Archive for December, 2018

Book Review- Deep Silence by Jonathan Maberry

December 26, 2018 1 comment

Deep SilenceI love well written series fiction. As a reader, it’s some of the most rewarding types of storytelling around. You get to go on a journey with characters and watch them grow and change as they face adversity and the harsh realities of their world. The right writer will have you knowing and loving these characters as if they were your own friends and family, and Jonathan Maberry is just such a writer. Over the course of nine novels I’ve come to view the title character of his Joe Ledger series as a brother at arms. Him, his faithful dog Ghost, and the soldiers, scientists, and support staff of the secretive organization they work for, the Department of Military Sciences, are people I love spending time with. Some times that time can be rough and painful because Maberry’s cast are larger than life heroes, but they are still human beings who routinely confront man made and fantastic horrors. So, sometimes, the stumble and fall, but as I said they’re heroes, and when they fall they learn from their mistakes and get right back up. So the Ledger novels are often fun, exciting, harrowing, heartbreaking, and inspiring tales. “Deep Silence, the newest installment in the series, is all of that and more.

One of the best things about the book is it’s full of payout moments for long term fans of the series. The plot of the book heavily involves mysteries from two previous adventures. I’m not going to spoil it and tell you which ones. Part of the joy of the novel is getting the answers for yourself. I will say though that in “Deep Silence” you get some concrete answers about the mysterious world Ledger and the DMS live in. They’re the best kind of answers though, ones that raise more questions. As a reader I was left feeling like I was just seeing the tip of a very large and fantastic iceberg, and I can’t wait to find out more about lies below the surface.

Tone wise, the Ledger books are masterfully fixed cocktails that blend the trappings250px-JonathanMaberry of military thrillers with other fantastic genres. I can tell you there’s a lot of science fiction elements at work in “Deep Silence,” but sci-fi is often about confronting the unknown. That can be a scary thing. And as fans of Maberry’s work know he’s a master at telling horror stories. So, prepare yourself Ledger fans! You’re going to be scared and your heart is going to break a number of times while reading this book. I cried on a couple of occasions. That also means though that you’re going to clap and cheer just ad often. Because as we all know, Joe and the DMS are a never-say-die crew.

The horror in “Deep Silence” is a particularly chilling blend too. Quite a bit of it comes from strange and sinister sources, but there’s also a significant exploration of the horrors people can do to each other and themselves.

If you’re thinking that sounds like a recipe for some great character moments you’d be right. Joe has a lot of very cool and personal moments in “Deep Silence.” I also didn’t think it was possible for me to love his dog, Ghost, even more, but thanks to some very poignant passages in the novel I do.

Joe’s long time brothers and arms Top and Bunny don’t get as big a focus in “Deep Silence” but they do get some huge scenes that offer new and cool insight into their characters. I’ve talked in depth in past reviews about how fantastic Maberry is at action scenes, but what I haven’t touched upon as much is his great ability to add to character with those slam-bang fight sequences. There’s an especially cool scene in “Deep Silence” that made me understand and like Bunny even more than I did. It’s just a couple of paragraphs from his point of view, but they’re particularly insightful and moving.

Deep Silence” also gives a number of the DMS support staff time to shine. You get some more clues about their enigmatic leader, Mr. Church, which is always great. For me though, the DMS’ new head scientist Doc Holiday really stole the show. She got a lot of great moments that showed how cool and layered a character she is.

Readers also get to spend some time with Tracy Cole, a member of Echo Team who was introduced last novel. I loved her introduction and enjoyed getting to know her more in this book. We also met some of Echo Team’s brand new Spec Ops shooters. My favorite, is the team’s new sniper. And it’s not the first time I’ve fallen in love with an Echo Team sniper. Maberry seems to have a real knack for creating fascinating and fully fleshed out sharp shooting characters.

So, as you can guess I utterly loved “Deep Silence.” It’s one of the best novels in the Ledger series, and one of the best things about it is it moves the series forward in so many new and exciting directions. I can’t wait to see where Maberry takes things next.

Categories: Book Review, Joe Ledger

Book Review- “The Beast Must Die” by Gav Thorpe

December 8, 2018 Leave a comment

Beast Must DieOne of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed Black Library/Games Workshop’s 12 part “The Beast Arises” storyline is that they don’t often read like standard Warhammer 40,000 novels. There’s still great action and plenty of Space Marines, but the novels are often very political, feature a huge cast of characters, and the tense story cuts back and forth to multiple locations across the galaxy. So the first seven books have been refreshing, diverse, and fun reads. That set up a problem though for my enjoyment of book Eight, “The Beast Arises” by Gav Thorpe, which for the most part reads like a standard 40K novel. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad book though. There was still plenty of elements I enjoyed, and ultimately this novel leaves the overall storyline in a much more interesting place. It’s biggest flaw is something you see with all grand, event storylines (you especially see this in comic books) it’s longer than it perhaps should be.

Pretty much all of the action takes place on the infamous world of Ullanor. It’s of course famous for the Imperium of Man’s ultimate victory against the Orks back before the Horus Heresy, and now the new Ork empire besieging the galaxy has chosen it as the home base for their galactic onslaught. The book opens with a massive battle force of Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Imperial Navy, and Adeptus Mechanicus hoping to end the resurgent Ork threat for good by traveling to Ullanor and killing the Ork’s leader, “The Great Beast.”

That’s a pretty potent set up, and there are some great action sequences, but the middle half of the book is kind of a slog and feels a bit repetitive with the Orks constantly gaining the upper hand. I think part of the reason those sections were difficult for me is we spent a lot of time with some Adeptus Mechanicus characters and some Imperial Guard forces. Those characters left me flat. I like Ad Mech and Guard too. It’s just the members of those factions that Thorpe had us spend time with weren’t as interesting or fleshed out as the characters he was especially good at writing.

Because “The Beast Must Die” is primarily a war novel you don’t get much of the Gav Thorpepolitical or espionage characters from the previous novels that I’ve grown to really enjoy like Assassin Grandmaster, Drakan Vangorich, or the leaders of the Imperial Inquisition. You do get, Vangorich’s chief assassin though, Esad Wire AKA Beast Krule and I loved the parts with him.

Thorpe also did a great job with his Space Marine cast. The zealotry of Black Templars High Marshall Bohemond made for some kick-ass action scenes, some intense dramatic beats, and even some humorous scenes. Thorpe also write Lord Commander Koorland very well. His evolution over the course of the series has been one of the best parts of this storyline.

For me though, the most interesting character in “The Beast Must Die” was the Primarch, Vulkan. Vulkan is my favorite Primarch and I think Thorpe really did him justice. In the novel the Primarch of the Salamanders chapter of Space Marines comes off as both this divine figure of awesome power and a very human seeming one. That’s because in his actions and later words you see Vulkan is wrestling with the fundamental aspect of his existence; being an immortal warror. He’s been fighting for thousands of years and is tired. He’s stoic about it though and does his duty.

There’s some spectacular, fun, action sequences with Vulkan and the other Space Marines that I don’t want to spoil. The last and most bombastic one leads to some interesting revelations that makes me excited to read more of “The Beast Arises.” Those relations also cast some new light on the middle portions of the book. So there was a reason why “The Beast Arises” had to sort of read like a typical Warhammer 40,000 novel.

Ultimately, it wasn’t my favorite entry in this series, but it was still a pretty enjoyable read.