What are you reading?

I’m conscious that there are few, if any, threads on the forum which are not directly KOW / Mantic related, but I’ll risk creating a semi off-topic thread, because I genuinely think it might be interesting, and if it’s been done in the past, I couldn’t locate the thread.

So, there’s always been a relationship between books and gaming… Famously, Gary Gygax published what is now known as ‘Appendix N’ at the back of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Masters Guide in 1979, and more expanded lists have occurred later. The original Appendix N was a list of authors that Gygax said shaped D&D. The list is pretty much a treasure-trove of classic and golden age fantasy and science fiction authors. Tolkien is there, but also Robert E. Howard, Jack Vance, Andre Norton and H.P Lovecraft and so on.

Later, there have been non-Gygax additions to the list, from other D&D games designers. This has added people like Terry Brooks, Stephen King, Guy Gavriel Kay etc. Really a ‘who’s who’ of authors… Some of them probably more debateable inclusions than the original list, in terms of merit, but I guess that’s where things start to become subjective.

Whatever my personal reservations about Game Workshop, in other respects, I’ve always admired novels they’ve published… Even if, at times, they seemed ambivalent about them themselves! …Read Ian Watson’s reminisces about how his early 90s Warhammer novels received a mixed response from GW… Watson believes they were spooked by anything that would potentially compete with their model sales ( BACK TO THE FUTURE: SPACE MARINE! – Ian Watson.

I still have a soft spot for SPACE MARINE (1993). I don’t care whether it’s canon or not, I think there was some great psychological horror in there. A scene that stayed with me was marine neophytes being handed weapons and “blooded”, by being ordered to kill a group of chaos worshippers. I think it was alluded to that they weren’t actually real cultists, just slaves brainwashed to believe they were chaos cultists, all for training purposes. The book has a psychological indoctrination theme running through it that is a lot darker and more compelling than some of the current Black Library efforts at ‘grimdark’.

I do also rate, however, Dan Abnett’s GAUNT’S GHOSTS series. I feel like it’s legitimately good military science fiction, even if many characters acquired significant ‘plot armour’ as the books progressed.

As a newcomer to Mantic, and Kings of War, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading any Winged Hussar / Pannithor novels, but I look forward to that.

Before this thread balloons out of all control, I’d like to hear what you’ve read, or are reading, if you think it has any bearing on your table top gaming enjoyment.

I’ll start, and I’ll try to avoid mentioning some of the authors we all take “a given”, like Tolkien.


For me, it’s hard to look past the prolific 80s and 90s author of British heroic fantasy, David Gemmell. I had the pleasure of meeting him, and corresponding with him, and while I would recommend literally any of his books, my favourite is probably still LEGEND (1984).

Gemmell’s prose is sparse and fast-moving, his plots and characters are archetypical and satisfying, and he somehow managed to write about violence and conflict without sliding into the moral relativism and nihilism of much contemporary grimdark fiction. He wrote a lot of anti-heroes, but there were still very clear moral lines being drawn, for the most part.

I will also briefly mention two authors whose depictions of mass battle, particularly phalanx combat, may be of interest to fans of “ranks and flanks” games:-

Stephen Pressfield, for his well-known and excellent fictionalised account of the Battle of Thermopylae, GATES OF FIRE (1998).

David Drake, recently deceased, wrote some absolutely cracking fantasy and science fiction, but here I will recommend RANKS OF BRONZE (1986), an account of a Roman Legion removed from earth by alien slavers, and forced to fight in galactic low-tech conflicts, until their rebellion. Drake also did a multi-book alternate history military fantasy series, BELISARIUS, that ran from 1998 to 2006, in conjunction with Eric Flint. Some of the battle scenes are tremendous.

Non Fiction

Although I’ve enjoyed reading a lot of classics in translation - Homer, Xenophon and others - who write about battle in the ancient world, or at least, give us hints about what it might have been like, there are a few history or classics books that I’ve found accessible and interesting, in this general area.

Victor Davis Hanson, in his THE WESTERN WAY OF WAR : INFANTRY BATTLE IN CLASSICAL GREECE (1989), acknowledged that there was still academic debate about the “true nature” of phalanx vs phalanx combat in the ancient world. Hanson championed the othismos theory, which saw the clash as being a low-skill, physically intense murderous shoving match, where shield-on-shield pressure was the order of the day. Whoever broke first was the losing side. Hanson’s account is of a form of conflict that was hugely psychologically and physically demanding, and closely tied to family and community structures, and systems of honour. I’m sure the field has moved on, concerning this area of study, but I still really like this book. His analysis fits very well with the rules of both KOW and WHFB, I feel, in terms of the implication for failed nerve tests, routs etc.

