Monday, September 28, 2009

Vivat Regina

Thanks to Matthew Churchill, I am able to indulge myself, once again, and hand over this column to another. Take it away, and thanks very much, Matthew.

Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero is Dan Abnett’s long-awaited original fiction novel. Abnett has an extensive history of writing successfully for various science fiction and fantasy imprints, but Triumff is our first chance to see him playing with toys entirely of his own creation. Those familiar with Abnett’s writing will appreciate that such toys are likely to be full of whirly death, and will contain sharp objects not suitable for small children.

Its eponymous hero, Sir Rupert Triumff, drinks, cavorts and swashbuckles through an alternate version of present-day Earth where the sun never set on the Golden Age of Elizabethan England. Her Glorious Majesty Elizabeth XXX sits on the throne, along with a considerable weight of petticoats, bodice and pearls. A conspiracy is afoot to threaten the life of the Queen and taint the Magick that protects and prolongs her realm. And it’s down to Rupert Triumff to save the day.

The book is a rollicking good read. It has the easy grace and unpretentious style of Abnett’s Games Workshop novels, and shares his familiar blending of accessible prose, realistic characterisation, and resonant description. Triumff will expand your vocabulary with neat antique and obscure words if you care to look them up, but the writing never gets bogged down in flowery prose. Primarily, it is a comic novel, and its lightness of touch and playful language may surprise some who come to Abnett purely from the grim darkness of Games Workshop, although a deft comic sensibility has often been at the heart of Abnett’s work for 2000AD comics.

As an original novel, Triumff requires no familiarity with any of Abnett’s extensive back-catalogue. Comparisons to other writers are inevitable in the fantasy genre. Some are describing Triumff as a kind of Steampunk Pratchett, and it’s understandable. However, Abnett writes action considerably better than Pratchett, with several meaty fights and an explosive conclusion.

With its alternate Earth setting, much of the enjoyment comes from viewing our own world through a skewed mirror, and spotting the parallels. Triumff isn’t preoccupied, however, with playing this game to the detriment of the plot, but does allow for some nice cameos, including a Q’ute James Bond scene that had me laughing out loud.

Ultimately, that’s the important bit. Triumff is laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are strong and well-defined, and the neo-Elizabethan setting is handled carefully and without alienating those unfamiliar with all things cuffed and ruffed. It’s pacey, punchy, and highly enjoyable. Vivat Regina!

(This review was based on an advance proof copy. Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero will be published in October by Angry Robot books and is available from and


Matthew Churchill said...

Zing! Thanks, Dan. Great to see you looking well yesterday.


Xhalax said...

See that just makes my review look like crap so I retract it and change it to.........."What he said" *points above*

Dukeleto said...

great review Matt (and the reason I was slightly afraid to write one myself, Xhalax - kudos to you for giving it a go!)

In defence of Pratchett, he did action very well, perhaps exemplified in the Diggers trilogy. (past tense due to my opinion of his writing declining rapidly in recent years - to be fair, the guy really is NOT well)
...probably as well as Dan manages comic fiction in Triumff, anyway!

Big said...

Matt - Well done..............Man youve made it exceptionally difficult now.See i was gonna put things like "FoooKing Brilliant" and
"Cockspankingly Gorgeous"
they just dont seem apt now!
Anyhows it was fantastic meeting you guys yesterday, i have been looking forward to meeting you guys for some time and you where every bit what i expected and a whole lot more so till next time yeh.
I suggest everyone goes to a Dan Abnett signing,Nik is always there to and she does a fanstasic job looking after everyone.Nik and Dan compliment each other so well it makes for a fantastic atmosphere!. You get to meet all the cool people youve been talking to for years! I also met the "Mighty" Graham Mcneil which was a bonus, and something i had been looking forward to! thanks Dan.
As i said the atmosphere is fantastic ,and the Abnetts make sure everyone gets their time in and their books signed. They even took the time to take a special young man (A big Gaunts Fan) to lunch and made his day, which just impressed the hell outa me.They made it well worth the travel and well worth any money spent i can tell you. I hope i have many more days like this, good friends, good company....its what its all about!

Xhalax said...

Big - I think a two word review can be just as powerful and insightful as the elogantly chosen words of Matthew. Plus it wouldn't be you if you didn't just say exactly what you mean, cutting right to the heart of the matter and just saying what we're all really thinking.

cor said...

my copy of triumff arrived from play on friday ive managed to read 5 chapters so far and have been throughly impressed so far

Marco @ Angry Robot said...

