Wednesday, 23 December 2009
‘Dark Creed’ – Anthony Reynolds (Black Library)
This could well be my last book review before Christmas and the New Year; I'm not ruling out any more but I’ll be taking a little time out to put my feet up and get some quality reading in to kick things off in the New Year. That’s not to say that there won’t still be cool stuff coming up on the blog in the meantime so make sure you stick around and see what there is to see...
Getting ready for Christmas (amongst other things) has really got in the way of my reading and, as a result, I’ve been after books that I can devour in short sharp bursts in between all the things that I should be doing. I had fun reading Anthony Reynold’s ‘Dark Disciple’ (although a quick look at the review shows that I kept forgetting the name of the book...) so when ‘Dark Creed’ arrived I knew that I had a book which would help beat back the trials and tribulations of Christmas!
While it may not be the best book you’ll find in the Black Library, ‘Dark Creed’ has a lot to recommend it to long time fans and those who are just after a dose of bloody warfare in the far future...
When the entire galaxy is ranged against you, the last thing a traitor legion of space marines needs is divisions within it’s own company. That is what Dark Apostle Marduk must face however as he wages war against the White Consuls Space Marine Chapter. Marduk now has the Necron ‘Nexus Arrangement’ in his possession and this can turn the war in favour of the Word Bearers’ traitor legion, perhaps even open the way to Holy Terra itself.
At the height of battle though, an old enemy makes an unwelcome return and throws everything into doubt. Marduk is now fighting a war on three fronts, can even the wiliest of Dark Apostles possibly survive?
For anyone who has ever wondered why the traitor legions never fully capitalised on the weaknesses of the human Imperium it turns out that the answer is simple. Traitor marines are far too busy plotting against each other, for their own gain, to ever be able to mount a concerted attack on Imperial space. ‘Dark Creed’ is full of this plotting and scheming, ranging from the lowliest marine to those who stand just below the Primarch demon prince himself. This strand of the plot is perhaps a little too convoluted for its own good, I got to the end of the book only to realise that I’d forgotten what kicked off all the plotting in the first place!
What it does do well though is to drive the plot along at a furious pace, incorporating an element of unpredictability that has the story begging to be read. How can the Word Bearers ever accomplish their mission if they cannot work together? What will become of the mission that they were sent to achieve? Is this mission even the one that they are meant to accomplish? Games are being played out within other games and this means that anything can happen at any moment. I had to keep reading just to find out how it all came together and concluded. There is absolutely nothing to root for in Marduk but I found myself wanting him to win through anyway. Perhaps this was because he was the only one trying to stick to the original plan while the others were working to their own ends. While there is a feeling that the outcome is never really in doubt, enough spanners are thrown in the works for it to be worth making the journey to the end of the book.
One of my criticisms of ‘Dark Disciple’ was that Space Marines of any kind are too invulnerable to make for interesting reading. You just know that their superior strength will see them through the most demanding situations... Reynolds has taken this into account for ‘Dark Creed’ and tackles the problem in the best possible way. If you have an invulnerable character then the best way to make him interesting is to pit him against an enemy who personifies the true meaning of ‘invulnerable’... There are life forms in the galaxy that can confidently take on a Space Marine without breaking a sweat and Reynolds brings this to the page in the best possible way. If you’re after combat on a titanic scale, that makes your heart pound, then ‘Dark Creed’ is the place to be. Again, there is the feeling that the outcome is never really in doubt (what with this book being part of a series and all) but that’s almost secondary to the real point of sitting down and really enjoying a good old fashioned scrap. Sometimes the fun lies in reaching the destination rather than the journey itself.
‘Dark Creed’ has it’s faults but is a definite improvement on its predecessor. If the next book carries on in this vein then Warhammer 40K fans could be in for a bit of a treat. I’ve got high hopes... Look out for ‘Dark Creed’ in January.
Eight and a Half out of Ten