Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Heresy in the Library - Rebirth

Greetings good people and welcome back! Trooper here with another installment of "Heresy in the Library", where I review Black Library publications and let you, the reader at the other end of the data-slate, know how it is! Up for review is the new Nick Kyme novel, Rebirth, the first in the "Circle of Fire" trilogy detailing the Salamanders chapter and their "legendary" war with the Sisters of Battle against the Black Legion. While I don't know what exactly is so legendary about the "Promethean War", Kyme has seen fit to make another Salamanders trilogy on the matter. So sit back, grab some amasec, and enjoy my review of Rebirth.


I'm going to, for the first time, quote to you the description text from Black Library's website.

"Five years have passed since war came to Nocturne. Third Company, still feeling its losses, recovers its strength. And though a small party have ventured out in search of a certain errant fire-born, it is the Salamanders of Fifth Company who must wage war. On Heletine, the Black Legion has come in the name of Chaos and only Brother-Captain Drakgaard’s warriors stand in the way of their dark glory. But there is more to this Promethean War than conquest, and only as the conflict grinds on are the true motives of the enemy revealed…"

I wanted to quote that piece because I wanted to show that Black Library is continuing the gravy train that was the Tome of Fire. Why is this important? Because while the Tome of Fire is a great series of books...it reeks of poor choice to continue a book series that, logically, reached it's conclusion. Oh, it might use a different company...or new characters...except for the book is half unreadable without foreknowledge of the Tome of Fire series. Characters are name dropped frequently and often referred to for their expertise and history. There isn't actually anything wrong with this, but I find it beyond annoying that Kyme can't separate his works and create something more original than a spiritual continuation of an already established series. This is Trooper, signing off.

...Not a good way to start a review, is it?

Ranting aside, let's get into this thing. Rebirth tells us the tale of the Salamanders 5th Company as they wage war on the planet Helentine against the Black Legion. As they do, the Sisters of Battle descend to the planet for their own purpose (hint, it isn't helping the Salamanders). It's typical bolter porn, lots of "We must help humanity!" and then the Salamanders who couldn't give two shits less about humanity and are more concerned with branding themselves. Along the way they all get their respected asses kicked, kick some baddie asses, and the world keeps spinning. Although the Black Legion aren't on Helentine just to murder and pillage, but rather because their warleader...well, let's just say he is trying to help old friends. The first chapter is set before the Horus Heresy and shows a remarkable amount of compassion on the part of Falkus, the warleader. It really helps drive the reason for their fighting home.

It's interesting, really, to see that Nick Kyme has had YEARS to develop the mythology and lore surrounding the Salamanders. Arguably, they have more lord and books (including ebooks, short stories, etc) out for them right now than the Ultramarines do...which is a thought I both find interesting and horrifying at the same time. I'm grateful to him for this. He clearly loves the fluff he writes, which makes the stories better. The problem I have is that the core of these books doesn't expand on things as a whole. It's new information circling the same bowl over and over again.

But there is love there and it isn't shown in the primary plot of Rebirth. Instead, the sub-plot for Rebirth is one of the more awesome things I've read in awhile, even if it does use the same pieces of plot from the Tome of Fire series. Ready? Imagine if numerous old characters from the Tome of Fire series got together and planned an adventure to the underhive to track down a Salamander who may or may not have gone traitorous? Maybe Agatone, a captain...Exor, a young techmarine...and Zartath, a god damn Black Dragon adopted by the Salamanders. Care to imagine how well it ends when these three go sneaking through an underhive looking for Tsu'gan, the headstrong Firedrake who disappeared under questionable circumstances during the Tome of Fire series ending. Of course there is a smaller plot about the ship they are in being boarded...and a Librarian named Xarko who is looking for answers in the Warp.

Seriously, it's great. I love seeing the underhive and what monstrosities can occur down there.

The ending is pretty predictable for every story that occurs, so I am not going to spoil it for you fine folks reading.


So what did I think? Explosive start to a series that is, as I have said before, a spiritual continuation of the Tome of Fire trilogy. Despite being explosive and setting up a plethora of excellent plot hooks...I just wasn't wowed. It wasn't Kyme's writing...or his continuation of an old and possible beloved series (I enjoyed it). There just isn't honestly much new there. It's like a feast set out before you and then you realize that the feast is tofu and you have been deceived. Sure it might be good, but it wasn't what you were expecting to get.

This doesn't crush my hope for the series though. I remember being pretty underwhelmed when I first read Salamander and I am hoping that the trend continues for me. Kyme knows his shit and he knows where he wants to go with his writing. The problem is that it's old and not quite stale....but a few more looks and it might get that way.

Unless Dan Abnett gets in Kymes way and kills off Vulcan...AGAIN.

The one hugely positive thing I really want to strike home about the book (and to Black Library in general) is that their "First Edition" releases have been absolutely AWESOME. Rebirth came boxed like the book had drake scales and a fine green covering. Seriously, keep up that good work and I'm gonna have to start dropping Grants on the bastards.

This is Trooper, signing off.

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