Thursday, May 28, 2009

Online Publishing for Hacks?

March of the Illiterati in E Flat

May 27, 2009

Written by Karen D. Swim

Original article is HERE.

Two weeks ago, my Grandmother retired her old school TV Antenna for a digital converter box. If the FCC had not mandated that the US switch to digital on June 12th, my Gran would have kept using the rabbit ears.

In the world of early adopters one might say my Gran is a no bloomer. Yet, her diehard dedication to “rabbit ears” is not unlike those who hopelessly cling to the notion that social media is worthless and digital media is solely for the illiterati.

In a recent conversation with an erudite writer, I listened to what has become a familiar litany:

People who publish on the internet are not real writers. I am a noted journalist/writer/editor and accustomed to spending 6 weeks, writing 15 drafts before publishing.

My crowd is very literate and will not possibly be on Twitter. ( I pull up Twitter screen) Oh, look there’s Bill /Jane/ Buffy, they’re on Twiter?

I do not have time to waste engaging in urbane conversations with plebian strangers.

Internet publishing is for hacks.

Overlooking the fact that I had just been called a moronic hack who spends time on inane platforms talking to a motely bunch of idiots, I patiently explained this new world that has “killed newspapers” and made superstars out of the unknown. I politely declined to point out that a truly impressive insult would have described “my people” as having brains as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage.

Alas, we no longer use insults such as: “Away!, Thou art poison to my blood.” Yet, in spite of the evolution of the English language we have managed to make amazing discoveries, and advances. Who’da thunk it? (See what fun online writing can be?)

Those who view online writing as a dumbing down of provocative thoughts and ideas are missing the point entirely. It is an expansion of creative thought, discussion and collective collaboration. While other forms of publishing aim to “talk at” digital publishers “talk to.” It’s the sharing and exchange of ideas and information in real time.

Literature, and great writing are not dying, we are simply evolving in the way we communicate. Many will hold on until the bitter end, until change has steamrolled over them leaving no other choice but the truly erudite will not only embrace the change but lead the way.

What do you think? Are we diminishing the art of writing with online publishing?

My Reply:

I’m an illustrator as my day job. I draw pictures. Do I have a problem with the millions of people on Deviantart, Flickr or who have themselves published via online zine or small press?

Not At ALL.
I can’t stand “gatekeepers” who feel they have some privilege of doing what they do; whether art, writing or basket weaving.

I see it that I nave absolutely NO right to tell anyone what they can or can’t do. I can however encourage people to do what they love…whatever that is. Please…show off your stuff! Get critiques, Improve! Keep doing it every day.

Does this in any way cheapen the work of a creative? Not one bit. Actually it’s the bunghole gatekeepers who ruin it for many.

Honestly, what is the difference between published writer/ artist/ basket weaver and the home published zine person? Honestly, I give less than a damn whether you’re published or not. That doesn’t mean you’re any good. It means absolutely nothing. There’s tons of really GOOD folks out there who aren’t published or are diamonds in the rough who should be ENCOURAGED and included instead of derided as “pft, unpublished” and excluded.

1. Who gives anyone the right to deride or dismiss anyone?
2. What is the difference between published and unpublished creatives?

Seriously…I think there is a sliding scale of skill and everyone is on the road (or should be) of improvement, regardless of whether or how something is put out for the world to see.

Honestly my own scale is dependent on skill, effort, natural talent and people who are willing to learn, listen as well as be frank about what they do. Let the work speak for itself and leave the ego at the door.

“Being Published” is largely a matter of “right place and right time” multiplied by “who you know”, plus an ounce of ability, a little bit of luck, and often a lot of hustling. Note that “skill” is the smallest factor here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning

A review from a self-avowed non-PVP guy.

I occasionally play MMOs. I've tried several now and PVP has always been something I've loathed. Usually it ends up being players griefing players and there's no balance to it. You go out in to an unsafe area and if you're flagged for PVP, some guy way more powerful than you (or a band of players) mugs you for your lunch money. That or some high level dude wanders in to your safe zone and starts killing off all the safe area NPCs just waiting for someone dumb enough to heal an NPC (which flags you for PVP) or attacks the offending PC.

This week I got to finally (after almost a year of putting it off) try out WAR.

I admit, I was hesitant. It's just another MMO. Yes, it's Warhammer: my baby. My favorite setting of all time. It's also geared towards something called RvR: Realm vs Realm. That tells me it is Players fighting Players.


