Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fall of Damnos - Book Review

Fall of Damnos by Nick Kyme
When Damnos is hit by cataclysmic earthquakes, an ancient force is awakened. Deep beneath the earth, the necrons rise from their slumber to decimate the human populace. All appears lost until salvation comes from the heavens – the Ultramarines brave an orbital bombardment to deploy their forces on Damnos, led by two legendary warriors – Captain Cato Sicarius and Chief Librarian Tigurius.

They are the planet's last, great hope against the remorseless alien foes, but tensions within their ranks threaten to derail victory. As battle rages on Damnos, and the Ultramarines seek to defeat their soulless enemies, Tigurius receives a terrible vision – a vision telling of the death of a hero...
In the latest offering Nick Kyme, takes the reins in the latest installation of the Space Marine Battles Series and tackles the Ultramarines, not his normal chapter of choice but personally I think Nick did a fantastic job of keeping the Space Marines faithful to their natures as genetically modified super-warriors, created only to kill and bring glory to the Emperor,. he also as has been noted in the recent trend of the Black Library, manages to portray them as people with emotions. Ok, so those emotions and emotional responses might not be quite normal for a human. They are, after all, Adeptus Astartes and they may just be tempted to kill everything that offends them but they still have emotion.

The lead characters were varied and ranged from Marines, to Dreadnoughts and back down to humans and I enjoyed the concerns and doubt about the actions of the Captain, because the story also balanced it with reasons not to doubt him, this was a good plot device as it gave the story multiple perspective and it leave you the reader trying to decide ultimately which perspective is the correct one, a challenge often lacking from modern fiction. I, like other I have spoken too about the book, found myself rooting for the three lead sergeants, and to a degree the main characters in my eyes, and personally I'd love to read more about them as long as it wasn’t the pointless death that often seems to befall growing characters in the Black Library. The sergeants have such an interesting friendship (or even animosity at times) that watching them interact and play off one another was fascinating and helped fill the dead areas of the book.

I'm also a big fan of the way Kyme treats his Librarians. He doesn't make them ridiculously overpowered, but they are effective. Nor does he make a mess of the powers he does give them and what they can do seems clearly set out, rather than the hand-wavy and rather clumsy efforts of certain other writers. Though in this case he dealt with the powers of Tigurius well and did give him the definite edge he needed.

Only bad points in my eyes are that When Nick about personal combat, either in a duel style situation or as a side line in a major battle, it can be really easy to lose track of who's making what move and where all the individuals are (or even who they are). It's only a slight complaint, and it doesn't happen *too* often, but it was a little niggle that needs a touch of work. The other thing that bugged me was the nature of the Necrons, I don’t want to give too much away but suffice to say the normal lower order troops are as expected and do what necrons do, the issue I had was with the overall controlling lords, there was something there that didn’t sit right, I don’t know what it is, I can’t tell you what bugged me, there’s just something I can’t put my finger on and it made them seem off slightly.

The book give you the reader a lot of thing to look at and imagine, things such as meaningful interaction between humans and Space Marines that's not overly drawn out but will satisfy those who enjoy reading such comparisons (like me). Different perspectives on the nature of courage and bravado, and what makes a good leader of men. A nice introduction to the Ultramarines chapter. Space Marines with emotion that are not overly sentimental but will still slap each other if they get on each other’s nerves, in short believable Space Marines. In summary, I highly recommend this one for its interesting representation of a very strict Chapter, excellent action sequences and overall enjoyability. For me a good solid four stars for this one.

Available from:
Fall of Damnos by Nick Kyme
Softback, 416 pages • ISBN 9781849700405

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