I’ve been thinking lately to add content to the blog as I finish various books. And since the last two I’ve read are 40k books from the Black Library, I’ll be reviewing them together. First up is the disappointment that was Architect of Fate – a collection of novellas that are all supposedly featuring or at least related to Kairos Fateweaver, the blind Lord of Change that has survived the Well of Eternity. I’ll take the 4 stories in turn.
Accursed Eternity, by Sarah Cawkwell was interesting, initially. It was set up as a sort of ghost story, but since the protagonists are all Space Marines you never really get too scared. I also couldn’t bring myself to care much about the characters themselves. Not to mention that Fateweaver doesn’t really have much of a role in the story.
Sanctus, by Darius Hinks had probably the best idea of the bunch, and I liked how the author played around with time. Unfortunately, while it sometimes does work, giving away the ending in the first pages of the story, and leaving it all in a sort of cliffhanger did not work out so well. Bit of a shame too, as there’s not a lot of material featuring the Relictors out there. Oh, I should also mention that this story has absolutely nothing to do with Fateweaver, which reeks of phoned in editing at the last moment. I would like to see Mr. Hinks try his hand at a full-length novel with the Relictors, and hopefully this short story is just a pilot for one.
Endeavour of Will, by Ben Counter, is probably the worst story he’s done (that I’ve yet to read, at least). A shame, too, since I really loved most of his books. Once again, the story has absolutely nothing to do with Fateweaver, and it’s so full of plot holes I kept smelling swiss cheese while reading it. Its only saving grace is the fun variety that Mr. Counter always brings to the forces of chaos. On the other hand, his Iron Warriors, leaving aside the fetish for steampunk and the rivalry with the Imperial Fists, were absolute comic-book villains, like Abnett often portray. What could’ve been a shorter version of McNeil’s Iron Warrior turned out to be something just marginally better than usual battle report fluff you see in White Dwarf. Oh, this story also explains what happened to Lysander while he was captive. Unfortunately, the Imperial Fist hero is another Chuck Norris styled character with invulnerable plot armour…
Fateweaver by John French was the saving grace of the group. The only one that did actually feature the daemon that’s actually on the cover. Story was fun, characters were decently interesting, the twists were nice and it tied in with Sarah Cawkwell’s ‘Accursed Eternity’ in a fun way.
All in all, I’d say it’s worth reading if you’ve nothing better in your book-pile. Otherwise, just skip to the last story, and then read Cawkwell’s to find out what happens afterwards (yes, they’re not in chronological order). Endeavour of Will’s only worth reading if you happen to be an Imperial Fists fan, and the same goes for Sanctus if you happen to love the Relictors.
Now, on to the second book – Daemon World by Ben Counter. Took me a damned long time to get my hands on this one, and boy am I glad I finally did. Like I said, Mr. Counter is absolutely fantastic in portraying Chaos in its insane, maniacal diversity. The man simply hates stereotypes, and I love this about him. Absolutely none of his daemon princes are anything like you see in the codex/artwork/miniatures, and as a consequence they end up being unique and very interesting. Even though you’re not rooting for them, you want to know what they’re up to, what they’re planning, or how they’ll tackle whatever situation they find themselves in. In the case of Daemon World, aside from, you know, daemons, we have plenty of other characters. Some are the expected chaos marines. Others are simple (if anything living on a daemon world can be ‘simple’) humans that are trying to make a living (or stop others from making theirs). Characters are all fun, even the relatively one-dimensional ones – they all have their quirks. There were moments where I felt Mr. Counter would have written more into some scenes, but for what is essentially a pulp action/sci-fi book, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read I wholeheartedly recommend.