Well I'm back off holiday, and I've spent my time reading many BL books and crafting a submission for Black Library, and I read Fall of Damnos (hereafter known as FoD in the abbreviations tradition
). This'll be the first of perhaps five reviews I'll post, the others will come sometime later today or tomorrow.
So, FoD, the Second Company of Ultramarines against the soulless menace of the necrons on the world of Damnos. What I actually thought of the novel was that it didn't live up to the standard set by its predecessor (which features the same Space Marine characters, by and large), AoBR. It's a strange comment to make I know, the novella which was just written to promote the boxed game isn't as good as the SM Battles Series addition written by the man who wrote the Salamanders trilogy? I'll explain why later.
FoD is a book in the SMB series, a series that takes a few lines of description about a battle featuring the mighty Space Marines, and expands it into a full novel. I like the series, having only got into it recently (I also read Legion of the Damned on holiday, and I think I'll go for the Gildar Rift next), and I think that I'll enjoy the other books, as I did this one. I did enjoy FoD, but some parts of it frustrated me because I disliked a character and really didn't enjoy their presence. But that's just me, almost all of the book was really enjoyable and showed some very excellent portrayals of Ultramarines and necrons.
So, plot? Having only read one Kyme novel I can't comment conclusively on the man's plotting abilities, and seeing as I have only read two SMB novels I can't conclusively say that the SMB range have excellent plots. I suppose though, that that varies from author to author. What I'm trying to say though, is that FoD's plot was essentially as simple as it could get. In fact, it was almost bluntly simple. Damnos is rather quickly being overrun by the necrons, the Ultramarines arrive and must try and save it, because of duty or something like that. And that's it, just a simple slogging match between two forces who both want to exterminate each other. I sort of wish that the necrons in this case had been given more motivation than just killing as a whole. But yeah, the plot is nothing special, but the actuality of how the war unfolds is nowhere near simple. I think overall the SMB series don't need to have complicated plots, but Legion of the Damned's plot had a sort of big twist and several twists throughout. It's mainly what happens to the characters that influences much of the plot, as the overarching storyline is that of the battle for Damnos. I'd just like to point out that unlike many fans who read this series, I didn't actually know what was going to happen on Damnos, so for me I knew absolutely nothing of what to expect, and I think that would have increased the enjoyment for me, and taken it away from other people who already know what happened. I just read the wiki for what actually happened on Damnos and... Well, bugger, I wouldn't have expected what happened as Damnos's final end compared to how the novel ended. Ah well, it is the 41st Millenium after all.
So now we move onto characters, in a style that is becoming more and more familiar to me now (intro, plot, characters, pacing, summary and rating), and what a cast! The main reason I bought this novel was to see what had happened to those characters that I fell in love with from that amazing novella AoBR (It really is sterling writing for something so small, and I would easily recommend it as one of the best BL books I have read myself). Those same Ultramarines are back, and kicking ass! The characters really are one of the focal points of this novel, fighting the necrons with every effort they can make, as that is the only thing that has kept humans alive on Damnos, and that is what helps the Ultramarines prevail against this faceless threat. It's not just the Space Marines that fill up the cast in this book, but the ordinary humans of Damnos that have lost friends, family, homes, everything, and they keep fighting in a great example of human spirit. The cast is big in this novel, and I won't go into too much detail, but the characterisation is simply top-notch and some characters have a wonderful dynamic with each other. There's Scipio and Jynn, Iulus and Falka Kolpeck, and Adanar Sonne just by himself for being a depressive, but interesting man. Since Kyme is writing a full novel here, and not a novella, he has room to give his characters proper depth, and Scipio in particular was an interesting case. Scipio is a man on a dark path, and I fear for him, since he is one of my favourite SM characters.
Now, pacing. Not much to say here really, as the novel is practically all action and very little downtime, and what varied action it is. In one chapter you might have Space Marines fighting Flayed Ones (portrayed brilliantly by the way, as are all the necrons, with a real feel for their different personalities, those that have them...) and then in the next you'll be on the walls of Kellenport with frantic humans trying to bring down Monoliths. It's frantic, it's bloody, it's fun and I was constantly worried about my favourite characters being killed off, which seems like it could happen at any moment when it comes to necron weaponry.
So, to sum it up? I've so far been saying lots of positive things about this novel, and overall it was very, very good. It could have been excellent, but one personal gripe of mine rather ruined it. Sicarius. You know he's there, he's the fricking Captain of the Second, he's the High Suzerain of some place or other, he's a dickhead. Excuse the profanity, but he really is an elitist, arrogant, fool who really should stop glory-hunting and go back to Telion and learn how to conduct properly. For Sicarius it is all about glory, despite every cost, as long as he comes out covered in glory it is fine, and that's why I detest him. I found the necron leader more of a likeable character, though he gets royally owned by a certain Dreadnought (I don't think I'm being too spoilery, but the novel is a very easy one to spoil to be fair). So, honestly, my only gripe is Cato Sicarius, and I think some Eldar sniper should just take him out on some obscure battlefield, so he will forever be known as the 'Idiotic Glory-hunter Who Didn't Wear A Helmet'. I'd give the novel a solid 8/10, ignoring the presence of Sicarius, who just made the battle scenes drag as he kept making me think: Oh wake up you idiot, it's not all about defeating their commander in the millionth expression of your own amazing-ness and prowess in single-handed combat. Although to be fair his philosophy of chopping off the snake of the head is a sound strategy when facing necrons, I will admit that. But I still think he's an idiot and his character really grates with me. I definitely wouldn't buy a book about him, because the way he speaks too also annoys me. Anyway, back to the book, very good, but not excellent, but only because of a personal gripe.
I think the next review will be Legion of the Damned by my favourite BL author Rob Sanders, hope you enjoyed this one!