Salvation’s Reach

Yeah, what the hell is going on with Yoncy?

It’s Halloween! Boo! Hooray! Boo! Hooray! Call me when you’re finished…

In addition to all the other exciting things that I did over the weekend I also picked up a copy of the latest Gaunt’s Ghosts novel, Salvation’s Reach. Since I’ve got nothing else to blog about right now I figured I’d share my thoughts about it in a sort of review (what? I bought it on Saturday, do you honestly think I wouldn’t have finished it by Monday? ;))

I’ll do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum, but caveat lector.

Well, first up, it’s a Gaunt’s Ghosts novel, which means I’m pretty much guaranteed to like it. As long as it’s by Dan Abnett and it involves vaguely-Celtic Ninja-Commandos firing off lasguns in people’s faces while making the occasional wisecrack, I’m a happy man. However there were a few things about Salvation’s Reach that meant I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as some others in the series.

The first is that we’re introduced to a lot of new characters. The Tanith First is finally getting reinforcements and that means a whole lot of new blood into the regiment (including of all things a… nah, I’ll leave you to read it yourself ;)). On top of that there’s new Commissars and an unexpected arrival from the past. This is well and good, but having introduced all these new people not a lot is done with them. The actual action focuses on the tried and true characters from the other books, which (while I certainly have no objection) leaves the book feeling unfinished. Like it’s Salvation’s Reach Part One rather than a book in its own right. I have no doubt that the newcomers will get their days in the sun in future novels, but it almost feels like Dan bought all these extras on board and then couldn’t think what to do with them.

Another problem for me was that unexpected arrival from the past. The whole thing feels like a cliche. To his credit Dan hasn’t used the character for cliched things, but having them there feels kind of trite – as if he’s running out of ideas so went with a really obvious one. And accelerated aging? Deux Ex Machina anyone? But hey, nothing heinous storywise has happened with the character yet, so we’ll just have to see how the series continues.

But enough about my nit-picking. What’s good about the book you ask? Two words. SPESS MEHREENS!!

Yes, the Astartes make their first on-screen appearance in Gaunt’s Ghosts (or at least the first I can remember, which is all that counts). I haven’t read any of Dan’s work with Space Marines before, but I really like what he’s done with them. Seen from the perspective of the Imperial Guard the Space Marines assigned to the mission are intimidating, frightening, and just alien. The way they talk, the way they behave and the way they think is so different that you get much more sense of just how changed a Space Marine is from an unaltered human. The Ghosts – who in the past have exchanged jibes with Chaos Magisters and taken out corrupted Dreadnoughts using only lasguns and cacti (seriously, Sound and Fury, look it up) are scared to even approach them. They’re the godlike sons of the Emperor, and they really seem like it.

There’s nothing wildly special about the plot, but it gets the job done. The MkRedshirts are present and accounted for (any newly introduced Ghost with a name starting with “Mk” will be dead within four pages – I guarantee it), there’s action, explosions, gunfights and heroic sacrifices. Shoggy Domor (one of my favourite second stringers) even gets some lines. All the ingredients are there for a good, action-packed read. Including, of course, character deaths.

That’s the big thing in any Ghosts novel of course, who (if anyone) dies? (well apart from MkTan, MkKonnor, MkMapp, MkSal, MkGillikudie…). Well, brace yourself, there are two character deaths in this one. One expected, one out of the blue. They’re both pretty heroic and Dan grants the unexpected character some closure before they go, which is good to see since they were another of my favourites. Some nice last words too, sticking the middle finger up at the enemies of the Emperor in true Ghosts fashion. Good, albiet sad, deaths.

Finally, there’s a throwaway reference to a mystery that’s been hanging around since Necropolis. It’s a small thing, such a small thing that I wondered if it was a typo in my copy, so I can’t tell if Dan’s preparing to drop a second shoe that’s been hanging since the Ghosts were at Vervunhive, or if he’s just having a laugh at something the editors missed. He doesn’t do anything with it in this book, but I’m intrigued as to what the next novel will bring.

So, that’s it. Salvation’s Reach. More of a His Last Command than a Necropolis, but still a bloody good read. Bring on the next one Dan! 😉

(PS: Also meant to say that someone obviously handed Dan a Forgeworld catalogue. The story is littered with Forgeworld spacecraft, Forgeworld vehicles, and Forgeworld Spess Mehreen boarding armour. Get a hold of your own copy and tick them off as they come! :))

(PPS: Oh yeah, there’s also a third character death, but it’s a minor character who probably had it coming. So there.)

