Author | teampreston

teampreston

Jeff Preston has been a professional illustrator for nearly a decade. Jeff's illustrations have been featured by innumerable publishers including Atlas Games, Catalyst Game Labs, Crafty Games, Hero Games Game Trade Magazine, Rogue Games as well as here on Flames Rising. Jeff reviews largely historical fiction, game fiction and fantasy/ sci-fi novels and in his spare time is geeking out over miniatures of any sort, his Xbox 360, or actually rolling dice with other humans. Jeff is an Englishman accidentally born in the US and living in Wisconsin with his wife Kay, 2 cats and a black lab that doesn't quite realize SHE'S A DOG.


teampreston

Fear The Alien Anthology Review

Posted on October 11, 2010 by

The Imperium of Man has many enemies among the stars, but none are reviled so much as the alien. Dangerous races seek to destroy humanity wherever they turn –the brutish orks, the ravening hordes of the tyranid, the unrelenting necrons and the mysterious forces of the tau and the eldar. Across the universe, humanity and their defenders, the Space Marines, seek to eradicate these xenos threats. Yet all they can hope for is another day of survival – for to stand against the alien is to enter an unending war… Featuring stories by Dan Abnett, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Nick Kyme, Juliet McKenna, C.L. Werner and many more, Fear the Alien is an unmissable collection for fans of Warhammer 40,000 and military science fiction.

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teampreston

Sword of Justice Fiction Review

Posted on September 1, 2010 by

Sword of Justice is the opener for the Warhammer Heroes series of novels featuring the Emperor’s Champion Ludwig Schwarzhelm. The novel starts out with a bang and really never lets up. Short of spoiling the novel I’ll say that like many stories set in the Warhammer universe, the opening scene revolves around a battle. This is handled in a very deft manner showcasing some pretty ordinary, grunt-level characters that grow in to something more as well as some characters that we know little about, but grow to really admire as the story goes on.

One thing I have to point out is the superb manner in which the author describes the characters, the scenes and how the characters are …human. One thing that I feel sets a good novel apart from a great one is having characters that are fallible, that make mistakes; especially when we see them coming and even when we don’t. I loathe Mary Sue characters, Golden Child characters, “the Chosen One” who really is a superhero in all but the cape…usually. Putting it mildly, the characters in this novel are all flawed in one way or another.

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teampreston

Deathwatch (Warhammer RPG) Review

Posted on August 25, 2010 by

This is it, what many of us have been waiting for since the 1980’s: an RPG where we get to play Space Marines! A few years ago when we received word of the development of Dark Heresy, the geek world exploded with excitement. Having a Warhammer 40,000 RPG was something I think we all wanted. An official one, not just something we cobbled together in Mutants and Masterminds, but something officially sanctioned by the hallowed halls of Games Workshop. Dark Heresy was a dream come true.

One thing I appreciated with Dark Heresy, is that it kept the core mechanics of the existing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (basically a percentage-based system with talents and careers, and an advancement scheme for leveling). This has remained true all the way through the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay series.

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teampreston

Smallville RPG Review

Posted on August 12, 2010 by

I believe that many folks judge a product based on their experiences with it filtered through the looking glass of expectation. If we expect X and get Y, we are often upset and our reviews of it tend to reflect that. I think the expectations of the Smallville need to be straight up front else the experience will suffer. This year there are other “Supers” RPGs being released. Smallville is considerably different in favor from the others in focus and vibe.

To get an idea of what the Smallville RPG is about consider the tele-drama it is based upon: young adults and all the weird social issues young people have. Add to these a variety of secrets and plots surrounding exceptional people and you almost have it. Make those exceptional people super-human…and it hits the mark.

While super heroes and super powers are a factor, I think it’s safe to say that they are flavor and useful as tools to deal with social issues and complications rather than the fix-all. This isn’t Mutants and Masterminds, Champions or DC Adventures.

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teampreston

Pathfinder Tales: Prince of Wolves Review

Posted on July 26, 2010 by

The Pathfinder Tales are a series of novels set in the fantastic new Pathfinder RPG setting. Having read several tie-in novels for a wide variety of settings/ games I was excited to give this a shot. I think my excitement was well placed; the novel is a lot of fun and a fantastic “first look” in to rich Pathfinder setting.

The author does something we see little of these days (it seems) in utilizing the first-person perspective. Admittedly it took a chapter or so to warm up to it, but it seemed to really work. The first person perspective makes the events of the story seem a bit more personal and the author did a fine job in making some really interesting characters.

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teampreston

Nemesis Fiction Review

Posted on July 20, 2010 by

After the horrors of Istvaan V, Horus declares outright war against the Imperium. In the shadows of the Emperor’s Palace, powerful figures convene. Their plan is to send a team of assassins to execute the arch-traitor Horus and end the war for the galaxy of mankind before it has even begun. But what they cannot know is that another assassin is abroad already, with his sights firmly set on killing the Emperor.

