Soul Hunter

Possibly in a long game to wind up my wife, or from nostalgia for my teenage years, I read another Games Workshop novel today, Soul Hunter, which is about some renegade Space Marines (the Night Lords) who used to be led by a bloke who was literally Batman In Spaaaaace (the scary Frank Miller-era Batman, not the laughable Adam West version). They stomp around, they have some flashbacks to 10,000 years before the main events of the novel, they shoot lots of people or chop them up with powerswords.

In short, a right good laugh if you’re into that sort of thing.

Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 setting is all grimdark war, all the time, which sells a lot of toy soldiers but doesn’t leave much room for romantic subplots or people who aren’t either bloodthirsty monsters or traumatised ruins. Aaron Dembski-Bowden does his best with this material. Rather than the Space Marines being this super efficient army of disciplined warriors, they’re a bunch of bitter, infighting nut jobs who hate the Imperium but also can’t stand each other. There’s not much for them to do except kill people, because that’s what killing machines do, but there’s some sense of of self-disgust and ennui built into the narrative.

Also, ridiculous battles in space, which turn out to be a combination of 1800s naval tactics, Star Wars style aerobatic stunts, and Enormous Guns.

I’m not sure everything is big enough though. There are giant war machines described as being 40 metres tall, and that does sound like a lot, but then I’m on the 30th floor of a block of flats, so I think I’m roughly twice as high as the Biggest War Machines In Spaaaaace. Or Games Workshop writers live in provincial England where you don’t get tower blocks, so something that’s 5 times the height of your house does sound imposing.

I won’t try to describe the plot. There’s a lot of people who get killed, and then some more people get killed, but the protagonist doesn’t die. That’s about it really, with two more books in this series that I could / could not read, if I want to hear about people getting killed.

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