Review: THIRD WAR OF ARMAGGEDON (Black Library)

Various-Armageddon-ThirdWarSome connected WH40k short stories

Armageddon is a world engulfed by war. As the Third War for the planet rages on, the Imperial defenders sell their lives dearly to hold back the near-endless green tide of orks. On this world of battle, legends are forged and heroes made – but against the might of the greatest ork invasion in history, even the Imperium’s greatest warriors may not be enough to triumph.

This is a series of short stories that Black Library released over a single week (one a day) not so long ago. They are all connected to the “Third War of Armageddon”, a major conflict and world in the Warhammer 40,000 sci-fi setting. Black Library have a history of releasing great short fiction, and there were certainly a couple of very good stories in this collection.

Annandale-Yarrik-SarcophagusDavid Annandale, YARRICK: SARCOPHAGUS

Trapped in an overturned tank after being caught in a bombing run on Armageddon, Commissar Sebastian Yarrick fights to escape and return to his forces, but as he emerges, he finds himself surrounded by greenskin foes. Can the Old Man of Armageddon survive the onslaught with power claw and Evil Eye, or will he finally fall to the servants of the Great Beast Ghazghkull Thraka?

I’ve already reviewed this, here. (Short version: It’s very good.)

*

Wraight-3WA-UnbrokenChris Wraight, UNBROKEN

The soldiers of the Astra Militarum struggle to establish a beachhead against an overwhelming force of orks on the war-torn world of Armageddon. Outnumbered and outmatched, victory looks unlikely, until a single warrior arrives, a Lone Wolf, last survivor of his pack and a mighty hero whose actions may just turn the tide in the Imperium’s favour.

This was a very good story — mainly following a single Space Wolf, running full-pelt across the wastes of Armageddon in the hopes of drawing an ork horde into the firing line of other Imperium forces. The writing and pacing are tight and well-crafted. It doesn’t get bogged down, and the main character is appropriately crazy and competent. Definitely recommended.

*

Kyme-3WA-InTheDepthsOfHadesNick Kyme, IN THE DEPTH OF HADES

On Armageddon, the Marines Malevolent want to lead an all-out assault on the orks infesting the ruins of Hades Hive. But to do so they will need numbers, and their Astra Militarum allies are unwilling to threaten the lives of prisoners held by the greenskins. Embarking on a stealth mission to rescue the prisoners, how far will the Marines Malevolent go to achieve their goal?

This was not bad. The writing is fine, and the story was ok. But I think Kyme has written better in the past. That being said, there was some good writing. It just didn’t grip me as much as I’d hoped.

*

Haley-3WA-OnlyBloodGuy Haley, ONLY BLOOD

Sword Brother Brusc of the Black Templars clashes with his superiors and his warriors when he defies orders to abandon an Adepta Sororitas field hospital on Armageddon and instead devotes his forces to defending the sisters and patients who reside there against the depredations of the savage orks.

This didn’t click for me. It started well, with some good character development among the Templars. But then, around a third of the way through, it felt like the style changed — the dialogue in particular became stilted and forced. There was a strange archaic/formal affect to everything that just grated. The ending wasn’t bad, though.

*

FrostT-Straken-AHerosDeathToby Frost, STRAKEN: A HERO’S DEATH

Deployed to the jungles of Armageddon to battle the greenskins, Catachan Colonel “Iron Hand” Straken and his men are diverted from their hunt to delve into a half-abandoned hive city and rescue a high-ranking officer – but when they arrive, they find that the situation is more complicated than they imagined, and face an overwhelming force of enemies…

This was a good story to finish up with. It started rather ‘typical’, but then Straken’s character and unorthodox tactics came to the fore. Frost writes well, and the pacing is very good. Reading this has certainly made me more interested in reading Frost’s full-length Straken novel. An author to watch, I think.

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