Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Salamander - Rob's First Warhammer 40K Novel

I’d been interested in the Warhammer / Warhammer 40,000 universe(s) for a while now. There seems to be a very cohesive, well-thought air about these media/gaming fiction universes. I recently finished my first Warhammer 40,000 Salamander by Nick Kyme, the first of the Tome of Fire Trilogy. I like the cover on this one a lot, too.

Salamanders are the elite fighting units of the Space Marines – the military force of the Emperor’s Imperium of Man. Bred and genetically enhanced to the fullest extent of human physical capabilities, they are on the frontline of the galaxy defending the worlds of man and helping to enact the Emperor’s will. In genre shorthand, think the soldier’s of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers standing seven-feet tall, amped up on steroids, armed with blot throwers and chain-swords.

Kyme populates his Salamanders with quite a range of characters, with Dak’ir as the de-facto protagonist. Da’kir has prophetic dreams and is haunted by past battles, and both of these converge along the way. Other characters include the plotting Iagon and Tsu’gan, as well as the newly appointed captain N’Keln. Considering the novel centers on a troop of Salamanders, there are additional characters. Unfortunately, they weren’t too distinguishable from one another and this was not helped by their similar sounding names often broken by the great genre apostrophe. Kyme also has a tendency to fall back on some tropes that come across as anachronistic – literary phrases that seemed to have lasted 40 thousand years. The only other flaw is an occasionally unevenly paced narrative.

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