The Unkindness of Ravens by George Mann – Limited Edition Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the latest in Black Library’s Limited Edition Novella collection, The Unkindness of Ravens by the newly arrived author George Mann.
“Corax’s bones! This is the Raven Guard at their finest, killing the enemy before they even see their faces.” – The Founding Fields
It has been a while since my last review, and what better way to start a new set of them than with a limited novella. The Unkindness of Ravens is my first exposure to George Mann, and one of the few real Raven Guard stories out there, and I was not disappointed with what I read.
The Raven Guard are the ghosts of the Space Marines, striking from the shadows and taking an enemy’s life before he even realises death is upon him. But the battle for Fortane’s World will require all their stealth skills and more than a little luck to achieve victory, as the Brazen Minotaurs batter themselves against the walls of the Death Guard’s redoubt the Sons of Corax must move through the shadows and prevent a full scale invasion of the worlds at their backs. It is a suicide mission for all present, and the only hope of victory lies in the Raven Guard and Brazen Minotaurs working together.
The story in TUoR is very enjoyable. While not featuring any story elements that make the story stand out amongst all others it is still a good tale. The Raven Guard’s trek to the Death Guard bastion, the Brazen Minotaurs standing against the hordes of Nurgle and the Death Guard Legion, and the background of the Sargassion Reach Invasion heightens the importance of the Raven Guard’s mission and the story’s importance overall. TUoR also links in nicely with Helion Rain and Labyrinth of Sorrows, both stories being referenced greatly to make the relationship between both the Raven Guard and Brazen Minotaurs, and Captains Koryn and Daed, though some knowledge of those two stories is necessary to fully understand the references.
The characters are fascinating on both sides. Captains Koryn and Daed are both shining, or ghostly, examples of their chapter’s beliefs and tactics. Daed’s straightforward nature and Koryn’s unflinching belief in the stealth tactics of his chapter are a source of tension between the two, though their quasi-friendship overrides that and keeps the story going. Other characters take a more secondary role like the enigmatic Chaplain Cordae and the steadfast Sergeant Grayvus and while distinguishing, they do not play a big role in the story’s events.
The actions cenes in TUoR are fantastic. The Raven Guard are really at their finest, fighting like ghosts of the battlefield. Ambush tactics, stealth kills, even assassination and misdirection, all the tools of the Raven Guard are on display as they battle against the Death Guard. The Brazen Minotaurs do not disappoint either, fighting with the bull-headed stubborness their chapter is famed for, and battling against the myriad forces of Nurgle that have come to Fortane’s World. The scenes are very nicely described and its easy to picture the Raven Guard and Brazen Minotaurs in battle, both of their fighting styles at their best.
The pacing of the story is nicely done, at 125 pages worth of story the pace is enjoyable and easy to read. The environments of the story are vividly described, but not so much that it becomes overloading, and paints a clear picture of Fortane’s World and the battlefields of both chapters.
My favourite quote of the novel is a tricky one, but it has to be this for both the quote and the scene that goes with it, and how that scene is resolved.
“So, the Raven Guard are not, after all, impervious to ambush.”
The end of the story is nicely done, hinting but not confirming the fate of one particular character but just enough of a hint that his survival is more likely than his death. And with the knowledge that the battle for Fortane’s World might be won, but the war for the Sargassion Reach is far from over and that the Death Guard are far from beaten tantalizingly sets up the prospect of future stories.
For an enjoyable story and a brilliant portrayal of the Raven Guard and their chapter beliefs and battle style I give The Unkindness of Ravens a score of 8.1/10, this is definitely a great start for George Mann in Black Library and for his Raven Guard. After reading this its my hope that George Mann will take up the reins of the Raven Guard and do for them what Nick Kyme did for the Salamanders and what ADB did for the Night Lords, give them their own series and make us love them.
That’s it for this review. I won’t say whether or not you should buy The Unkindness of Ravens as its no longer available. My next review will be for Chris Wraight’s Wrath of Iron, the 10th Space Marines Battles book. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!