Nocturne by Nick Kyme (Advance Review)
‘I’ll beat the fire out of you,’ said the scarred warrior, wearing a renegade’s armour, his bottom lip curled down in a snarl. ‘Ignean.’
– Nocturne, a Tome of Fire novel by Nick Kyme
Note: I would like to point out that this is an advanced review since the novel itself will not be available to the general public until November this year, and was available only to the people who were at Games Day UK a few days ago.
So at last, the Tome of Fire trilogy has come to an end. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, right from the beginning with the short story Fires of War in the Heroes of the Space Marines anthology, through the audio drama Fireborn and now to Nocturne, the final novel in the trilogy itself. With Nick Kyme stepping to the fore, the Salamanders have really gone from strength to strength and we now have, in his truly’s own words, over 400,000 words of BL canon published about them. That is a great achievement for a chapter which, it would seem, only yesterday was one of the most underdeveloped chapters in all of GW canon, barring their Index Astartes article in the olden days.
To begin with, I’d like to say that I went into Nocturne with extremely high expectations and hopes, especially given the awesomeness of Zek Tsu’gan, Vulkan He’stan and Herculon Praetor in Firedrake. Not to mention the whole series arc involving our favourite Salamander psyker, Hazon Dak’ir. I expected a great novel which had a great plot, believable plot, lots of flair and some sense of closure.
In the paraphrased words of Kara Swole from Ravenor Rogue, closure is what matters.
And I got that closure, and more. All the arcs, of all the major and minor characters were resolved in the novel. And unlike Firedrake, which at times had its really low moments with the Dak’ir scenes, Nocturne does not have a single low-point. (EDIT: There might actually be a couple minor things that go unresolved, but I see them more as stepping stones for a possible Circle of Fire triogy/series).
It is pure bolter madness, with a healthy dose of space battles, psyker duels, subterfuge, misdirection, deceit, treachery and more.
Quite frankly, just how Nick managed to pack so much into this average-sized novel is beyond me. Most people would consider such an ambitious project to really falter in its execution. And at times I did think that something was going to trip the plot.
But that moment never came.
Punch to counter-punch. Punch to counter-punch. The plot just flows like a wild, untamed beast. You just cannot resist putting the book down.
I would so love to spoiler this review because it would seem incomplete otherwise, but I’m restraining myself. Soon as we hit November I’ll be able to start spoiler threads on the Bolthole. Feel free to join in the discussion at that stage :) In the meantime, the above quote is all you get.
The Tsu’gan-Dak’ir rivalry is at the heart of the Salamander saga from Nick. Two Sergeants, two vastly different Space Marines, battle-brothers out of necessity. Their infighting is what drives the entire series. Everything is a cause and effect of their strained brotherhood.
And we get that closure to their relationship and to their arc. Nick has handled the entire series brilliantly, apart from the Dak’ir scenes in Firedrake. But that’s ok. I expected Nocturne to be the redeeming novel and it goes even beyond such a simplistic concept.
Nocturne, the Salamanders, Vulkan’s legacy. It is all portrayed beautifully in this novel and Nick has done great at building the world for us. We see the inner workings of Prometheus. We get details on the planet’s geography. A little of the history of the Nocturnean Sanctuary-Cities. We meet more of the Masters of the Chapter. Old rivals from Salamander make a return, alongside new ones.
And all the surprising revelations and the unique approach to the prophecy regarding Dak’ir? It is going to knock you all over. That is the absolute best high-point of the novel. Page 140 for the first of those, the last third for the latter.
A lot of people have criticized Nick for his apparent heavy-handed approach to the core Salamander imagery: the hammer, the anvil, the forge-flame. It is criticism that I consider rather unfair. When I talked to him at GDUK’11 about it his reply was: ‘This is how I want to tell their story.’ An apt reply.
Fans do not always get what they want. And they shouldn’t. Where is the fun otherwise?
These same people are going to nerd-rage like anything when they read Nocturne. I see this as Nick’s own way of striking back at his dissenters.
Sometimes the core imagery of a chapter is all they have. For a chapter whose Primarch has been missing since the days of the Dropsite Massacre his teachings inform who they are and what they should be. And the Promethean Creed is just that central to their traditions. I have absolutely no problem with Nick’s approach. I applaud him for it.
Talking about closure once again, the epilogue is going to keep you all reeling.
Nocturne is a 95% conclusive ending to the Tome of Fire series. It can easily be expanded upon in future novels that follow on with the timeline, or even others which happen in conjunction or are prologue-novels. Fingers crossed for more awesomeness that is Salamanders from Nick.
For fans of Salamanders, this novel is a must-have. For those with OCD regarding BL novels, this is a must-have. Seriously, do not miss out on this.