Stormseer by David Annandale – Novella Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, covers the ePremiere of David Annandale’s Warhammer 40,000 novella, Stormseer, focusing on the White Scars Chapter and their conflict in the Octavius System between Orks and Eldar , published by Black Library as part of their multi-authored Space Marine Battles series.
“David Annandale really impresses with his take on the White Scars in this short novella. It moves along quickly and is a great example of how to write Warhammer 40,000 novels – action packed, swift and entertaining. David Annandale is certainly an author to watch out for.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
The green-skinned hordes of the Overfiend of the Octavius system have long been a thorn in the Imperium’s side – and now, with human worlds caught in the crossfire between the orks and eldar, that thorn will be removed. Temur Khan and his brotherhood descend upon Lepidus Prime to cleanse it of the green taint. The swift and brutal hammer to the Imperial Guard’s anvil, the White Scars strike hard and fast – but when the orks reveal a super-weapon, it may take more than just power to win the day?
The White Scars Chapter have been one of the many founding Space Marine Chapters that haven’t seen much attention up until this point from Black Library. They’ve had the odd appearance in novels such as The Hunt for Voldorius by Andy Hoare but the serialized Scars novel by Chris Wraight was very much the first novel to give the Legion/Chapter the exposure that they needed, delivering a powerful read that was one of the stronger entries in the Horus Heresy series. It seems that now we’ve had the White Scars developed a bit more in 30k, we get to see more attention given to the Sons of Khan and that is no bad thing especially when you consider the potential that they have on offer.
The novella itself compromises of eight chapters in length and as a result, proves to be a very quick read and it shouldn’t take you more than a day to breeze through this book. Whilst it may be a quick read – it does give the reader a sampling of what David Annandale’s work is like, so that if they enjoyed this book then the reader may be inclined to pick up another of Annandale’s novellas or even his full novel, The Death of Antagonis, which also takes place in the Space Marine Battles series, but focuses on the Black Dragons as opposed to the White Scars which get the spotlight here.
The biggest achievement of Stormseer is what David Annandale manages to get across given the small amount of wordcount available to him. Readers will get a true sense of the scale of the invasion unfolding here, but he manages to keep the action focused primarily on a company of White Scars, supported by an group of Imperial Guard “Iron Guard” from the planet Mordian. The decision to focus on a smaller group of characters rather than have several ongoing stories across the entire system works here, and for the best – with just eight chapters there wouldn’t be enough time to develop several different narrative arcs to the point where they were satisfying. Something else will also please fans is that Annandale doesn’t change established lore or canon to suit his own needs, instead respecting the Space Marines and the Orks alike. Often, and this is a mistake that even writers more experienced than Annadale will make, is to have a tendency to favour one faction over the other and as a result this will annoy readers who are fans of the ignored faction. However, Annandale doesn’t fall into this trap and will deliver a read that will satisfy White Scars, Orks and Eldar fans alike.
The action sequences are written well, which is a crucial element to have when you’re writing tie-in fiction to a game that has the tagline “There is Only War.” The tactics used by both sides aren’t incredibly stupid for the sake of plot conveniences, and Annandale makes each fight scene feel fresh and varied with his skilled writing ability. The book doesn’t feel like bolter porn, despite the fact that the book is part of the Space Marine Battles series – and the Novella really works as a result of this. The novella feels fresh and engaging rather than just a tired repeat of the ‘Fight 1 leads to Fight 2’ formula which is a welcome change.
In short, Stormseer is a a good, fun novella and a welcome addition to Black Library fiction, proving to be entertaining and well written. This book is a great way of checking out a new author to see if you like their writing style or not – but even if you are familiar with Annandale’s work I’d still recommend this. It’s a fast paced read and will be sped through quickly, but is very much worth your admission fee. Highly recommended.