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Eroldren reviews Rob Sanders’ debut novel from Black Library, Redemption Corps, an Imperial Guard novel.
“Sidestepping away from the Guardsman norm Rob Sanders instead tackles their elite: Storm Troopers. However, certain aspects of the novel muddle down part of the reading experience.” – The Founding Fields
Being the first novel for Rob Sanders is no means his first published story for Black Library, in fact he’s already gotten out short stories here and there back in the Inferno! days before that magazine line shutdown. Although what those titles were yet still eludes me much to my knowledge. Nevertheless, he’s done much work for BL in more recent times since the 2010 publication of his book debut: Atlas Infernal – a Inquisitor Czevak novel, Legion of the Damned (Space Marine Battles), The Serpent Beneath novella and “The Iron Within” for the Horus Heresy and a number of other short stories for 40k.
In the past year I’ve become bit interested in the brutal lives of the Imperial Guardsmen from Gaunt’s Ghosts verses that of the Space Marines offer; the prospect of us human struggling for survival in the far grim dark future can just as well be enthralling as demigods. Considering that Redemption Corps here presented itself as a new venue of Guardsman action I took a shot at it.
Reader’s Notice: minor spoilers are in this review but nothing of substantial material that’ll ruin the story.
The Redemption Corps is a regiment of ultra-tough storm-troopers. Led by the legendary Captain Mortensen, the Redemption Corps and its Navy support divisions drift across the Kaligari Cradle from one warzone to another on brutal missions.
When the revered major comes to the attention of the deadly sorority of the Battle Sisters, he not only has to contend with an ork invasion, but these fearsome warrioress-fanatics too. Now, the regiment must fight for its survival whilst being trapped between the xenos and the dark fury of the Imperium
Before you begin reading the meat of the story you’ll notice immediately that each chapter starts off with scenes detailing matters in regards with the Sisters of Battle and namesake group. On my part whenever the flash-forward technique used either in television or print fiction, they have always felt drearisome, becoming rather more irritating than a suspenseful mood of foreboding danger by the time I finally reach the relevant plot point. While some may have no issue with this, others uneasy with this storytelling device like myself can read them sequentially out of context if it would seem prove more beneficial reading experience.
Story-wise, we’re set abroad the Imperial vessel Deliverance during warp transition, on its way to the next planet and battle engagement wherever the war effort requires them at. Major Zane Mortensen and his elite outfit however find themselves amidst a regiment’s uprising against their severe commanders and it’s up to the storm troopers to quell the matter. The drudging journey to achieve their mission objection is incredibly written. By itself, chapter one is utterly brilliant and forever gripping. And the following chapters that brought Koulick Krieg’s character into the picture and joining together with his new regiment I thought I was hooked from start to finish. However, over the course of the plot’s progression into the followup arcs I found myself quite bothered with juggled set of character perspectives.
All the side characters throughout the book outside of the Redemption Corps are written well-done and fit into their cast roles. On the other hand the group in question, aside from the two protagonists, do disrupt the flow of story immersion that Sanders crafted together. As said just before, primarily the story works between Major Mortensen and Cadet-Commissar Krieg. And naturally we’re able to see and understand their reasoning’s for what they do, background stories, character development, their strengths and flaws and thus we get ourselves interesting characters we can enjoy the ride with (or dislike). But the manner on how the remaining cast – supporting and minor – were introduced into the narrative is what really disconnected me from the book. Normally I’ve been able to recall and connect with these characters without effort such as Inquisitor Czevak and Klute’s retinue, Night Lords 10th Company, the Gaunt’s Ghosts etc. It seem like a organic interweaving should happen, however, here it wasn’t the case. Whenever a character was brought in a short background account about the newcomer is recalled, then they carryout their assigned tasks before they are inexplicably dropped from the picture. Sitting now in the back of the mind half-forgotten and only reappear momentarily whenever they’re need or mentioned. While there is one lady given hefty character showtime, she’s another one like the rest that didn’t want to click with me as with the leading two.
Without a doubt the endeavors tasked onto these harden men and women fulfilled the expectations for violence and hardship ensues; greenskin xenos are fought and slain; and the deadly sorority are quite cold. The conflicts sparked in the unfolding events in the Kaligari Cradle is a quite a unique place I would look forward to if any future improvement done for the namesake group in this newfound corner of the war-torn galaxy.
As a debut novel for Rob Sanders, Redemption Corps is a title I can recommend for those strongly familiar with the 40k setting and are seeking out new writing talent from Black Library’s pool of authors. On the other spectrum of things, this novel may prove either a unexpected surprise or simply distasteful for BL strangers. Even as it was a bumpy ride on my part to see it through this unique but somewhat flawed story it’s worth a read or two at the very least.
Overall Verdict: 7/10