Alright then,here's a little bit of review, which I may well put up on my blog as well. I keep meaning to get going on that blog, like many!
Hi everyone on Faeit, I'm Peakatrov, and I've been one of the luckiest SOBs with regard to the Hachette Partworks Warhammer 40k Collection, as I was within the catchment zone for the "trial" run, and so can give a little perspective about the differences between the new series and that one. I received the first two deliveries from the trial, which meant I got the first 4 books: The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Xenos by Dan Abnett, Fifteen Hours by Mitchell Scanlon, Warriors of Ultramar by Graham McNeill.
In the first delivery of the new series, I have received The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden and Xenos by Dan Abnett, and the editions are a bit different.
The books themselves are hardcover, with a smooth surface that does tend to pick up small marks, but ultimately these are not noticeable, and don't bother me. The artwork on the front is a black and white version of the main books cover, which does appeal to me better than some of the flamboyant colours that adorn Warhammer books. The only major difference between the two editions is on the spine artwork, which you will probably have noticed has been replaced on this new series. The cynic in me sees this as a way to increase sales on the first few issues, by appealing to collectors, but I must say I prefer the artwork they are using now. The other seemed rather loyal marine heavy, while the new one is more varied, and clearly is designed such that the series could continue indefinitely.
A problem I had noticed on the OLD series was that the numbering on the spine was variable in placement,but these new ones have centralised them better. It is also evident from the changing of Xenos' number (70 to 69...heh immaturity) that the series order has had a little rejig, which won't really affect anything as they do not come out sequentially anyway. This is another tactic to get repeat sales, this is common for Partworks, as I bet it will be a LONG time till the Eisenhorn trilogy is concluded in this format, but I hold no grudges for trying to make a viable product! People of my age may remember the old LoTR serial with a new model attached that didn't last long at all!
Now, by looking down the page-side of the book, we can see that the bonus materials promised for this book have moved location. In the initial series, the gloss colour pages were located at the back of book, which did make sense, so that you could have a look at the beautiful images they showcase after finishing the story. They have transferred these to the centre of the book now, which does make sense to me, from a logistics standpoint, it's probably easier to insert central colour pages than asymmetric ones, but I'm not a bookbinder!
These pages are a highlight for me, starting with the full colour, unlettered cover of the original book, which I love! Nothing like an Adrian Smith or Neil Roberts image to get me in-universe.
The Ages of Mankind Timeline covers major events from the Great Crusade to the 13th Black Crusade, in brief detail, and locates the events of the book along this timeline. Honestly, this will either be a block linking to the Horus Heresy or the 41st Millennium, so it kind of seems like a waste of space after a few books. I was hoping for a detailed timeline to be built out over the course of the series, but that seems rather ridiculous in retrospect, and would suffer the same bunching issues.
Two colour pages are devoted to a particular topic, with a brief overview to give an idea of the subject. The four books released so far have the following sections, in release order: The Warp Revealed, The Inquisition, The Orks Revealed and The Tyranids Revealed. This won't sate a dedicated fan, but may inform a casual fan who has just picked up the book from a newsagent pretty well.
The last colour pages are my favourite, with around 10 pages of full colour Illuminations, some pictures related to the subject matter. My favourite is the following alternate cover for Xenos, probably due to my love of Judge Dredd. These are gorgeous, and feature minimalist text. The Warhammer 40,000 universe has a ludicrous amount of artwork associated with it, so I am optimistic they can get through a long time without repetition. The last colour page is purely a Discover More page, pointing towards Black Library and Games Workshop.
Onto the stories! Since receiving the trial series, I have read through Xenos and The First Heretic, both of which had been on my hit list for a while! both books are fairly fantastic, and I'm not hungering for the rest of the Eisenhorn trilogy, which is of course the point. This review is more about Hachette's production of the books though, and at first read through I must say I noticed a fairly large number of errors. Nothing that makes the book unreadable, but certainly noticeable errors. At the point I read them, I did notify Hachette of the problems, and a quick scan has shown that some of the more egregious errors have been removed. There was a terrible one in the Collection Curator's Introduction for Xenos, with "aImperium" in the first paragraph, which worried me, but that is gone now. Evidently they have had a secondary read before the final publication!
The paper quality seems high quality, with some strength to the pages and consistent ink quality throughout the new books. There is a little marking on the opposite pages to chapter titles and other bold writing, some form of ink residue, But again, only light marking and nothing unreadable. There also seems to be a rather large number of unused pages in the back of some of my books, which just seems a little wasteful, but hey, maybe you could use it to illustrate your vision of the characters? *cough cough* heathens... *cough*
Finally, I come to the packaging, the most boring part, but may be crucial! Each book is packaged by itself in a plastic shrink-wrap, which should stop superficial damage to the book, but is mostly for keeping the book closed in transit. The delivery of subscriptions is done monthly, containing two books and whatever freebies are there. My delivery came with one books packaged with the poster, in shrink-wrap, which allowed the poster to get a bit of bending and small damage on the edges. Nothing too noticeable, and this was done better than the trial run. I must say I love the accompanying Aquila Notebook, it's just smart enough that I can use it at will, but appeases my inner nerd with its every use! The whole delivery comes in a rather large cardboard box, which will not fit through a letter box at all, so requires me to head to my local Post Office for collection.
All in all, I'm impressed with the changes that the subscription service has undergone, and additionally the Customer Care reps have been very kind to me, helping solve any and all of my problems. The books are well prepared, and seem to have been reviewed before publishing this time. The packaging is a little spacious, allowing for movement, and the books may pick up scratches more easily than some others, but I think they are worth a good try. I am not sure how long I will be keeping this going, but I do like the start! Hopefully the coasters I'm expecting with my next delivery will be really good!
Thanks Natfka for the chance to put this review out there, I hope it may help others to make a more informed decision about committing to this scheme. If anyone wants to look at any of my other stuff, I've been slowly compiling my blog at http://www.twyning.net/ . Over there I put up my idea sketches for Genestealer Cult, Deathwatch, Tyranids and a lot of other random stuff! If anyone has any comments about this review and/or my blog, I'll happily be reading the comments.
Thanks again Gary, I kind of got into the writing here!