Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Let's start by saying that it is good. I wasn't expecting too much because of the few Black Library books that I've read, I found most to be quite slow and boring, with surprisingly little action for what is meant to be a story about endless war. I also find that the characters really aren't very interesting, which makes the tedious scenes of dialogue before the action starts incredibly dull.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading BOTF, as within a few pages you are sucked into a fast - paced chase scene where you quickly learn a lot about the Space Wolves' animal like senses and 'kill urge', which come up repeatedly throughout the story.
Another interesting point about this story is that it isn't really 40k at all, being set only in the 32nd millennium, a thousand years after the heresy. This has little effect on the feeling of the book because of the stagnation of society between then and the 41st millennium. This does, however, add a very significant element to the plot which I couldn't possibly discuss here; but which would never happen in the current timeline.
The story is told from many viewpoints, mainly Great Wolf Ironhelm; Wolf Lord Greyloc; two Blood Claws, Helfist and Redpelt; a scout named Blackwing; and our two mortal friends, a father and daughter called Morek and Freija, both of whom serve as Kaerls (basically the Fenrisian PDF). We also get plenty of coverage from the Thousand Sons side of things, mostly from their 'Leader', Aphael, but also from another sorcerer, Temekh. There are plenty of other characters too, most notably the cover star Bjorn the Fell - Handed, who offers us a startling insight into life as a Dreadnought.
Wraight does a great job of defining each of the characters, as in novels such as Horus Rising I constantly had to flip back to the front page to see who was who and struggled to tell them apart. Despite some of their animalistic qualities the characters here feel far more human than in Fall of Damnos, for example. You can really feel the hatred both sides have for each other, despite them coping with it in completely different ways. The Thousand Sons are tragic as ever, especially Magnus the Red, who seems to be acting out a sick mockery of the events described in A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns, going so far as to almost make me laugh at one point that I shall definitely not spoil for you.
The narrative itself was really well done, and despite knowing the general story it still managed to throw complete surprises at me. The plot had good pace, and left nothing to be desired. The way a few key bits towards the end are only revealed once you've assumed the worst and been left long enough to resign to it is very clever. The fight scenes are brilliant, which is lucky as there are many in this book. The author flawlessly throws you into the desperate last stand and really makes you feel like you're watching a movie. I very rarely felt that the description was dragging on too long, yet there is still plenty that is broken up well with dialogue and combat.
Overall, BOTF is an excellent book that deserves better than to be included in the Space Marine Battles series, which I feel is quite poor overall. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Space Wolves, as well as the Thousand Sons.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
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