Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review - "Storm of Iron" by Graham McNeill.

I've been slowly amassing and reading a collection of Black Library books over the past year. I thought it would be cool to do a short review of each of these books as I read them. This is my first review - if you have any feedback on the format and content please share it. I can't promise all of my book reviews will be this detailed but I will try my best!

"Storm of Iron" by Graham McNeill

Epic battles. Everyone loves them. The few and the proud against the hordes of evil in a winner takes all battle for ultimate supremacy. These elements provide a good backdrop for human drama and character development, and can be seen in many instances of film, comics, television, and literature throughout the years.

"Storm of Iron" provides a Warhammer 40k take on this same ideal. An impenetrable fortress manned by a hardened force ready to die for their beliefs. To never yield or falter in the face of certain doom and a tragic end at the hands of a bloodcrazed and evil enemy.

But things don't quite go that way, which makes this story stand out as being a bit different from those in the past. The good guys don't win, in fact they serve as unwitting agents of their own destruction throughout the story. A series of bad to worst, the warriors in this tale are constantly forced to make decisions that will inevitably destroy them.

This book is at its best when confronting these choices, and the strained relationships between the principle characters on both sides. The jockeying between the Chaos leaders, all vying for the attention and respect of their master Warsmith, gives a sense of the twisted minds behind the Iron Warriors. The petty squabbling, and secret agenda of the Imperium, leads to many undeserved deaths throughout the ranks of the defenders.

The rest of the book is a series of workman-like tales of battle. A respectable attempt at outlining the vast conflict from both sides, this element of the story invariably fails to rise to the heights of the interesting characters. I often found myself quickly skimming through the same series of soldiers being blasted apart by artillery, lascannons, and bolters just so I could get back to the "important parts". This lends a sense of drudgery and boredom to what could otherwise be an exciting and fast paced story.

Given the scope of the story contained in this one novel, I don't know that it would be possible to avoid these pitfalls and I must give credit to Graham for creating a unique and interesting one off set within the 40k universe.

A good novel to read if you know nothing about 40k and the conflict between the Emperor and the forces of Chaos, but it does take some liberties with the source material which may annoy hardcore 40k fans.

An overall enjoyable read, and am I curious to read more about the characters who survive the bloody conflict outlined in this book.

Verdict: 6.5 out of 10.

1 comment:

Elazar The Glorified said...

Thanks for the review. Have been tempted to read this but was worried it might be the sort of fare you've described. You know something's not quite right when you're skipping chunks of a book until it gets exciting again :s
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