Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nocturne - Book Review

Nocturne by Nick Kyme
War has come to Nocturne. After decades of planning and slaughter Nihilan has mustered a vast armada of Dragon Warriors, dark eldar and Chaos renegades. In the name of vengeance he launches his assault on the Salamanders. Unrest plagues the Chapter’s ranks in the face of this invasion. A prophecy from the Tome of Fire has foretold of a saviour or destroyer, the psyker Librarian Dak’ir. As the attack begins and the Salamanders marshal their armies for battle, Dak’ir’s destiny is finally realised. Meanwhile, amidst the enemy fleet, Tsu’gan of the Firedrakes is held captive. With hell and fire all around them, a reckoning between these bitter rivals is at hand – its resolution will see the prophecy fulfilled and decide the fate of Nocturne.

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. 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. I only hope the arc’s including the Marines Malevolent get some extra play and we see more of this obscure and intriguing chapter from the Black Library.

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. Overall a solid 4 stars from me for a nice round up to the entire series.

Available from:
Nick Kyme
softback • ISBN 9781849700887

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