I am sLaugH­Ter

Beastly be­hav­iour

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased 17 de­cem­ber 237 pages | Hard­back/ebook Au­thor dan ab­nett Pub­lisher black li­brary

beasts both lit­eral and metaphor­i­cal are in the as­cen­dancy in I Am Slaugh­ter, the first in­stal­ment of Black Li­brary’s new event se­ries The Beast Arises.

It’s set in the mil­len­nium fol­low­ing the Horus Heresy, with the trai­tor­ous Space Marine le­gions but a dis­tant mem­ory. While the galaxy isn’t at peace (c’mon, this is Warham­mer), all is rel­a­tively quiet. The loyal le­gions, now dis­banded into much smaller chap­ters, are en­gaged in more mun­dane tasks. For the Im­pe­rial Fists, this in­cludes seem­ingly rou­tine bug hunts on plan­ets such as Ar­daman­tua. Of course, it doesn’t take long for mat­ters to head south, and if you’re fa­mil­iar with Warham­mer 40,000, it’ll be no sur­prise at all when the you-know-whats turn up…

What is un­ex­pected, though, is the de­gree to which the po­lit­i­cal machi­na­tions on Terra fas­ci­nate. It’s here that Dan Ab­nett lifts I Am Slaugh­ter out of the hack ’n’ slash mire. With the Em­peror all but a psy­chic turnip on life sup­port, the 12 High Lords rul­ing in his place are be­hav­ing like five-year-olds at a birth­day buf­fet, jostling for the big­gest slice of cake. Ab­nett brings them to life ad­mirably, cre­at­ing com­pelling and be­liev­able char­ac­ters that are a thrill to meet – es­pe­cially in the case of Drakan Van­gorich, who will be­come one of W40k lore’s piv­otal fig­ures.

In fact, it’s a shame that you don’t get to spend more time in the com­pany of the High Lords, be­cause their tale is by far the more in­ter­est­ing of I Am Slaugh­ter’s twin strands. The ac­tion on Ar­daman­tua, on the other hand, turns into a barely-re­solved slog, just for the pay-off of set­ting up that plot­line’s arc for the next novel. The hu­man in­trigue is enough to keep it en­joy­able though, and with prose that’s far less dense and ob­struc­tive than that found in the Horus Heresy books, this is an open­ing act that prom­ises plenty of ex­cite­ment to fol­low. Michael Abolins-Far­rell

Hu­man in­trigue keeps it en­joy­able

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