So I jumped in, created a few characters and got in to the spirit of it.

My assessment?


I get it now.
I play a lot of FPS multiplayer games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare and World at War.

RvR takes the best of the PVE MMO and the Multiplayer FPS and combines it in to something that REALLY works.

Think of it like this:
You have a Multiplayer RPG, with all the nifty trappings of the Warhammer world, then add a sort of zone combat that has clearly delineated RvR areas. In those areas you have stuff to capture and hold. Think of Headquarters or Capture the Flag games in FPS games. You take the objective and hold it.

If you problem. You resurrect a safe distance away (something the Call of Duty games haven't sorted out yet) and run back in to the fray. You get a lot of XP for RvR as well as goodies. There are separate tracks for XP. Regular XP for levelling etc. and Renown. Renown gets you better gear and stuff. It's truly amazing.

I can't believe it was so hesitant about it. I think part of the difference is that RvR is divided up in to Tiers, so your newbies can fight newbies and Uber Characters can fight Uber Characters.

As far as the PVE's pretty typical fare. If you've played WOW it's more or less the same except the setting and the look of it. WAR looks FAR better. Where WOW is very cartoony-looking, WAR has the gritty look of the Warhammer World (appropriately so). The nice thing is that PVE and RvR nicely dovetail in together. They complement each other in a way that WOW can't reproduce.

WOW does some things better. Some basic gameplay elements like collision *you tend to get hung up a bit more on enviromentals in WAR but not so much in WOW. Critter and NPC respawn times are far shorter in WAR so you can't camp an area as easily because they bad guys do come back quickly. The crafting and all that in WAR is a little unclear and some of the loot you get is not readily disposable, making it a little awkward to find out what it's actually for. WOW has a LOT of built in crafting and grinding bits (which really turned me off). WAR has a bit, but that's not what it's about at all.

WOW does PVE well. WAR does it almost as good, albeit a little differently (which is fine IMO). Crafty/ Grindy bits WOW does far better...but really I care less about that in game. PVP in WOW sucks and there's no RvR. WAR pulls far ahead in PVP/ RvR as that is a core focus in the game.

Essentially, what I see is that the developers at EA/ Mythic made a choice: stick to what you want to be important in-game, and let the rest slide. It ends up being a focused game, good at what it does (where WOW is good at some things but tries IMO to do them all.) I dig the focus.

Overall, so far I have three toons: A White Lion, a Swordmaster and a Witch Hunter. They are bad-ass. RvR rocks. To me WAR does the things right that I really disliked in WOW (and CoH/ CoV, etc). My wife is playing and she's digging it as well.

Friday, May 22, 2009


One thing I love about what I do for a living that is somewhat unconventional is being able to work with awesome people, collaborate (vs compete) and pimp out those cool people to other cool people that need talent.

What am I talking about?
Freelancing is to a certain degree very competitive. I think it's somewhat ingrained in to the community that you have to hustle and undercut the competition in order to get gigs. I disagree with that.

I think in order to succeed as a freelancer you need to be yourself, be cool, be professional and the work will come. Maybe not as fast as the uber-competitive guys, but the work will be more solid and you'll build a long-term relationship with the folks you work with.

It's kind of like the "nice guys finish last" thing. I dig being the "nice guy". I think it goes more like this "Nice guys finish after the not-nice-guys...but have better, more solid relationships and in the end are far happier."

That's how I work. I'm no superstar artist. I have a bit of a niche (which I'm trying to expand out of) and I'm nice and I'm more than anything professional. My shit is always done on time. I don't take shortcuts. I always do what I'm asked to do without the "Artiste' Drama".

Art directors just want the job done. They want what they want with a minimum of drama. They want it right and on time. They want artists they can bank on. This makes their job easy. I'm down with that.

I've worked with some great ones, and it's wonderful to pimp out my brothers (sisters) when they need a good solid artist. Hey, if I'm unavailable, I know others who can do that job! I gladly pimp out my friends who are also looking for gigs. Even if they are better than me, or anything like that. Am I worried that they'll become my favorite art director's pet artist? Not at all.

I think the best thing an artist, or any creative for that matter can do is let their work and reputation as a cool professional speak for itself. Definitely help out your buddies. Word of mouth recommendations are worth their weight in GOLD. You get those by being a collaborator instead of a competitor.

Just be yourself. Be cool. Be professional.

Reputation: If you build it...they will come.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Knockspell Magazine #2 Released!

I did the art direction on this and you won't believe the bullpen of artists I got!

