Monday, 24 June 2013

Horus Heresy Book Review: Promethean Sun by Nick Kyme

Promethean Sun

One of the books I never got round to reading first time round due to its limited edition £30 price point, Promethean Sun has been re-released as a hardback novella at half the price. Being as this may well be the only time the book will be made available I picked it up. Is it worth it’s price? Well read on to find out

 Promethean sun is our as of yet (Vulkan Lives is due later in the year) only look at the XVIII Legion, the Salamanders, in the Horus Heresy. Now admittedly their part in the Heresy is not a particularly large one, being one of the Legions decimated at the Dropsite Massacres on Istvaan which prevents them from having a meaningful role in the later stages. However, the book's author Nick Kyme, has also been responsible for a Trilogy of books focusing on Vulkans Legion for Warhammer 40,000 which I have to confess I have not read. 

One thing I have read however is Feat of Iron, Nick Kyme's effort for the Heresy Novel The Primarchs and anybody who has read my Heresy Overview with Andrew Babcock (available here: will know that I did not care for that particular entry AT ALL. Now Promethean Sun is set at the same time as that book and I have to say that possibly one of the reasons I disliked Feat of Iron so much was due to having  not read Promethean Sun first, certainly I now feel compelled to re-read it forearmed with knowledge of the surrounding events and see if I view the story any more charitably.

The book deals with the bringing to Compliance of Planet 154-4. Three Legions are tasked with its liberation from the attentions Eldar Exodites who are occupying the planet. These Legions are the Death Guard, the Iron Hands and obviously the Salamanders. All three Primarchs for their respective legions are present and Kyme does a good job of representing them and highlighting their different personalities and approaches to War. Mortarion is the one to receive short shrift and I can only hope that a little further on we will get some dedicated Death Guard Primarch action, even another novella from the XIV’s legions perspective (largely based on operations in artic areas) to complete the triumvirate would be welcome.

Vulkan, unlike many of his brothers, is instantly likeable. Whatever my issues with the portrayal of Ferrus Manus in Feat of Iron were, I was very impressed by the way the Salamanders Primarch was presented here. With a level of compassion previously not displayed in the series Vulkan is a far more approachable and rounded character than I had been expecting. The time spent fleshing out Vulkan does mean that most of the other ensemble are mostly ignored but it matters not as this is Vulkans story. Flashbacks provide much of the narrative and we gain a fascinating insight into the Primarchs early days that has previously been missing.

One thing that did grate is Kymes insistence on referring to the Exodites reptilian forces by Dinosaur names. Stegosaur, Pteranodon and Raptor and the like really knocked my immersion level in the book and it is fortunate that this is mainly limited to the first couple of dozen pages. Kymes writing prose is also suspect at times again mainly in the start of the book but I must say that as the story develops things flow very well. Ferrus is more rounded here as his harsh nature is tempered against his brother and the whole story is rather engaging. Kyme does a great job of portraying the action and it is spectacular without resorting to silly or bombastic. There is a running core to the story which I particularly appreciate as the Vulkan is forced to reconsider the Astartes very purpose and function. As previously mentioned the book features a large proportion of flashbacks which only add to the depth of Vulkans portrayal.

That said the book does let itself down a little with an entirely unnecessary twist ending that seems to have been added purely for effects sake. It doesn’t ruin the rest of the book though and I do recommend you check this out. Plenty of action but substance beneath it all, three Primarchs and plenty of Xenos. It feels well paced and with the lack of any breaks or chapters it feels like quite a long story. 

The book itself is nicely presented with a dust jacket around a hardback book that repeats the jacket artwork, it could certainly be described as a nice product.. Despite the premium format £15 is a lot to pay for 125 pages of very large print and i cannot honestly say that i feel it is fairly priced. Still it is a lot less than £30 and I would say that I enjoyed Promethean Sun a lot more than many other HH novels I have read. In the event that this is the future reprint format for all the limited novellas that have thus far been released I can only say that I hope they all prove to be at least as good as Promethean Sun.

4 Anvils out of 5

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