Sunday, June 05, 2011

Victories of the Space Marines - Book Review

Victories of the Space Marines edited by Christian Dunn

From planet to planet, the enemies of mankind will stop at nothing to expand their dominion. Worlds are shattered, and their citizens face a desperate fight for survival. There is a hope – superhuman warriors serving the glory of the Emperor, standing proudly in defiance of inhuman foes. These metal-clad giants lay waste to the relentless hordes of xenos invaders and defend humanity against the insidious forces of Chaos. In the remains of their enemies, they stand triumphant.

They are the Space Marines. These are their victories.

A book of short stories is always a delight for a reader, especially when they're looking for something just to dip into when you have a free minute, however unfortunately in my mind Victories of the Space Marines just doesn’t deliver on its big promise. One or two of the stories appeal but for the most point you spend the book questioning who are the heroes and who are the victors, neither is clear all the time.

Ok so whilst it is a book full of good solid stories, it is also a book that has a whole selection of descent authors. However as mentioned my only real criticism is that it’s just not what it says on the tin! The next section contains spoilers and I apologise in advance but it helps illustrate my point:

Runes – space wolves
Space Wolves against Dark eldar, the marines are at the call of the mechanicus and there seems no clear victory here other then they survive, a nice smooth story but no substance and no real thread running through it.

The rewards of tolerance – renegades
A Corsairs story, both space marine and eldar, again no really victory but nice to see someone get what’s coming to them, but the question is :
is this a “chaos space marine book” or a Space Marine book?

Black dawn - warbringers
In Black Dawn the Warbringers live up to their name, the question is why? Why are they killing innocents, why are they taking on loyal forces and why is this a victory story? It’s a nice alternative story but it just doesn’t seem much of a victory to me!

The long games at carcharias – crimson consuls
Marines against Alpha legion, let’s say it opens up an interesting thread for the future and for other novels based around the ultramarine successors but the question is does an Alpha Legion victory still count?

Heart of rage – blood angels
A re-release of the Blood angels audio book and not a bad read all in all.

But dust in the wind – imperial fists
Fists against necrons and again good story but the term victory is questionable. The story is well written and enjoyable just doesn’t deliver again.

Exhumed - deathwatch
Deathwatch doing what they do best and delivering on every cliché about them, space marines in general and the inquisition. Worth it just for that but overall not a bad read at all.

Primary instinct – silver skulls
Against a mysterious enemy this time, I know who but I aren’t telling. Suffice to say should we ever see a new codex this could be an interesting twist on the army and would add a whole new aspect. Very good and surprisingly well written

Sacrifice – Grey knights
Where to begin, a good grey knights novel but suffice to say the theme of sacrifice is taken too far and in my mind makes any pretence of a victory a hollow one. Now I know that the GW universe is all about over the top and going too far but this makes it even less believable and I personally choose to ignore it as cannon and will be sticking to the other GK novels and codex fluff we have.

For me the point between victory and a devastating loss seem very blurred and I know I’m “judging a book by its cover” but if you see a book with a Grey knight on and called victories of the space marines then I would a) expect the marines to win and b) expect them to be imperial marines. Alas however that wasn’t the case and for me that linked with the half heartedness of the stories detracts from the writing and pulls the really good stories down.

Unfortunately for me this is only a two star and is good to have in a collection but personally I don’t rate it as highly as it could have done. If any of the authors should ever read this its nothing personally and all the writing was superb but the stories themselves just didn’t make me root for the marines or celebrate the end of the story. Sorry.

Available from:
Victories of the Space Marines edited by Christian Dunn

Softback, 416 pages • ISBN 9781849700429


Anonymous said...

I totally agree mate. I read this and even after you summarised each story I am struggling to remember reading them - they were so ... meh. Like you say - not exactly gripping 'victory' tales.

Millest said...

tell me about it! though Age of darkness on the other hand is a superb compilation, would highly recommend it even if its the only HH book you buy.

Anonymous said...

Ahh - again it was a bit meh for me. Aside from Meesr's Abnett and ADB, the other shorts weren't nearly as engaging as other stories (with a few notable exceptions) from the heresy era have been. It almost feels like they (Black Library) are taking a production line approach to publishing - ie they must put out one Marine anthology, one Heresy Anthology, one Xenos story etc every year/half year and will put almost anything in it. To me its watering down an otherwise (again with exceptions) quality series.

Millest said...

totally agree with the production line comments and the set up their running.
i can see your issues with the stories and whilst the penmanship wasnt 100% the thoughts and threads running behind them are good and i like the way that sometimes you have to think who is who. also liked how the sallies one linked to promethean sun :)

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