Similar, but from a different perspective, John Keegan’s THE FACE OF BATTLE (1976) is another oldie that analysed Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme, with an emphasis on the psychology and experience of those involved, in a practical way.

Anyway, I’d love to hear people’s all-time favourites, and maybe also what you’re currently reading.

Me currently: The not very wargaming related REPLAY by Ken Grimwood (1986). It’s the story of a man who keeps dying in 1988, and repeatedly reliving his life between the age of 18 and his death.


I’m currently reading the Dune books on audio book (the 4 proper books) and I’m on #3 Children of Dune currently. :slight_smile:

The previous series I finished, also on audio book, was The Black Prism, great stuff.

Before that I caught up to the latest Dresden Files, I’ve done all of those on audio.


Currently reading:

The Taking of Getty Oil: Pennzoil, Texaco, and the Takeover Battle That Made History

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson

Recently read (and reviewed) Pride of the King, which is very good and worth checking out.


I don’t read as much as I’d like, but 2024 is off to a good start:

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – I bought the whole series but have books I’m more interested in, so putting the rest on hold for now. It’s good and I enjoy the conceit, world building and characters.
  2. Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks – Yes, that Max Brooks of World War Z fame. I haven’t devoured a book so fast in years, really smart and works the concept from many angles.
  3. Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh! by Nate Crowley – I read a 40k book or two every year, but rarely such a new one! Came highly recommended by the Poorhammer podcast, and I jumped on it once I found out it’s told from Makari’s POV :sweat_smile:

That’s where I’m at right now. I’ve got A Canticle for Leibowitz in the chamber but I too am getting more interested in reading the Dune books that come after Dune, so we’ll see if I push Mr. Walter M. Miller Jr. back again.


It’s varies really.

I went through a period of reading any and all fantasy novels that crossed my path - often regardless of quality! There is so much pastiche terrible stuff out there and much isn’t worth the paper It’s written on.

From a GW angle, Brunner is excellent, as are the old Wolfriders collection, Drachenfels, early Gotrek, there’s a Empire vibe collection and the Vampire novels.

Gaunts Ghosts and Cain are great - i lost the will to live with the HH ones!


Currently reading Robin Hobbs “live ships” books, having read her assassin trilogy first. Excellent fantasy world building and great characters.

I’d love to read some winged hussar, but not keen on e books and can’t see how to easily buy paperbacks of them, especially as i generally try not to use amazon.


Great thread :slight_smile:
I’m currently not reading anything at the moment, having fallen into the trap of ASMR RP audios which, admittedly, have some creative and original scripts. I’ve also never read any books which are inspired by a larger IP, though KoW Goblin King has been a recent temptation.

For fiction, Sir Terry Pratchett. My all-time favourite author, humorist & satirist. His flagship Discworld never stopped evolving from the unfocused chaos of Colour of Magic to the social and cultural observations of Raising Steam. It took a few books until he found his feet; I’d say Mort at the earliest if not Guards Guards at the latest, but once he was running every book has a special place in my heart whether it’s a character, a concept or even a seemingly inconsequential paragraph.
“Murder was in fact a fairly uncommon event in Ankh-Morpork, but there were a lot of suicides. Walking in the night-time alleyways of The Shades was suicide. Asking for a short in a dwarf bar was suicide. Saying ‘Got rocks in your head?’ to a troll was suicide. You could commit suicide very easily, if you weren’t careful.”

  • Sir Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

I also have a thing for theology. Specifically Abrahamic scripture and I have taken a keen interest in the Old Testament & Apocrypha. I mean, any series of books that has dragons in it should be good, right?


GW: I enjoyed just about every book involving Ulthuan.

Currently I’m rereading, for probably the 9th or 10th time, a biography on Chesty Puller. I seem to get something new out of it each time.

For a time i enjoyed john ringo books and the guy who wrote the honor harrington books though his name escapes me just now.

Lastly, glen cook’s books on the black company. The first person perspective writing was really fun in those


Ian Banks Culture Novels … still have 2 undread and saving them for some quiet rainy days … really sad that he died. Really an outstanding author.

Also finished the “3 body problem” trilogy" a while ago, which they are now turning into a netflix show … bet that will go wrong! :rofl: Books kept me turning pages into the late night though!

Also still have to read the latest book in Tchaikovsky s Children of time series. Really fun books!

