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Mr. R. Coleman (Marlow, UK)

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Crucible of War (A Warhammer 40,000 novel)
Crucible of War (A Warhammer 40,000 novel)
by Marc Gascoigne
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but not necessarily 40K !, 19 Dec 2008
`Crucible Of War' is basically a 282 page, ten short story book, set in the world of Warhammer 40K, containing the works of eight authors - some more regularly published than others.

I basically enjoyed the book, and though it may help to have some knowledge of the Warhammer universe, I do not think it entirely needy that you spend every waking moment in a Games Workshop Shop (?). Indeed I actually felt like some of the stories - especially `Payback', `The Curiosity' and `Firestarter' - were stories written by the authors away from 40K and then adapted to fit into the universe. I actually think in `Payback' the only real mention of the 40K universe is a description of a `Space Marine' poster on a wall.

If your like me and enjoy the work of Dan Abnett and Sandy Mitchell, your going to enjoy the short stories by each of them. And Mitchell's story `Fight Or Flight' is I would guess the first introduction of anti-hero Ciaphas Cain's odorously challenged side-kick Jurgen.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, my only problem with Abnett is his consistent use different animals, fauna and characters, without anything to go on. I mean if I said `John Jones stood next to the Flowering Oing-go Bong-go tree' you would have to picture it without any reference, and that's how it feels sometimes.

I was not very keen on the Spurrier story, and have read better fiction by the author, and I think `Warp Spawn' by Black Library Assistant Editor Matt Ralphs would set him up as a future author to look out for.

On the whole an enjoyable read. 4 out of 5.

The House of the Vestals (New Edition) (Roma sub Rosa)
The House of the Vestals (New Edition) (Roma sub Rosa)
by Steven Saylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Addictively Predictable., 18 Nov 2008
Though this book was published far later in the series, the novel actually fits in at number two in the timeline of Saylor's novels about the adventures of Gordianus `The Finder', and his family in ancient Rome. Well, that is until he publishes another back-history story, that is so frustrating to some readers.

The book is mainly a collection of short stories, set during the time period between the books `Roman Blood' and `Catalina's Riddle', which fill out some of the events in Gordianus's life, that the author felt needed filling in.

The stories themselves, whilst entertaining and filled with all the history that Saylor has researched and come to be praised for, are however far too predictable for my own liking. Indeed I found myself far more reading the short story to confirm who the `perpetrator' was, rather than waiting for some suspense filled ending. Maybe unlike other books in the series the author did not have enough pages to fill them out more, for the book is only about 300 pages, and the stories themselves only about 50 pages in length.

Maybe, also his other fiction has prepared me too well on Roman society and the devious lengths that the patricians will go to raising their profile within the Forum or the Political world, or for that matter just for their own greed !

Overall, a smooth, enjoyable book and one that would encourage me to further read more Saylor novels, but far too predictable. Those out there who like his style of writing will enjoy it, as will those who like to read about this period in history. 4 out of 5.

Doom Dynasty: Outlanders
Doom Dynasty: Outlanders
by James Axler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Scene Setter !, 18 Nov 2008
Book 15 in the Axler's Post-Apocalyptic Outlanders saga, and first in the trilogy of `The Imperator Wars' saga,

Unlike a lot of the Outlanders and Deathalnds books by Axler (yes, I know the author Lawrence James is sadly deceased and more than most are written by ghost writers) - this novel is not really a novel for those people looking for a gut-wrenching, mutie- hunting, start-to-finish all out gun fight, that has sadly become the norm of a lot of the later books in the series. Indeed this book only has about 15 to 20 pages of action in its 350 pages

I would describe this book as a scene setter for the next two books in the Imperator Wars trilogy. It is a book about new allegiances, realisations and re-enforcing the history of the Outlander series so far, whilst introducing new characters and taking the series in a slightly different direction.

A quick summary ? The exiles befriend and battle alongside the inhabitants of New Eco (a group of refugee Japanese), a meeting of the barons in Area 51 and the start of an excursion to find out exactly why Baron Cobalt wants to break the treaties with his fellow Barons. Reading Deathlands `Keepers Of The Sun' would not go amiss prior to reading this book either.

An excellent book - and maybe a jumping on point for some - setting up the next two novels superbly. And to be honest, I picked up the next book in the series `Tigers Of Heaven' within 5 minutes of finishing this one, though that was probably just my own nuclear blasted mind wanting to find out more about Baron Colbalt's reproductive reason for saving his nemesis Kane !! 5 out of 5.