The Swords & Wizardry Storefront:

Knockspell Magazine Issue #2 is now on sale at the Swords & Wizardry storefront, This issue contains dungeon design advice from both Allan Grohe and Philotomy Jurament, an adventure by Gabor Lux, and all kinds of other articles from jousting to monsters and all points in between! The art in this issue is phenomenal: artists include Jim Holloway, Liz Danforth, and others. The cover piece is "Dungeoneer," by Peter Fitzpatrick. Games covered include 0e, 1e, Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC, and other retro-clones. 86 pages.

DURING MAY the prices of Knockspell #2, Spire of Iron and Crystal (module), The S&W/0e Monster Book, and Eldritch Weirdness Compilation Books Three to One are all reduced, because we're in the middle of another lulu sales competition.

Table of Contents:
3 Editor’s Note, Matt Finch
4 Art Director’s Note, Jeff Preston
4 From Kuroth’s Quill, Allan T. Grohe, Jr.
8 The Dungeon as Mythic Underworld, Jason “Philotomy Jurament” Cone
14 The Trouble with Thieves, James Maliszewski
16 WhiteBox Thief (1): The Treasure Seeker, Rob Ragas
17 WhiteBox Thief (2): The “Standard” Thief, Salvatore Macri
18 Core Rules Thief (1): The Skillful Shadow, Salvatore Macri
20 Core Rules Thief (2), James Maliszewski
21 Thieves and Tasks, Akrasia
24 Isles on an Emerald Sea 2, Gabor Lux
31 Retro-Clones: Interviews with the Authors
36 Jousting (Optional Rules), Brendan Falconer
37 Dungeon Oddities, Michael Curtis
45 The Zocchi Experience, Matt Finch
46 The Claws of Ssur-Sparih, James Carl Boney
47 Random City Lair Generator, Sean Wills
48 Random Thieves Guild Generator, Robert Lionheart
51 The Fantasy Marketplace: Looking at Merchants Differently, Michael Shorten
55 Spell Complexity (Optional Rules), Brendan Falconer
57 Thoughts on Arnesonian Alchemy in the Original Dungeon Game, Jason Vasche
60 When is a Spell Book Much More than a Spell Book?, Brendan Falconer
62 Random Pits & Occupants, Mike Davison
63 Magic Swords & Treasure Maps, Jason “Philotomy Jurament” Cone
67 Leprechauns, David (“Sham”) Bowman
69 Why White Box?, Jim Adams
71 Surviving Old-School Dungeons, Sean Ahmed
72 Three Sorcerous Creations, James Carl Boney
77 Magic Items
78 Review: On the Road of Knives, Matt Finch
79 Masterminds & Minions, bat
82 The Bestiary
86 Classified Ads

Tales of Heresy- Review

Tales of Heresy
Edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley

Preface: I usually shy away from anthologies. Not that anthologies are inherently “bad” or anything…but it seems to me that the stories either grab you and then drop you off at the next corner, anxiously wanting MORE…or really just fail to snag you in the first place. Anthologies tend to cater to a wider variety of subjects/ interests and I know my own tastes tend to be more focused.

In spite of this, Tales of Heresy is focused enough to be fun for anyone interested in delving more in to the extremely popular Horus Heresy series.

Since each of the stories is independent, not really tying to one another in any way, I’m going to break down each short story within independently as well.

Buckle up!

Blood Games by Dan Abnett.
Here we get a good taste of what the Custodes are all about. Color me impressed! Yes, as expected…the Custodes are BAD ASS. Compare an Astartes to an Imperial Guardsman. No contest, the Astartes is far superior in every way. I think the same can be said of a comparison of a Custodes to your average Astartes. Bold bastards they are! I don’t want to give away too much here, but think of a warrior so confidant in their abilities, and so much apart from the rank and file that even Primarchs are simply “Dorn” or “Horus” instead of the reverent “Lord Primarch” or something of that nature. (Perhaps this is partly due to the hypno-training and gene-seed of Astartes as well as being the almost genetic offspring of their respective Primarchs that instills that sort of reverence in Space Marines. Hard to say as the “mere mortals” of the series also tend to be of the same reverent mindset. I digress…)

It’s nice to see politics and scheming on Holy Terra itself amid this whole saga. Imagine the massive brass of someone willing to play politics on Terra while the Emperor himself is present.

