Atlas Infernal by Rob Sanders – Review by Lord of the Night
Lord of the Night reviews the stunning new Inquisitor Czevak novel, Atlas Infernal by Rob Sanders.
“From the Warp, to the Webway, and Terra herself, everyone is out to get Inquisitor Czevak. The Imperium wants him dead for what he has done, the Dark Gods want him dead for what he will do, and the Eldar want him dead for what he knows. But they have all made the same grave mistake. They have underestimated him.”
~The Founding Fields
It has been a while since I read an Inquisition novel. Its mostly been Space Marines hammering at xenos and traitors with bolter and blade, so it was good to get back to the dark(er) corners of 40k and see some of the unsung heroes. But Atlas Infernal is unlike any other Inquisition story, as others deal with the Puritans and the faithful, this story deals with the renegades, and we see them in a whole new light.
Bronislaw Czevak is a hunted man. The Eldar, the Imperium, the Dark Gods and their servants are all after his head, either immediately or after they torture him into revealing everything he has learned during his “guest stay” at the Black Library of Chaos. With knowledge that could shatter the Imperium, and damage the forces of Chaos quite badly, Czevak sets off to fight the forces of darkness. But with Ahriman, the Chosen of Tzeentch, hunting him down for his secrets, the Eldar Harlequinade stalking him for their mysterious motives, and the Puritans after his renegade head, Czevak will need every trick he has just to survive.
Atlas Infernal has proven to be a very good novel, and hopefully the beginning of a new series. Some have complained about the excessive description and if it were about another topic I might agree, however it isn’t describing the gothic architecture of the Imperium, nor the subtle movements of the Eldar. It describes Chaos, in vivid detail. This book has one of the best portrayals of Chaos I have read, it shows a wide spectrum of horror and madness as Czevak travels through the Eye and sees what the Warp can really do when it gets creative.
The characters in the novel, as with any Inquisition cast, come from a wide range of backgrounds. The element of renegades adds far more depth and we get characters like Saul Torqhuil, an Excommunicated Relictor Techmarine who plunders the worlds around the Eye to further the goal of the Relictors, to fight Chaos with Chaos. Epiphani Mallerstang the childish, and fantastically dressed Warp-seer who acts as a pseudo-navigator, and a bratty child, and her childhood friend Hessian, a Daemonhost who gives the team a powerhouse and some cool one-liners. Raimus Klute, the seasoned Inquisitor whose weariness of the renegade life shows us how the duties of an Inquisitor can weigh on those who carry them out, and Torres the captain of the Malescaythe, a rogue trader whose pragmatism is utterly at odds with Czevak’s recklessness.
But of course there is Czevak himself. A spontaneous, realistic yet reckless, daring and intelligent man who shows an amazing mind with his unorthodox solutions to the problems that he usually causes or brings down upon the crew of the Malescaythe. His goals and motivations are a driving force for him through the novel as he matches minds against the Chosen of Tzeentch, Ahriman. The enemy is not neglected and we are given the first portrayal of Ahriman post-heresy. A god in genesis, Ahriman is a scary character, able to be calm no matter what the situation and whose desire for knowledge is boundless.
The action scenes in the novel are not as numerous as most, considering this is an Inquisition novel and unlike the Astartes they don’t solve every problem by shooting it. But the scenes that are here are fantastic, the Rubric Marines of the enemy are given another appearance and we only learn to respect them more, some frightening abilities not yet seen and their master’s sorcerous power always makes for a good battle. And Czevak and crew do not disappoint with some very good fights, particularly from Torqhuil and Hessian, that keep you glued to the page.
The pacing of the novel is very good. Rob Sanders keeps the detective element going through the book, and with plenty of suspenseful moments you will want to keep reading through every page. The book can seem slow at a few parts but these are few and the book will keep you riveted through the entire reading.
Atlas Infernal‘s ending is a joy to read, and Czevak’s very last line is epic and just shouts potential, potential for a new series of adventures, which I sincerely hope is something that Rob Sanders is considering.
I give Atlas Infernal an 8.5/10 for an enthralling story, a great cast of characters, some really funny moments and one-liners, and an epic ending that would be perfect as a movie epilogue.
Should you buy this book? If you are a fan of the Inquisition then yes. This is one of the better novels about the Ordos, but its also a great 40k novel and I would say its one you should definitely try.