Bane of Kings reviews Battle of the Fang, a novel in the multi-author Space Marine Battles series written by Chris Wraight, focusing on a conflict between the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons, published by Black Library.
“An epic encounter between old rivals written spectacularly by Chris Wraight, one of the best Space Marine Battles novels yet.” ~The Founding Fields
Note: This is an advanced review for Black Library. This book will not be published until June 2011.
I’m assuming all Black Library fans will have heard of Chris Wraight by now, author of the popular Sword of Justice and Sword of Vengeance Warhammer Fantasy novels, as well as the fantastic short story Rebirth, in the Age of Darkness anthology. And now he’s back, with the third novel to feature Space Wolves versus A Thousand Sons – and as a matter of fact, it’s also his first 40k novel. So, let’s see how this turns out, shall we?
The setting is the 32nd Millennium, a thousand years after the Horus Heresy that tore the Imperium apart. Now, the Scouring is at last over and the Imperium has returned to the height of its post-Great Crusade power. When the Space Wolves track Magnus the Red to the planet of Gangava Prime, the sons of Russ dispatch the majority of their arsenal to assault the Daemon Primarch.
However, when the Great Wolf Harek Ironhelm arrives at Gangava Prime, the Primarch of the Thousand Sons and his forces are elsewhere, invading Fenris, the homeworld of the Wolves itself. Will the Space Wolves be able to hold out long enough until the rest of their chapter comes to aid them? Or will Magnus the Red get revenge for the sacking of Prospero?
Now then, this is our second Space Marine Battles novel with Chaos as the main enemies, and this time, they’re the Thousand Sons, who are now more twisted and more out for revenge since their homeworld was burnt by the Vlka Fenryka.
Oh yes, they’re still called that, it wasn’t just a one-off thing by Dan Abnett, oh no. Chris Wraight has continued his Portrayal of the wolves into this novel, and doesn’t make them the way that everybody has viewed them in the past, humorous and insane Vikings in space.
Like all space marine battle novels, you know what’s going to happen before you read it, unless you’re completely new to the world of Black Library, and this kind of robs the story of its suspense. And I think that’s the vital flaw in these books, and I for one reckon that Fall of Damnos, would have been a lot better if we hadn’t known what was coming next.
The same could be said about all of these, but especially in my opinion, Fall of Damnos.
Right, moving on, in Battle for the Fang, there isn’t just one main hero, one main good guy who we follow the whole novel through. Sure, we follow everyone through the story, but believe me, there’s a lot of characters present. Of course, you get the almighty Bjorn the Fell-Handed, the Dreadnought that’s been around since before the Horus Heresy, of course you get the Great Wolf Harek Ironhelm.
But you get more characters than even these two, and you’re given insights to a few Blood Claws, the humans native to Fenris, Rune Priests, Wolf Priests, the Jarl (For all those who don’t speak Vlka Fenryka, Jarl means a Wolf Lord) in charge of defending the Fang, and you get the picture. There’s a heck of a lot of these guys.
And even then, there’s more. After all, where would Battle of the Fang be without giving you the Point of view of the invaders, the Thousand Sons? Did you just think that you’d get a whole novel with only points of views from the Space Wolves?
There’s a mix of action all the way through, and Chris Wraight does his job to keep it varied by giving us different points of views, and also giving us different places where the action takes place. We’re given views of the wars on both Gangava and Fenris, which helps break the story up and add suspense, even though we know what happens at the end. After all, other than the characters that we know who are going to survive, we don’t know what’s going to happen to the rest. That makes reading about Freija’s, Redpelt’s and Helfist’s fates all the more interesting.
Also, let me get this clear to you, you won’t want to grow too attached to one character, because the next thing that you know, they may be dead. Nobody is safe in this epic adventure that will keep you turning pages until you reach the end.
And, in one final point, if you found the blurb and the title of Prospero Burns to be disappointing, then let me assure you, Battle of the Fang makes up for it, and we’re not bogged down by various flashbacks that we were in Prospero Burns.
In conclusion, this was a thoroughly enjoyable novel with will developed characters (Although perhaps a bit too many), and one that I can see sticking on my shelf for a long time.
Rating: A Solid 4/5