Review: DEATHFIRE by Nick Kyme (Black Library)

KymeN-HH32-DeathfireThe surviving Salamanders search for purpose and hope

Vulkan lies in state beneath the Fortress of Hera, and yet many of his sons still refuse to believe that he is truly dead. After a seemingly miraculous rescue by the Ultramarines, Artellus Numeon, once captain of the Pyre Guard, urges the other Salamanders on Macragge to leave Imperium Secundus and return their primarch’s body to the home world of Nocturne — there to be reborn in the flames of Mount Deathfire. But Numeon grapples endlessly with his doubts and fears for the future of the Legion, while their foes seek to carve out new destinies of their own…

It feels like a very long time since I last read a Horus Heresy novel. I used to read them as soon as they were released, but I seem to have taken a bit of a break. So, I decided to catch up, and ended up reading the last four novels in a couple of weeks. For the main, it was great to be reading back in that setting. Deathfire, the sequel to Vulkan Lives moves the Salamanders’ story forwards, eventually bringing the shattered legion some hope. It is not, however, an easy journey… Continue reading

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Guest Review: PROMETHEAN SUN by Nick Kyme (Black Library)

Kyme-HH-PrometheanSunReviewed by Abhinav

The Horus Heresy series has proven to be rather spectacular, right from the very beginning with Dan Abnett’s game-changing opener, Horus Rising. As an exploration of the entire origin-mythos that defines the Warhammer 40,000 setting, the series has done well in exposing how this galactic civil war happened, and how all the players reacted to it, each in their own way. Being a multi-author series (projected to go on to roughly 50 full novels and anthologies, plus additional novellas, short stories and audio dramas), the quality hasn’t been entirely consistent, and there have been some let-downs, or books that don’t seem to fit into an ongoing arc.

Two years ago, Black Library changed the game once more, by offering direct exclusive limited-edition novellas set as interstitials within the larger narrative at work. Being limited to a select few thousand copies, these hardback stories with extra content (such as special faux-skin and illustrations) gave way to a lot of controversy with regards to pricing for the series. This was compounded last year by the publisher’s inexplicable decision to change formats mid-series and offer books in hardback and hardback-sized trade paperbacks before the regular and familiar mass market copies were made available.

As such, novellas like Promethean Sun and Brotherhood of the Storm among others have had to field quite a bit of negative criticism completely unrelated to the actual fictional content within. And that’s what I wanted to focus on in this review. Promethean Sun was re-released a few weeks ago as a non-limited hardback with an accompanying eBook, which is what I got. The two-year wait in between definitely didn’t hurt my enthusiasm.

So, on to the review itself. Here’s the synopsis…

As the Great Crusade sweeps across the galaxy, the forces of the Imperium encounter a world held in thrall by the alien eldar. While the Iron Hands of Ferrus Manus and Mortarion’s Death Guard battle against the hated xenos, it is the Salamanders who brave the deepest and most deadly jungles, encountering monstrous reptilian beasts and foul witchery along the way. Ultimately, it falls to their primarch Vulkan himself to thwart the sinister designs of the eldar, if the Legions are to liberate this world and bring illumination to its inhabitants.

Promethean Sun does one thing really, really well: it delves deeply into Vulkan’s psyche and explores his character through the present and the past alike. That’s what the entire story is about. The Primarch of the Salamanders Legion has been a fairly unknown quantity so far, outside of extremely brief cameos in other stories, most notably Graham McNeill’s Fulgrim, if I recall correctly, and so it was great to finally see more of him. Continue reading

Review: VULKAN LIVES by Nick Kyme (Black Library)

Kyme-HH-VulkanLivesA superb, different Horus Heresy novel

In the wake of the Dropsite Massacre at Isstvan V, the survivors of the Salamanders Legion searched long and hard for their fallen primarch, but to no avail. Little did they know that while Vulkan might have wished himself dead, he lives still… languishing in a hidden cell for the entertainment of a cruel gaoler, his brother Konrad Curze. Enduring a series of hellish tortures designed to break his body and spirit, Vulkan witnesses the depths of the Night Haunter’s depravity, but also discovers something else – a revelation that could change the course of the entire war.

How does one review a novel that packs in so very many revelations? With great difficulty, as it happens… Vulkan Lives is a great novel. It is a superb addition to Black Library’s New York Times-bestselling sci-fi series. It is a superb example of intelligent, thoughtful science fiction. It’s not flawless, true, but I loved it. I have a feeling it won’t be met with universal acclaim from the more action-oriented sections of the WH40k fan-base, but I think it does a great job of fleshing out some hitherto overlooked events and questions of the era. Continue reading

Horus Heresy Exclusive – Last Chance to Order (Black Library)

Kyme-HH-ScorchedEarthA new Horus Heresy Exclusive, chronicling the aftermath of the Isstvan Dropsite Massacre

Nearly a quarter of a million loyal Space Marines lost their lives on Isstvan V – the Dropsite Massacre lasted only a few hours, and yet the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders were slaughtered by those they had once called kin. With the disappearance of their primarch weighing heavily upon their hearts, Ra’stan and Usabius of the XVIIIth Legion leave behind their fellow survivors and strike out into the Urgall Depression. Their mission: to find what, if anything, remains of mighty Vulkan…

I was lucky enough to get an early excerpt of this novella. Not enough to write a full review, but if you were on the fence about it, I can report that Kyme’s firing on all cylinders with this book.

Some of you may have caught my review of Promethean Sun, the author’s first Black Library exclusive (also a Horus Heresy story featuring the Salamanders Legion). I wasn’t as impressed with that as I had hoped to be, and it did make me a little worried about Scorched Earth and Vulkan Lives. My fears have been proven unfounded, however.

In Scorched Earth, Kyme offers a great glimpse at the post-massacre fight for survival on Isstvan, as a pair of Salamanders witness the brutal aftermath of Horus’s treachery. Atmospheric and well-composed, this bodes very well for Vulkan Lives, the author’s first full-length Heresy novel. (I started Vulkan Lives this morning, and so far I am really enjoying it, and it promises to offer something rather different from many of the previous Heresy novels. Review hopefully next week.)

Be sure to order Scorched Earth TODAY!

Review: PROMETHEAN SUN by Nick Kyme (Black Library)

Kyme-HH-PrometheanSunFormer Limited Edition Novella gets a wider release

As the Great Crusade sweeps across the galaxy, the forces of the Imperium encounter a world held in thrall by the alien eldar. While the Iron Hands of Ferrus Manus and Mortarion’s Death Guard battle against the hated xenos, it is the Salamanders who brave the deepest and most deadly jungles, encountering monstrous reptilian beasts and foul witchery along the way. Ultimately, it falls to their primarch Vulkan himself to thwart the sinister designs of the eldar, if the Legions are to liberate this world and bring illumination to its inhabitants.

Promethean Sun was Black Library’s first limited edition Horus Heresy novella. As someone who couldn’t afford it back then, naturally I grumbled quietly to myself about missing out on this part of the series – which has, actually, been a superb example of sustained, multi-volume and multi-author storytelling. There have been wobbles, of course, but for the most part this series has been amazingly strong. So, back to this book. After reading it, I realise I shouldn’t have grumbled. Sad to say (and very surprisingly), this was a disappointment, with greater weaknesses than strengths. The story meanders, the writing’s not as strong as I know Kyme can produce, and Vulkan’s characterisation feels off. For completists only, I would say. Continue reading