Dragonslayer (Gotrek & Felix)
Dragonslayer (Gotrek & Felix)
by William King
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hi-Ho , Felix, the Seven Dwarfs and a Dragon !, 4 Nov 2008
Dragon Slayer is the fourth book in William King's excellent tales of the adventures of Felix Jaeger and Gotrek Gurnison, on the Slayer Dwarfs quest for a valiant and heroic death.

I would have to say - in my own opinion - that reading Skaven Slayer and Daemon Slayer prior to this book may well be advisable, since some of the characters and plot follow directly on from the events in these two books.

Whilst on their return from events in the Chaos Wastes (see Daemon Slayer) in the airship the `Spirit Of Grungni', the dwarfs and their human companion Felix see a huge Chaos army on the march, marching directly South towards the lands of the human and dwarf cities. From this it seems obvious that a new full Chaos invasion and war is imminent.

After a brief skirmish and defeat of a small army of Skaven - once again led by Thanquol the magical Skaven (see Skaven Slayer)- the dwarfs and their human allies set out to warn nearby settlements and get ready for the oncoming shadow of Chaos darkness. However, whilst on route, the group encounter a warp-stone mutated Dragon, who like any true dwarf Slayer true to their calling is the ideal target for a heroic death !

Like the previous books prior to this one, the story reads smoothly, and is a real page turner - though I have to admit still staying up to read King's books just to see what Thanquol and Lurk are up to. There are moments of romance, comedy and extreme gore that I have come to expect now from King. Indeed Conan meets Groo in Discworld would probably be my analysis of the series !!

King I feel has a unique ability of making his characters serious in a funny way. It is almost like he is taking the fun out of his employers by giving his characters such extreme flaws and costumes. Certainly the books are not quite as slapstick as the Blood Bowl novels but I find the humour more to my own warped sense of comedy. An over-sexed Dwarf being my own favourite.

Also this book has pretty much the entire Warhammer universe in it. Skaven, Goblins, Goblin Spider Riders, Flying Goblins, Orcs, Dwarfs, Bandits, Dragons, Chaos Warriors, Bandits, all making an appearance.

Once again I fail to find anything to fault in this book. Well, a bit more Thanquol and Lurk would be nice. Though annoyingly the Black Library only selling Omnibus edition for these books is getting on my nerves sourcing the novels !!

The Last Legion
The Last Legion
by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the Movie - Read the Book !!, 8 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Last Legion (Hardcover)
Unfortunately, I had the regretful experience of seeing the movie in a Thai cinema prior to finding this book for 40p at a local Summer Fete. And I am sure that like most people reading a book after seeing the movie, you start picturing the actors and actresses as the characters in the novel - but enough luckily I found the movie a little forgettable, so the characters came to life in my mind with imagination and not memory.

This is the first ever book I have read by Manfredi and therefore cannot compare any of his fiction against any previous novels, but I would describe this book as 5% Myth, 10% Love Story and 85% historical adventure. In my own opinion it compares very well with such authors as Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow and Steven Saylor. And like the others, you only need to read the authors notes to understand Manfredi's Historical depth in researching this book. However, that being said the author probably has taken many liberties with actual historic events, so those people expecting a detailed history - read a non-fiction book !!!

The novel itself concerns the adventures and plight of a band of faithful Roman soldiers, a clerical school teaching druid and female `Amazon' fighter from Venice, as they defend Romulus - the last Emperor of Rome - on his escape from the barbarians that have taken control of the Roman world at the fall of the Rome Empire. The story is also under layered with the story of King Arthur, with Ambrosinius as Merlin, Caeser's sword as Excaliber, Pendragon and Arthur, etc.

I found very little to fault this book, though the occasional un-translated Latin/Roman phrase or verse did annoy me a little, but not enough to spoil the novel. Grammatical errors also started appearing more towards the end of the book also, as thought the proof reader was eager to get to the end. I think the best recommendation is that I would certainly read more Manfredi fiction, but would make sure that I see the movie after reading the novel next time !!!

Lastly, I think the book should have been called `The Last Page Legion' - and those of you having read the book will understand what I mean !!!

Well worth 40p of anyone's money !!! 5 out of 5.

Necropolis (Gaunt's Ghosts)
Necropolis (Gaunt's Ghosts)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Hive' of activity for Gaunt and his Ghosts !, 23 Sep 2008
3rd book in Dan Abnett's series of books concerning Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his Tanith `First and Only' Ghosts.

