Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Iron Warriors Omnibus review

If you are a reader of Black Library novels, you will already be familiar with the name Graham McNeill. He is the author of many previous novels set in the Warhammer universe, including the bestselling Ultramarines series featuring the impossibly heroic Uriel Ventris.
This collection gathers together McNeil’s stories of the Chaos Marine chapter The Iron Warriors, which can be seen as a spin-off from the Ultramarines series. Each of the tales in this collection features the character Honsu.
Honsu is an interesting character. While he is cast as the arch enemy and opposite of Uriel, he has a streak of honour in him that suggests to this reader at least that they are not quite as diametrically opposed as they would like to think.
On the face of it the first story in this collection, the full length novel Storm of Iron, seems like an impossible task. It is the story of a castle siege, which doesn’t sound like something that could be sustained for a few hundred pages. Add to that the fact that your lead character and all his supporting cast are utterly Evil, I was expecting this to be a hard read.
How wrong I was! There is real tension in this book as McNeill flips the story between the Chaos Legion on the outside and the beleaguered Imperial Guard army within the walls.
Such is the skill of the writer I genuinely could not decide who I wanted to ‘win’ in the end, and found myself rooting for whatever faction I was reading about at the time, while simultaneously worrying what was happening to the other side.
After this comes the story The Enemy of my Enemy, which follows on nicely from this one, and allows us to visit some of the characters from the novel and see what happened next for them, after the rather bloody ending to Storm of Iron.
I’ll not break each story down here, but I will say that each of them is excellent. The novella Iron Warrior and the final story in the collection, are particularly good, and the latter leaves the reader desperate for more.
McNeil says in his forward that he doesn’t think he’s finished with this character yet, and I for one am looking forward to reading what he gets up to next.

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