Captain Kor'sarro Khan of the White Scars is petitioned by his Chapter Master to hunt down and destroy the daemon prince Voldorius, a warleader of the renegade Alpha Legion, thus ending his reign of terror across the stars. Hunting the beast doggedly for over a decade, Kor'sarro finally brings Voldorius to battle on Quintus, a world that has totally given itself over to the Alpha Legion. Together with their Raven Guard allies, the White Scars must fight an entire planet if they are to slay the daemon prince.
The latest in the Space Marine battle series from the Black Library sees the White Scar join forces with the Raven Guard in the pursuit of the Alpha Legion and the Daemon Prince Voldorius!
The course of the book and the background on the White Scars makes a nice change from the normal fluff and the established chapters we see. The fluff hints at more to come and gives us an insight in to Games Workshops very own Mongols in space. The chapter is well portrayed and the ideology they follow certainly comes to the fore in the main, however as with all Space Marines they are after all Space Marines. So with that in mind there is the inevitable Cookie cutter characters, the silly duels and the headlong charges, but then again why do we buy novels and stories about Space Marines if not for these things!
The book initially sets out with a nice piece setting the scene and the background to the White Scars eternal hunt that really sets it up as a story and shows that often marines do things for their own reason rather than at the beck and call of the high lords. This scene setting opens up the first part of the novel which features just the White Scars pursuing Voldorius and the Alpha legion. The novel concentrates initially on the pursuit and how the Scars use their forces to pursue and gather information and evidence, ultimately culminating in the much hoped for battle.
Later after the novel follows the clues and looks in to the resources the marines use to allow them to trace their nemesis we meet the Raven Guard who are ever elusive in the novel, the information we find on them and their chapter isn’t unknown but certainly takes a slightly different turn, oddly though much of it is revealed to us by the White Scars rather than by the Raven Guard themselves!
Once the two chapters join forces there is much suspicion amongst them but they join forces to pursue a common goal, one which the Raven Guards own agenda seems at times like it may endanger. The Raven Guard also reveal how they are willing to use local resources and normal humans to help achieve their goal, something that is rarer in other Black Library fiction. This plays out to show another facet of the book and shows how normal people are coerced or forced in to siding with the forces of chaos, something that is often left from the core of other stories. The way this and the ancient weapon/prisoner are dealt with is a nice departure from the normal flow of a Space Marine novel and helps break up the story.
I don’t want to give too much way with this but it’s obvious what will happen and it’s clear that the Marines will triumph right from the start, the difference is that not everything is as it should be. The characters aren’t as great as they should be, Shryke for instance is far from impressive as a character, his presence is under whelming but his combat prowess is undoubted, the same could be said of the White Scars leaders and officers. If anything the two most substantial characters in the novel are Voldorius and the Equerry once she is selected. That to me is a worrying decision to make these characters so important in a Space Marine novel.
As for the writing of the book there is an odd pace to the book, one that seems steady for the most part but at the right moments picks up speed and your reading pages at break neck speed. To me this is an excellent way of using the prose to show the sedate pace of the Scars when they are at rest but when in battle the break neck speed in which the writing flows illustrates the thirst for battle they experience and the thrill of the hunt. On the reverse of that when dealing with the Raven Guard Andy Hoare uses rather vague language and often doesn’t nail a point down, this helps with the painting of the Raven Guard as an elusive and secretive chapter. Finally when dealing with the Chaos aspect of the book it’s much more savage prose and plainer in its language for the most part. This mixing of the various styles and the descriptive language really helps paint more of a picture of the chapters in the novel then the actual characters manage to do.
This exciting mixture of styles and prose really makes what would have almost being a substandard novel in to a good solid read for me, certainly not one to miss from the collection, mind you would you miss one from the series? I know I wouldn’t just because it is a series! Overall a good novel and one with some nice touches to paint the pictures, such as the styles of writing, but unfortunately the characters left me slightly underwhelmed. On the reverse side it was nice to have two lesser written about but still well known chapters appear in a novel, that combined with some of the action in the book makes this a solid 4 stars for me and saves it from the 3 star rating it would otherwise have received.
Hunt for Voldorius - Andy Hoare
softback, 416pp • ISBN 9781844165131