The Officio Assassinorum: we’ve been waiting on something like this for decades, and James Swallow delivers it. As expected it involves scheming at the top levels of the Imperium in order to end this civil war as quickly and painlessly as possible – anything to save The Emperor and his Imperium.

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teampreston

Path of the Warrior Review

Posted on July 9, 2010 by

The ancient eldar are a mysterious race, each devoting their life to a chosen path which will guide their actions and decide their fate. Korlandril abandons peace for the Path of the Warrior. He becomes a Striking Scorpion, a deadly fighter skilled in the art of close-quarter combat. But the further Korlandril travels down this path, the closer he gets to losing his identity and becoming an avatar of war.

Path of the Warrior is the first of a new trilogy focusing on the race of Eldar. This is interesting in one respect as the Black Library for ages chose to avoid such novels, wanting to keep the alien races…alien. We’re all human, and the xenos races of the 40k universe should remain so.

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teampreston

Malekith (The Sundering) Review

Posted on June 18, 2010 by

Usually I review advance copies from BL, but this one I went and bought because I missed it previously and enjoyed The Shadow King, part 2 of The Sundering.
The subject of this novel poses an interesting problem – a challenge for the author as well as the reader, I found. For those unfamiliar with Warhammer lore, Malekith is a very dark character. Son of the Uber High Elf king Aenarion – who was at once great and terrible due to his drawing of the Sword of Khaine – Malekith is destined to become THE ultimate villain for the race of elves for millennia to come (along with his twisted mother Morathi). Knowing this the author has to tell a tale we will read. To do that, we have to somewhat sympathize with the main character; this is a tall order.

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teampreston

The Chapter’s Due Review

Posted on June 2, 2010 by


War is unending in the life of a Space Marine. After defeating Tau forces, Captain Uriel Ventris of the Ultramarines has returned to the Chapter’s homeworld of Macragge, but there is little respite. The Ultramarines are thrust back into battle, and this time the enemy is the Chapter’s greatest nemesis. The traitorous Iron Warriors, led by renegade Warsmith Honsou, have gathered together a massive and brutal warband. Their target is the realm of Ultramar. Their objective is total annihilation. It is a final showdown between legendary Space Marines, and Uriel Ventris must take on the might of Honsou if he is to save his Chapter’s homeworld.

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teampreston

Helsreach Review

Posted on May 20, 2010 by


When the world of Armageddon is attacked by orks, the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter are amongst those sent to liberate it. Chaplain Grimaldus and a band of Black Templars are charged with the defence of Hive Helsreach from the xenos invaders in one of the many battlezones. But as the orks numbers grow and the Space Marines dwindle, Grimaldus faces a desperate last stand in an Imperial temple. Determined to sell their lives dearly, will the Black Templars hold on long enough to be reinforced, or will their sacrifice ultimately be in vain.

While I am familiar on a basic level with the Black Templars I don’t know all the details of the major characters, so walking in to this novel I’m almost a BT newbie.

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teampreston

Call to Arms (Warhammer) Review

Posted on May 14, 2010 by

Dieter Lanz is a young recruit to the 3rd Hochland Swordsmen, otherwise known as ‘the Scarlets’. His regiment is called into battle when an orc army starts to rampage across the countryside, and when the Scarlets are defeated, Hochland is threatened with collapse. As a desperation measure, legendary general Ludwig Von Grahl is brought out of retirement – he is the last hope to stem the vicious green tide.

It wasn’t until I watched Star Wars, Episode One, The Phantom Menace when it dawned on me what bothered me about this novel.

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teampreston

Soul Hunter Book Review

Posted on April 13, 2010 by

Previously I mentioned that I generally don’t care for Chaos Space Marine novels (see my Dark Creed review). I think it’s because I have a difficult time seeing how I’ll be able to relate to the characters. How can I root for the bad guys? Dark Creed proved me wrong on that, and since Soul Hunter came in my monthly care package from BL, I was willing to give it a shot. This is the first Aaron Dembski-Bowden book for me as well, so I was anxious to get a taste of what he brings to the table. I wasn’t let down.

Let me say that the author does an excellent job in sucking you in to the whole vibe of, well…darkness. The Night Lords are like the Batman Chapter of Traitor Marines. Darkness and fear. That’s their shtick. They really have it down pat. From the very prologue I was hooked.

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teampreston

A Thousand Sons Fiction Review

Posted on January 21, 2010 by

Picked up the book last evening, finished reading and turned out the light at exactly 3:33am. Coincidence?
My review? Go out and buy the book, absorb it in one sitting.

That’s it?

I have to admit that is this is a difficult book to read and review as I am forced to set aside any fanboy glee for what is my personal favorite Legion (1ksons) and the Horus Heresy novel I’ve been waiting for since the beginning. Deep breath. I’m a pro. Objectivity. GO!

