Architect of Fate edited by Christian Dunn – Advance Review Part Two [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the chaotic second half of the Space Marines Battles novella collection Architect of Fate, edited by Christian Dunn, featuring the novellas Endeavour of Will by Ben Counter and Fateweaver by John French.
“A truly mind-boggling and insanity-inducing adventure into the heart of the Warp! A must-read for any who like the plethora of madness and change that is Tzeentch.” – The Founding Fields
Here we are with Part Two of my review for Architect of Fate. In this part of the review I will be reviewing the novella Endeavour of Will by Ben Counter, and the novella Fateweaver by John French. The end of this review will also contain the final score for Architect of Fate as a novel and my recommendation on it. So lets begin.
Endeavour of Will by Ben Counter
Since before the Emperor the star forts Bastion Inviolate and Endeavour of Will have stood sentinel over the Eye of Terror, crafted with technologies that were forgotten even during the Great Crusade, and within their walls the Imperial Fists keep watch as Chaos engulfs the sectors surrounding the Eye in the 13th Black Crusade. But now the Iron Warriors approach, bent on tearing down the star forts and killing all within in the name of 10,000 year old hatreds and vengeance. The fates of both stations rest on the shoulders of one man, Captain Darnath Lysander who will do whatever it takes to achieve victory, but some costs may be too high.
The story of Endeavour of Will is, in my opinion, centered around one question. Is victory desirable at any cost? And that is a good question to ask, especially in 40k. Is there such a thing as a pyyrhic victory? Or is victory victory regardless of who wins or loses more? Are there lines that should not be crossed just to win? Endeavour of Will poses all of these and answers them, in its own way, and tells the story of the warrior who has his own answers to all of these questions, and no doubts to stop him.
The characterization in Endeavour of Will is enjoyable to read. Captain Lysander is an interesting protagonist, his actions and beliefs are the highlights of the novella alongside the battle scenes, his past has clearly affected how he views the galaxy and that drives him to win at any cost. The only other character explored is the revenge-driven Warsmith Shon’tu whose actions are dictated by the presence of the Imperial Fists and his hatred for them, and which directly affect how he fights these battles.
The action scenes of the novella are great. The small-scale battles with fewer Space Marines mean that there are more personal battles, Lysander fighting against Possessed Marines and Obliterators, the latter of which finally get some more scene-time which they very much deserve. The lone void battle in the novel is very cool and the shocking end to it was a very chaotic addition. I felt the best parts though were the battle in the Tomb of Ionis and the Apothecarian battle, both show just how far Lysander will go to achieve victory and have plenty of Imperial Fists and Iron Warriors, or their servants, killing each other.
The pacing of the novella is fairly spaced out. The story is separated into three parts each of which move at a good pace, keeping a sense of mystery to some of Lysander’s actions while the battle scenes are quick-paced to reflect the speed of the fights, and the surprising agility of Lysander in Terminator armour. The novella starts quickly and then slows down, building up through the battles and the actions of Lysander to achieve victory, before finally exploding at the end with the Iron Warriors ultimate attempt and the most dire action of all by Lysander.
The ending is thought-provoking to say the very least. Whenever you fight Chaos its impossible to not lose something, but how far will you go to achieve victory? Is it worth it when you may have lost more than you gained? Lysander’s beliefs on the matter may be ironclad but what are the readers, I think that is the purpose of such an ending. To make the readers wonder what victory is worth sacrificing, and whether or not some victories are worth the cost.
For its visceral battle scenes, an interesting portrayal of Captain Lysander, and many good questions posed about war and victory, I give Endeavour of Will a score of 8.1, yet another reason to buy Architect of Fate. Its been a while since we’ve seen anything from Ben Counter, Phalanx was his most recent novel and that came out last year in Hammer and Bolter. Hopefully we’ll see more from him soon.
Fateweaver by John French
Time is fluid. It is static and unpredictable. When Cyrus Aurelius of the White Consuls receives a distress signal from the Claros Space Station he is quick to answer it, not wishing to see another place defiled by Daemons or the guns of the Inquisition unleash the ultimate sanction yet again. But the psychic message comes from a far more terrifying source than a simple Astropath choir, while in the shadows the legendary oracle Kairos Fateweaver is plotting his final move in a game that has lasted ten thousand years. But who is the master of this game of great men and vile Daemons? Time will come full circle as origins are revealed as is the ultimate destiny of the one who calls himself Fateweaver.