Overall…good story! I did get a little lost toward the end when things shifted a bit; I was left wondering “what the hell just happened?” and had to go back and re-read a bit in order to grasp the plot shift.
Rating: 3 of 5

Wolf at the Door by Mike Lee.
Buveye, Wolf Lord of the Space Wolves’ Thirteenth Great Company and Commander of the 954th Expeditionary Fleet, descended the ramp of the lead Stormbird with his senior lieutenants and the champions of his Wolf Guard in tow.”

That alone should be enough to get your blood pumping. It’s really great to see these guys in action in this period. This is one of the stories I’d love to see much more of. Honestly, I’m not a fan of the Space Puppies at all (a big Thousand Sons fan myself) but Mike Lee really has them DOWN!
I can’t WAIT for Prospero Burns.

This is a brilliant little tale of unconventional warfare, Astartes-Style! I loved “seeing” the Space Wolves covered in mud and grime. Mike Lee gets the Space Marines down and dirty and fighting a hit and run battle and shows that even Astartes are breakable. It’s a very gritty tale that finishes strong and true to the “Grim Future” we all love and expect.
Rating: 4 of 5

Scions of the Storm by Anthony Reynolds
A Word Bearers tale that starts a little slow, but finishes strong. The slowness at the beginning is forgivable as the author is setting the tone for what was to come, and the events preceding the story (The Emperor pimp-slapping Lorgar for his continued religiosity) are HUGE.

We get to see the exact shift from absolutely fanatic loyalist to dire traitor in one short story and it’s beautiful to see. You really get the depth of emotion and a feeling of dread from the actions and reactions of the Primarch Lorgar and those around him (Note: the BL team has done a wonderful job in demonizing First Captain Erebus. You can’t help but hate that guy.) Overall it’s good, a little battle-heavy but still a fun read.
Rating: 3 of 5

The Voice by James Swallow
I was very pleased to see the return of the Sisters of Silence and Amendera Kendel. This is a sneaky and solid piece that really catches you unaware. In my opinion it’s one of the strongest pieces of the anthology.
Swallow captures the creepy Ghost Ship feel as well as illustrating the animosity between two powerful women as well as their zeal in dealing with “Heresy”. Actually at this period, the very term “Heresy” carries religious overtones that would almost seem out of place…but knowing a bit of the pre-history of the Sisters of Battle, Ecclesiarchy and Ordo Hereticus…you can somewhat see this coming (and it’s a beautiful/ terrible thing to behold). I won’t spoil it for you…just read it.
Rating: 4 of 5

Call of the Lion by Gav Thorpe
This tale does a fine job of illuminating the tragedy of the First Legion and most of the other Legio Astartes to a greater or lesser degree: The Legions were formed up on Terra and later united with their Primarchs, creating a divide between the Old School and the often favored New Breed of Astartes. This is an underlying theme that bridges almost all the Horus Heresy Space Marine novels and it is played out rather clearly here. I think part of the reason the contracts between Old and New Astartes is so stark in the First Legion: Dark Angels is due to a bit of paranoia within their Primarch Lion El’Jonson.

Of course there is more than a bit of arrogance and hubris on the part of the Calibanite Captain Belath and a bit of almost mamby-pamby softness to the Terran Captain Astelan which wouldn’t feel as such if the story were longer and detailed more of the hard-earned temperance of the latter.

It’s easy to see where all this is leading (and while Descent of Angels is my least favorite of the series so far, I still enjoyed it, and am now looking forward to Fallen Angels.)
Rating: 3 of 5

The Last Church by Graham McNeill
You can’t help but feel for Uriah Olathaire in this short story. The entire thing is like watching a train wreck. To a certain degree you know what’s coming, but you are still affixed to the scene, unable to break away, drawn in to the emotional web of the author.

I cannot express the power of this short tale. I will tell you that not one bolter round is expended. Still the message is gripping (as a matter of fact I just got stuck re-reading it yet again as I was writing this) and the argument so relevant to the series (and in my opinion almost as relevant today as well) you can't put it down.
Rating: 5 of 5

After Desh’ea by Matthew Farrer
Kharn and the War Hounds (World Eaters) meet Angron, their Primarch. Honestly, it seemed like a tale of HULK SMASH versus Kharn “You are my Primarch, I won’t fight you”. Fans of the World Eaters will likely love it. I couldn’t get the image of a bat-shit crazy Incredible Hulk/ Angron out of my head. It fits: I can’t deny that.
Rating: 2 of 5

Overall, I enjoyed the anthology. It was a good smattering of tales from all over the Warhammer 40,000 universe, set in the period of epic civil strife known forever as the Horus Heresy.
Overall Rating: 3.4 of 5

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


by Paul S Kemp
Book III of the Twilight War
Wizards of the Coast

Terror lives in its eyes, and death in its hands. The Shadowstorm descends on Sembia, and leaves nothing but horror in its wake. We must kill Kesson Rel to stop the Shadowstorm, but we cannot afford to elevate Erevis Cale in his place. There is a way. There must be. Find it. No war can be fought without loss, but in a war against an enemy with souls as black as the darkest shadows, sometimes the only way to win is to die with your spirit intact.

