Monday, June 28, 2010

Legends of the Space Marines - Book Review

Legends of the Space Marines - Edited by Christian Dunn

Space Marines and their evil counterparts, the Traitor Marines, epitomise the wartorn Warhammer 40,000 universe. This short story collection focuses entirely on these super human warriors, telling high-action tales of heroism and savagery. Combining the talents of Black Library favourite authors such as Mike Lee and Nick Kyme with hot new talent, this collection is truly not to be missed!


Contents
Hell Night by Nick Kyme
Cover of Darkness by Mitchel Scanlon
The Relic by Jonathan Green
Twelve Wolves by Ben Counter
The Returned by James Swallow
Consequences by Graham McNeill
The Last Detail by Paul Kearney
The Trial of the Mantis Warriors by C.S. Goto
Orphans of the Kraken by Richard Williams
At Gaius Point by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

CAUTION MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!


As a whole this book is an excellent compilation, the only downside to it I’m my mind is that many (roughly half) of the stories are tie-ins to other novel series in the Black Library collection. Mind you with that in mind I still think for original ideas this is one of the best compilations of marine stories put out so far.

Hell Night by Nick Kyme
The first story in the book is a tie-in to the Salamanders series of novels. This is one of Nicks great short stories that could really have filled a full novel. It helps expand the series and completes some parts. All in all its punchy and well written, I can’t really fault it but then I think I am a bit biased in that respect. Over all a good start to the book.

Cover of Darkness by Mitchel Scanlon
The second story revolves around the white scars, well written but to my mind didn’t have the speed and punch I would have expected in a story about a lightning fast chapter, the references to their past were good but weren’t played up well enough, however as this is linked to the forthcoming Hunt for Voldorius novel in the space marine battles series I can only hope that does it to a greater degree. Still interesting concept and the way the marines we’re portrayed as humorous helped break that colder then ice front they appear to have.

The Relic by Jonathan Green
This was a black Templars based story, with this one I can’t say too much without giving the plot away other than its set during the Armageddon campaigns, a startling discovery and an awesome premise to the story really pull this together and makes it a short story worthy of reading. Well written if slightly slow in places but the threads running through it hold it together well.

Twelve Wolves by Ben Counter
As I'm sure you can guess this one is a space wolves story, it’s a story that has quite cleverly being written as someone reciting a story that’s being told to tell a story of a story being told! Very clever I think. It’s a great source of information on the mentality and psyche of the space wolves and opens up some interesting ideas and concepts on characters and squads for game use. An excellent piece of background that really should have been in the last space wolves codex it’s that good.

The Returned by James Swallow
A doom eagles based story that is tied in to the Uriel Ventris/Honsu twin story arcs and really helps answers some what happens next questions! It is another tie-in yes but it’s a good one. I can’t really say more again without blowing the plot but it does show the dilemmas many chapters and marines face but it explores them quite well for such a short story. Again well worth a read and helps tie up some loose ends.

Consequences by Graham McNeill
Another tie in this time from the ultramarines perspective, this is the missing section of the Uriel Ventris novels that deals with his trial, imp not going to ruin anything by saying he’s guilty as its obvious from the books. This deals with the humanity and consequences of the decisions taken both at the event and in the trial. A rather human piece by marine standards but definitely worth it to answer some of the questions thrown up in the Uriel series.

The Last Detail by Paul Kearney
A story from the tales of the Dark Hunters Chapter, one I can see we will see a lot more of upcoming novels. An interesting story with echoes of the ending of the original Deathwing novel but with a more interesting ending (and a lot shorter). This is another story that shows some of the weaknesses of marines but helps ground them with humanity and also helps show that every day humans are not always as weak willed as the marines believe. A tad slow with regards to action and pace but a well written story nonetheless.

The Trial of the Mantis Warriors by C.S. Goto
The Trail of the Mantis Warriors pretty much does exactly what is says on the tin, can’t really expand on that any further! Written after the Badab war this deals with the chapters trial and punishment. Quite rightly written by C.S. Goto, the only person to use the Mantis Warriors in his novels (the Deathwatch novels) it is well written and helps illustrate the problems that occur when there are shades of grey thrown in to the politics of the 40k world. All I can hope is that after this and after the Deathwatch novels there are some more Mantis Warrior stories or novels planned.

Orphans of the Kraken by Richard Williams
A short story about the Scythes of the emperor or Emperors Scythes, depending on who you speak to, and their work to rebuild their chapter after the disastrous that destroyed them fighting the Tyranids. I don’t want to give much away but all I can say is the idea of Salvation squads sounds awesome and fluff wise this is without doubt one of the best (either this or Relic) in the book and if you can’t buy the book I recommend either going to the library or borrowing it from a friend just for those two stories.

At Gaius Point by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
This is an odd story about the Flesh tearers and their curse, I can’t say too much but it’s an odd and dark story starring both the Flesh Tearers and the Soriatis. Worth a read but definitely an odd one, also explains why the name Gaius Point has been cropping up in other novels and fluff recently (especially the Blood Angels and Successor fluff). A good read and well paced. Just very odd and not what I expected, but still good.

All in all one of the best compilations to date and most definitely a full 5 out 5, go on get out there and buy it.



Availible from:
http://www.blacklibrary.com/
Legends of the Space Marines - Edited by Christian Dunn
softback, 544pp • ISBN 9781844165612

1 comment:

Jason said...

5 out of 5 is a bit generous, I think.

I take issue most with your review of the Salamanders story. I met Nick Kyme at Games Day last year, and I bought (and had him sign) the Salamanders novel. I liked him a lot. I really wanted to like his book.

Sadly, I didn't care for the book, or the short story. I think not knowing both of them would hurt a reader, as both the story and novel feed into each other. His stuff just seems to plod along.

I liked "The Last Detail" a lot, for the same reasons you outlined.

The Scythes story was solid, too, if not just a bit squishy!

The rest was fine. I am happy to spend my time in the 40K Universe almost always, so I can't say that I disliked a whole lot, but they didn't sing in any special way.

Nicely done review!

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