Hi everybody! Greetings and salutations from the Eye of Terror. Old Man Chaos is here with a pair of book reviews- Ahriman: Sorcerer and Kharn: Eater of Worlds. Don't worry, I'm still painting and such, but I'm not ready to show it off (yet). I will be having some stuff done soon though. So, let us away...
I read the first book in the series, Ahriman: Exile by John French (see review HERE). I really enjoyed the book quite a bit. Not the best BL offering, but a fun book with some twists and turns and great characterization. I was quite looking forward to the next one, Ahriman: Sorcerer. It turns out to be more of the same (which isn't bad)- a solid and fun story, though not the upper echelon of BL.
The plot is straightforward on the surface: Ahriman wants to acquire the one of the "Books of Magnus", known as the Athenaeum of Kallimakus. It is just part of the raw knowledge that Magnus has learned over the years. Ahriman wants to use the book to learn where his rubric went wrong. Unfortunately, the "book" is in the hands of the Inquisition, hidden on a small and well protected outpost. So, Ahriman and his motley band of Thousand Sons and some renegade Chaos warlords have to find its location, and then steal it. This will be no easy task, as the Grey Knights are guarding it, meanwhile the Space Wolves pursuing Ahriman have left the warp to track him down and kill him once and for all.
Now that's the general plot. It is, naturally, more complicated than that. There are many good scenes and sequences in the book- I don't want to give spoilers, so I'll be general. Ahriman's strategic use of Rubric Marines was very cool. Ahriman's psychic contest of wills with an Inquisitor was also a thrilling bit. The fate of the pursuing Space Wolves was also fun (from a Chaos fanatics view, of course). The characterization is also quite good again. Ahriman still seems to be the man on a certain paved road that leads to hell. He has good intentions, but he will do ANYTHING to attain them- genocide amongst them. He is also somewhat callus in his treatment of his allies (Astraeos in particular). Speaking of, one of his fellow Thousand Sons, Senakhet, is an interesting character in his own right- he has an agenda, though he seems the least likely to follow it through- his manner and motives are compelling. And Astraeos- poor Astraeos. I felt bad for what Ahriman put him through. Read and you'll see.
I am also interested in Tzeentch and "time". I hesitate to use the phrase "Time-Travel" with 40K- they have never explicitly set up a story around it (yes, Ravenor does a bit, but it is very brief). The evidence is damn clear here though- past and present and future all seem to be bound together, almost blurring together. I'm not sure if it is Tzeentch, Magnus, or a future version of Ahriman who is pulling the strings, but--- time is certainly fluid for the Tzeentch- inclined.
The story is solid, if not spectacular. It moves, but doesn't have the propulsive energy of say Betrayer or Eisenhorn. As a middle story of a trilogy, it certainly feels unfinished and somewhat unsatisfying- as many middle parts do. However, it was a good read, and if you already read Ahriman: Exile, you may as well read this too. Like the previous book, I give this 3 out of 4 Marks of Chaos.
Kharn: Eater of Worlds
This story, by Anthony Reynolds, came out as part of GWs advent calendar on Christmas Day (yes, I did download it Christmas morning). I haven't read much of Reynold's stuff- I read his first Word Bearer book but- meh. Except for the mechanicum forces shown in the book (first time I encountered Skitarii), I didn't care much one way or the other.What could I expect here with Kharn?
Well, the book was a blast from start to finish. It takes place toward the end of The Scouring, when the traitors have fled to the Eye of Terror after the failed assault on Terra. The World Eaters are safe, but they are beginning to break down. The Butcher's Nails are driving them crazy- they are even fighting and killing one another. Angron has left them, and they are without direction. Their only hope is... Kharn. Oh- and he was dead.
Dreaghar is leading one of the World Eaters contingents. He and another such leader, Argus Brond, are two of the few who still have their wits, and they are desperate to restore the legion and stave off the madness that is engulfing the 12th legion. Brond is ready to give up on the other ships- he would strike out on his own in order to see that at least SOME World Eaters survive. Dreaghar refuses, believing that Kharn can heal the legion. Kharn was killed in the fighting at the Emperor's Palace, but somehow- life returned to him. Since then, he has been comatose, but Dreagher believes Kharn was spared for a reason- to save the legion and bring it back to glory.
The book is so good- it moves at a fiery quick pace, with both action and intrigue in equal measure. I love how the book shows how SOME are worshiping the Blood God, while others are more doubtful (at least, at the moment). Reynold's is telling a story that everyone KNOWS the end to, but he has a ton of fun with bringing us to the brink of that end. Yes, the book ends as the World Eaters descend of Skalathrax. But Kharn seems to be quite in control of his faculties- so perhaps there is more to the Skalathrax story than we know? Certainly- hence the book.
Kharn himself is still a great character. Reynold's wisely builds on how Kharn was portrayed in Betrayer- he is ruthless but cunning. A warrior but also a thinker- not a mindless nut. So how does he fall to that? The book leaves some clues- but I ended the book wanting a sequel immediately, and I hope there will be. Reynold's really got the tragedy of the World Eaters very well, and his treatment of their disintegration (and possible redemption lol) is just great reading. Reynold's also does some justice to the Emperor's Children- they too are corrupted, though they have not yet spiraled out of control (unlike the World Eaters who are barely hanging on).
I could go on- the book was fantastic. I finished it very quickly (a bit shorter than some other BL books, but not a short story either). I am hoping that Reynold's will do the next installment VERY quickly- I may even give his Word Bearer books a second look... I give Kharn:Eater of Worlds 4 out of 4 Marks of Chaos.
Until next time...