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teampreston

Star Wars Crosscurrent Fiction Review

Posted on January 14, 2010 by

Crosscurrent is set some 41.5 years after the events of A New Hope…and some five thousand years before that. Crosscurrent is told through a series of flashes from the past and the “present”. It’s very much about threads of fate, plots and events of the past coming to fruition in the future.

Now most of the time this way of storytelling can be jarring. I’ve put books down and left them on the shelf because of this. Usually it’s hard to keep the flow of interest going on two simultaneous stories.

The author does a masterful job in tying the two together as well as keeping both halves of the story exciting. He makes it really work. I do love being surprised!

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teampreston

Dark Creed Fiction Review

Posted on January 11, 2010 by

Dark Apostle is the third in the Word Bearers series and the culmination of a massive plot. Of course when you consider that the Word Bearers and other Traitor Legions are over 10,000 years old and their schemes stretch over millennia it’s hard to grasp the scope of such a “plot”. Wheels within wheels and the Word Bearers are plotters in the extreme.

The story of Dark Apostle Marduk continues and his goal of using the ancient Necron technology to essentially propel himself higher up the food chain and bring as much chaos to the Imperium as possible is fought with peril from within and without.

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teampreston

Sons of Dorn Fiction Review

Posted on January 7, 2010 by

It’s a familiar tale: enemy warriors fighting a desperate battle only to be snatched up and put through a grueling series of tests and implantations to become Astartes. Eventually they learn to be a team and work together (or die) as scouts, neophytes, etc. If you’ve read the Space Wolves Omnibus (specifically Space Wolf) by William King then you know the story. Honestly, if you’re a Space marine fan of any sort you likely are familiar with the story already. That’s all there is to know, right?

Wrong!

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teampreston

Shadow King Fiction Review

Posted on January 5, 2010 by

A few months back Gav wrote a post in his blog regarding cutting out “faffy” words. A lot of writers use a lot of excess language to get a point across where Gav tends to cut to the meat of the story and carves his way through the pages at a fevered clip.

The Shadow King is another great example of this. To be honest I was hesitant about whether Thorpe could pull that off. I mean…over 500 pages. That seems pretty wordy to me. So I sat down and set about consuming and digesting this thick tome (larger than anything he’s written to date I believe page-wise. Don’t quote me but I *think* that is accurate.)

As per usual Gav gets right to it. The stage is set and things start going to hell…fast. This is the second book of The Sundering, following Malekith.

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teampreston

DragonArt Fantasy Review

Posted on November 24, 2009 by

Since my day-job is that of an illustrator I have a lot of “How to Draw…” books. Some of my favorites are Impact Books. Mechanicka (Doug Chang), John Howe: Fantasy Art Workshop and Bold Visions, the Digital Painting Bible by Gary Tonge. Impact has a good lineup of art books available. Some better than others: I thought the art in Fantastic Realms was horrid, and in general I’m not a fan of the heavily stylized Manga-style art (artbooks). For people in to the Manga style, Impact certainly has it covered.

DragonArt is geared for the young adult reader/ artist. That’s ok. Just because it is a “young adult” book doesn’t mean an adult like me couldn’t get good use of it. Actually I find some of the young adult art books do a wonderful job at breaking things down in a manner anyone can understand.

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teampreston

The Marvel Encyclopedia Review

Posted on October 15, 2009 by

This is a massive tome of all things Marvel. Seriously. It’s a 50 pound hardcover of comic book awesome! Ok, maybe not 50 pounds, but it’s a bullet stopper for sure!

I’ve been a fan of Marvel Comics since I was a kid and the comics took a massive jump to a whopping 35 Cents! Comics have changed so much over the years. More than I knew before delving in to the Marvel Encyclopedia. Holy CRAP! This book delves in to every character, major and minor That I have ever heard of and many I hadn’t. It gives all kinds of details on origins, secret identities, story arcs and issues they are showcased in.

As always, the artwork is stunning. There are several large entries for special groups and events like The Avengers, The Death of Captain America, Civil War, The Gods of Asgard and the many variations of The Hulk.

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teampreston

The Ghost King Fiction Review

Posted on October 9, 2009 by

I think one of the coolest parts of writing reviews is not only getting to read a lot of material, but to really get in to the nuts and bolts of how that material is “assembled”. In this case I have been fortunate to read a LOT of Forgotten Realms novel by R.A. Salvatore as well as others such as Paul Kemp. Having read all the “Drizzt Novels” to date, I can say with certainty that the author has improved his craft greatly over the years.

R.A. Salvatore, like any writer clearly has a deep relationship with many of his characters. While some writers are able to outline and crank out material in a mechanical fashion more often then not they go through a sort of adventure of their own; discovering the world and characters as they write. It’s like a journey for the characters as well as the writer. In doing so the author learns to love and hate characters and tries to share it with us…the readers.

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