Thursday, October 8, 2009

Black Library - Review: Warhammer 40K Soul Drinkers Book 4: Chapter War by Ben Counter

Let me first say that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the previous Soul Drinkers novels – I’m still a Warhammer newbie, you see, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! :-) But, as with all good books in a series, I was able to read and enjoy Chapter War on it’s own, without needing to have the background of the previous books. :-)

In Chapter War, the Soul Drinkers, a Chapter of Space Marines that have been fighting a war against the Imperium and for the Emperor – sound confusing? Don’t worry, it’s not. :-) But you’ll have to read the book to get the full scope of that statement, and once you do, you’ll understand the Soul Drinkers. :-)

Currently leading the Soul Drinkers is Sarpedon, a utterly determined Librarian who has a clear vision for the Chapter – but that vision starts to blind him to what is actually happening within the Chapter, and before long Sarpedon is fighting a war on two fronts, and the war against the Orc Waaagh! for control of a planet becomes the least of his problems…

This was my first Soul Drinkers book, and my first Ben Counter book, and I have to say, I’m impressed!

Not only are the Soul Drinkers as a Chapter intriguing and entertaining on their own, and a definite fertile ground for many tales, but they also show a side of the Space Marines that is well reading about – I mean, this Chapter has been outlawed by the Imperium; where they go, they are hunted, and the good they do is usually twisted into yet more evidence against them. For those who haven’t yet read anything involving the Soul Drinkers, there is also another, very important reason -one of the reasons for the Soul Drinkers being outlawed in the first place- why the Soul Drinkers are in the position they’re in, but I wont spoil that. :-)

Reading this book, you realize quickly that Ben has many strengths as a writer – not only does Ben create great characters, but the action -and action is important in Warhammer- is excellent, too.

Character-wise, the characters that stood out for me were Sarpedon (of course, there would have been a problem if he didn’t stand out) and a certain member of the nobility who gives his all in trying to keep the Greenskins from laying waste to his people; the grim determination of these characters wasn’t over-done or over-used, and you end up feeling that perhaps, just perhaps, some deaths shouldn’t have happened. :-)

The action is, as always, excellent! Ben gives us scenes that pound with explosions, bolter fire and charging Space Marines! Starting at a parade to showcase the strength of Nevermourn’s nobility and ending with a final showdown aboard the Chapter’s hulk, Brokenback, Ben takes us through urban battles, jungle battles, even space battles, showcasing his talent at writing war in any environment. Ben really puts the reader right among the roar of close combat with greenskins or the titanic struggles between matched Space Marines!

Brought together with some great, memorable characters -as well as some Chapter secrets that are pretty damn intriging and an ending that’ll have you wondering just how much hell is going to be let loose in the next book – this is a great book that can be enjoyed in series but also stands on its own as an excellent example of what makes the Warhammer 40K universe such an extraordinary place to read and tell stories in!


For more info on Warhammer and Black Library products, be sure to check out this site – there really is no better place to get your Warhammer fix! Not only will you find comprehensive info on the authors writing these kickass tales, but you’ll find info on the books, downloadable content and much more!

Those in the US can order their copy here, those in the UK here, and for those in SA, please use the link at the top of the blog.

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