Ah dear. As Cor implies, it is too late to get the words "Foooking Brilliant" and "Cockspankingly Gorgeous" onto the front of the current edition of TRIUMFF: HER MAJESTY'S HERO. Here's to a quick reprint!


sredni vashtar said...

Matt: that review is so good it almost makes me feel sorry for crushing your hand.

Xhalax said...

srendi - When did you crush his head?

Zed said...

Well that's me going to Amazon and putting it on pre-order. Well done, er, both of you.

HiWayRobry said...

Xhalax, he said he crushed his 'hand', not his 'head'. That would be two completely different experiences :)
And, your review was fantastically done, as was Matthew's!

Xhalax said...

It's times like this I wish I didn't choke so much and so badly.

sredni vashtar said...

Xhalax: well i hope i DIDN'T inadvertently crush his head as well. even i admit that would've been a bit much. if i DID crush your head, Matt, i am very sorry-- it honestly looked like a hand to me.

anyways yeah, it was nifty to meet y'all too, after all these long years of bloggery. i'm sorry i missed seeing Steve's figures, but i had to scoofle off before 3pm to get my dogs walked etc.; Mordecai has recently taken to pulling down and eating curtains when i'm gone for too much of the day...

and my deepest thanks to Dan and Nik (not least for letting me past the queue)-- it was awesome to see you both, and now i finally have my disintegrating 1st edition of "First and Only" signed, i no longer fear to die with my life incomplete. hope you've managed to kick back and take it easy since sunday.

Matthew Churchill said...

Gee thanks, guys.

Big - I think the pink cashmere sweater is having a soft and huggy effect on you in more ways than one!

Xhalax - 'Cockspankingly Gorgeous' puts my review to shame.

Sredni - I'm not so in thrall to the Dark Powers that I've got a head coming out of my feeble hand yet. And not your fault for crushing it, it's far more suited to gently caressing the velveteen pelt of a cat called Mayhem than reining in a curtain-munching hound called Mordecai.


Xhalax said...

Matthew - Yeah I think Big puts us all to shame with his turn of phrase.

Big said...

Sredni- hopefully me and Matt are gonna have a game of 40k at BL Live, i owe him one from last year so if your comin you can have a look at the Pact then ,lets hope you can make it.

Matt- Pink cashmere hahahahaha
i carried it off well though didnt huh?!
Have you guys seen
"The Photo" yet?

Xhalax was you Banda or Elodie?
either way you looked good hun!

Marco- im am very well known for my "Two word" appraisials of any Book, Film or Situation.
Im still hoping for a Cameo in the GG series to deliver my "Two words" whenever the situation demands it..........however Somethings Awry still kinda steals it.But thanks for the vote anyhow..........LOL

HiWayRobry said...

I feel so left out.
I would love to meet each and every one of you. Unfortunately, I'm here in the Northwest U.S. of A. and you all are way, way East.
Seeing Xhalax as Banda (or Elodie as the case may be) and Big in a pink cashmere sweater would have made my life complete. (Well, that and a copy of Triumff anyway!)
Hope everyone enjoyed themselves immensely!
And, of course, meeting Dan and Nik would have just been the chocolately delicious icing on the cake!!

sredni vashtar said...

Big: hopefully i can get my act together re: BL Live next year. i can't remember why i never got there this year-- probably in New York doing family stuff. i shall endeavour to get my priorities right this time around.

in other news, amazon just breathlessly informed me via email that my copy of Triumff is on its way. wheee

Big said...

Hey i did the "Dance" for every one too , i was shakin it and movin it, in fact i did it in front of the whole of the NEC just so that Xhalax could locate me in the crowd!

Xhalax said...

Big - I was Elodie (green dress, las pistol tucked into sash). Banda was in a red dress with dark hair....though I can't say I like Banda all that much. Elodie....she makes ne a little jealous.

An that was good dancing Big and thanks for the compliment.

Srendi - You should definitely come to BL Live! as it's an awesome day and much more chilled than GD.....well except if you're me and still trying to squeeze EVERYTHING into the day. Plus if they follow the formular from last year there's readings and Q&A sessions like GD used to be in the NIA.

sredni vashtar said...

aight, i will keep my eyes open for tickets later on. i was too late to grab one at Games Day :(

Xhalax said...

I think I probably missed getting one too as I didn't find out they were selling them until well into the afternoon.

God I hope I get a ticket !

Matthew Churchill said...

Got my 'hard' copy of Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero from Borders yesterday (actually got two copies because of a discount!). Was most pleased with the extras at the back, especially the prospect of further dashing adventures...

Marco - The cover is Ffantastic.


Xhalax said...

Might have to grab a copy myself now for the extras.