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Book Review: The Lords of Silence

I started painting Death Guard models about a year ago. I find the models detailed and interesting. I have amassed quite an army by now. But, it kind of bothered me how they are always framed as the “villains” in contrast to the “heroic” Ultramarines. In the grim dark Warhammer 40k universe, I felt that was a little oversimplified, so I wanted to read some more “fluff” featuring the Death Guard. So, I recently finished “The Lords of Silence” by Chris Wraight and wanted to share why I found it so impressive. 

Writing this book report reminds me of being back in school and being forced to analyze and review books from a curriculum. I reviewed a couple of running books, but this is quite different. 

There are some classically evil characters in this book too. Some characters are almost cliché with their “har har infect and torture.” Other characters are constantly scheming to usurp or betray. Mortarion and Typhus, two of the more notable characters in Death Guard lore have brief appearances, and seem typically villainous. 

But a couple of other characters are more nuanced and interesting: One of the protagonists is Vorx, “the Siegemaster”, a Space Marine that has been fighting for the Death Guard since before the Horus Heresy. He is in charge of the eponymous Lords of Silence Warband, a division of the Death Guard, and he commands their Cruiser “Solace.” I found Vorx to be quite an interesting character. He is usually polite, honourable, respectful, and even caring. He has glimpses of being the “warrior monk” that you expect from more noble Adeptus Astartes. 

Obviously, Vorx seems like a “bad guy” because his service to the Chaos God Nurgle involves infecting planets, spreading disease, and raising hordes of daemon zombies. But, from his point of view, the monolithic, heartless, brutal, oppressive Imperium is the greater evil. He respects his opponent Loyalist Astartes, and in fact feels pity for them and their plight. He is less sympathetic to the Thousand Sons whose behaviour he considers to be deceitful and hypocritical. I love that complicated shades of grey, where evil and bad are relative terms. 

The deuteragonist is Dragan, “the Gallowsman”, a more recent convert to the Death Guard. He left a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter and joined the Death Guard, and is gradually receiving Nurgle’s “gifts.” He is called a “thin blood” because he hasn’t been in the Death Guard as long as some of his peers. But, because of that, he still retains anger, drive, and zeal that seems to elude many older, sluggish, Death Guard. His story is quite interesting too. I wondered how Death Guard recruited or replenished their forces, so Dragan’s recruitment into such an old Legion gives a glimpse into that. 

I was also impressed by the genuine use of “science fiction” that Wraight uses. In my experience, better science fiction has commentary or theoretical parables on how a current trend can get much more complicated with advances in time and/or technology. In “The Lords of Silence”, Wraight describes the nightmare that is the agri-world of Najan. The planet is windswept and brutal, with minimal biodiversity, and barely hospitable to its workers. It is being overfarmed so aggressively that it will be completely depleted in less than 100 years, even with constant fertilizing and other interventions. It’s like an incredibly exaggerated version of those “super-farms” that are becoming increasingly common. And, ironically, this world is a hellish nightmare BEFORE the Death Guard invades!

It also frames great battle scenes. Some are scaled in space combat or planet-wide invasions. But Wraight goes into the small elements that make up these larger conflicts, like loading of ship ordnance, or small boarding parties battling in confined corridors. There are lots of great scenarios that could be rebuilt as part of a Warhammer 40,000 game. 

Posing with “The Lords of Silence” by Chris Wraight, a great book featuring the Death Guard in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

I liked the book so much that I want to model some miniatures to represent some of its characters. I definitely would like to have a Vorx model. And I can foresee a great model of Naum the crazed Helbrute dragging the body of a defeated foe like a broken toy. 

There is rather limited “fluff” about the Death Guard in the 41st Millennium, so I’d definitely recommend it as a glimpse into this “heroic” army. 

Warhammer FOMO

So, just last week I reported that I have about 150 models in my backlog to finish, BUT, I can’t help but feel like I want, or NEED to buy more! I feel like I have the typical millennial Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) for certain models, bundles, or even Armies!

Many months ago, I was immediately interested when I heard about the re-release of Lost Patrol. It’s a standalone game that is a nice gateway into Warhammer 40k, and comes with some Tyranid Genestealers and a squad of Space Marine Scouts. I could always use more Space Marine Scouts, which are a great unit in general.

Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol

The Genestealers in this box got me thinking though. If I had 11 Genestealers, could that be the start of a Tyranid army?! All of my models are human Imperials (Space Marines, Astra Militarum, Inquisition). Though it’s not unusual to think of humans of the Imperium fighting and killing each other, I feel like they need an enemy, a “bad guy” to fight. And a ruthless alien invasion seemed appropriate.

Start Collecting! Tyranids Boxed Set

That makes the Start Collecting: Tyranids box set seem so tempting. With the Genestealers as troops, the rest of this box fills out a pretty terrifying army. Making the Hive Tyrant as a Flying Monsterous Creature actually seems really awesome! It’s like a flying alien dragon!

Flying Hive Tyrant! Like a flying alien dragon!

After getting interested in Tyranids, I was looking at other neat things in their arsenal, and I happened upon the Tervigon. It constantly produces more units throughout the battle! This ugly mamma keeps producing more termigants as the battle progresses. That’s alien and terrifying! And tactically quite interesting…

Tyranid Tervigon that keeps producing units!

But, buying and building such Tyranids would be very financially and time-consuming. I mean, a whole new army…

But, the Start Collecting: Skiitarii box catches my eye too. Their like steampunk robots! What’s not to like!? The heavily mechanized nature of this box and army really suit my interests.

Start Collecting Skitarii box from Games Workshop

Or what about the Start Collecting Militarum Tempestus box! I’m actually rather fond of my current Taurox, and adding another to the fray for a mere 50 points sounds lovely. And the more I read about Tempestus Scions the more I want to field them. With the correct supplement, I could field a whole army of JUST scions in Taurox Primes. And the sprues come with enough parts for me to customize and upgrade quite a few of my guardsmen into Scions or “Stormtroopers” too.

Start Collecting Militarum Tempestus set!


But, no more buying until after I’ve cleared my backlog. Then I’ll head down one of these paths.. or another path. We’ll see what suits my fancy by then.

Welcome to Keptain Kayak!

Welcome to my Warhammer 40k Sub-Blog! I imagined this was a better solution than cluttering up my main Running Blog with non-Running stuff! 

Well, anyways, as I mentioned in this post, I’ve become quite interested in the Warhammer 40k Hobby again. It’s a tabletop game where you collect models, build and paint them, then play them against other models. The gameplay is an offspring of old-school Dungeons & Dragons involving dice, tables and measuring tapes. I started around age 12, took a break for about 15 years.

I started again by buying a (now replaced) Citadel Hobby Starter set that came with a variety of paints, glue, cutters, and a paintbrush.

Hobby Starter Kit
Hobby Starter Kit


I also found some old models and paint brushes. I have since built and painted a few and I’ll detail them in posts to come. 

Completed tactical squad of Imperial Fists Space Marines. My first painted Warhammer 40k models in over 15 years!

There are several things I really like about the hobby: in particular the painting, the lore (or fluff as the fandom calls it), and the planning/strategy.


Art Hobby

I don’t consider myself an artist, but I find I’m quite enjoying the creative element of the hobby. Sitting quietly and painting these little models is surprisingly calming. I suppose that’s how a hobby should feel. I don’t consider myself an artist or ‘artsy‘ type, and I’m definitely not very talented, but it’s nice to think “I painted that.”


Backstory and “fluff”

I find the fictional environment of the game is pretty interesting. It’s set in a dystopian science-fiction future where humanity is a sprawling stagnant empire facing destruction from hostile aliens and internal traitors. It’s science-fiction, but much darker than Star Trek and other typical sci-fi environments. The lore describes the backstory of each race, faction, and why they all want to kill each other. It’s told in novels, magazines, movies, video games, and sidebars in other publications.

I could go on and on about the fictional environment. In such a dark environment, heroes seem to shine even brighter. I’ve read a few stories featuring Ciaphas Cain, a cowardly human officer with an uncanny stroke of luck in horrible situations. Surprisingly, all his stories are comedies. And there are stories about families, brothers, friends, heroes, villains and traitors. Some of them are compelling and even motivating.



I really like the strategy and planning element of it too. Each unit has certain abilities, and cost in game. They also have cost to buy, but that’s a different strategy. At the moment I’m trying to put together a 1000 point army that meets all the requirements. I haven’t played a single game yet, but I just enjoy daydreaming about it. I suspect I’ll lose horribly, but maybe that’s part of the experience too.