And … while it doesn t count as reading … I’m having a really really fun time with the Critical Role podcasts. (Halfway through Campaign 3 at the moment - also the short series “Exandria Unlimited” about the “Calamity” pretty much blew my mind. Just awesome!) :slightly_smiling_face:


Player of Games is a really fantastic novel and Use of Weapons very good - some of the others I didn’t take too as much.

This pic was taken pretty much 6 years ago to the day in discussion about books (possibly off a World Book Day thing) and still stand by them as great reads.


This a great topic!

I’m busy with* “A sensory history of ancient warfare” by Conor Whately.
It’s about what it was like to in an ancient battle. How overwhelmed were your senses? How hard was it to do something that would be easy otherwise?

My reading, like my wargaming, is split into Fantasy and military history (mostly ancient and medieval).

The last book I read was Pride of a King, which I wholeheartedly recommend.
Not only because I am a dwarf fan (rooted in reading The Hobbit).
I would recommend all the Tales of Pannithor/Mantica books, except maybe the “Edge of the Abyss” anthology.
If you enjoy a fantasy adventure and you’re not an awful book snob (possibly even then), they’re all fun to read.

The next book** on the list is historical fiction by Dan Jones ( a historian), called “Essex Dogs”.
It’s about soldiers taking part in the campaign that led to Battle of Crécy (i.e. Englishmen invading France in 1346).

Have you tried a major book seller chain?
If you order online they should be ale to get it for you, even if it takes a bit to get it in.

If you like good battle descriptions then I’ll recommend “Broken Alliance” (the halfling one).

*What I’m actually reading is the rules to ADLG-R, because I have a game coming up.
** I may well set my current book aside to get to it sooner.


@Rory just from a battle descriptive angle, Bernard Cornwell is right up there - dark age, medieval, Waterloo, ACW etc he nails it. Some of the characters do become a bit’samey’ across the genres but i think overall they are very readable.

TSR d&d Icewind Dale trilogy is great fun (less so the various spin off novels, but aren’t bad).

Set in the same d&d Forgotten Realm setting Horselords, Dragonwall & Crusade gives a fantasy take on the Mongols, Chinese and (gosh) a Crusader army with different focus on the same ongoing story and well worth tracking down


I started reading SF & fantasy novels in the early 90s, and I guess I’ve been reading it for so long that some of the stuff which I read back then is almost new to me again, it’s been long enough since I read it, or re-read it, that I’ve largely forgotten it.

I always find it tough to balance things I want to re-read with reading new material, but these books have been on my mind lately:-

Raymond Feist’s original ‘Riftwar’ trilogy - MAGICIAN, A DARKNESS AT SETHANON and SILVERTHORN. I remember these fondly and would expect them to stand up quite well to a re-read.

Terry Brooks’ early ‘Shannara’ novels - THE SWORD OF SHANNARA, THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA and THE WISHSONG OF SHANNARA. More on the fence about re-reading Brooks. The first book was a Tolkien pastiche for sure, but I remember ELFSTONES as having a pacier kind of chase / horror plot that worked pretty well.

Brooks and Feist both ended up writing so many novels, in their respective worlds, I long ago stopped following them. I think I stopped with Feist at about the fourth sequence of trilogies. Brooks went on the same way, I just got fatigued.

The other I’ve been thinking about re-reading is Stephen R Donaldson’s ‘The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant’. But I’m just not sure I can handle the nihilism, I remember them as being very depressing reading.

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I’ve listened to all of Crit Role (podcast and not stream for me too), and Calamity was my favorite run by far. I also really loved Campaign 2 and have been happy they’ve returned to it a couple times.

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I’m reading Neal Asher’s GRIDLINKED, which is book one of his Polity series.

GRIDLINKED has some strong cyberpunk, body modification themes, but this book - and the Polity series in general - are just good space opera, for the most part.

I don’t want to accuse him of writing pastiche or knock-offs, but it is not possible to mention that Asher’s work is very, very similar to that of Peter F. Hamilton and Iain M. Banks. They’re all UK SF writers who described a high-advanced, post-scarcity human civilization, spread across the stars… And then detailed how, even in that eden-like setting, humanity would have advanced and horrific enemies to contend with.

A.I and its place in society is an extensive theme, although no one did that better than Banks (RIP).

Asher leans more into action and body horror than the others, I think he’s the most low-brow, but it’s not really a bad thing when he his stuff is just good page-turning fun.

Anyway, my recollection is that GRIDLINKED was an ‘ok’ first Polity novel, and the immediate sequels are stronger.

Probably a good read for fans of the Warpath universe.

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