To Rescue Karadur

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Karadur-Shriltasi is a city at the centre of the Multiverse. (Well, one centre of the Multiverse, at any rate – a completely different one appears at the end of the Second Ether sequence.) In ages past, a destructive war amongst the residents resulted in a great separation; the upper city of Karadur has been ruled for generations by the Metal Clans, guardians of rationality, materialism, and order, whilst the forces of magic, superstition and intuition were banished to Shriltasi, an arboreal realm hidden below the sewers of Karadur.

One nagging thorn in the side of the Metal authorities is Max Silverskin, a master thief and the bastard son of a tryst between Augustus of Clan Silver (who along with Iron, Gold and Copper represent the major Clans) and Sophelia of the Silverheart family, minor nobility with a bad reputation for dabbling in forbidden magic. Unbeknownst to Max, during a mysterious rescue from the prison of Gragonatt he was given a witch-mark: the titular “silverheart”, a metal disc over his heart which is usually disguised with illusions. Through the mark, Max becomes able to access hitherto untapped magical powers as a result of a botched attempt to steal the Jewel of All Time, a magical gemstone which derives its power from the deadly ruby rays of the Red Moon. Falling in with Jenny and Jack Ash, leaders of the plant-like Ashen, and with unexpected help from Rose Iron – daughter of Lord Iron, leader of the Metal council – Max learns that he has just six days to reunite the lost icons of the Metal Clans and effect a reconciliation between Karadur and Shriltasi.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Jenny and Jack believe that not only will the Silverheart consume Max if he fails, but Karadur-Shriltasi – and the entire Multiverse – will be overcome by entropy. But Max and Rose will face many complications along the way, including a deadly cult of the long-lost foundryman’s goddess Sekmet and the relentless Captain Cornelius Coffin, a troubleshooter for the Metal who is determined to arrest Max and win Rose’s heart…

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Warhammer 40,000’s First Flight Into Fiction

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

As I mentioned in my review of Let the Galaxy Burn, the Black Library uses short stories as a means of acquiring and cultivating new writing talent. In the pre-Black Library line of Games Workshop tie-in fiction, however, a different approach was used: rather than primarily acquiring new talent and cultivating it, the editors used their connections to convince established authors to write for the line. As a result Deathwing, the only short story collection from that era, is a very different beast from Let the Galaxy Burn; whereas the stories in the latter derive mainly from Inferno!, the Black Library’s testing ground for their budding talent, Deathwing is a collection of stories solicited from a range of writers who were already confident authors at the time.

As a result, the stories are more polished than those in Let the Galaxy Burn, and are also significantly more diverse; there’s only one story about Space Marines and one about the Imperial Guard, whereas Let the Galaxy Burn had dozens of stories about both groups because the Black Library uses them as training wheels for new authors before they’re allowed to get too creative. What’s more, Deathwing was published at a time when the Warhammer 40,000 setting was a bit more fluid and undefined than it is today, giving the writers far more freedom to take the franchise in strange new directions than their present counterparts have.

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