The fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000 is extremely rich and complicated. Since its inception, this creation of Games Workshop has taken on a life of its own and has spanned a variety of media in the form of movies, comics, novels, audio-dramas, and so on. Some of the best fiction has come with the likes of the Bloodquest comics or the Horus Heresy multi-media series and so on. I’ve been a fan of this setting for almost 15 years or now, and it has certainly been a journey that has had its ups and downs. Will of Iron looks to chart a bold new path forward.
Recently, Titan Comics was granted the license to publish fresh new comics in the 40K universe, and Will of Iron #1 is the first of these new stories that brings the indomitable Space Marines and their various enemies back to comics forefront. Written by George Mann, the new series focuses on one of the most secretive and oldest factions of these space-faring warrior-monks as many of their secrets are about to be exposed and their efforts to contain the spread of such knowledge begin. The first issue is a bit predictable and dry, but it is also very promising and for that I give it a big thumps up.
Doing one of these posts often takes a lot out of me because of all the linking and checking and verification and formatting and everything, but lists like this also help me crystalize my year in reading, so I value them quite highly. Thankfully, I’m able to get this list out in time and most of the books on the list have already been reviewed as well, so that’s something too.
With the year 2014 now done and over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st July to December 31st. I didn’t read as many books this time as I wanted to, primarily because I got married in the first week of July itself, and things have changed a fair bit. But life remains exciting and interesting in equal measure, and my reading also happens to match that rather closely, so I’ll take that in full indeed!
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
I’ve mentioned before, repeatedly so, that Sarah Cawkwell is one of my favourite authors right now, and has been since about late 2010 or so, ever since I started reading her short stories in Black Library’s monthly magazine, Hammer & Bolter, which is sadly discontinued now. She’s one of the best examples of fans of Black Library to have come up through the ranks to become a bona fide author for the publisher and pretty much everything that she has written to date has been spectacular or close it, even her original stuff such as The Ballad of Gilrain or Uprising.
Sarah is most noted for her Silver Skulls fiction for Warhammer 40,000 where she has taken the so-named Space Marine Chapter under her umbrella and told some really fascinating stories about characters from across the Chapter’s many and varied ranks. The most recent Silver Skulls fiction is the (currently) digital-only novel Portents, released just a few weeks ago. In it, she carries forwards threads she introduced in her previous work, whether short stories or her debut novel The Gildar Rift, and it is a most satisfying read indeed. It was great to have Sergeant Gileas Ur’ten back again for another outing, a sizable one this time, and the exploration of the Chapter culture in itself was most fascinating.
Chapter records state that the first Astartes to bear the name Sons of Corax once belonged to the Raven Guard Third and Eighth companies that were still struggling to recoup their losses following the Horus Heresy. Captain Taimon Naskius of the Raven Guard Eighth was chosen by his Chapter Master to lead the newly formed Sons of Corax and continue to protect Humanity. In the age of the Imperium’s rebirth from the ashes of its devastating civil war, Space Marine forces were needed more than ever. Several new chapters were sanctioned for the Third Founding and they took part in some of the bloodiest battles in Imperial history. Captain Naskius took the title of High Commander, a former legion rank often bestowed by the Primarch Corax upon the most preeminent fleet captain. The Sons of Corax were gifted with the battle-barge Montisgarre, a warship of the Great Crusade that had served since the Heresy as a training vessel in the Deliverance system.
High Commander Naskius established the Sons as a crusading chapter and chose the Tempestus Segmentum as his eternal warzone. In the early years of their founding the Sons worked frequently alongside their predecessors the Raven Guard and several newly commissioned Imperial Guard regiments. The Sons established cooperative pacts with many of these regiments and cemented their ties to Raven Guard. Over the years the Sons have exchanged many battle honours with their allies and the Vault of Conquest aboard Montisgarre is home to the battle standards commemorating their victories. They have earned recognition across the entirety of the Segmentum for their dedication and loyalty as well as their relentless persecution of all enemies of the Imperium.
Yet for all their nobility and their glorious battle record they have had their moments of ill-repute and campaigns that have failed. During the Frannos Heresy of 119.M37 the Chapter slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians of Orlin IV in order to capture the traitorous Cardinal Frannos. The Ordo Hereticus demanded custody of the prisoner but the Sons refused and executed the Cardinal publicly, an act of defiance that earned them bitter enemies amongst the Ordo. This and other incidents have created mutual distrust between the Ordo and the Chapter and the Sons have ever avoided Inquisitorial control. Given the political connections cultivated by the Chapter, the Ordo Hereticus has avoided open confrontations, preferring to work covertly.
In 533.M39 the chapter participated in an Imperial campaign to drive out the forces of Chaos in the Becoun subsector and reclaim it in the name of the Emperor. However, incompetent leadership and political infighting doomed the campaign from the start with initial victories overshadowed by one disastrous defeat after another. The 8th and 9th companies who had taken part in the campaign suffered crippling casualties and were forced to withdraw three years later lest they be wiped out completely. Over a hundred and fifty battle-brothers had been lost and it took the chapter nearly seven decades to bring both companies back to full strength.
Over the millennia, the Sons of Corax have fought a great many different foes but of all of them they prefer most to fight the renegades and traitors of the Chaos Space Marines. The Chapter nurses a particular hatred for the Betrayers of Isstvan, the Traitor Legions of the Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion, Night Lords and the Word Bearers. The Sons have brought many of their enemies’ followers to justice and their fury when dealing with these accursed followers of Chaos is unmatched.