Shelfari Shelf

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So You Want a Friend to Read Some 40k?

I have noticed that one question asked a lot on 40k forums is "which novels should I give my friend to get them into 40k?" Everyone has an opinion, and if you don't try to winnow through it, half of the Black Library catalogue will be sitting on your friend's bookshelf before they know it. This could be a good thing, if they are generally interested in 40k and maybe have some knowledge of the fluff. But for a true newb, it can be so overwhelming that it is a turn off. Especially since much of the background is very much an insiders story.

My solution is a pair of books, the Eisenhorn trilogy and Storm of Iron. Eisenhorn is a great choice because it doesn't make any assumptions about what the reader knows. The worlds are all new, and the character is trying to solve a mystery that shows the reader what the 40k universe is like. Xenos ( part one of the trilogy) has only a handful of Space Marines and a handful of Chaos Marines, with some Imperial guard (loyal and traitor) thrown in. This series is kind of like easing yourself into a pool after lunch. Yes, it can be more fun to shock your self, do the cannonball and start having fun. But easing yourself in can build comfort and acclimatization.

Storm of Iron is quite a different beast, however it represents a 40k game in novel form. It is the siege of an Imperial fortress by a chaos legion (the Iron Warriors for those who don't know) and it has everything a 40k fanboy could want in it. Chaos Space Marines, Space Marines, Titans, Imperial Guard, things blowing up, explosions, flashes, booms, bangs! This was Graham McNeill's first novel, and I think it wow'ed fans in a way his Ultramarines novels just haven't done. Not only are the main protagonists bad guys, but they do some horrific stuff to boot. So the next time someone asks you about reading some 40k novels, offer up these two, and they won;t be disappointed.


  1. I Haven't read Eisenhorn.

    Have read Storm of Iron, though. Getting people to read it would be a great way of getting them excited about playing the game and reading more 40k novels. Like you said, it's a tabletop battle told in novel form.

    However, a word of caution; if the friend in question is a seasoned reader, he/she is probably familiar with some fairly decent and fairly awesome authors. Giving them something by Graham McNeill might be a mistake. I remember when I picked up one his Ultramarine books right after reading a book by George Martin. Getting through the Ultramarine book was a touch slog.

    I think that if I wanted to introduce someone to 40k novels, I would give them Mechanicum. Yes, it's by McNeill, but, like Storm of Iron, it's much better than his Ultramarine books. Also, it's one of the best novels in terms of background and, if the person is predisposed to liking the background, this novel will provide enough of it for them to overcome any obstacles their lack of experience with the 40k universe might bring.

  2. I think the Eisenhorn is good start. A few years back I gave the trilogy book to my mate Sam. This guy has read more books than any other human being I know (probably something around 5k) and a lot of that is sci-fi and fantasy. He really knows his stuff so I thought that he wouldn't really like it.
    It figures out that he enjoyed reading the book. He thought it was pretty entertaining but nothing really special but still much better than I expected. So, yeah Eisenhorn is the ideal choice in my opinion. I actually prefer the Ravenor trilogy but it could be confusing to someone just introduced to the 40k universe :)

  3. Thank you both for the feedback. I totally agree with you Antipope, Eisenhorn is a great intro because it doesn't require the background, it's just a good read set in the 40k universe.

    I have to disagree with youeight Sigismund on Mechanicum. I think that the spoilers inherent in that novel, compounded with the fact that it is the eighth or ninth book in the HH series makes it a poor intro choice. Titanicus would be better if you just wanted giant stompiness. The HH novels are so scewed from the mainline 40k books that a new reader would get a different view of what the 40k universe is like. Reading the 40k books set in the 41st Millenium has that dark, gothic feel. The HH novels are set at the end of a Golden Age where mankind begins to falter