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As one of the later omnibus's I read, I was speculative on what I might find. I had not read any Imperial Guard novels before, believing them to lack the vividness and brutality of other novels featuring superhuman Space Marines fighting daemons and aliens. Boy, was I wrong.
The Founding is one of the best sets of Black Library novels I have read to date, if not the best. Its a close competition between this and Eisenhorn, another of Abnett's omnibus's. With tons of detail, fantastic characters and enough brutality to make most 18 rated films look like childrens movies, The Founding delivers on all levels as a in-depth and fascinating look at warfare in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, where simple men stand against the greatest horrors of the universe.
Recommended to ALL Warhammer 40k fans, both new and old, and any science fiction fans with a penchant for brutal war and complex characters.
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These were one of the first warhammer 40k omnibus's i had ever read and even now i consider it one of the best, if not the best black library has published to date. Dan abnett, widely reputed as one of the best authors black library has to offer, creates a fascinating look at the imperium of man away from its battlefields and instead displaying the complex webs of intrigue, treachery and death that are a part of imperial society, hidden behind the scenes.
The life of inquisitor eisenhorn is outlined in fantastic detail describing his exploits as a holy warrior of the emperor and his eventual fall from fighting the forces of darkness to harnessing them. A recommended read for all science fiction and warhammer 40k fans.
Skullcandy G.I. Stereo Headphones (Digi Camo)
I got a pair of these a while back looking at the reviews and feeling these headphones would fit the bill as a decent pair for computer use such as gaming and music, and indeed they were by all means perfect for their role, they deliver excellent quality sound, look cool and are remarkably comfortable. That said, within a number of months, the headphone adjuster, a simple length of plastic, snapped apart, on one of the headphones, leaving the headphones darling off of it and exposing the wires. Needless to say, this is NOT good design, and I will not be purchasing another pair of skullcandy headphones now or in the near future, at least, not till they are constructed with something a little more durable then a millimetre or two of plastic.
For those of you who want excellent sound at a high price, by all means, purchase these, just dont expect them to last very long.
Sennheiser HD 201 Headphones (HD201)
I bought these headphones after my second Skullcandy pair broke as a cheap alternative before I could gather up enough money for a high-end pair and I must say these are splendid. The sound is perfect in every way with a little bass added making using them an enjoyable experience. However, I took off a star as I'm used to using a volume adjuster like those attached to Skullcandy headphones and was disappointed at the lack of one on this headphone, this coupled with the fact the maximum level of volume on my pc being somewhat low (this may only be me as I suffer from partial deafness) convinced me to remove a star.
That said, if your looking for a cheap pair of functional headphones, whether simply to use before looking for something more high end or simply as a cheap alternative, than look no further then these.
Tales of Heresy
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This collection of short stories written by some of Black Library's finest detail times during the Horus Heresy, but I have taken off a single star as not all of them are relevant to the heresy, with two of the stories veering off in regards to planetary compliance, even when the rest of the galaxy is on the verge of civil war.
Despite this, every story is extremely well written, with well known characters from previous HH novels appearing and each story having its own personal tale to tell in regards to the characters, backgrounds and events unfolding in each of them. As such, Tales of Heresy shows the Horus Heresy from multiple views in time and place, helping outline some minor and major events that occurred during this most popular of Warhammer 40k events.
For fans of Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy in particular, this is without a doubt an essential read, adding new depth and detail to the Horus Heresy storyline, and not a single boring or uninteresting short story out of the lot.
However I feel it may be somewhat unsuited to general science fiction fans new to Warhammer 40k, who should read the previous Horus Heresy novels before considering purchasing this.
Gears of War: Aspho Fields
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As a reader of science fiction and gamer, I have always been skeptical of cross-overs, in the gaming world, games made from films and novels are usually awful, absolutely hideous unenjoyable messes, and normally I avoid them like I would a potent sample of the Ebola virus.
However, books created from game material have, in my view, been far more successful, with the extremely enjoyable Mass Effect and Dawn of War novels, I decided to give the Gears of War novel a try, as the first game was sorely lacking in storyline material and you were moreorless thrust into the game and ordered to enjoy yourself, without much attention to what the hell you were exactly doing. Gears of War: Aspho Fields is the attempt to remedy that and by god, does it succeed.
I have never read anything by Karen Traviss before, although I tend not to be intimidated by new authors, this left me even more curious about how the novel turns out and the end result is much better then I could've expected. The battles, atmosphere and characters are captured marvellously, with the story detailing the GoW universe in every aspect, so much so even those who have never played the game could appreciate this story. The story is interesting and keeps the reader hooked on learning more with the character relations and story switching between a time period after the first game and before it, helping outline what past secrets have been hidden over such a time and how the characters relate to one another, while managing to avoid references to the first game altogether, which I feel only strengthens the novels story by not borrowing from its original source.
