Lord of the Night reviews the earth-shattering conclusion to the Tome of Fire trilogy, Nocturne by Nick Kyme, author of Salamander, Firedrake and the Space Marines Battles novel Fall of Damnos.
“The fires of war have erupted across Nocturne, and the anvil beckons to all her children. Loyalist and Traitor both will be tested against the cold metal of the anvil, and against it, they will be broken and cast aside or reforged in the Circle of Fire, according to Vulkan’s will.”
~The Founding Fields
Its been a hell of a ride but the Tome of Fire trilogy has ended, and what an ending it was! Salamander was the novel that got me interested in the Sons of Vulkan, Firedrake was the novel that got me hooked, and Nocturne was the book that sealed me as a Fireborn (When I’m not a Chaos God that is). I may not have read Nocturne as fast as I would have liked, but that didn’t make it any less epic.
The Salamanders are against the anvil. With the Librarian Dak’ir in chains, subject to scrutiny over an ancient prophecy that names him savior or destroyer of Nocturne and his Chapter, the Salamanders are divided over his fate. If he is a doom he must be destroyed for the greater good of Nocturne, but… what if he is their salvation through fire? And in the dark depths of space Brother Tsu’gan, believed dead by his Chapter, fights to survive on-board the Hell-Stalker, home to the traitorous Dragon Warriors. He will be tested like never before, all the while the malicious sorcerer Nihilan’s plans to bring about the death of his world are coming to fruition.
The Salamanders’s darkest hour is upon them. Their enemies are legion and possess something that could destroy them forever. But the Salamanders, and all of Mt Deathfire’s sons, are Fireborn, and if they are to die, they will die in the fires of battle in the living hell that is Nocturne! And in this cauldron of war, the future of a chapter and a warband will be decided.
The characters in this novel come to a stunning head as their stories reach the conclusion of their arc. Dak’ir and Tsu’gan take the center stage as always as Dak’ir’s destiny as the Ferro Ignis comes to a blazing crescendo, and Tsu’gan’s trials finally reach their end. But we get plenty of other point of views through the story, and entirely new ones like Val’in the aspirant through whom we see the trials that all Fireborn must go through to become a Brother; Forgemaster Argos who gives us a look at the inner workings of one of Nocturne’s most dangerous weapons; Vel’cona the and even some returning older characters like Chaplain Elysius, Librarian Pyriel and Sergeant Praetor.
The enemies are not lacking with characters who keep us fascinated with the battle. Sorcerer Nihilan is the central enemy, still wishing for nothing more then revenge, but the traitor Astartes may harbour another desire, something far worse than revenge. His Glaive warriors, Ramlek and Ekrine return, with new members Thrak’n and Nor’hak, and alongside them the Archon An’scur, and many wicked Dark Eldar at his back. The traitor Marines Malevolent return as well, with the mystery of why they are there? And just what has happened to them that they refuse to speak of?
The action of the novel is fantastic. Nocturne is a living hell, as its inhabitants so eloquently put it, and in its cauldron many battles are fought, and Nocturne does not sit them out. Magma flows, vicious scaled monsters, earthquakes and dust clouds clutter the battles, adding a new flavour to the traditional Astartes battles. After all, how often does a homeworld rally to the aid of its denizens? The diverse forces under Nihilan’s command, Kroot, Dark Eldar, Dragon Warriors and hordes of cultists makes for diverse battle, but of course we have plenty of fire from the Salamanders. Even void-warfare from the Lord of the Burning Skies Dac’tyr that is a nice contrast to the siege and running battles on the surface, and the Firedrakes finally take to battle in what all 1st Companies are known for, Terminator armour.
The pacing of the novel is great. Kyme keeps the story going for different characters, the atmosphere shifting for each one as the story shifts from Librarian, to warrior, to Apothecary, to Chaplain and to Traitor. The story never slows down as new revelations and old legacies are brought to the surface. And of course the chapters are nicely divided into two segments, each segment of an appropriate length that is easy to read and engrossing at the same time.
The ending is mind-boggling, the battle has ended, and all who fought have been broken or reforged by Vulkan’s will. But the price is high, many have fought their final battle, but new generations will rise to take the place of these heroes, and through this, the Circle of Fire never ends, but continues onwards, unending and undying. And the final cliffhanger is the best I have ever read, even the cliffhanger of Defenders of Ulthuan cannot compare to this one. The Tome of Fire is over, but the Circle of Fire has not even begun.
I give Nocturne a 9.4/10 for a fantastic story, beautiful character arcs that have come to a close, and for some it has only just begun. On a separate note I want to give a secondary score to the cliffhangar of the story, the epilogue on its own. A full 10/10 is what this epilogue deserves and nothing less, it was a fantastic way to end the series and set the stage for what comes next.
Should you buy this book? If your a Salamanders fan then you’ve already made up your mind on that one, you don’t need me telling you what to do. But for general fans who could use a reference the answer is Hell YES! This is a must-read end to a must-read series. I’ve never really felt as strongly for Loyalist marines as I have Chaos Marines, but the Salamanders series has changed that. This is definitely something that all Black Library fans should read.
“Nick Kyme is the Fireborn of authors!”
~The Founding Fields
Well that’s it for this review. My only remaining brand new BL novel is The Outcast Dead, but i’m wrestling with the decision to put it aside for now and pick up Gaunt’s Ghosts which I have seriously neglected, fething hell I never even finished Honour Guard! But until then,
AVE DOMINUS NOX! (AND INTO THE FIRES OF BATTLE, UNTO THE ANVIL OF WAR!)