Gaunt and the Ghosts are really thrown into the thick of it, as a hive war breaks out between rival manufacturing domes on the planet Verghast, and they are re-routed - along with other support - to quell the hostilities. Ibram soon finds out that not only is the attacking hive tainted by the evil and madness of Chaos, but the very administrative personal supposedly supporting him are also his main adversaries !

Unlike the first two books in the series, this one is more about the defence of a position, and not about the Ghosts infiltrating Chaos battlements, to secure a planet for the Imperial Order. And with no-where else to go, its stand and fight or give in to the annihilation being reeked on the Hive.

Whilst this book can be read as a stand alone book, I seriously recommend anyone new to the genre of the Warhammer universe to start with a novel that does not throw you in at the deep end so much as this does. This book may well put you off with its details of Hive life and the regimental Imperium set-up, though fans will no doubt take pleasure in the depths that Abnett has gone into in this book.

And once again - as in previous novels -Abnett avalanches us with players that last a few pages and then retire in a horribly grisly fashion to the forces of Chaos. Giving a character a name and assuming the reader will willingly accept them with no description or history can get a bit tiresome at times. But the introduction of the Hive characters was interesting, and if I am honest I really would have liked to have seen more on the occupants of the Dome - though saying this Gaunt and his crew don't make their entrance for the first 50 pages or so of this novel.

But still overall, I found the story a real page turner and hard to put down. For now I'll give Mr Abnett a 5, but I really would ask that the author spend a little more time in the depth of some of his characters, and a little more effort in putting in other races from the Warhammer 40k universe.

As a last comment, I seriously doubt that anyone reading this book would fail to refer to the map at the beginning several dozen times !!

Plunkett And Macleane [DVD] [1999]
Plunkett And Macleane [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Robert Carlyle
Price: 5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Pork the Gentry Mr Highway -Man !!!, 19 Sep 2008
Sometimes a bit of hard, dark and amusing period-drama is just what the doctor ordered, taking a break from BBC endless remakes of nicety-nice Jane Austin and Charles Dickens books that we all pay our licence fees for !!!

High-way man Plunkett (Carlyle) teams up with ex-socialite Macleane (Miller) to rob the London gentry of their wears, along the way becoming infamous and inciting the wrath of the local authorities.

I felt that the film was just the right mix of drama and comedy, with serious events separated by moments of shear comic genius. Macleane encouraging Plunkett to eat more prunes and trying to catch a large ruby as it worked its way through his system, along with trying to cure a dose of the clap caught in the line of duty with gun-powder are probably worth watching this movie for on their own.

This movie is quite literally a star studied cast of British talent, with guest appearances by Alan Cummings and Little Britain stars Lucas and Williams - who I really did not remember in this movie when I first saw it. Ken Scott as the vicious - and somewhat sadist and perverted - Thief Taker General Chance was a pure stroke of casting genius.

I saw this film years ago and enjoyed it as much then as I do now, and rate this movie along with `The Escapist' as Miller's best work. The only down side for me was the offspring of Kermit and Miss Piggy appearing to sing some of the soundtrack !! Still, and excellent one hour and thirty-seven minutes of pure escapism ! 4 out of 5, and would have been well worthy of a sequel !

Centurion (Eagle)
Centurion (Eagle)
by Simon Scarrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.11

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarrow getting emotional !!, 11 Sep 2008
This review is from: Centurion (Eagle) (Paperback)
This is the 8th novel in Simon Scarrow's excellent series of books about Centurions Macro and Cato, and follows on from the `Eagles In The Sand'.

Book Summary : After a surprise attack by the Partians, Macro and Cato are ordered by Longinus to set out as a forward relief column to help King Vabathus of Palmyra, who has taken refuge in his cities own citadel from the rebel Army of his son, Artaxes. Meanwhile the rest of the Legions slowly march to their aid. Can our two brave heroes once again save the day by marching through the arid desert at arrive on time to defend the King from his infighting siblings ?

To those people that have never read one of Scarrow's Roman novels, I would like to say that these books are more about the everyday man in the Roman army than the famous historical figures that are known so well. They detail the hard life, the harshness and brutality of battle and the feeling of inaptitude of the Generals and upper class of Roman society.

Whilst I once again thoroughly enjoyed this book, I did at times feel that I was reading a re-write - albeit in another location, with new characters - of the previous book `Eagles In The Sand'. An eventful march to a fort/citadel, a stout defence and then attacking the opposition whilst they were sleeping - sound familiar ?