I mentioned that buying in itself is a strategy. It’s incredibly true because units that have high points cost may not have high dollar cost (and vice-versa). In general, Games Workshop models are pretty pricey. There are jokes that their license on the products essentially allows them to print money and that their products are so expensive that crack is cheaper.

But, there is another element of the hobby altogether. I recently discovered buying off of eBay. I lose most auctions, but I’ve found a couple bargains so far.


Keptain Kayak

Why the name Keptain Kayak? Most 40k bloggers I’ve been reading have hobby “nicknames”. Keptain Kayak was my ICQ handle from a long time ago. I thought the “captain” reference worked well in a wargames kind of way but was also lovingly self-deprecating.



Where do I get the time an money to do this? Well, I’m single, employed, and feeling rather introverted this summer. Seems to be a good mix. I’m trying to dedicate Sunday afternoons to painting since I’ll be worn out from my long runs and won’t feel guilty taking a ‘break’.

I hope you enjoy the blog! Comments and suggestions are always welcome!


Getting Back into Warhammer

(Reblogged from the original post on my other website)

In a post a long time ago, I mused about a photo showing the proportions of the fictional Adeptus Astartes from the fictional Warhammer 40,000 universe.


In a celebration of passing my PMP, I downloaded a new game for my PS3: Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. I like that it’s in this universe. The game is a little repetitive, but oh well.

It reminded me that I used to be quite interested in the whole Warhammer 40k universe, including painting and playing with the tabletop miniatures. By a long time ago, I mean like 17 years ago!

In a fit of inspiration, I searched some old boxes and found that I still had most of them! Here are photos of some of my miniatures


Warhammer 40k minuatures
Imperial Guard

Warhammer 40k Space Marines
Space Marines

Imperial Guard Stormtroopers
Imperial Guard Stormtroopers

Detail of Warhammer 40k Space Marines
Space Marines detail

Imperial Guard Ratling Snipers
Imperial Guard Ratling Snipers

Space Marine veteran Sergeant, heavy flamer, terminator and apothecary
Space Marine veteran Sergeant, heavy flamer, terminator and apothecary
Imperial Guard command squad

Space Marine veteran Sergeant, heavy flamer, terminator and apothecary
Space Marine veteran Sergeant, heavy flamer, terminator and apothecary

Detail of the fiery coat on the imperial guard psyker
Detail of the fiery coat on the imperial guard psyker

Space Marine Veteran with Heavy Bolter painted by me
Space Marine Veteran with Heavy Bolter painted by me

Comparing to the video game Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, I noticed quite a resemblance! They are based in the same universe, but I appreciate that the model I painted looks like the character in the video game.

Sternguard veteran from Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team
Sternguard veteran from Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

Space Marine Veteran with Heavy Bolter painted by me
Space Marine Veteran with Heavy Bolter painted by me

So, what was the point of this post? Well, to show pictures of little 3cm tall figures I painted almost 20 years ago! Well, kinda.

I feel a strange compulsion to get back into the ‘hobby’. There’s something that sounds peaceful and appealing about finding a couple of hours to sit and paint miniatures. The store I used to buy from is still there. I still have my old paintbrushes, but the paints from then have unsurprisingly dried out. I’ve even made a shopping list of which figures I’d like to start with.

My reluctance is trying to justify the time to myself. I’m so focused on professional and health improvement that I don’t see how an introverted hobby like this is a good thing. I know I need rest days, but maybe I should invest my time instead in things like Toastmasters.

We’ll see what I get the urge to buy after Around The Bay.

But can they run?

(This post is re-blogged from its original post on my other site here)

When I was much younger, I played a tabletop game called Warhammer 40k. I recently stumbled upon a wiki with information about the lore of this piece of my childhood.

The most famous ‘human’ fighting force in this hellish, science-fiction future are the Adaptus Astartes or Space Marines. These fictional warriors are given implants and intense hormone training to become unstoppable warriors. Until I read this wiki page about them, I didn’t realize the proportions of how large these sci-fi warriors would be.

Space Marine Anatomy

Take a look at the size comparison on the bottom. The ‘Average human’ at 5’9″ is about my size. Now look at the Basketball Player, then the massiveness of the Space Marine! Imagine humans at 7’6″ and 780 pounds! The only exiting humans I can think of with that build would be Andre The Giant and the WWE’s Big Show. It just kind of boggles to mind to even imagine humans with that much mass.

However, I imagine these 780 pound humans wearing 200kg of armor wouldn’t run too well.