at the back of his mind the fateful soul drinking blade `Stormbringer' of Moorcock's Elric novels !

This book also features what is probably one of the first appearances of Abnett's Ravenor character, so completests of 40k certain characters may wish to purchase this book to fill out background history of Ravenor.

Lastly, thought the events in the story tend to end quite quickly, and many will be thinking well that was a waste of the Cherubael daemonhost character, just make sure you read the epilogue !

Still, enjoyable, but IN MY OPINION just not quite as enjoyable as the first. Take care warp-spawn !

(please note, if you like this character a small story about Eisenhorn also appears in the short story book 'Crucible of War'.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 18, 2009 10:38 PM BST

Xenos (Eisenhorn Trilogy)
Xenos (Eisenhorn Trilogy)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping the galaxy from chaos scum and villainy !!, 3 Aug 2009
Firstly I have to admit that my review of this book takes place some eight years after publication of Xenos, book one in Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn trilogy - it was just one of those Black Library series that had sat on my shelf waiting for me to get Malleus (2nd in the series), which I had been in no particular hurry to find ! And to be honest after reading this novel I wish I had started the series many years before.

Our main character in this book is Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, whose main object in life is hunting out and eliminating of all things Chaotic,alien and generally bad for the Imperial universe of Warhammer 40K, which he does with the ample aid of his quite superbly written collection of close assosiates. I have always felt that Abnett has a great ability to populate his stories with a few interesting and well backgounded characters that you come to really enjoy - though I also have to admit that I find this also to be one of his downsides in-so-much as like his Gaunt series the characters, positions and histories sometimes tend to come thick and fast and leave the poor reader somewhat baffled trying to picture characters they met 50 pages or so before !

Basic story ? Whilst tracking down a previous nemesis and recidivist, Eisenhorn gets embroiled in a plot involving the richest, most powerful and chaos influennced Houses of the local Star System, to trade ancient Xeno artifacts to an alien race for the Necroteuch - an ancient book of chaos origin. Eisenhorn eventually finds himself not only battling human and xeno's alike, but also Chaos Marines and a mysterious unknown character that is haunting his dreams.

The book reads smoothly and I read it in just a few days, which to me in generally the sign of money well worth spent - though I did feel that the proof reader should have been a little more stringent and corrected alot of gramatical errors !

Bad things about this book ? Well as stated, far too numerous characters for my own liking, indeed on many occasions I found myself looking back a few pages to get the description of the character back into my head. I also feel that the stories in Abnetts mind are more colourful and detailed than comes out on the pages of the BL novels. He creates massive amounts of trees, flowers and creatures that have no more detail to them other tham a name - its a little like creating a tree called the Oingo Boingo tree and leaving the reader to just imagine what an Oingo Boingo tree looks like and where it might have come from. But, if he did give the depth - which he does usually on character - then the book would probably be too heavy to life without the aid of a servitor !

Lastly I would say that I feel Abnett is to the Black Library and the Warhammer universe what Stephen King is to horror - I just can't imagine it without him ! However, I would also say that unlike a lot of BL books that can be read by anyone who does not have atleast a brief knowledge of the workings of the genre, this one really would need a little understanding of the way of life in the 40K universe.

Still, I will start on Malleus now with all due haste - even if it means returning to Xeno's for reference if I need a reminder on anything ! 5 out of 5.

World War Z
World War Z
by Max Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and unique Zombie book !! (if no actual story line !!), 25 July 2009
This review is from: World War Z (Paperback)
I have to admit that when I first saw this book on Amazon and in well known book retailers I was rather nervous about not only buying a book that in itself had no actual story line but was also quite expensive on first publication. Come on guys, Duckworth may be a smaller publishing company when compared to some of the bigger ones, but really! So, I am sure like a few others with less cash than a city banker I waited patiently until either the price would fall, a two for one offer opened up or I found it in a charity shop. I found it reduced a few years later - Therefore this review takes place about 3 years after actual publication!!!

Firstly I have to say that Max Brooks tells a fine story in World War Z without the book actually having an ongoing story, if you've read the book you will know what I mean. The novel is really just a series of interviews with survivors of the Zombie War years after the end of the conflict. Interviews that encompass not only the military, navy and air force, but also doctors, family people and even in one case a blind Japanese Samurai!!

The book tells of the fall of humanity to the zombie hoards, the struggle to survive and the fight-back to reclaim the planet from the dominance of the living dead. Please note however that these Zombie are the real type-A class Romero `Dawn Of The Dead' ones, that though they shuffle around tend to swarm and trap you in lifts !! They also do not turn other animals on the planet into zombies or fire rocket launchers (The Rising - Brian Keene), turn invisible and have psychic power (Wellington's trilogy) or fall in love (Matthew Smiths Words of Their Roaring). They just EAT us !!

It also appeared to me that Brooks did a lot of research when writing this book, certain terms and organisation, etc, but that is not to say that he probably made up just as many too !!

The only two downsides for me to this book, were firstly just when you're getting into the narrative of the experiences of any of the particular people being interviewed, the piece comes to a somewhat premature end and secondly, apart from the military running out of bullets I still fail to see how a 1 mile an hour zombie could take over the world, especially when you could just walk up to him and lop his head from his rotten shoulders ! Personally, I would much rather Brooks had written a series of books that had encompassed all the characters that he had created, not necessarily all coming together and bonding as one family but given the reader a bit more than just snippets of their lives.

At the end of the day I have to say that I read the book in just a few days, which to me is a sign of finding a book entertaining, and would certainly buy more of the same authors work, though I have to say right here and now that really do not think that the `Survival Guide' is calling to me !!! What next, a book of detailed descriptions of gum wrappers during the war ?

Still, I have to give this book a 5 out of 5 for it being somewhat unique in zombie genre.

