Posts Tagged ‘Skarsnik’

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.


Today, I’m publishing my very first guest blog. That’s right, there are words here, but somebody else wrote them: Stephen Kozeniewski, to be precise. He’s appearing to tell you all about his new book, the blackly comic, P.I. noir, zombie novel (that’s a lot of genres), Braineater Jones. Check out that cover, pretty tasty, no?

I’m happy to accept guest posts, something I’d not thought about before Stephen approached me, so if anybody else out there has something they want to say, drop me a line either here or through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Goodreads, and provided it isn’t weird propaganda for way-out views, I’ll probably publish it. Anyway, without further ado (and without a drumroll, sorry about that), here’s Stephen.


Guy is famous for saying – in fact, I might even go so far as to call it his catchphrase – “Where would I be without goblins?”

Took the words right out of my mouth, Guy!

I’ve been a goblin fanatic (ha!) since I was twelve, way back in… er, well, let’s not get caught up in dates. This isn’t a history lesson, after all. And even as recently as this year, when my wife cuddled up to me by the fire and asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day, I think she already knew the answer: a Forest Goblin Big Boss riding a Gigantic Spider.

For that matter, on my birthday this past year, I also received a VERY special present from her. It was a rare novel of compelling power, not to mention the first Black Library novel to focus on greenskins, and not just ANY greenskin but the greatest Night Goblin warlord of all time (a dubious honor to be sure.) I refer of course to the inimitable and immortal Skarsnik. Sadly, I can’t seem to recall the author’s name.

My wife is, presumably, starting to wonder why she married me.

That being said, I’m not sure I can wholly subscribe to Guy’s philosophy in life because…and I hesitate to say this…I am a philistine. Yes, that’s right, I have betrayed the cardinal trust of the author of Skarsnik: I use Orcs in my army, too.

Sorry. I just love Black Orcs too much. (Except Grimgor. Screw that guy.) So, when it comes to a catchphrase/life philosophy, I’ve had to improvise, but I came up with this:

“Where would I be without zombies?”

Sad to say, I’ve never collected an Undead – or if you’re some kind of young whippersnapper, “Vampire Counts” – army. I did once buy a box of zombies, assemble them with great difficulty, prime them, then found myself for about the next 11 years unable to decide whether to attempt to paint them with blue faces (a la Dawn of the Dead) or in greytones (a la Night of the Living Dead.) So, unable to stop equivocating, I just sold them on eBay and bought more goblins. And now you know the rest of the story.

So, no, sadly, it is not because of any tabletop triumphs that I love the shambling dead. The real reason I wouldn’t be anywhere in life without zombies is because of a fellow named Braineater Jones. Ol’ Braineater has a special place in my heart because he is the main character of my first published novel, titled (appropriately enough) Braineater Jones.

Braineater is a zombie who wakes from the dead with a wicked case of amnesia. He sets out to solve his own murder in Prohibition-era America, with the added hurdle that he needs liquor to suppress his urges for sweet, sweet human flesh.

It’s a pretty fun little romp. I like to say it’s bloody enough to satisfy the real gorehound, but not so bloody it’ll turn off the casual reader. I hope you’ll consider checking it out. If you’re interested, you can purchase it in either paperback or e-book format on Amazon, or in e-book format on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. The links are all right here on my publisher’s page.

And so I’ll leave you with those immortal words stolen (mostly) from Guy Haley (and thanks so much, Guy, for letting me write this guest post):

“Where would I be without zombies?”

Here’s some further burbling verbiage from the mouth of yours truly: Episode 87 of The Independent Characters. In this thrilling installment of Carl and Geoff’s excellent podcast, I join them for their Forbidden Lore segment, wherein I talk very much about The Death of Integrity. They liked it, so it was plain sailing for me, and I got to speak about some of the themes and ideas I tried to address in the novel. If you’re interested in what goes on in an author’s head (well, I can only vouch for my own head) while they’re writing, check it out.

And, seeing as it’s pertinent to the matter in hand, here’s a reminder that there’s another recent interview with me, conducted by Kenny Lull at Combat Phase, where I talk about creating a world full of goblins in Skarsnik.

Happy Mondays!

Last week I did an interview with Combat Phase, mainly about Skarsnik. So, if you want to hear me talk (and I warn you, I talk a lot) about writing about goblins, go here. AFTERNOON UPDATE: The link works now;  a technical hitch their end, so sorry about that if you were wanting to listen.

I found this on Goodreads right here, an enthusiastic review by Dark Chaplain of Skarsnik. I hadn’t noticed it before as, for some reason, my Goodreads page didn’t note the review as a review. Which is kind of silly. Anyway, I’ve taken the immense liberty of reproducing it here. Here’s Dark Chaplain’s twitter handle: @TheDarkChaplain. Follow him.

Skarsnik, as it turns out, was a much needed breath of fresh air for me.

Its narrative style, the gobliny wit, wrapped in humorous banter, and the stunning competence of Skarsnik, Warlord of the Eight Peaks, but also the incredible amount of detail put into describing the world under the mountains and greenskin society, make this novel one of my personal favorites of 2013.

