Horus Heresy: Scars (Episode VI) by Chris Wraight – Review [Bane of Kings]

Scars_Chris_Wraight

Milo, aka “Bane of Kings” reviews the sixth instalment of the first serialised Horus Heresy novel, Scars, penned by Chris Wraight and published by Black Library.  This instalment sees the continuation of the adventures of the White Scars as now, halfway in through the book, the plot really continues to pick up its pace. Episode VI, like previous instalments – is available to buy exclusively from Black Library as an ebook.

“Another excellent instalment. There hasn’t been a weak outing yet in Scars, and Episode VI is no different. Chris Wraight is on excellent form here as we reach the halfway mark – with the promise of greater things to come.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

Of all the Legiones Astartes, the White Scars of Jaghatai Khan remain the most enigmatic and elusive. Born of a civilisation that prizes honour, speed and fearsome loyalty, their allegiance has yet remained unclear even as the galaxy is torn apart by Horus’s treachery, and both sides have apparently counted them among their potential allies in the war to come. But when the Alpha Legion launch an unexplained and simultaneous attack against the White Scars and Space Wolves, the Khan must decide once and for all whether he will stand with the Emperor or the Warmaster… or neither.

The exciting story continues in the sixth eBook episode of an all-new novel by Chris Wraight.

The last episode left off with us eagerly awaiting more – and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into Episode VI once it arrived on my Kindle Fire. We open with where we left off – the White Scars and the Alpha Legion in the Chondax Sector, and the Space Wolves having been forced to call for aid as they are attack from another Alpha Legion force, with the Khan currently choosing a side. Does he go with the Wolves or the Alpha Legion, or just his own? It’s clear by now that the storyline is well underway, and having reached the halfway mark – I was very eager to see whether this would give us a gamechanging event that would set the stage for the second half of the book. Whilst there may not be any mind-blowing revelations, there didn’t really need to be – the book moves along at a satisfying pace, delivering a consistently strong narrative and some perfectly timed breaks to switch from one character to the next.

Scars_Chris_WraightThere are several awesome scenes in this Episode however – highlights include the space battles, which really had me on the edge of my seat looking to find out more. There isn’t really much that I can cover without spoiling it, and besides – chances are, if you’re picking up each instalment by now I think this review will have little impact on whether you want to buy the next instalment anyway – as, Wrath of Iron aside – I’ve rarely seen negative critisism for Chris Wraight’s works and he’s really proving himself here as an exceptional author who is quite clearly one to watch – I know I say this pretty in pretty much every review, but my belief hasn’t changed – Wraight is among my Top 3 Black Library authors at the moment, Aaron Dembski-Bowden and Dan Abnett of course being the other two. The various plot threads in Scars that are evolving here really allow for an exciting read – and the best part is that we still have plenty of the episode left to go in order to find out what happens next, and the book remains as unpredictable as ever – despite focusing on characters that have been established in the wider lore of the Horus Heresy.

The only thing that’s stopping Scars from being completely unpredictable is the fact that fans of the tabletop game and the wider lore will no doubt be aware the eventual decision made by the White Scars, but because they have so little lore about them (I think this might just be one of their first novels dedicated to their Chapter – certainly their first Horus Heresy book) watching them being thrust into one problem after the next is fun to read about – and I’m loving how Wraight weaves the instalments together even if you will probably gain more enjoyment out of them as a collective whole as opposed to waiting for each issue. Nevertheless, if you’re one of the people who can’t wait for the end result, then you should find yourself satisfied by each Episode, with  the wait in-between being one problem that the instalment has had to endure.

The other problem that Scars has faced, and I stress that this is the only other problem that I’ve encountered, is that the White Scars lack any distinctive characters inside their ranks, a problem that Bellarius also had with the book in his review. There’s nobody (aside from the already established Khan) as memorable as the likes of Gavriel Loken, Nathaniel Garro or Argel Tal. The dramatis personae is simply too packed, especially when you consider that we have to deal with the Space Wolves as well – to really flesh out individual members of the cast.

But apart from that, Scars: Episode VI is a solid read, and continues the fine form that this book has been in since the start. Readers of the previous five Episodes won’t need this review to convince them to buy this one, but if you’re still unsure – then this is another strong read that comes with a strong recommendation.

VERDICT: 4/5

 

 

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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