The story of Fateweaver is brilliant. Shocking twists, misdirection and well-crafted flashbacks are very well used in this story, which also features some very nice links to another story in this collection that reveal a hell of a lot about it, but if you want to find out which one you’ll have to read them all. As Cyrus Aurelius gets further and further into the mystery of Claros station and the psychic message you start to see more and more of what will be and what could be, but as the future is fluid anything could happen. And the final twist is one that nobody saw coming, least of all a certain weaver of fate.
The characters in Fateweaver are the richest in the collection. Cyrus Aurelius is the protagonist, a Librarian of the White Consuls, and his dislike of seeing innocent people die for no good reason is a cornerstone of the story. As the novella goes on his visions reveal more of his character, his past as a psyker and his future as to what he could do with such knowledge. Fateweaver himself is another character, and its rather fascinating to see a Daemon as a central character in a novella. We learn a lot about Fateweaver’s motivations, why all of this has been happening and a bit about politics in the Warp.
The action of the novella is chaotic of course, if Daemons are involved its a sure bet that battle will be warped beyond belief. Fateweaver features plenty of Daemons hacking their way through frightened mortals and unyielding Adeptus Astartes, with some very notable battles in the second half of the novella. And as Cyrus is a Librarian we get some psyker action, and he’s a Librarian in Terminator armor so its twice as cool when he strides into battle with his Force sword and Storm Bolter.
The pacing of the novella is a bit widely spaced. The novella is separated into three parts, the first and third parts being shorter than the second which contains the bulk of the novella. The first part builds up the story, setting the scene and moving at a slow pace until the end of it when something bad happens and it all starts to go to hell. The second part focuses mostly on the battle for Claros station and the goings-on behind the scenes, while the third part reveals the truth of everything in the novella and some others, the why and how it happened of Fateweaver and the other novella that won’t be mentioned is revealed.
The ending is shocking. I never saw this coming, nobody did, not even Fateweaver. This is a hell of an ending that takes us back to the beginning of another novella, revealing not only the fate of Fateweaver but the fate of Cyrus Aurelius and shows the start of something quite horrific in an mind-twisting irony. You’ll see the links to the other novella fairly easily, its near impossible to miss or misunderstand so once you reach the final pages you’ll realise what is happening and what will happen as a result, and the horror that comes when you deal with the forces of time which is what this collection is all about really.
For its darkly brilliant ending, an interesting look at one of the greatest Daemons in the Warp and for the revelation of the truth of many things throughout this collection I give Fateweaver a score of 9.0/10. If there were no other reasons to buy Architect of Fate, and there are plenty of other reasons, Fateweaver is the best of them all.
Well that is it for each individual novella. Now for Architect of Fate as a whole novel.
This is a great collection of novellas, each one a grim and fascinating story that are meant to be enjoyed together to get the full reward from each one, and for that I give Architect of Fate a score of 8.6/10. A very good score that this collection deserves, and this score belongs to Sarah Cawkwell, John French, Ben Counter and Darius Hinks together for a set of novellas that link together seemlessly and show one of the most terrible forces in creation in action, time itself. They worked very well together and I look forward to seeing more from each author.
I would also add my favourite quote of the novel, from which novella its from I will not say nor will I say who says it. Its a great quote had me laughing at the context of it, and that of the entire novel as well.
“I am the architect of your fate.”
Should you buy this novel? If you like Chaos then the answer is a very clear yes. If your interested in seeing some novellas that link together nicely and each tell a great story that will definitely leave an impression on you about the power of time and the warp, and of course Space Marine fans can enjoy the stories as well since each one centers around some little-known Chapters that are actually quite interesting. If you aren’t a fan of Chaos or the Space Marines however then Architect of Fate isn’t for you.
Well that’s it for this mega-review. Its been fun writing for each individual novella and hopefully i’ll get to do it again in the future. That means we want more novella collections Black Library. My next review will be for The Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, so until next time.
AVE DOMINUS NOX!