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Required Reading?

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Any advice as to where someone completely new to the 40k universe should start?

I've picked up "15 Hours", and another novel dealing with the crew of a Leman Russ battletank (I think it was called Gunheads), but I'm having trouble finding anything dealing with the more RT-related things, i.e. the operation of starships, what sort of people the high and mighty are, etc. Does anyone have suggestions of a few titles that show off the Rogue Trader setting a little more? Even an idea of which rulebooks for different 40k games contain heaps of background fluff would be helpful. I work in a bookstore, so usually price and print availability aren't huge issues.

 

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I just read Ravenor for the first time this weekend, and it show cases a few Rogue Traders, though, not as the main characters, and honestly most of them are jerks *I'd use stronger words to describe them but I'm unsure on the profanity restrictions on here*, so it gives you some idea as to who they are and how they can operate. Other than that the best fluff you'll find is the Rogue Trader book itself, I thought it did a decent job explaining who and what they are and can do, reading characters in novels leads to the false idea that, "I can do that because some other RT did." Because most if not all of the people showcased in these books are not Rank 1 Characters so to speak. Also if you're looking for reading in general I highly recommend Ciaphus Cain: Hero of the Imperium for a real good time. I'm rather new to this setting as well and I think it was the best omnibus I've read about this universe.

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 In addition to those, I'd recommend Eisenhorn on general principles; the Shira Calpurnia series because it's simply brilliantly written, and because the second and third books (Legacy and Blind) deal with Rogue Traders and Astropaths in pretty cool amounts of detail; Rogue Star and Star of Damocles focus on a Rogue Trader dynasty (and one mentioned in the core rulebook, at that, despite the fact that they operate on the other side of the galaxy from the Koronus Expanse), and give you a pretty good feel of the overall opportunities and limitations that your Explorer(s) will be facing; Relentless gives a **** good feel of life aboard a Lunar-class cruiser, if one from the Navy, rather than in private hands.

For other books on life in the 41st Millennium, there's generally a few snippets in Dan Abnett's books set in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade (the Gaunt's Ghosts series, Double Eagle and Titanicus); and some excellent stuff in Emperor's Mercy, Scourge the Heretic and Innocence Proves Nothing. Also, for those prepared to go through older material, the Inquisition War trilogy has some very good stuff (although I'd caution that the latter part of books 1 and 2 are very silly, as is pretty much all of book 3), and while of dubious worth in the canon, Eye of Terror focuses on the misfortunes of a down-at-heels Rogue Trader (in all honesty, I wouldn't give much credence to about 60% of the book, as it is nowhere near Barrington J Bayley's standard, and includes ships small enough to be operated by a crew of 1 (provided that 1 is a navigator). The sections on life in an imperial world, however, and the deliberations of Imperial Commanders, and the renegade Astartes in the Eye are pretty good).

Another recommendation on general principles: Angels of Darkness (the best thing Gav Thorpe's ever written, and very good despite that faint praise). If you can get your hands on it, the Let the Galaxy Burn! meganthology is probably the best concentrated example of background material you'll find, as well.

I'd avoid anything written by CS Goto like the plague, and (for myself) I'd steer clear of Ben Counter's stuff too, although Counter does have a good following and has produced some credible works. 

 

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I'll second the Eisenhorn and Ravenor series.

 

However, to get a real feel of how to get high-action and hijinks into the Grimdark Far Future, I'll reccomend the Ciaphus Cain novels.  Start with the omnibus, Hero of the Imperium.

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Psychopomp said:

I'll second the Eisenhorn and Ravenor series.

 

However, to get a real feel of how to get high-action and hijinks into the Grimdark Far Future, I'll reccomend the Ciaphus Cain novels.  Start with the omnibus, Hero of the Imperium.

Pretty much these lengua.gif

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The Caiphas Cain novels for a easy read to get the general gist of a galaxy at war without the whole doom laden stuff, or.... and a lot of people including many in GW and many others will slate me for this, the Inquisition War Trilogy, which is the amongst the oldest fluff in the setting, some of the stuff which is no loonger canon, but gives you a good rounded knowledge of the macinations at large in the imperium.

For Rogue traders I would suggest the Rogue Star or Star of Damocles, or the underrated Farseer which despite the name actually features a Rogue Trader as the main character. The Capurnia series is good for a look at imperial society away from the war zones from the point of view of the forces of law and order...

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The obvious ones to get are  Eisenhorn, Ravenor,Ciaphus Cain omnibuses.  That said there isn't a lot of RT action in these novels despite the wealth of 40k info and feel.  Renlentess is a good view of life in the lower decks for a naval cruiser. Battle for the Abyss involves a lot naval combat in an earlier era .  Rogue Star and Star of Damocles are RT, but poorly written.  Titanicus is great for a feel for admech politics as is Mechanicus.  The Shira Calpurnia series is good, but you'll have to find a used copy.  (On Amazon they are selling legacy for extreme prices, but you can often find it cheaper else where.)