I would also like to say that I felt that Scarrow's writing of Marco and Cato in this novel seemed in places a lot more emotional than in previous books. Indeed Macro dealing with the young orphaned Roman girl in the citadel really pulls at the heart strings, showing a side to the character that has rarely been seen in the prior novels. Though I wonder where the author is going with Cato's new love interest and how that will relate to any new stories.

I will as always look forward to the next novel in this series, and hope that Scarrow takes the opportunity to come up with a new idea for a story ! Once again 5 out of 5, but may be a 4 next time if its another seemingly re-write !!!!
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Operation Good Guys Complete - Series 1-3 [DVD]
Operation Good Guys Complete - Series 1-3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dominic Anciano
Price: 8.46

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baldy Coppers Do The Office, 29 Aug 2008
Comedy - like music - is very much up to ones own tastes, and what one individual may find hysterical, another may just find as nauseating as American sit-coms !! My own tastes tend to lean me towards such programs as Father Ted, Steptoe And Son', The Detectives, etc, but that said, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this 3 disc, 3 series, 19 episode, DVD.

I didn't see this series when the BBC first broadcast it, and did not take an interest in it until a lesser UK satellite station ran it at a later date. I decided immediately that it was the kind of humour that appealed to me, and sought out the DVD on a well known auction site and High Street retailer. However, the initial price of 26 put me off, so it was not until the price was halved that I picked it up - mostly due to my satellite decoder packing up if I'm honest.

For those people who have never seen the show, it is very much like a police version of the hit TV show `The Office'. Following cross-dressing, delusions of grandeur D.I. Beach and his rag-tag collection of penis lengthening, S & M, disco dancing, balding officers, the TV crew film the everyday lives of so-called regular police-men in their day-to-day duties.

I have to say that this is one series - in my own opinion - that got funnier as the show went on. I though the first series was OK, the second good, but by the third series I felt the script writers had pretty much got it spot-on. My favourite episode have to be Operation Snowball and Jubilee. Indeed, I have to think how the Equal Opportunity and Race Relation Boards didn't try to get the series cancelled at times.

I'd rate the series as 4 overall, but series one - 3, series two 4 and series three a side-splitting 5. Definitely worth an investment.

Desert Kings (Deathlands)
Desert Kings (Deathlands)
by James Axler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars When too many battles spoil the plot !!, 29 Aug 2008
Deathlands 82

To start this review I would strongly suggest that readers get hold of the books `Shatter Zone' and `Perdition Valley' and read them first, as this book pretty much follows on from the COLDFIRE story line in them.

Book summary : Ryan and his fellow band of Post-Apocalyptic American travellers, arrive in a Redoubt stocked with Cyborg body parts, and thinking that they are for their recent nemesis Delphi, set out on the cyborg's trail to find him and end the torment they have endured at his hands, in his quest to acquire the time-travelling Doc Tanner.

Sometimes a story line can be dragged down with too many events, too many characters, too many fights, etc, and this was one of them I felt. Indeed the ghost writer seems to have tried to fill this book out with just about every kind of enemy that the group have ever encountered in their past travels - Sea-monsters, Cannibals, Cold-hearts, Stickies, Cyborgs, TITAN, mutant apes, mutant rats, robots, robot cars, Howlers, Slavers, Jewish settlements, Doomies, Mutant Rats, COLDFIRE. Indeed, at times I felt that the novel had more pages of actual fighting than conversation and plot building ! However, saying that, the ghost writers have all the main characters acting to form of Axlers' originals - the real James Axler (Lawrence James) sadly actually being deceased.

The author is really trying to push the books I feel into another direction with the introduction of TITAN and COLDFIRE, and the writer seems to be taking liberties that readers of the DL novels will willingly accept these organisation that have received very little coverage of in the past 80 odd books. Maybe my mind is going, but having read all 82 books in this series, I really cannot remember many with these organisations that suddenly seem that important to the series now. There is also mentions of Ryan's previous history in other matters that also I cannot remember from previous outings. Maybe a mini series or series of retro-books in the offing ?

Another small issue I have with this book - and to be honest most of the recent publication in the Deathalnds series - is the sheer amount of grammatical errors, wrong words and mis-spellings, that seem to be creeping into the novels. Whilst it really did not spoil the book, it may do in future if Gold Eagle/World Wide Library do not improve the situation.

Again, not the best, not the worst, but not really that memorable either. 3 out of 5.

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