The Horus Heresy: Scars Episode XII by Chris Wraight [Bane of Kings]

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Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews the last installment in the serialized Scars novel by Chris Wraight, Episode 12, published by Black Library as part of their New York Times Bestselling multi-authored series The Horus Heresy.

“Chris Wraight manages to bring Scars to a confident conclusion that sees this novel as another very strong addition to the Horus Heresy – easily on par with the likes of the likes of what Aaron Dembski-Bowden and Dan Abnett have put out in the past. This is excellent stuff, despite a few lingering problems.” ~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 twelfth and final eBook episode of an all-new novel by Chris Wraight.

And here it is, the finale. For people who have been following Scars like I have over the past 12 weeks it will come as a relief to know that it’s over at last. Don’t get me wrong, Scars is a good book – I just wish that the end would have been able to have come sooner than this, and even though it’s probably my fault for reading these installments around their release dates as opposed to waiting for the collective entries, I think easily the biggest problem of this novel is that it lacks the impact that it would have done if all parts were collected as a whole. The serialized format fits TV series perfectly, but alas – due to the complicated and heavily linked nature of Scars, it probably wasn’t the best starting point to sell readers on this format, which is a shame.

Horus_Scars_12I’m not going to go into too much detail with this Episode because I don’t want to risk spoiling the ending, but if you’ve followed the series thus so far then you’ll certainly be picking up this book regardless of whether I trash it or praise it in this review. Likewise, newcomers probably won’t want to jump in at Episode 12 just to find out if there is any significant developments in the Horus Heresy canon by the ending as well – because by this point it’ll be hard to follow and you’ll be more confused than anything.

However, Scars remains one of the best novels that this series has brought to the table. Chris Wraight’s Episode 12 manages to wrap up many threads in the overall narrative so far as well as provide a change in direction for the White Scars if any future novels in the Horus Heresy have them as their focus. Wraight has weaved a very creative and enthralling book that’s kept up its consistency over the previous episodes and he manages to deliver a satisfactory ending that won’t disappoint readers. The best thing about Episode XII, and indeed – the whole narrative, was the fleshing out of one of the legions with arguably the least material devoted to them. The White Scars are one of the few, if not the only Legion to have no novel devoted to them before, and now, twelve parts later we know a lot more about the legion and its cultures. Fans won’t be disappointed by this entry here, and I can imagine that when the people who have been waiting for the full release of this novel (Early 2014, I believe) – finally get to read it, the reaction will probably be largely positive.

Previously, I’ve talked about the problem being the lack of  a central character. Somebody to root for. This is a problem that stays with Scars throughout this episode, and whilst some characters ultimately don’t get enough development as a result of this, we do get to see a variety of White Scars in action over the course of this concluding chapter. Threads are wrapped up, and the White Scars are fleshed out in a way like never before. There’s a lot of action on display in Episode XII in particular as it draws everything to a close, and you’ll know from previous parts that Wraight has a strong and confident handle on battle scenes.

Scars XII is the concluding chapter in a novel that’s pulled off very well despite its flaws. Whilst I’ve deliberately avoided discussing plot details here at risk at spoilers, I can safely say that this will be a satisfying ending for people who have been sticking with the book this so far. Whilst I wasn’t too happy with the serialized format, I’m willing to give Black Library another chance – only my suggestion would be to make it so that they purposely build the book for the serialized format as this novel was clearly written with a full release in mind. That said though, what you’re getting is a very solid installment, and arguably one of the best Heresy novels so far that I’m sure will read even better as a collected Volume.

VERDICT FOR EPISODE XII: 4/5

VERDICT FOR SCARS4/5

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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