Tales from the Dark Millennium (Warhammer 40, 000)
Tales from the Dark Millennium (Warhammer 40, 000)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 6.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Good read if you can get hold of it !!, 17 July 2009
Tales From The Dark Millennium is basically a 253 page collection of eight short stories by seven different authours, containing such household names in the Warhammer universe as Graham McNeill, Dan Abnett and CS Goto, together with a few lesser known but up and coming ones. All the stories are set in the Pyrus Reach sector and based on the Collectable Card Game by Sabretooth Games.

Firstly, I have to say that many of the collections of 40K stories I have read in the past all seemed to have stories that seemed to be either adapted from ideas that the authors had which they adapted to 40K or quite simply said their Sc-Fi work was 40K and published it along with other stories that quite obviously were. And apart from Matt Keefe's donation which seemed to me to be an adaptation of a Star Trek story line, I have to say that the authours seemd to have mostly given us mostly new and exciting work that I found very hard to fault.

I especially enjoyed McNeil's `The Prisoner', Dan Abnett's `The Invitation' and Steve Parker's `The Falls Of Marakross, the later of which I would honestly have loved to see further writing or another novel on the group of odd ball mercenaries that Inquisitor Heiron pulled out of somewhere to acompany him - but sadly Parker chose to annihilate most of them !!

Worst thing about this book ? Well, certain of the stories seemed to me to be trying to fit in just a little too much detail and depth than the story actually needed to have, and if CS Goto's `Tears Of Blood' had been first in the book readers - especially those new to the Warhammer universe - may well have wondered if they were going to struggle with this novel as the writer goes into some extreme depths of the Elder history.

Still, overall this was a good read and well worth looking around for. 4 out of 5.

The Elixir
The Elixir
by James N. Frey
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Not the Elixir for entertainment !!!, 11 July 2009
This review is from: The Elixir (Mass Market Paperback)
Firstly, I have to admit that I bought this book in a second hand book shop waiting for a flight out of Thailand and wanting to get rid of a few spare baht I had in my pocket, whilst at the same time hoping to find a pleasant read for the journey home! So, after reading the back of the cover, I paid my little red note and walked away with a rather battered and taped up 400 page book.

The book is basically divided into two sections, Berlin at the end 1945 war (written in 3rd person) and then in modern day San Fancisco (written in first person). And I have to admit that to start with I thoroughly enjoyed the scene set by the authour during the devastating onslaught and `last stand' of the few remaining members of Third Reich and the final few moments of the life of Hitler - who seemed according to the authour's free license to have commited suicide after failing to recover `the elixir of eternal youth' from a secret laboratory.

But then sadly I felt, the whole book took a turn for the worst when the story changed the timeline and we met the hero of the novel David Arn, who seemed to spend the next 320 pages constantly driving around SF in the rain, drinking, driving, questioning, driving and giving a running commentary of the area and streets. It just got monotanous and in the end I kept the book in the toilet to finish it when nature called, knowing that I had far better things to read but still wanting to finish the story.

I can only guess that this book was published in the 1980's because there was a real scarce lack of authours or it was what passed for top-notch fiction in the USA at the time (no offence intended as its alot better now !!!). However, it just does not cut it now.

Please also note that the authour is really - or maybe it was just popular cult fiction of the time - shall we say a little stereo-typical when it comes to people other than Americans. The Germans in SF all speak like - Vhat, Vhere, Vhen, Zis, Vould, vee, Vill, etc. I think if Frey could just have said that `he spoke with a German accent' and encoraged the reader to do the rest it would have been better. Black and Asian people are also type-cast in this way, and it seems unlikely now I feel that the book would ever get published today - Savage and Woo and I'll let you work out who was who !

Anyhow, I think I would probably have been better off donating the baht to a local orphange than buying this, but saying that I will give it a 2 out of 5 if only for the first 90 pages.

Apocalypse Unborn (Deathlands)
Apocalypse Unborn (Deathlands)
by James Axler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Magus, Muties and all about as hard to kill as finding the book !, 27 Jun 2009
OK, first of all, be aware that this book is relatively quite hard to get hold of. I once read that it was because of a fire at the publishers or something which reduced the numbers on sale in retail - though I cannot guarantee this! But it makes sense.

General sum up of the story - Ryan and his fellow gang of post-apocalyptic USA survivors hear that the Magos (half machine-half human, but 100% bad mean son of a gun) is building an army for some unknown reason, and decided to sign on in an attempt to get near to him and put the nemesis down once and for all. As with everything Magos related, nothing is quite what it seems and it is not long before the group are once again fighting for their very lives in the Magos's very own arena of death.

There are so many reasons I why feel that I should of hated this book. It is full of mutants that I really felt went too far over the top even by Deathlands standards - the giant talking bird being one of the daftest, the huge amount of fighting in the book which in one case has the group fighting a 100 page battle on a beach which made the actual storyline less deep than it otherwise might have been. Also, while the characters mostly act to their usual form, I felt that the group probably would not have gone after the Magus, though they still would have eradictade him with extreme predudice on sight !

However, saying all that, I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and it was well worth tracking down. I once asked the author about the lack of plot and sheer amount of fighting scenes and he said he wanted to do a 'Gladiator' style book, which if you read it you may well feel he achieved - though I did doubt that the vast amounts of mutants could and would have fought together.

I also felt that the group at the end of the novel - especially after tracking the Magus down - would have gone after him via the matt-trans gateway at the end, which they do not. A wasted opportunity maybe ?

Still, eighty odd Deathalnds books down and the series is once again beginning to get back to form after some really dire books. The real James Axler (Laurence James sadly deceased) would be proud I feel to know his characters are still giving the loyal following entertainment after so many years !

5 out of 5 - even with the muties !

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