Lord of the Night reviews the latest Chaos Space Marine novel from Black Library, Blood Gorgons by Henry Zou.
“The bonds of brotherhood have never been felt so keenly by a Space Marine, the Blood Gorgons are a unique force amongst traitors and zealots.”
~The Founding Fields
(This is an advanced review of Blood Gorgons. It is scheduled for release in March 2011.)
Now when I say Henry Zou its a name that I know hasn’t been well received in recent months, but I have a feeling that this book will put him back in the good graces of many fans. For anyone who likes Chaos Space Marines unfettered by the restraints of being doomed to die by a loyalist’s righteous fury, in fact there is not a single loyalist dog in this entire novel, or being dull and unable to think beyond the concept of “KILL MAIM BURN!”, then this is the novel for you.
And a brief note. The summary of this novel on the Black Library website is wrong. The world is not Haute Bassiq but is actually Hauts Bassiq. And the primary character is not Brother Sargaulis but rather Bond-Brother Barsabbas. Some last minute alterations must have occurred.
When the recruiting world of Hauts Bassiq sends a request for aid the Blood Gorgons are quick to respond to protect their gene-stock, but with cruel enemies in the shadows it isn’t long before only a single marine remains. Bond-Brother Barsabbas must dig deep into his hate, his fury and his extensive training to survive the barren deserts and fight the conspiracy that threatens to consume his chapter. But all the while his home, the Space Hulk Cauldron Burning, is on the edge of anarchy. It has been millennium since a Blood Gorgon last spilled the blood of a brother, but history has a way of repeating itself to those who suffer through it.
The highest point of this novel isn’t the story, the characters or the battles for me. Its the Blood Gorgons chapter, they are the most unique Astartes seen in a long time. The bonds of brotherhood mean a lot more to them than many loyalist chapters and all the traitor legions, they may be brutal pirates and raiders but they understand loyalty and trust among brothers. Their home, their armor and even their own mutations are amazingly unique to them, and very fearsome and I would dare say saurian. Mr Zou has created something very good here, and I very much hope he isn’t done with them.
The characters of this novel are very well thought and written. The protagonist Bond-Brother Barsabbas is a younger Chaos Space Marine who has his small glories but unlike many main characters in other novels he is not famous and renowned for something in his past, he is just a simple soldier and that makes him much more interesting as he is thrust into events that will challenge him on every level, but Barsabbas’s perseverance against impossible odds and surprising intellect for a Chaos Astartes is very enjoyable to read, perhaps with some future appearances he could become a fan favorite alongside Uriel Ventris, Talos and Rafen. And in case your wondering, that is Barsabbas on the cover.
Other noteworthy characters are the Dark Eldar raider Sindul who is quite interesting as reading about the thoughts and actions of a foot soldier of Commorragh isn’t something that happens often and to see the events of the story from a common soldier rather then a powerful Archon is quite engaging. And the Chaos Space Marine cast isn’t lacking in memorable characters like Lord Gammadin, the ancient chapter master of the Blood Gorgons whose action scenes are brutal and his psionic power very awesome. Anko Muhr the Witchlord of the chapter whose motives are something that puzzled and surprised me. Or Bond-Brother Sargaul, blood brother to Barsabbas, the veteran of the two whose advice and steadfast nature guides Barsabbas through the darkest hour of his chapter.
The action in this novel is unlike anything I’ve read before. While in other novels the Astartes are powerful they rarely showcase just how powerful they are, often they are against foes that can truly test them in strength, speed and skill. But though many such battles occur in the novel there are many battles and skirmishes that show just how strong a Traitor Marine is when compared to a mortal man or a frail Eldar. The physical portions of combat in this novel are some of the best I’ve ever read. And the firefights are nothing to dismiss either, bolters pounding and flamers roaring make for a very visceral book.
The novel’s pacing is very good, Henry Zou keeps the reader’s attention with engaging battle-scenes that drag you in, vivid environments that I could actually picture myself in and the characters marching through, and readying the reader for a final battle rife with heroes that could have been an epic movie scene. There’s nothing more dangerous then a cornered foe.
The book ends on a great note, the Blood Gorgons have taken a bad hit but their strength and freedom will see them into the future. And I hope that Henry Zou’s future at Black Library is secure with this novel, the Flesh and Iron debacle was not good for him but I feel that we should move on from it and enjoy his future works.
I give Blood Gorgons a 9/10, a great novel and hopefully a sign of more to come from Henry Zou, and more Chaos Space Marine action. I’m tired of loyalists, I want more traitors!, their far more interesting.
Should you buy this book?: If you’re a fan of Chaos Space Marines then I would recommend buying this novel, its filled with them and everything we love about them and then some more. If you’ve got reservations because of Henry Zou having written this then I urge you to forgo them and give this novel a fair chance, its really good and I think that a lot of people will enjoy it.
Sadly, this will be my only Black Library review this release as Blood Gorgons
was the only novel that interested me, but next release look forward to reviews for Fall of Damnos
, Knights of Bretonnia
and Victories of the Space Marines
You can preorder this book below if you would like: