It’s only a week since I last blogged, with a review of an extract of the forthcoming Limited Edition Novella, Scorched Earth. Since then, Black Library has pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the surprise release of an unexpected novel, in an unexpected format!
For those who closely follow the news and rumours about planned Horus Heresy releases (and I’d like to consider myself one of them) the release of Scars, a Horus Heresy novel by Chris Wraight, was not on the radar. Having only recently finished Vulkan Lives, I was ready for a couple of months wait until Unremembered Empire becomes available. Hell, it’s even listed within Vulkan Lives as the 27th (and therefore next) full length novel in the Horus Heresy. It’s fair to say the release of Scars has caught me out!
What’s even more unusual, at least as far as the Horus Heresy series goes, is the format. Scars is being released as a serialised eBook. The first episode hit the eShelves earlier this week. The remaining 11 instalments will be released over the next 11 weeks. This is the first instance of Black Library releasing a Horus Heresy novel in this format, although some previous short stories have gone on sale as eBooks before making their way into other formats.
I have to confess; I’m in two minds as to whether I like this turn of events or not. On the one hand, we’re getting more Horus Heresy content earlier than we could otherwise have hoped for, but I’m not a fan of a serialised novels in general. I like to read a book to completion, and am naturally impatient. I can get through a new Horus Heresy novel in an evening at first read, so waiting an enforced 7 days for the next chapter will be hard for me to take. However, the biggest concern I have with this is the value for money it provides. A typical Horus Heresy eBook costs £11.99. Each individual episode of the Scars serialisation will cost £1.50 (assuming the price for the 1st episode remains constant), giving a total price of £18 for the full book. I personally couldn’t justify that to myself, especially when the stunning hardback edition is only £2 more.
At this stage I have to admit, I’m in a very fortunate position. The fantastic guys & gals over at Black Library have kindly sent me a review copy of the Scars Episode One. Hopefully this hasn’t biased my opinion of the novel – I’d like to think I can give an honest opinion even about a series I feel passionately about. So here we go…
Scars Episode 1 Review
Scars sees a return to the forefront of the Horus Heresy of the White Scars legion, one of the (if not the) least represented legions to date within the series. The White Scars, as revealed in Brotherhood of the Storm, have been out of contact with most of the other legions in the timeline following the end of the Ullanor campaign up to the early events of the actual Heresy, including Isstvan III and V.
Earlier novels have hinted that Horus believed Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars, would side with him in the rebellion, and yet we know from the distant origins of the Horus Heresy that the White Scars remained loyal to the Emperor, fighting in defence at the Siege of Terra. Scars promises to explain how the legion came to remain loyal as a whole, whilst dealing with dissention amongst the ranks. The title no doubt refers not only to the White Scars, but the mental scars of a legion divided!
Scars is the first full length Horus Heresy novel by Chris Wraight, following on from the excellent limited edition novella, Brotherhood of the Storm, which I talked about on the blog last October. Episode 1 contains the first chapter of the novel, and can be downloaded from Black Library.
Of all the Legiones Astartes, the White Scars of Jaghatai Khan remain the most enigmatic and elusive. Born of a civilisation that prizes honour, speed and fearsome loyalty, their allegiance has yet remained unclear even as the galaxy is torn apart by Horus’s treachery, and both sides have apparently counted them among their potential allies in the war to come. But when the Alpha Legion launch an unexplained and simultaneous attack against the White Scars and Space Wolves, the Khan must decide once and for all whether he will stand with the Emperor or the Warmaster… or neither.
Let’s be clear; this is the first chapter. It’s a set up for events later in the book, introducing us to the main protagonists. Nothing really happens. There is very little in the way of action. And yet… it is utterly compelling!
The main protagonists are characters we are already familiar with. Chapter one gives their background story, which provides just enough information to understand how they differ in upbringing, beliefs, battle doctrine and loyalty (although who knows what twists and turns might be contained within the rest of the novel). The story adds fascinating detail to some of the events of the early pre-heresy era , specifically around recruitment of Astartes into the various marine legions. The physical development of Astartes, both the training regime and surgical enhancements are also covered, adding more depth to the story.
I only have limited experience of Wraight’s work, but I have to say I am really impressed with what I have read. Brotherhood of the Storm was excellent, and Scars promises to deliver more of the same. The White Scars are in safe hands it appears, and Black Library looks to have added another stellar writer to the high table of the Horus Heresy.
If you have any comments about this blog, or anything at all Horus Heresy related, please either comment here or drop me a message on twitter @Marcoos14.
All the best,