Advent Reviews Day 3: Binding by Ray Harrison

Black Library has kicked off another holiday season with their 2012 Advent Calendar. Last year they unveiled a new artwork, this year they are releasing a single short story, usually about a 1,000 words although some in the past have gone quite a bit over that limit, a day, covering both the Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Warhammer 40,000 product lines. Among the first batch of stories is Binding, by new author Ray Harrison, writing about a lone Imperial Fists Sergeant.

advent-bindingWhen Leonen Kyarus wakes up, he finds himself in the ruins of his command rhino, with one hand reduced to a stump and all his squad brothers missing. A voice calls out to him and he sets out in the darkness that surrounds the wreckage to find out what’s happened to his brothers. And find out he does, with a somewhat surprising twist to the story that’s still quite punchy for just a 1,000 words.

The good: Kyarus’ moments of waking up are well-done. Harrison doesn’t spend overlong on this and he delivers the experience in quick, short bursts to quickly establish that something bad has happened. Now, what exactly happened is a mystery that is solved later on. Harrison’s prose, from this short sample, is always snappy. He hits the beats in the story at just the right moment, and I found myself quite enjoying this snippet. The “reveal” at the end was surprising, as I’ve already said. I was expecting something similar, to be sure, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. There’s a horror element going on here that’s refreshing to see. Very few Warhammer 40,000 stories actually play up to the horror aspect of the setting.

The bad: I didn’t actually get the sense that this was an Imperial Fists story, the chapter name was just… gravy. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, it’s just that the Imperial Fists are mostly portrayed as a rather bland chapter. Now, if we’re talking about the Space Wolves or Salamanders, then that’s different since they are actually quite colourful in their portrayal and a very rich backstory. There’s a little of that with the Imperial Fists but not much, for me at least. So, I would have liked to see something Imperial Fists-y here. Still, not a big point against the story, given its incredibly short length.

The verdict: I want to know more about Leonen Kyarus – what happened to him, what brought his squad to this place, what destroyed their rhino. Ray Harrison has a good start here for a good story and I want to see more from him.

Rating: 8/10

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Posted on December 3, 2012, in 2012 Reading Challenge, 2012 Writing Challenge, Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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