I am sLaugHTer
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