CHOGM, Resin Skulls and Stephen Fry

An update

I think I promised a blog update this weekend didn’t I?

It’s kind of difficult to keep up with the blogging at the moment because the old black dog is nipping at my heels again – quite badly as a matter of fact. A lot of the time all I want to do is sleep. I’ve actually tested that out, to see if it makes things better, but it doesn’t really – I just wake up tired and fuzzy headed with my mouth feeling like the bottom of a lion cage, so it’s down to the tried and true methods of eating right, trying to get more exercise and doing my best to get out and be social, despite the fact that I’d rather be unconscious. No doubt I’ll pull out of it sooner or later, but in the meantime it’s not much fun.

In any case for those not in the know this was CHOGM week in Perth, when the heads of the Commonwealth nations descended on the city like a horde of Elder Gods, dragging hordes of vile servitors in their wake, and the Yog Sothoth of this abominable crew, Her Majesty the Queen (and her personal Nyarlathotep, Prince Phillip) also stopped in to say hi and attend a barbecue.

We’ve been preparing for this for months, and in the end it’s all been a bit of an anticlimax. Some roads were shut down, some exclusion zones were set up, some protesters waved placards and some civil liberties were casually abused in the name of security, and then it was all over. Some interesting things were done – the laws of Royal succession were altered to favour the first born child regardless of gender for instance – and some important things argued about and ultimately ignored (such as agreeing to give Commonwealth citizens a few basic human rights) and then it was all over. Ho Hum.

The big event for we peasants was the barbecue on the foreshore yesterday. It was the typical public event thing, everyone milling around for a few hours waiting for the Monarch and Royal Consort to put in an appearance, which they eventually did for a while before leaving without so much as eating a sausage (although Prince Phillip played with some barbecue tongs). On the plus side public transport was free across the entire city all day, which I took advantage of to catch up with Rebecca and Dom and the kids at Siennas in Mount Lawley for lunch. Strangely though, despite the free transport the railway was shut down between Perth Underground and Esplanade. If you asked they’d probably say they were concerned about someone trying to pull a V for Vendetta and blow up the Gleddon Building from below, but I suspect the real reason was that they’d either bailed up the city’s homeless in the tunnel to prevent the sight of them offending the Queen, or the Mole Men were holding their own CHOGM barbecue down there. Maybe both.

But anyway, it’s all over now and CHOGM ephemera is now selling for decent bucks on eBay.

I’ve been playing around with casting this weekend. I needed some large Adeptus Mechanicus symbols for some 40k terrain I’m sporadically working on, and a search of the net indicated that no one makes them anywhere and hence they’re quite hard to come across and rather expensive when you do. So I said, to hell with you, I’ll make my own people! Or rather my own AdMech symbols. I built a master out of plywood, plasticard and the general debris that a natural hoarder such as myself invariably accumulates, made a latex mould from it and have been merrily turning out cogwheels-with-skulls willy nilly all weekend. I’m almost tempted to make some extra ones and sell them on eBay, but I suspect Games Workshop’s lawyers would come down on me like the hammer of Sigmar and I’d never be heard from again. Oh well, I have what I came for 🙂

Last weekend of course it was QI Live at the Burswood theatre. I’d assembled a small group to attend consisting of myself, Katie, Justin and Marika. I met up with Justin and Marika at the Atrium buffet before the show which, despite the fact that it was stupidly expensive and they threw us out at 7:30 (they close for half an hour on Friday and Saturday evenings – no idea why but I suppose it’s not for the likes of me to criticise the behaviour of the wealthy) was fantastic. I was particularly fond of the beef and mushroom ragout, and the desert bar was absolutely sumptuous. We then met up with Katie outside the theatre before proceeding in to our seats.

Our seats were in the very back row of the ground floor and, surprisingly, turned out to be excellent. Sure, we were about as far from the stage as it was possible to get, but our view was completely unobstructed. We could also listen in to the chatter of the stage-management guys just across the aisle, which was most amusing when one of the guests’ microphones failed and they had to improvise a solution. We also heard the final scores a few second before everyone else, for what it was worth 🙂

The show was excellent. Entertaining and informative in equal measure. It was a bit shambolic, what with being the very first QI Live ever, but that was part of the fun. Stephen Fry regaled us with tales of his first visit to Perth (the phrase “eastern states or overseas” will never sound the same again) and Alan Davies hammed it up for the crowd, despite being seriously ill (or at least claiming that he was seriously ill, there was a lot of mention of ‘slurry’). The guests were Colin Lane, Denise Scott and some guy who I’ve never heard of, but who did a decent enough job despite being the victim of the aforementioned microphone failure.

