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Warhammer Novels - for a ten year old
August 24, 2014 1:49 PM   Subscribe

My kid is a huge Warhammer enthusiast. He also loves to read. Am I going to be able to combine both.

My kid plays both Warhammer and Warhammer 40K (yes, yes I am an awesome mother to support this). I know there are a LOT of Warhammer novels out there, but I am a bit worried that they might be a bit much for my kid. Not above his reading level - he is reading highschool level - but graphic, really scary/inappropriate for a pre-teen violence or sexual references. And while violence doesn't freak him out too much per se, he has a very vivid imagination and frankly the 'read it and imagine the worst' is even worse for him than watching it on a screen.#

Before I download a copy or two for myself and try to read them (this really is not my thing*) to see if they are passable - how 'mature' are these novels? Can you recommend any for him? He plays Tau and High Elves but frankly would read any of the novels that I let him.

# before you want to strip me of my awesome mother cred for letting my pre-teen watch violent movies, I am talking Pacific Rim and Star Wars level stuff.
*Okay, I admit to painting his models. Because I am an awesome mother, as mentioned above. But I have no interest in playing the game or in the backstory that many players seem to take very seriously.
posted by Megami to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are a ton of 40K novels of wildly varying quality and graphic level. In general though, they range from violent to extremely violent. I don't think I know of any I would say are close to appropriate for a 10 year old.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:42 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


I am a former author for the Black Library, Games Workshop's fiction arm (three novels including one co-written with BL's star writer Dan Abnett(*), plus a number of short stories and comics scripts). When I was writing for BL, more than a decade ago, there were no official guidelines about levels of maturity or target audience. Different authors set their own limits and tended to stick to them.

As starting points I'd suggest trying the Gotrek and Felix series by William King for fantasy, and the Gaunt's Ghosts series by Dan Abnett for WH40K as starting points. The former is strong character action-comedy in the tradition of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories; the latter is excellent intelligent military SF.

Both are quite violent but it's not the raison d'etre of the stories (it's difficult to do anything in Warhammer/WH40K without involving violence at some point) and I don't recall them being gory. I don't recall any 'mature themes' in either of them, and I'm pretty sure that if I'd read them at ten I would have been as utterly engrossed as I was by the Stainless Steel Rat books.

Best not to buy him my novels at this point, I reckon.

(*)These days Dan is better known as half of the team behind the Guardians of the Galaxy comics that the movie is based on.
posted by Hogshead at 2:45 PM on August 24 [5 favorites]


The Comissar Cain series by Sandy Mitchell is less grimdark than most W40K novels. There is definitely sex and violence, but in a detached and understated fashion that reminds me of the way Lovecraft used to just throw out references to mind-bending geometry and indescribable horrors without actually, you know, describing them. In particular, the sex is always depicted with negative affect, usually associated with Slaanesh worship, so I doubt it's going to make him any more curious to try it prematurely himself.

The Gaunt's Ghosts series by Dan Abnett is also usually good about toning down the ultra-violence. There are lines whose implications would be disturbing if you thought about them, but I suspect they would go right over the head of a ten year old.

Do not let him read any of the Last Chancers stuff. That series often depicts a degree of callousness and willful disregard for human life that bothers me, and I'm the kind of person who can eat dinner while watching a video of roadkill being dissected. I think the Last Chancers series should have a content warning.
posted by d. z. wang at 2:46 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Ugh, this is a toughie because the really good WH40K novels (Eisenhorn/Ravenor/Gaunt's Ghosts/Night Lords) deal with some really heavy shit. Even the terrible novels are basically tryhard versions of grimdark scifi: gross, graphic and poorly written. The great authors in WH40K are Dan Abnett and Aaron Dembski-Bowden but they have few books that I would say are not gonna mess with a ten year old kid's perceptions. I'll list a couple of them next paragraph. Unfortunately there are no decent Tau books, none. They are badly written and inconsistent with lore, and they might frustrate a kid who has invested considerable time into the lore of his chosen faction.

The Ciaphas Cain books by Sandy Mitchell would probably be good for him. Basically: a commissar who is a complete coward and does everything he can to avoid dealing with actual warfare or doing his job, but has glory thrust upon him by his failed attempts to avoid fighting. They are dark comedy but still deal with heroism, human on xeno warfare, and FOR TEH EMPRAH without being nearly as bound up in CHAOS TORTURE DEATH DEATH DEATH. Plus the protagonist does a great job of letting the reader know that he's fucking terrified of all this shit all the time, and doesn't spend a word glorifying his experiences. No explicit sex either.

For standalones I would recommend Titanicus by Dan Abnett, it is about the WH40K version of giant robot fights. Has some cool "what-if" stuff about the Emperor and how he relates between the Imperium and the Mechanicum. Has some neat ideas about the importance of truth versus belief and the effects of choosing tradition over evidence. For space marine stuff, I would recommend The Emperor's Gift, which is a great read that has some awesome lore stuff if your kid is into the history of the Space Wolves and their long history back to the Heresy. Lots of gunfights and swordfights and bitchin' arguments between people who derive their power from authority and fear, and people who derive their power from bullets and swords made of chainsaws.

I can't speak to the regular Warhammer books, never read a one.
posted by Sternmeyer at 2:47 PM on August 24


I pinged Marc Gascoigne who ran the Black Library 1997-2008, to ask him your question and mention Gotrek & Felix and Gaunt's Ghosts. He says:

'They'll be a good place to start. Most of them don't have much "language" being a 12-cert sort of thing in my day. I'd avoid Graham McNeill (v violent) and the Horus Heresy (too complicated). Can't go wrong with Gaunt's Ghosts. First book is called First & Only but might be the omnibus these days'.

Straight from the horse's mouth, if the horse wasn't running Angry Robot Books these days.
posted by Hogshead at 3:11 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


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