View Full Version : Are there other BL books akin to those of Matthew Farrer?

Karak Norn Clansman
07-03-2018, 22:37
Enforcer and Junktion were just what I had always hopefully expected 40k Black Library novels to be since opening my first White Dwarf and becoming overwhelmed by the brilliant background and artwork:

Well written and detailed. Thoroughly true to the oppressive spirit of the setting. Thoughtful, bizarre and exploring highly interesting fringe parts of the setting away from the battlefields. Sporting byzantine intrigue and bloody action scenes. Having any semblance of control lost to a chaotic reality and grinding even the protagonist underfoot. Being fiction that reads like real events rather than wish fulfilment and watered-down Hollywood takes on 40k. Capturing the living Imperium on pages, in short.

In much of this vein, what other BL books would you recommend? It must not be all away from warfare, only it has to be well-crafted and raise the sights so to speak. Non-Imperial gems are also welcome. Any and all tips are welcome. I've read the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies already. How about the Gods of Mars trilogy or Inquisition War?

Thanks in advance! :)

Lord Damocles
08-03-2018, 19:35
I don't recall having read any of Farrer's work, but Fehervari's Fire Caste sounds like it might be in a similar vein.

EDIT: Oooh, Farrer wrote Faces.

Karak Norn Clansman
09-03-2018, 19:22
Thanks for the tip!

14-03-2018, 20:07
Thanks for the tip!

You'll enjoy Fehervari's work quite a bit I hope. Its fun, grimy 40k fiction that mostly seems to be trying to be smarter than most 40k fiction. Really loved Fire Caste and was worried it would be the last thing he wrote after a bit of a break between books.

Looking forward to whatever he writes next!

15-03-2018, 13:33
I've not encountered anyone who does it quite the same way as Matt Farrer (who's, by some distance, my favourite author - with "Legacy" my favourite novel and "Seven Views of Ulgath's Passing" my favourite short story, of all fiction ice read), but of those who are exquisitely good, who master fairly human stories and capture that something else about 40k that isn't the lore itself, I'dsuggest anything (not that they've been too prolific, alas) by
- Peter Fehervari
- Richard Williams

I'm also a massive fan of Rob Sanders & John French's works, though their similarity to Matt Farrer is perhaps more in the polarizing effect on readers. Their prose isn't always... easy, pacy reading.

John French's Tallarn stories, for instance, do a terrific turn on "the worm's eye view" of the Horus Heresy, and I think his Ahriman stories are sublime), whilst Rob managed some absolutely stunning work with "Legion of the Damned" and a personal favourite of mine - "Atlas Infernal".

(But for my tastes that's no bad thing at all that the stories might be a bit slower/meatier reading - I found Farrer's work often had more evocative ideas contained in a single sentence than many authors manage in entire chapters - so slow progress with the prose isn't an issue for me. I know some people really struggle with that style though, and it seems a matter of taste.)


Beyond them, the highlight works of Dan Abnett (look at, say, "Prospero Burns" or "Titanicus") and Aaron Dembski-Bowden (his Night Lords trilogy) relax much more into the crowd-pleasing territory, but have enough of an overlap with what, I feel, makes Matt Farrer's work so good. Big ideas, encapsulated in strangely small and personal, even intimate or claustrophobic stories.


On a final note, for alien stuff, I can't strongly recommend enough Gav, Andy Chambers and Guy Haley's Eldar books (all six "Path of" novels plus Valedor).

Speaking of Guy, you might also want to check out his recent work - Dante & Devastation of Baal, for instance, present an overwhelmingly decent pair of stories. Not quite in the same Matt Farrer vein, but very far from the gung-ho war stories that you might more typically imagine.

Finally, I think it's pretty important to note an as yet unmentioned big-hitter: Chris Wraight.

In the Horus Heresy, almost his entire body of work (mostly, but not entirely, relating to the White Scars) is absolutely brilliant. Not merely "Good Horus Heresy fare" but the sort that *really* puts the other authors mostly to shame. (The only thing that comes close, in my esteem, is Matt's "After Desh'ea" which was so good it made the rest of the early Heresy feel awkwardly pedestrian when considered at the same time; or the aforementioned "Prospero Burns".)

Moreover, Chris' books last year ("The Carrion Throne" and "The Emperor's Legion") are absurdly good - certainly worthy of being thought of alongside Matt Farrer's work, but also markedly different in style (albeit of similar 'quality').

I'd finish by adding that John French's "Resurrection" is top-notch too.


Re: Eisenhorn and things - they're tremendously good reads, but they also evoke a very different feel for me. I'm not good at explaining the distinction from Farrer's work, save to say they're much pacier and less... dry? More emotoonal/characterful? (That makes them sound *better*, but I dont mean that - not exactly. More accessible? Appeal to a wider audience?)

Karak Norn Clansman
15-03-2018, 15:33
@blackcherry: Good to hear! This recommendation ensures that Fehervari is on the nest purchase from BL.

@Xisor: Thank you kindly! This is precisely the kind of recommendations I was looking for. I don't mind crowdpleasing bits as long as the work overall is evocative and polished with thought put into it.

Gratias. Hats off to extensive tips!

15-03-2018, 22:33
Tell us what you think when you've read them :)

16-03-2018, 09:14
Haha, good to hear!

I always find myself in a bit if a bind thinking of stuff as crowdpleasers. It's not meant to be disparaging, but at the same time it's meant to emphasise that a lot of the 'highbrow' stuff (ostensibly long-winded descriptions, nothing obviously exciting happening, worth-a-third-read symbolism) might not be in complete abundance!


Incidentally, if you fancy a trip back into the Old World, Chris Wraight's "Swords of the Emperor" duology+shorts is a sublime mix of pacy and deep. Fantasy, of course, but exquisitely well fone.

I don't recall hearing a bad word against them (save all-too-understandable specific rejections like "I want to read about X" where X isn't in the book!).