If there was one problem it was that it did drag on a bit. The show didn’t finish until just before 11:00, and Justin even fell asleep in his sear despite the regular klaxon whenever Alan Davies tried to answer a question (he had been up since 4:00 though so it’s quite understandable). I imagine they’ll get the hang of balancing amusing blather with keeping things moving in future performances, but it was a small price to pay for the privilege of being there for the show’s first outing.

Once it was all over we dumped our plan of going somewhere for drinks (Justin was just about dead on his feet and I wasn’t far behind) and Katie and I wandered around what seemed like all of Burswood looking for a taxi before stumbling over one who’s driver was just as lost looking for the taxi rank as we were.

So, a good night was had by all, despite being informed that the first European to discover Australia recommended that it be named “New Zealand” 😉

Hmmm, that’s all I’ve got to say. There’s cleaning I have to do, and after that I’m tempted to see if that sleep thing might finally work 🙂

A Challenge!

You think you’re good eh?

A shiny new donkey for whoever can identify the following!

You know, I’ve just been feeling like crap lately. Dunno why, but I just can’t be arsed about anything. The world feels like a dead chunk of rock, pointlessly going round and round the sun. And, I mean, look at the sky – that big blue dome with the sun, and moon and stars and stuff? It might as well be a big cloud of toxic gas as far as I care.

And people – have you ever thought about how amazing a person is? How amazing it is that we exist? That we can think? We’re so adaptable -a human being can do just about anything, and if we can’t do it, we can imagine it. We’re the most amazing species the world has ever come up with, the most advanced animal on the planet – but I just can’t give a shit.

Your time starts now!


Can you name all the external territories? I can! 😛

I did it again. The pun about territorial claims in Antarctica being ‘frozen’ by the Antarctic Treaty of 1961 was just too good to ignore.

I get a horrible feeling I’m going to end up designing characters for every state and territory. Well, apart from New South Wales, obviously.

Review of QI Live and other such things coming up over the CHOGM Long Weekend.

Just the End of the World Again

Yeah, like they’d take *me*

Just realised, it’s the 21st! It’s the end of the world! Again!

I’m kind of disappointed there’s no media frenzy like there was the last time. We all had so much fun waiting for earthquakes, angels and tsunamis to sweep across the globe. This time people don’t seem to care at all. Such a shame.

Wonder what old Harold will do if (when) nothing happens? You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for the poor bastard really.

In other news I’m off to see Stephen Fry and Alan Davies in the live version of QI tonight. Should be awesome – assuming I’m not swept up in the rapture first ;D

Rødgrød med Fløde

Scandinavia and the World is a lot of fun.

It’s an irregularly updated webcomic that provides a Scandinavian view on the world by personifying countries as characters. Kind of like Axis Powers Hetalia but with a lot less stupidity.

It’s entertaining, informative and enjoyable, and I give it my hearty approval.

You should really start reading from the beginning, but if you just want a taste then the Christmas Traditions episode is my favourite. Oh, and my favourite character is of course Finland because there are plenty of days where I’d like to be able to get away with being a brooding, mute, knife-wielding maniac.

Finally, if you check it out and enjoy it, then this may be of interest.

That is all.

Gaint and Wired


Been feeling totally dull, blah and pointless of late. In an attempt to do something approaching worthwhile I spent much of yesterday uploading the photos from my 2009 trip to the UK for Ali and Mat’s wedding to my Flickr account – which I’ve been meaning to do since the day I got back over two years ago.

The vast majority have no titles, descriptions or geotags – but I’ll work on it over the next few weeks. There’s also one day’s worth of wandering around Leicester left to go up, including my exciting and action packed investigation of the Medieval Packhorse Bridge!*

(*Not guaranteed to be exciting or action packed)

Those should go up this afternoon. In any case if you have an abiding interest in amateur photographs of unidentified English buildings, fields and street signs, please consider my photostream!

Back to work…

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