To start, this was my first exposure to the character of Erevis Cale. I took my time in getting to this novel because I generally avoid jumping in to the middle or end of a story, but with much game fiction and some writers you can get away with it. I took a gamble and started in on Shadowrealm last night.

By the end of the night…well, early morning I was finished and I was literally blown away. Put it this way, I have books I and II of the Twilight War on order right now…so I’ll be revisiting Cale, Riven, Magadon etc. again shortly.

SHOULD YOU READ BOOKS I & II FIRST? I’d recommend it, but it’s not REALLY necessary to have a wonderful romp between the pages.

So what is it about?
War, Sacrifice and Faith.
The scale of the novel is certainly LARGE. We’re talking about characters fighting demigods here. Par for the course for Forgotten Realms.

Ultimately Kesson Rel is a Half-God bent on destroying Toril by way of the Shadowstorm…and foiling the Netharese(Shadovar) takeover of Sembia. Opposite him is a motley crew of powerful characters: Erevis Cale and Drasek Riven, Chosen of Mask, the assassin Rivalen, etc.

Ironically, the characters aren’t four-color at all. Actually, Kemp does an amazing job of bringing real depth to all of them. You can’t help but feel for them all in one way or another. This is a huge change in my opinion as far as a lot of genre fiction goes. These characters are DEEP. There are some excellent discussions and debates here. Consider that Mask is a god of Thieves, yet her First Chosen is really a good man, simply trying to do the best he can in the world. The assassin has a heart and has to deal with the paradox of his heart and his profession.

I can’t explain to you how much is going on in this book. It’s “busy”. Some authors handle this better than others. Kemp handles this masterfully. While the story bounces around from place to place, character to character (shifting perspectives from first to third)... all of this is deftly handled and makes sense as you read it. Usually I cringe when authors shift POV like that but this works, which really has me re-thinking my own views on writing. Each character’s “voice” is clearly defined and easy to tell from the others, which is always a bit of a challenge (often forcing a bit of a step back in pages to re-read). I didn’t have to with Shadowrealm at all.

One little side note: Abelar is an awesomely cool and deep character which I will totally be using as the basis for a PC in the near future.

The climatic showdown between Cale and Kesson Rel is nothing short of epic. Actually, the final “battle” is huge in scale as well as page count: I swear that climax is almost one-fifth of the book.

I wasn’t going to compare and contrast, but I can’t help it. It just has to be said.

Many folks look to R.A. Salvatore as the pinnacle of Forgotten Realms fiction. I think for nostalgia sake, I enjoy it as well. Paul S. Kemp blows all of Salvatore’s FR work out of the water. Seriously. Better storytelling. Better characters. Deeper, more meaningful, thought-provoking stories and conversations, etc.

Of course, on both counts they deal with characters that are bigger than life: extremely powerful beings wielding enormous powers that ultimately impact the lives of everyone in Faerun…and to a certain degree Toril as a whole.

The difference?
Drizzt, Artemis Enteri and Jarlaxle for example are nothing short of gods. They can’t seemingly be challenged. The characters are always able to slide out of any real trouble. They don’t make any real mistakes, or if they do, they Forrest Gump their way out of them. They walk between the raindrops.

Paul S. Kemp’s characters make mistakes and even fail. They cope. They deal with it. They struggle through it and we feel for them because they are really…human. Cale almost literally makes a deal with the devil. If this were a Salvatore Novel, the protagonists would kill the devil and have the “Oooh, I’m gonna get you one day!” visage of a banished devil hanging over their heads. Bummer. Not much of the threat and really, they always get off easy. Cale on the other hand… Paul S Kemp is not afraid to break his characters.

I can’t recommend Paul S Kemp’s writing enough. In MY book, he’s the new king of Forgotten Realms fiction. If you haven’t read him yet, drop what you’re doing and pick up the Erevis Cale Trilogy as well as The Twilight War. You won’t be disappointed.

