Terex really is stealing the show here - for the better. Even C-3PO is more interesting in this arc than Poe Dameron, and this series is supposed to bTerex really is stealing the show here - for the better. Even C-3PO is more interesting in this arc than Poe Dameron, and this series is supposed to be his. Soule is putting up a great show for the antagonist to the point where I'm more rooting for him than the rest....more
Carcharodons: The Reaping Time serves as a bit of a lead-in to Robbie MacNiven's full-length novel Carcharodons: Red Tithe, which I am excited to dig into soon. This taster, at the very least, is promising in its mystery and violence. The "Space Sharks" have long been a topic I felt needed more attention in Warhammer 40,000. They are butchers by any other name, their origins hidden and it often felt surprising to me to see them on the Loyalist side at all. Their biggest appearance to date must have been during the Badab War books by Forge World, which I believe to have sold out years ago.
So seeing Robbie MacNiven get the chance to tackle the mysterious Chapter of Space Marines had me excited for sure. Best of all, this short story nails the relentless hunter theme nicely. Once these Space Marines smell blood, there is no turning back, and all that is left in their wake are corpses. Thematically, MacNiven also married them with Maori influences, down to the characters' names. Various things from gear to organization bear aquatic influences, such as the 'Coral Shields', or the various teeth charms the marines of First Squad are wearing. Chainblades are standard issue here, of course, and this short story is easily one of the more brutal ones to come out of this holiday season! Chief protagonist of the story is Librarian Te Kahurangi, whose psychic powers follow the shark-theme as well. Called the Pale Nomad, he seems more level-headed than his Company Master Akia, who epitomizes the relentless beast in them all. While Te Kahurangi easily gets the best coverage here, the rest of the squad has me intrigued too, especially when their gene-seed origins are put into question. Already hotly-debated in fan-circles, Robbie's take will give fans a lot more fuel for their speculation.
Most importantly, however, MacNiven manages to build up a satisfying story in miniature that presents this Chapter in a natural way, highlighting the unique traits and opening more mysteries to be solved, while also moulding them in his image. It turned out to be a fast-paced read full of action that laid the groundwork for future works on the Chapter without compromising on its stand-alone potential. If you're unsure about the novel yet, then this short story should hold your answer....more
The Painted Count follows on shortly after the events of Pharos. The novel is mandatory reading before you go into this short story, otherwise you'd be missing out. The short story has many call-backs to the novel and even a slice of Vulkan Lives, which surprised me.
In general, this is a more direct character piece on Skraivok and his standing within the Night Lords Legion. Where Pharos left us with questions as to his fate, and that of the Nightfall, The Painted Count aims to give answers. Skraivok is forced to embrace uncomfortable truths and comes to heads with Konrad Curze's equerry Shang, who first appeared way back when in The Dark King. The two represent the different spectrums of the Legion; one clinging to Curze and wanting vengeance, the other looking forward and trying to make their own way. Of course, the inherent selfishness of the Legion gets in the way of a fair vote on the new leadership, so things take some turns left and right.
The story as a whole serves as a stepping stone between Pharos and the assault on the Sol System. The Night Lords are being maneuvered into place, and we get a good close-up of Skraivok and his own philosophy. I can't say I disliked the Painted Count by any means - Haley's writing puts him as insane in his sanity. My one disappointment with the story was that it didn't explore Captain Shang well enough for my liking. This was Skraivok's show, of course, but a bit more dialogue from Shang, or maybe a scene from his point of view, could have benefitted the story and made it into a great one for me.
As it stands, The Painted Count was an exciting and satisfying read, establishing Gendor Skraivok as a name to watch out for in future installments of the series. It is a worthy part in the overarching Night Lords storyline of the Horus Heresy, and Haley's portrayal of the Legion is, in my eyes, absolutely fitting....more
A story told in reverse, featuring Arkhan Land's escape from sacred Mars. Sadly, it didn't work for me. The concept seems novel at first, intriguing,A story told in reverse, featuring Arkhan Land's escape from sacred Mars. Sadly, it didn't work for me. The concept seems novel at first, intriguing, but I didn't feel like it added much, if anything, to start with the conclusion and work back towards the beginning. There were no unexpected twists that might have turned the plot on its head in ways that complimented the unique style, and knowing exactly how a character would meet his end made the whole evacuation chase here feel rather dull.
I liked the character of Arkhan once again, but Nicanor felt flat to me. Stoic, stubborn and dutiful, but that's an Imperial Fist in a nutshell anyway. The plot itself is simple and filling a gap that I don't think really needed plugging....more