Horus Heresy: Scars (Episode VII) by Chris Wraight – Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews Episode VII of Scars, the seventh part out of twelve in the latest serialised Horus Heresy novel from Black Library, written by Chris Wraight. This continues the tales of the White Scars legion and if you’re reading this book as a collective format, then you’ll want to pick it up to see where it goes. But Episode VII is far from the best jumping on point for readers who have missed out on the previous 6.
“An excellent continuation of events from previous outings, Scars is still marred by the same problems that let down its predecessors.” ~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 seventh eBook episode of an all-new novel by Chris Wraight.
It’s difficult to write a review for anything that’s beyond the halfway mark in an ongoing series without starting to sound repetitive, and I think that I’m having very much the same problems with Chris Wraight’s Scars. Aside from just retelling the plot, what can I say that hasn’t been said already? But I’m going to give it my best shot anyway.
Basically, this episode delves more into the background and legion of the White Scars than before. We get to understand their nature, yet an element of mystery is still kept hidden throughout the entire book. The curtains aren’t fully revealed on the White Scars yet we do know more about them than we did going into this with Episode 1. Chris Wraight’s Scars has really moved forward plotwise over the course of these seven episodes, as Wraight manages to split the attention once more between the many plot threads that this novel has created seemingly with ease. A particular highlight for me in Episode 7, and probably the whole book thus far is probably the flashback to Ullanor where we get to see multiple Primarchs in the same room, Sanguinius, Mortarion, Fulgrim and the Khan. I loved how Wraight managed to handle the Primarchs themselves with confidence, yet for all that focus before the Heresy, we still don’t really get any character that distinguishes him or her as the Loken or Tarvitz of the book – a rootable, likable and memorable lead character. There are simply just too many threads unfolding here with a packed dramatis personae and whilst this book is pretty clever at what it does and I’m sure will read much better as a collective format than as an individual, and I really don’t think that this book was probably the best to launch a possible trend to serialised books in the future.
Don’t get me wrong though, Scars is a gripping and captivating book, and when collected will probably be one of the better ones from the Horus Heresy series to date. Chris Wraight brings experience and quality writing to the table, and he’s certainly up there with the likes of Dan Abnett and Aaron Dembski-Bowden when it comes to writing quality Horus Heresy fiction. I really hope he can dethrone McNeill from the Top 3 of Black Library’s authors, or at least make it a Top 4 – because from what I’ve seen, Wraight can put out better work than McNeill has managed to produce so far, with the exception of possibly A Thousand Sons or Priests of Mars.
The episode itself still manages to remain unpredictable and entertaining. Whilst previous Horus Heresy novels you would have a certain idea as to what the end result would be, Scars is shrouded in mystery, and the only people who knows its conclusion will be the leading people at Black Library and Chris Wraight himself. Episode 7, although suffering from problems that marred its previous outings, continues its consistent form and we haven’t had a bad episode in terms of quality wise yet. Scars is certainly well worth checking out if you haven’t given it a try already as a serialised book, but if you’ve managed to hold off this long it’s probably better waiting for the collective edition.