Mechanicum- A review

By Graham McNeill
Book IX of the Horus Heresy.
Black Library

As the flames of treachery spread outwards through the Imperium, Horus mobilizes those forces who are loyal to him, and plots to subvert or destroy those who stand against him. A battle is being fought for the heart and soul of all the Imperial forces – the Astartes, the Imperial Army, the Titan Legions and more. In this epic story, author Graham McNeill tells the story of the civil war on Mars, and the genesis of the Dark Mechanicum.

This is Book Nine of the Black Library Horus Heresy series, the second novel of the series by Graham McNeill.

Thus far I have read the entire series. The series is overall exceptional; easily the best work but out by Black Library to date. There have been a few small “bumps” along the road. I point to Descent of Angels as the low point of the series as far as catching and holding my attention as well as staying true to the feel of the other books.

My favorites of the series so far are Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow and Legion by Dan Abnett. My reasons? The former is a standalone that neatly dove-tails in to the previous novels: the latter is a standalone that really challenged my own personal bias (I’ve always loathed the Alpha Legion).

So what about Mechanicum?

Mechanicum is another standalone novel that tells another piece of the massive story of the Horus Heresy. Honestly, I put off reading this one a bit because I’m not really interested in the Mechanicum or Titan Legions per se.

Boy was I wrong.

Mechanicum is an excellent book.

First of all, McNeill does a fine job of telling a story that sucks you in, but is somewhat ambiguous as far as where he’s going with it. The characters are all interesting and have depth far beyond that of most game fiction…and you really have no idea what those characters motivations are. You start liking the character, but also wonder which “side” they’ll be on. Ultimately in the Horus Heresy, there are only two sides to the conflict: Loyalists bound to the Emperor, and Traitors bound to Horus the Warmaster.

Having read all the previous novels, and being extremely familiar with the material presented, I know what happens to those who defy the Emperor (or the Warmaster for that matter) and get captured. Not pretty at all.

Anyhow, back to the point: you really get hooked by the characters and you fear for them because you know what is coming to a certain degree.

My personal favorites were Dalia, Rho-Mu 31 and the Knights of Taranis.

The Plot Thickens:

So as we know the Adeptus Mechanicum has been double-dealing with the Imperium, favoring Horus the Warmaster in his supply-train and functionally shorting the Loyalists. This is coming to a head in the novel: Loyalist Legions are hammering repeated requests for supplies and those still loyal to the treaty between the Mechanicum and the Imperium are noticing the divide growing. Factionalism is plaguing the Mechanicum and everyone can feel the pressure rising.

The balloon goes up. Needless to say, the expected conflict happens, and on a level you could never expect. This is the backdrop of the novel. The core of it revolves around an extremely talented copyist who is identified by one of the main movers and shakers on Mars. Without giving too much away, she is special and she delves in to a mystery that will tie in to one of the great unknowns of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe.

There ARE Astartes in the story, but they are largely a very short sideshow to what is going on. So many neat secrets I want to spoil for you…but that wouldn’t give the novel justice: it really needs to be read page by page, tasted and savored.

Graham McNeill does his usual great job in grabbing the reader early on and hanging on to you till the very end.

At 416 pages it’s typical size for the rest of the series. I read it in a couple long nights; my wife with her sleep-mask on ignoring my occasional snerks, giggles and exclamations while reading.

I think my only complaint is that it gets a little confusing as far as which (Titan) crew is which. That is a small matter though as there is thankfully a Cast of Characters at the beginning as well as a map of Mars. I personally hate flipping back and forth, but this is an epic series, so a large cast is understandable.

Considering I started out not giving a hoot about Titans or the Mechanicum, Graham McNeill again turned me around in my tracks and got my blood pumping while reading about the crews of Titans, how they work, what the Princeps feels. You can almost smell the burning promethium and lava, taste the ozone from arcing plasma coils and burning flesh. It’s that vivid! I have a far greater understanding of the role Titans and their Legions play in the grand scheme of the Warhammer 40,000 universe as well as The Mechanicum and how it is tied to The Imperium. I'm always a bit impressed when an author can take a subject that is initially less-than-appealing and turns it around in to a yarn that just won't let you go.

Overall Mechanicum is an awesome story that easily sits alongside the rest of the series as well as standing on its own as a solid good read! Graham McNeill comes through again as a top notch author and a pillar of the Black Library.