The story is wrapped in multiple layers, from the overall point of view of the Doktor Wollendorp, who interviews a mad playwright in an asylum, to said madman’s retelling of his experience in Skarsnik’s realm, and the things the Goblin Warlord told him. Despite this, the book flows very nicely from one point of view and scene to the next.

Being a book about the life of Skarsnik at the core, this made sure that minor pieces in the story would not need to drag on unnecessarily, while still allowing for the creative freedom of the playwright. In the end, it serves to blur the line between fact and fantasy, making Skarsnik appear like a real threat to be reckoned with, but also made sure to leave things ambiguous and leave room for interpretation.

Multiple times throughout the novel Wollendorp and his companion would discuss the veracity of the madman’s tale, and agree that it must be truthful in some regard, yet is undoubtedly embellished by the poet’s vivid mind, and not everything should be taken at face value.

This should very well please those people who voiced concerns over the Warhammer Heroes series demystifying the special characters they portray, by taking away from the tabletop players’ own interpretation of the hero. It feels to me that Guy Haley did a fantastic job at disspelling those concerns by telling his story in this particular way.

This quote from the book frames the whole novel very accurately:

“‘Make sure you tell all those humies, humie, make sure you tell ’em good, make sure you tell ’em about the king in da mountain. Tell ’em all about me, Skarsnik, tell ’em all about my life, leave nuffink out.’
‘And then, when you’ve told them all that,’ he whispered, his eyes blazing with menace, ‘tell all the other humies that I’m coming for them too.’”

That being out of the way, it is safe to say that Skarsnik’s life was more than just eventful. It was a joy to read, to see the runt develop into a warlord to rival Grom the Fat, and follow in his footsteps. There have been many occassions when I just could not help but laugh about the suitably mean presentation of the goblin race, and can do nothing but applaud Guy Haley for his spot-on representation of the greenskins.

As with Baneblade, Guy Haley impressed me once more. His in-depth take on the Warhammer universe is so well put, I cannot come up with a good reason not to pick this book up if you have any interest in Black Library’s Fantasy range.

In clear greenskin fashion, I give this book lots of stars. Purchase recommendation!

Crash (cutdown)

Attention, attention! My latest book, Crash is out today from Solaris. I’d be very grateful if you’d go and buy it. I could write something more subtle, coy even, but that’s what I’d really like, and we all know it, so why pretend?

But this is no one way street, no! Otherwise I’d be begging for your money simply by pan-handling, and you’d get nothing but a fleeting sense of alleviated post-Christian guilt by dropping pennies in my pot

Buy this book, and you get a… Hmm. I won’t make any claims as to its quality, I have to have some modesty, and the reviews aren’t in yet. Let’s leave it at a hard-SF novel of interstellar colonisation gone wrong.

Here’s the blurb, this is the best I’ve had yet on a book; it really encapsulates the story, so thank you Solaris.

Dariusz is an engineer whose career ended years ago; now, a man he’s never met sits in a bar that doesn’t exist and offers him a fresh start… at a price.

Cassandra —  ‘Sand,’ to her friends — is a space pilot, who itches to get her hands on the controls and actually fly a ship, rather than watch computers do it for her.

The ‘Pointers’ — the elite 0.01% who control virtually all wealth — have seen the limitations of a plundered Earth and set their eyes on the stars.

And now Dariusz and Sand, and a half-million ambitious men and women just like them, are sent out to extend the Pointers’ and the Market’s influence across the galaxy. But the colony fleet is sabotaged and the ESS Adam Mickiewicz crashes, on an alien planet where one hemisphere is seared by perpetual daylight and the other shrouded in eternal night. The castaways have the chance to create society from scratch… but the hostile planet — or their own leaders — may destroy them before they can even begin.

Here’s a link to the US Amazon page, and the UK Amazon page.

Funnily enough, I’m reading Proxima for review by Stephen Baxter at the moment. I say funnily enough as his book covers many of the same issues mine does. We both must have been inspired, I think, by relatively recent speculation on possibly tidally locked habitable exoplanets. Both of us also posit a degraded Earth, but environmental gloom is par for the course in modern SF.

In many respects Proxima is different to Crash, Baxter is inclined more to the Arthur C Clarke school of SF than I, but in some parts it’s strikingly similar. The covers are similar, and we both even have characters named Yuri. Here’s the blurb for his book:

The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous Galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light…

The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun — and (in this fiction), the nearest to host a world, Proxima IV, habitable by humans. But Proxima IV is unlike Earth in many ways. Huddling close to the warmth, orbiting in weeks, it keeps one face to its parent star at all times. The ‘substellar point’, with the star forever overhead, is a blasted desert, and the ‘antistellar point’ on the far side is under an ice cap in perpetual darkness. How would it be to live on such a world?

Needle ships fall from Proxima IV’s sky. Yuri Jones, with 1000 others, is about to find out…

PROXIMA tells the amazing tale of how we colonise a harsh new Eden, and the secret we find there that will change our role in the Universe for ever.

Why not check them both out?

Oh, and before I forget, my latest Black Library Warhammer novel Skarsnik came out in the UK on Saturday. Here’s the link for UK Amazon.  It’ll be out in the States on July 16th.