Vengeful Spirit and Scars

I read two more Space Marine novels this week, as I’d been gifted all that spare time for reading by Delta Airlines.

Vengeful Spirit is partly a story about some of the good guys infiltrating Horus’ giant spaceship, and also a story about Horus and his forces attacking and destroying the world of Molech. In that latter arc, it’s just as miserable as Know No Fear, when the whole story is the autopsy of a planet. So that was a bit of a grind.

It’s really strange, the more I think about it, that a series of novels based on tiny toy soldiers are most enjoyable when they don’t involve very many of the toy soldiers. Oh well.

In the Warhammer 40,000 background the Emperor is the chief good guy, battling against the chaotic powers of the warp. There are at least some interesting plot developments here, making the Emperor (and by extension the rest of the ‘good guys’) much more compromised than we began with. Still, the big evil Space Marine villains still come across as a bunch of petulant teenagers, so Team Emperor is still ahead on points.

And then there’s Scars, which is about the White Scars, the Mongol Horde remix of the Space Marines. There’s some troubling stuff in the way they were thought up (inscrutable poet warriors zooming about, being inscrutable and, er, inscrutable over and over again) possibly because some bloke in the Midlands in the 1980s hadn’t heard of orientalism and why its a bad thing.

This should have been an equally hard read, but since most of it is people talking (including a much more enlightening chat with Magnus, last seen in Prospero Burns, about whether the Emperor (remember him from a paragraph ago?) is a Good Guy or a Bad Guy) this is a much better read than just having lots of things blow up.

There is some blowing up of things at the end. There’s a good space battle, there’s a not so great gun fight inside a spaceship and there’s lots of philosophising about which is the right side to be on. This puts it up on a level with The Lords Of Silence, (also a Chris Wraight work) my favourite story about existentialist plague Marines wandering the universe giving people the pox.

And that’s 24 books read in this series. One more to go from this omnibus edition, and then I have to consider if I’m going to buy more expensive copies of the other half of the series…

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