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Dalnor Surloc said:

The obvious ones to get are  Eisenhorn, Ravenor,Ciaphus Cain omnibuses.  That said there isn't a lot of RT action in these novels despite the wealth of 40k info and feel.  Renlentess is a good view of life in the lower decks for a naval cruiser. Battle for the Abyss involves a lot naval combat in an earlier era .  Rogue Star and Star of Damocles are RT, but poorly written.  Titanicus is great for a feel for admech politics as is Mechanicus.  The Shira Calpurnia series is good, but you'll have to find a used copy.  (On Amazon they are selling legacy for extreme prices, but you can often find it cheaper else where.)

I picked up Legacy and Farseer from Watersones in the UK for very reasonable prices, so they are still about even if out of print. Relentless is an excellent novel from the point of view of the lower decks... I had compleatly forgotten about it. Most of the novels can be found with the exception of  Ian Watson's 'Space Marine'.

That 'archeotech' is near mythical and exchanges hands for crazy prices. Has never been re-released by Games Workshop because its too far from the source material apparently its almost heretical.

Storys abound that when a copy is uncovered a GW strike team armed with flamers is dispatched to destroy it. With the exception of Squats its their biggest dirty secret.No idea why really.

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Dalnor Surloc said:

{snip} Battle for the Abyss involves a lot naval combat in an earlier era . {/snip}

It is also a semi-reasonable rip-off of David Weber's Honorverse novels, but it isn't really 40k, and has some poorly developed characterisations to boot. See my earlier comments about Ben Counter.

Despite that, I like the idea of the Saturnine Fleet (I even like the increasingly Mary-Sue Honorverse that Counter shamelessly borrows from in this), and it's one of his better novels (the other two being Galaxy in Flames, which was heavily edited/rewritten by Abnett and McNeill, and Dæmon World, which most of his fans dislike), but as a whole feels like it should be in a different setting.

 

Anyway- related reading (to get the feel for the setting from sources outside of it): Dune, the original novel, and the David Lynch film version.

Jack Yeovil (Kim Newman)'s Dark Future trilogy (in four books; go figure) is good for seeing how the universe got to become the Imperium. Yeah, it's a dystopian alternate version of 1995, but it has the rise of Khorne and Nurgle on Earth, and the gradual downfall of Christianity and general civilisation into the techno-barbarian warring states of the Age of Strife. Oh, and Elvis Presley, bounty hunter and mercenary.
It's not canon, but it was released as part of the old, pre-Black Library range of Games Workshop tie-in novels.

The court of Lionstone IV in the Deathstalker series is probably a good example of the workings of high Imperial society (ie, the world a group of RT Explorers is going to be living in). Like the Dark Future books, and the Inquisition War trilogy, this should also carry the warning: gets very silly, although in this case it's probably intentional, the series being an affectionate (if subtle) parody of classic space-opera.

Event Horizon; or as I and many others like to think of it "Humanity's first experiment with Warp Travel".

Judge Dredd is the inspiration and origin of the Adeptus Arbites and hive cities in 40k (literally- GW used to produce a Judge Dredd game, way back when, and ported much of the concepts straight over to their new setting with the serial numbers crudely filed off).

 

Oh, thanks for reminding me about Farseer, I knew there was a Bill King story that would fit (aside from some of the later Space Wolf stories, generally when Ragnar is being used to do the 40k version of d'Artagnan), but I couldn't quite remember what it was called.
I wasn't aware that GW was ashamed of Space Marine: I'd always heard that they never re-released it thanks to copyright issues (much like the disappearance of Malal, Chaos god of chaos-hating).

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Alasseo said:

 Wow, it shows what we know, hey, Cap'n Harlock? They be releasing Space Marine!

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3125085&id=21664437956

The eye of terror is opening surely!

Youre quite right about the Dune/ 2000AD axis. Much of the art work in the early days of RT could actually be mistaken for 2000AD stuff. As for the Dune bit, I think it goes beyond the galaxy Empire bit and it has to do with the stylistic theme, which oddly enough has changed over years. The 40K Imperium universe has become more Gothic/Medieval catholic Church in space kind while I tnink in RT the hints were that it was more....I struggle for the word but one reviwer at the time put it down as 'Baroque' rather than Gothic. Also one commentator on the net put it light this, sentiments which I agree with as after all these yearsof following the setting.

