Archive for the ‘The Black Library’ Category


Rise-of-the-horned-rat-HBLiving in a stable and peaceful world is a great boon, but there is a corner of the human soul that revels in a bit of destruction. Why else would we turn out to watch massive waves pound the shore, or enjoy fireworks, or play wargames.

I’m talking somewhat obliquely about my book The Rise of the Horned Rat, which came out yesterday. This is my contribution to the ongoing saga of the End Times, that great cataclysm currently taking place in the imaginationsville of GW gamers. You may or may not know that I’ve been playing Warhammer since the very first edition of the game, since about 1984, in fact. So when I was asked to write this novel early last year and be involved with some severe sandcastle stomping, it was with a mix of sick excitement, dread and guilty glee. GW played its cards so close to its chest that even we writers, hired in to pen the books, had no idea where it was going.

By now we can all see that the Warhammer World is getting a real going over, so much so that it will probably never be the same again. A lot of people have died. None of them are real, of course, but some of them are very old friends. It’s all rather shocking.

The Rise of the Horned Rat concerns Skaven, as you’d expect. But it’s also got many dwarfs in it, and my old friend and yours, Skarsnik the real King of Karak Eight Peaks. Although this is an End Times novel, when I wrote it it was at the forefront of my mind to make the book also a sequel to Headtaker, by my friend and colleague David Guymer, and my own Skarsnik. David and I have told some fun stories set in and around the City of the Eight Peaks, and I wanted to finish them in fine style. To take Karak Eight Peaks through this most turbulent of times was a great honour and privilege (David got to write Kinslayer, so he can’t complain). I deal with a lot of my own characters, and a lot of David’s too, such as Kemma, and Gromvarl and the rest, as well as many established Warhammer heavyweights.

I actually can’t say much about this for fear of spoilers. It was the most difficult book I’ve had to write, for a whole host of reasons, but in the end I managed to put my own spin on the mayhem at hand. All I can say is read it, if you will. It affected me quite deeply. You’ll see why.


Last weekend I was at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel, a place that is becoming something of a second home to me. There I was involved in the Black Library Weekender, third of its name. I had a glorious time. So glorious, that it took me a couple of days to recover. 3am is far too late for me now. I pretty much said everything that needs to be said about attending events when I wrote about last year’s weekender here, so this short post is my way of saying thanks to everyone who attended, and for the hard work of the Games Workshop and hotel staff who made it all happen.

I’ve said it many times before but I’ll reiterate: It is highly pleasant and important to speak with your readers. I loved chatting to you all, and I hope you enjoyed the seminars. A big moment in my career this year was being presented with stacks of books – all different – at the signing table, so thanks for that too.

As always, it was plenty of fun to catch up with my colleagues. These events are some of the only times in the year when I see my fellow writers, and provide ample opportunity to talk about writing from a technical standpoint, swap ideas, and generally horse around. Seeing Dave Bradley of SFX, catching up on happenings in Bath and talking magazines was a bonus to this authorial bonanza.

And I’m pleased to report I didn’t get shot in the back playing Zombicide, although I did lose at Spartacus.


audio-the-glorious-tombSharp-sighted Black Templars fans might have spotted The Glorious Tomb on the Black Library Website. This audio drama is part of the Echoes of War week, where BL release a new Space Marines audio every day.

I rarely get to listen to the audio dramas before they come out, and so yesterday evening was the first time I had heard The Glorious Tomb. Audios provoke even more worry concerning their merits than books or stories do, working as I am at a couple of removes from the final result. I’ve not been disappointed by one yet, I’m relieved to say, and The Glorious Tomb I thought particularly special. Appropriately, I listened to it while painting a Space Marine for my own nascent Black Templars crusade. He’ll be finished tonight. I’ll post a picture up tomorrow.

As several people have now commented, I am doing a lot of Black Templars material. I’m sort of their official remembrancer for the time being, to borrow a Horus Heresy concept. The stories are all connected to one another, featuring either my main characters Brusc and Adelard or High Marshal Helbrecht. Together the stories and future novel will tell the story of Brusc and Adelard’s lives, culminating at Armageddon where they intersect with that of Helbrecht. The stories are being written and released thematically, but as they increase in number you will be able to form a chronology to the characters’ adventures.

Here’s a review of The Glorious Tomb on Tracks of War. On the same site, you’ll also find one for my Heresy-era audio, Hunter’s Moon.


