Architect of Fate edited by Christian Dunn – Advanced Review Part One [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the mind-bending first half of the novella collection Architect of Fate, edited by Christian Dunn, the novellas Accursed Eternity by Sarah ‘Pyroriffic’ Cawkwell and Sanctus by Darius Hinks.
“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
Architect of Fate is a novel i’ve been dying to read, and not just because it has Kairos Fateweaver as one of its most important characters but because I love Chaos and Tzeentch is my favourite of the Chaos Gods, so an entire novel devoted to the insanity that is Tzeentch is something that needs to be in my collection. Now this review is a bit different from my usual method, as I will be reviewing the first half of the novel and the second half in a separate review to cut it down to a better size, and so I can be more indepth with each novella. The novellas Accursed Eternity by Sarah ‘Pyroriffic’ Cawkwell and Sanctus by Darius Hinks are first, and in Part Two I will tackle the second half of the novel. So lets begin.
Accursed Eternity by Sarah Cawkwell
The legendary Daemonship Accursed Eternity has been sighted yet again. This ghostly ship has manifested countless times over the centuries, never stopping to appear for more than a few seconds before it vanishes into the aether again. Except this time. The ship has stopped. And no-one knows why. The Star Dragons and their partners in the Blood Swords are called upon to investigate the ancient vessel and discover the truth of this ghost ship, but as they plunge into the madness at the heart of the Accursed Eternity, they will discover just why it is named so, and the horror that lies within.
The story of Accursed Eternity is great, Sarah Cawkwell once mentioned this was a 40k horror story and I definitely agree. Space Marines don’t feel fear, but if they did this short story would have them screaming as they delve further and further into the Accursed Eternity. The twists and revelations near the end are brilliant, and really add to the feel of horror in the novella as the story proceeds to the conclusion, for the final dose of terror. It can be a bit confusing at times, but just read carefully and you’ll understand what happens.
The characters of the novella are nicely written. The protagonists of the novel are the faithful Chaplain Hetor Iakodos and Sergeant Korydon. Both of these characters show the different levels of the Accursed Eternity and each undertakes their own story, though Korydon is more central to the plot than Iakodos. I enjoyed the characterisation of Korydon but mainly it was the plot of the story that interested me, the characters were good but I do not feel they stood out, more they were enjoyable but not amazing, they lacked that spark that makes a character really stand out and make you want to see more of them.
The action of the novella is heart-pounding. The horror aspect carries over into the battles very well as the Star Dragons and Blood Swords fight through the depths of the Accursed Eternity, the enemies they face are definitively scary if imagined right, and the way they act is even scarier, and of course the battle scenes are coreographed well and add nicely to an already impressive novella.
The pacing of the novella is nicely spread out. Six parts over one hundred and eight pages make this an afternoon read, or over a few days if you feel like spreading it out even further. I never felt rushed by the novel, it builts up nicely adding to the tension until it explodes near the end and everything moves at a lightning pace, the fear that you would feel finally erupting and kicking the story to its conclusion.
The novella’s ending is chilling to say the least. Now I missed it at first but after re-reading it a few times, and asking the author herself about it, I finally understood the ending and had to suppress a shudder. To see what I saw, make sure to read the first and last pages of the novella carefully. If you pay enough attention, you’ll see it. And realise the horror of the Accursed Eternity.
For a spine-chilling story and a hellish conclusion I give Accursed Eternity a score of 7.6/10, this is definitely a story to read. Sarah has done it again, and done what could have been tacky and boring if done incorrectly. She has indeed written a scary 40k horror story.
Sanctus by Darius Hinks
The world of Ilissus is dying. Its people have fallen to the Ruinous Powers, its skies are clogged with corruption and soon it will die in the fires of Exterminatus. But there is still some time left. On its surface a secret mission is underway, the Relictors Chapter is here to recover an ancient artefact for a purpose only they know. With only hours to go before Ilissus is engulfed in fire the Relictors continue their secret hunt, but what secrets does Ilissus hold that a Navigator clan is so intent on its destruction? What do the Relictors seek? The secrets of Ilissus will be told, if there is anyone left alive to here them.
The story of Sanctus is a very interesting one. The mysteries of the Relictor’s mission, the van Tol clan’s desire to see Ilissus burn, and the presence of the Black Legion all pose many questions, that the novella answers and then some. An element present in Accursed Eternity plays a big role in Sanctus as well though it is less present in the story, but by the end exactly what is happening on Ilissus and aboard the Domitus is far clearer to the reader and puts much of the story in context. I enjoyed the format of the story, showing what happens in the story before going back to the beginning to tell the entire tale. And by the ending, you understand it all.
The characters of the story are engaging. Sergeant Halser of the Relictors is the first of the protagonists, his stubborn nature pushing him onwards through Ilissus’s rock wastes and further into the mystery of the planet’s corruption, and his desire to see his Chapter’s future was a nice element that complimented the nature of the story. Inquisitor Mortmain, the second protagonist, is stationed about the Domitus and through him we learn how events off-world proceed and learn more and more of the secret goings on that the Relictors are not privy too. Mortmain’s almost kindly nature is an interesting contrast from most Inquisitors, yet he does not hesitate to do what must be done.
The action in the novella is very well written. Its easy to picture the battles step-by-step as each of the protagonist’s moves are explained well, painting a vivid picture of bolter rounds crashing into rock and armourplate and blades slicing at each other. The battle scenes are nicely spaced, adding a sense of urgency nearer the end as events become more and more dire, the battles becoming bigger and more visceral as the story continues, until the final battles which are one of the highlights of the novella. My personal favourite is Mortmain’s battle, and his retinue before him. You’ll have to read the novella to see what I mean though.
The pacing of the novella is very good. Sanctus is the longest novella in the collection and yet has shorter chapters than the other novellas and is written across twenty chapters, some shorter than others. The story marched along at a good speed, similar to Accursed Eternity the tension and events built up through the story until exploding into action in the final few chapters, the sense of urgency and the threat present within the story making the final few chapters nail-biting as the truth of things start to become apparant.
The ending is perhaps even more chilling than Accursed Eternity. The ending of Sanctus is much easier to understand though and I got it on the first go, if you pay attention to what Librarian Comus says during the final three chapters you will understand what has just happened, and the horror will sink in. It links very nicely with another part of the story and I particularly enjoyed that link, it makes the ending so much more revealing and horrifying.
For an engaging story filled with mystery and a very memorable ending I give Sanctus a score of 7.8/10, just another reason to purchase Architect of Fate. I think this is Darius Hink’s first foray into 40k and if it is then he can definitely write some more, a very good job on Mr Hinks’s part.
And that is Part One of the review finished. Next will be Part Two, containing Endeavour of Will by Ben Counter and Fateweaver by John French, and will have my final score for Architect of Fate as a novel and my recommendation on it. Until then.
AVE DOMINUS NOX!