"Rather than being the ultra-gothic,sooper-dark universe of the current edition, Rogue Trader portrays a universe that's slowly pulling itself out of anarchy, fighting against mysterious alien races and the forces of the Warp. Astral spectres instead of demons. Tyranids that look like early versions of Termagants and who control Zoats, and Genestealers who look like big leeches with legs. Space Marines that are weak as kittens compared to their current status. (Strength 3 Toughness 3! No fearless rules!) And the Emperor is still dead."

Is it a bad thing? No... while I may gripe about squats and view those early days with rose tinted nostalgia, I think GW have done a excellent job with the setting (not the dumbed down rules though) making it a universe which now is very much their own rather than being obviously derivative  (i.e the Eldar are no longer just elves in space), even though sometimes they still cant help themselves especially Imperial guard which seem a pick and choose from a mankinds warfare history book- the best example being the  OOP 'British Redcoat' Praetorian Guard who I think GW saw as being just a bit too obvious..

Malal? Wow you do know your stuff. Yes the 5th chaos God doesnt really get to see much time nowadays (they dont have rights to the name oddly enough) but he gets in under the psedonym of malice- see the short story "The Labyrinth" in one of the anthologies involving the Sons of Malice Renegade Marine chapter...and its not even old material! Sometimes I think that theres still a nice veteran element in GW or that they have a sense of humour. All we need now is references to the now defunct Gods of Law and we will be back to 1986 ;)

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 I'd agree on the Ciaphas Cain books - a great read for the pace of the action, and less gritty than normal, as is appropriate to the more optimistic RT setting. The Inquisition War is a good read too - I recently re-read it after many years of it sitting on the shelf. It's not as far from the modern stuff as some people will have it, but it does get very existential, especially in the communion with the Emperor. It's not that that scene, and the stuff about the Sensei 'violates' canon (whatever that means!), more that it just veers way off track compared to the more modern focus.

Space Marine is ok, but worth picking up as a slice of history if you get the chance.

40k is influenced by many, many themes in a very wide genre - that's the best thing about it. I'd read the Deathworld Omnibus by Harry Harrison if you want to branch out while keeping the general feel of a galactic society that's fragmented and often illogical. Excellent stuff!

Cheers

Andy

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"Jack Yeovil (Kim Newman)'s Dark Future trilogy (in four books; go figure) is good for seeing how the universe got to become the Imperium"

He also wrote the Genevieve series of books for the Warhammer setting, which were some of my favorite books. Funny thing is as he wrote under the Pseudonym of Jack Yeovil, I never really until last year that he is the same guy who writes in the Empire film magazine as a journalist, and Ive read that magazine for years. I never read the his Dark future Trilogy (Mad max in US?)... is it actually connected with the 40k Universe?

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I would suggest that (and dare i say it) mutant chronicles is worth a watch however back to reading viriconium is definitely a dark look at the possible worlds of the imperium... i would even suggest that iain m. banks is worth a look (slightly more advanced than the imperium with xenos mixing with the new humanity but some very good social structures that for example are based on how well you play a board game!?!)... my favourite black library are date eisenhorn, the inquisition wars and ravenor... not much about rogue traders admittedly but do have a very good view of the imperium… I would also have to disagree that the inquisition war gets “silly” as it progresses… it may become somewhat disjointed however in light of the fact that the characters are travelling through the webway tunnels it is a very good idea as to how the warp (in whatever form) can send even the hardiest individual insane…

 

 

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Anything by Dan Abnett is bound to be well-written. Eisenhorn and Ravenor are the best 40K books by far. Completely unrelated to Rogue Traders but Brotherhood of the Snake was the next best of his books after the Inquisition-based ones, and has quite a lot of stuff on various worlds.

Conversely, I have only tried one book by Ben Counter (Grey Knights) and had to stop long before finishing. It was just too terribly written. Avoid at all costs. I hear bad things about CS Goto.

Am currently reading the Shira Calpurnia series which is suprisingly well-written, too. If you don't have them, an omnibus is being released next year so maybe hold out for that (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Enforcer-Matt-Farrer/dp/1844168794).

Rogue Star features Rogue Traders but isn't a great read. OK for background stuff though.

And I enjoyed Relentless despite the author having some painful habits. Very good background on how a ship works.

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Solkan be praised!

When you mention Judge Dredd, you also have to have a look at Nemesis the Warlock. Emulation really is the biggest form of flattery, if you know what I mean...

Ian M Banks writes a **** good space opera which also leans towards the gothic rather than the utopian. I like in particular Consider Phlebas, which also has a vast man made, ring shaped eden, where the land mass is all on the inside surface of the ring. Remind you of a certain computer game?

