Thursday, 5 March 2009

‘Assault on Black Reach: The Novel’ – Nick Kyme (Black Library)

War is coming to the blog... I’m a definite fan of Black Library books but have never tried out the games, that they’re based upon, as I’ve been scared off by talk of ‘turns’, ‘saving throws’ and other such things. Not any longer though, thanks to the generosity of Games Workshop I shall be road testing the Warhammer 40K start up game ‘Assault on Black Reach’ in the next couple of weeks. I just need to put all the little figures together, and paint them, first...
In the meantime, today sees me bring you the tie-in novel for the game and it's not too bad either...

In the universe of the fortieth millennium it is the space marines who are humanity’s main defence against the aliens who would render mankind extinct. Of all the space marine chapters it is the noble and courageous Ultramarines who best embody the warrior ideal.
The foul Orks have invaded the planet of Black Reach and threaten to spill out into a whole sector of Imperium held space; the Ultramarines must act fast to dislodge the enemy from the planet. One hundred marines may not sound a lot but a force this size is more than a match for most. When the enemy numbers fifty thousand strong though, well... things could get interesting.

‘Assault on Black Reach’ is only one hundred and twenty seven pages long, a book so short that if it turned sideways on you probably wouldn’t be able to see it at all! The price reflects this but I was left feeling that the page count (and the fact that it is all about the ‘Black Reach’ game itself) makes this a book particularly suited to those who have bought the game or those who are fans of the Warhammer 40K setting. It’s maybe not the best place for a casual reader to jump straight in...
The shortness of the book also hamstrings the plot, slightly, in that there isn’t much time for characters to be fully developed and for scenes to be expanded upon. ‘Assault’ basically tells the story of... well... a planetary assault. It’s very much a case of ‘get in, get the job done and get out’ which is all very well (because sometimes that’s the way a story goes) but there are hints of things that I would have loved to have seen explored further such as the divisions within the space marine force for example... I wouldn’t mind seeing ‘Assault’ adapted as part of a larger novel to address these issues.

At the same time though, ‘Assault on Black Reach’ is a fast paced affair full of all the things I love best about military sci-fi. The marines are tough and resourceful, they carry huge guns and the carnage that they wreak would fit comfortably in a novel three or even four times the size. It’s definitely a fun book to read once you get into it.

‘Assault on Black Reach’ is an ideal companion to the game and definitely one for Warhammer 40K fans but I’m not sure about everyone else. Still good fun though.

Seven and a Half out of Ten

1 comment:

Joe Ficklen said...

very helpful, Thanks!