Horus Heresy: Scars (Episodes 2-4) by Chris Wraight – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo, aka “Bane of Kings” shares his thoughts on Episodes 2-4 of Scars, the latest Horus Heresy novel to be serialised from Black Library, written by Chris Wraight.
“An excellent continuation of what is shaping up to be one of the best Horus Heresy books in a while, even if it doesn’t quite fit the serialized format.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
It’s always good to be reading more Black Library, particularly more Horus Heresy – even if I’ve been falling off the bandwagon a bit. I’m still yet to read Betrayer and Mark of Calth after all. However, Chris Wraight’s Scars continues to be one of the best Horus Heresy novels that I’ve read in a while, with its awesome sequences really making the book worth reading. I sense when this is concluded it will be certainly rank in the Top 10, if not the Top 5 novels of the series so far – which is a tremendous success for Chris Wraight’s first full novel in this setting, as he focuses on a legion that has seen little love in this period, from not just the series itself, but also established canon.
Jaghatai Khan and his White Scars Legion must choose – the Emperor or Horus?
Fresh from their conquest of Chondax and the discovery of Horus’s rebellion, Jaghatai Khan’s warriors stand divided. Long considered one of the less trustworthy Legions, many of the White Scars claim to owe their loyalty exclusively to Terra, and others still to the Warmaster and his warrior lodges. But when a distress call from Leman Russ of the Space Wolves brings the wrath of the Alpha Legion to Chondax, the Khan’s hand is forced and the decision must be made – in the great war for the Imperium, will he side with the Emperor or Horus?
The setting up of Scars is pretty much finished off in Episode 2 allowing us to get to the real meat of the plot in Episodes 3 and 4. Episode 2 opens with Ilya Ravallion, who apparently showed up in Brotherhood of the Storm, something that I’m yet to read – and is now an advisor for the Khan himself. Episode 2 is focused on her organising the fleet of the White Scars as they continue to purge the Chondax Sector from Orks at the bequest of Horus Lupercal, as well as keeping the reader up to date on those who we first met in Episode 1. The White Scars are starting to get fleshed out more and more as a legion and I hope that like Wraight’s Space Wolf series, he also gets to write some White Scars at one point in the WH40K setting, as he’s shown a great understanding of the legion and what makes it tick here – their mystery, the fact that they’re not really well known to the rest of the Imperium of Man, with a rather fun inspiration behind their methods of war allowing for a very engaging read.
Episode 3 sees much of the focus on the Space Wolves, and given Wraight’s experience with the legion from Battle of the Fang, it’s no surprise that they pop up here. As this book is set after the scouring of Prospero, it’s very interesting to see how things play out as a result of this, and how the Wolves are affected – the consequences of this invasion are explored in further detail in Episode 4 during a boarding invasion of an Alpha Legion ship. Even though the primary focus wasn’t so much on the White Scars, Chris Wraight manages to excel here with a wonderfully written sequence that really explores just how little other legions know about the Alpha Legion.
The action, as we’ve seen from Wraight’s work before, is written well and intense. Every page was gripping and I sped through the serialised instalments as quickly as I could, eagerly awaiting the next Episode. Scars’ biggest issue so far is its problems with its formatting, for the book itself really isn’t suited to serialised instalments – but that doesn’t put me off from looking forward to the next one. Scars has the potential to be one of the greatest Horus Heresy books yet when read as a collective whole, so if I were you I’d probably wait and get a better experience. However, if you prefer weekly instalments or just don’t want to wait, then you’ll find the book really enjoyable. I love the way that it’s playing out so far and now that we’ve had the first four (out of twelve) episodes, we’re getting to the real plot development here.
Wraight is using the experience that he has gained from Blood of Asaheim, Battle of the Fang, Wrath of Iron and numerous short stories to craft an enthralling tale that assures his growing place as one of the A-List writers in the Black Library Universe. Dan Abnett, Aaron Dembski-Bowden & Graham McNeill had better watch their backs – Chris Wraight seriously is this good.