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I rather enjoyed Rogue Star and Star of Damocles actually.  Possibly because I read the latter while getting my army ready for the Damocles Gulf campaign (in which it is set) weekend at Warhammer World. 

It's no suprise to find the characters mentioned in the RT rulebook.  The author did write a fair chunk of it after all!

P.S. Andy - are we likely to see a third book anytime soon?

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 Thank you mate, that's very kind :-)

I did sneak in a quote from Lucien, but it was in the Imperium section, not the Koronus Expanse section, so is intended more to provide flavour and context.

I certainly intend there to be a third book, after I've finished the novel I'm writing right now, and of all the stuff I've been doing for Ross :-)

Cheer

Andy

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Santiago said:

 How about Dune and Starship Troopers?

 

Reading Dune will tell you way more about 40k then any one book wrote by Black Library.  Its prity clear that the original idea behind 40k in its early years was taking Dune and adding Orks and Eldar.  Its changed into its own entity since these early days, but some of this remains.  Since allot of the back story between the two is similar.  And there is allot of 40k fluff that is not fleshed out, but seems to refrence the Dune back story, for example why AI's are not permitted by the Mechanicus.

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InquisitorGray said:

Santiago said:

 

 How about Dune and Starship Troopers?

 

 

 

Reading Dune will tell you way more about 40k then any one book wrote by Black Library.  Its prity clear that the original idea behind 40k in its early years was taking Dune and adding Orks and Eldar.  

And Squats!

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Bad Birch said:

InquisitorGray said:

 

Santiago said:

 

 How about Dune and Starship Troopers?

 

 

 

Reading Dune will tell you way more about 40k then any one book wrote by Black Library.  Its prity clear that the original idea behind 40k in its early years was taking Dune and adding Orks and Eldar.  

 

 

And Squats!

Nah, you mean Demiurg. Squats are dead now, GW said so gui%C3%B1o.gif

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Alasseo said:

In addition to those, I'd recommend Eisenhorn on general principles; the Shira Calpurnia series because it's simply brilliantly written, and because the second and third books (Legacy and Blind) deal with Rogue Traders and Astropaths in pretty cool amounts of detail; Rogue Star and Star of Damocles focus on a Rogue Trader dynasty (and one mentioned in the core rulebook, at that, despite the fact that they operate on the other side of the galaxy from the Koronus Expanse), and give you a pretty good feel of the overall opportunities and limitations that your Explorer(s) will be facing; Relentless gives a **** good feel of life aboard a Lunar-class cruiser, if one from the Navy, rather than in private hands.

Spot on, I think. If you have completely free reign, I think Relentless, Crossfire, Legacy, Blind (those three all in Enforcer next summer), Eisenhorn and Ravenor are all solid bets sensibly covering the 'about right' feel of the RT-relevent bits of 40k. It's also helped that Matt Farrer's trilogy are damnably awesome. I'd also add that Planetkill serves as excellent reading in the later parts of the book. (The final short being a prelude to Gunheads, the one before that being a brilliant/mad one by Matt Farrer, plus a fine contribution by Robey Jenkins and another one by Relentless author Richard Williams, which I'd say is crucial to Rogue Trader fun: Mortal Fuel).

With regard to Rogue Star/Star of Damocles, I'd say they're good reading. You can tell they're first novels by Hoare and that he's not a fantastic author. Still, some of the material in them is utterly delightful. The daughter's 'altercation' with planetary defence turrets, the exceedingly creepy refuelling scene in the second book, for example.

As a 'one last thing' on the whole thing: Gordon Rennie's Execution Hour and Shadowpoint.

I'm amazed no-one mentioned them yet. They're brilliant books based on the specialist game Battlefleet Gothic. The first is superior to the second, but as a duo I find them to be really good books. Difficult to get a hold of, but deary me: they are worth it.

As an aside, I'm surprised as to the dislike for Ben Counter. I find him very hit and miss within his books. Not amazing, but I find smaller parts of them justify the whole experience. The culmination of Grey Knights, the basic arching plot premise in Dark Adeptus, the resolution to Hammer of Daemons. Even the remarkably poor Battle for the Abyss featured some dead interesting space-fight scenes (except that ridiculous book) as well as two very unprecedented and enjoyable characters; Skraal and Mhotep. These 'gems' massively outweigh the flaws, though not so much that I'd therefore say "They're great books!"; I wouldn't.

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Xisor said:

With regard to Rogue Star/Star of Damocles, I'd say they're good reading. You can tell they're first novels by Hoare and that he's not a fantastic author. Still, some of the material in them is utterly delightful. The daughter's 'altercation' with planetary defence turrets, the exceedingly creepy refuelling scene in the second book, for example.

 

Call me Andy mate! (and cheers)

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