As my writing of a Black Templars novel was announced on the Black Library website a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d talk about them a bit. Specifically, and of great importance to the way I write them, I’ve come to the following conclusion: Black Templars are fanatics.

Consider the following factettes from Codex: Space Marines:

  • They consider that they are still fighting the Great Crusade.
  • They alone of the oldest chapters see the Emperor as a god.
  • They venerate Imperial psykers, especially Astropaths, because these people have been directly touched by the Emperor himself.
  • Their hatred of alien and non-sanctioned psykers knows no bounds.
  • They have close ties to the Ecclesiarchy of Terra.

History tells us that people on “missions from god” are rarely nice. So this led me to the following on how they might think:

  • They believe they are the “chosen ones”  (in this case, of the Emperor).
  • Because they are the chosen sons of the Emperor, they believe they can do no wrong.

Both such opinions are commonplace among real-life keepers of the “one truth”, whether that’s religious or ideological, and Black Templars certainly think that they know that one truth. That, in conjunction with my research, then led me on to this:

  • They can be suspicious or dismissive of other Space Marines, who are misguided in not seeing the Emperor’s divinity.
  • They see the other couple of chapters that worship the Emperor as being lesser in quality than they, as they are younger.
  • They are honourable, staunch allies, but terrifying foes who can be utterly merciless, sometimes in ways that we would find shocking.
  • They are steeped in religious mysticism and harsh ritual.
  • They are hierarchically hidebound.
  • They are not beyond underhand actions to get their own way.
  • They take failure badly.
  • They are inclined to be secretive.
  • They are arrogant and impatient.
  • They respect martial prowess.
  • Their ties with the Ecclesiarchy are important to their character and to their actions.
  • Hubris could be a problem.

I don’t see them as shining-white “goodies”. These are not Ultramarines, Space Wolves, or Salamanders, concerned with the lives of lesser men, but highly religious warriors conducting a holy war, with all that entails. Their self-perceived rectitude makes them fantastic to write, as they’ve a brilliantly complex character.

So that’s the way I see them, anyway. How about you?


When in York the other day I popped into Games Workshop. I usually try to go to the local GW when I’m in a town. Sometimes, I buy stuff.

As always, the store dude approaches and asks if I’m looking for anything, what army I’m into, that sort of thing. Well done GW store training programme – your store managers never fail in this regard. Partly to short-circuit the whole process, and partly because I want some recognition, dammit, I say who I am, and point out some of my books. There’s a third, slightly mischievous desire here. I do it because I want to see how the store dude reacts. Nine times out of ten there is a flicker as their mind changes gear, and their faces become neutral. A slight disengagement enters the interaction. You can see them thinking. Is he really who he says he is? Is he a lunatic? Is this a test? Sometimes that’s it. They leave me alone. (As happened in this case). Either way, BL author or a lunatic, I don’t need their enthusiastic spiel. If the shop’s less busy, after I have established that I am not, in fact, a lunatic, then conversation is forthcoming. If I were more modest, I probably would not do this at all. It’s slightly egotistical, perhaps even a little bit mean. But I don’t get out much. And writing is lonely. And I crave validation.

Sometimes, after credentials have been established, they really don’t know how to act. This is the “magic author” effect, and it happens to me sometimes. This is where folks treat you like you’re somehow special, and they say things like “You’re really talented” or somesuch, and I think, “Er, am I? Are you sure? Have you got the right man?”

Provided I don’t become convinced that the magic is real, or rather, as long as I remember that the magic might be subjectively real for the reader, but that it does not actually make me in any way special, I should avoid becoming a total knob. I’ve seen it happen many times. It can happen to anyone with even a vaguely public profile. Sometimes people buy into the magic lens they are seen through and forget the shortcomings of the person living inside their skull. This especially tragic when the person is a writer with a humble following, and not, for example, Johnny Depp.

There is only one Johnny Depp.

So we must hold on to our secret feelings of fraudulence, we writers. And I must always keep in my mind that the only magical thing about me is that I am a goblin living in a man’s world.

Lunatic and BL author. That’s probably the right internal response for future contactees.


Out today is The Black Pilgrims, my latest Black Templars story. I’ve been asked as to whether or not I’ll be exploring the links between the Adeptus Ministorum and the chapter. Read this story and you’ll know the answer to that question.

I would have posted earlier, were I not in Bolsover helping my brother remove a whole lot of lath and plaster from his new house. It’s a glamorous life, this writing business.