I only gave the book four stars, purely because its nothing really new, heavily armed human soldiers fighting in a future war against other humans and the locust foe, but just because it lacks originality does not make it a bad story, in the same way it did not make the first game a bad game.
The end result is a successful fusion of the Gears of War universe in novel form, which I would definately recommend to fans of the game who want to learn more about the Gears storyline, and which I would cautiously recommend to science fiction fans for the sake of the enjoyable but unoriginal universe it takes place in.
Soul Calibur IV
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I spent £20 on this game and no matter which way I look at it I can't say it was worth the price. Having played the 2nd game on PS2 and the original on my colleges arcade machine for about 3 years, and having thoroughly enjoyed both experiences, I had hoped that SCIV would deliver a new and exciting experience beyond the norm.
First lets get the good points out of the way, the game looks lovely, it has a few million characters, some old, some new, all fantastic, the combat, while not as perfect as SC2, still works well, although in comparison it is poorer then the previous titles in the series and the character creation tool, while bizzare, is fantastic fan, combining my favourite fighting style into a multicoloured, deep throated evil sounding powerhouse is fantastic from beginning to end and the new star wars characters (Yoda and the Apprentice) are enjoyable additions, although Yoda is technically a cheat character as most attacks miss him, he cant be grabbed and is overpowered.
And now the bad stuff. The story mode is terrible, the stories short and not making much sense in regards to the canon of previous titles, the voice actors arent enjoyable (for what little that matters) the combat is glitchy (in really annoying ways, such as attacks slicing THROUGH opponents), the gameplay is condensed into a couple of modes, none particularly interesting, and the online netcode (the multiplayer being a main reason I bought the game) is appalling, the lag is so bad it makes it impossible to play properly and the odds of winning become extremely difficult as you can barely keep control of your character or organise the attacks your using.
All in all SCIV fails in the major aspects it really needed to in order to succeed as a fighter, if you dont own a playstation 2 or xbox and/or cant get a copy of SC2 for either of them, then this is an acceptable purchase, but besides that it did not meet any of my expectations and has left me horribly disappointed, and now I dont know whether to sell it or keep it, as I spend what I'd consider a large amount on a game on it and dont really want to lose money selling it when I might be willing to forgive it in future.
Either way, I was very disappointed with this title, and I still feel the king of the SC series is by far Soul Calibur 2.
Horus Heresy 9 - Mechanicum
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Having got my mitts on one of the early released, signed editions of Mechanicum, I can say now its absolutely magnificent.
Going from the beginning hostilities on Mars to the open treachery of the newly created Dark Mechanicus, the book describes the Mechanicum in detail rarely seen in any 40k novel before, with vivid descriptions of events and battle, as in Graham McNeill's specialty.
The mostly new characters in the novel are enjoyable and decribed in brilliant detail, with the author's writing style making reading a delight, with the fast pace keeping the reader interested in finishing the novel cover to cover, as well as solving a number of mysteries in the warhammer 40k canon, and bringing new mysteries to the fore.
In short, Mechanicum is a brilliant read, as are all the current Horus Heresy novels, with new insight into the Mechanicum, and a story so enjoyable you'll want to read it right after you've finished it. A must for fans of the series, 40k or science fiction.
Horus Heresy 5 - Fulgrim
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The fifth book of the Horus Heresy series, Fulgrim, chronicles the fall of one of the great crusades most beloved and iconic heroes, Fulgrim, one of the sons of the Emperor, describing his personal fall from loyalty to treachery.
The book is magnificently written by Graham McNeill, an author known for his brillance in describing battle and warfare intricately, however, Fulgrim, much to my suprise, shines in all despartments, with a beautiful storyline, brilliant characters and one of the largest battles of the heresy, The Isstvaan V massacre, being a main feature towards the end of the book, described in magnificent detail, with the storyline outlining Fulgrim above all else, and his fall to a fate more horrific then death.
Fulgrim is an extremely well written book, to go alongside my favourite Horus Rising, Legion and Galaxy In Flames as a favourite novel of the Horus Heresy. An essential chapter in this growing and ever-more brilliant series of science fiction novels.
Horus Heresy 1 - Horus Rising
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At the beginning of the beloved Warhammer 40,000 storyline, when Humanity raises again after an age of strife, to reach out to the stars and claim the galaxy. Sound familiar? Not like this.
Horus Rising is the first novel in the Horus Heresy series, a set of novels portraying the events of a calamitous and great event within the model games storyline, and this beginning novel is beautifully written by the exceptionally skilled and capable Dan Abnett, my personal favourite Black Library author.
With massive battles, intricate philosophy, and masses of perspective, Horus Rising is a magnificent beginning novel to this exceptional science fiction series. A worthy read for any science fiction or warhammer 40,000 fan.