Saturday, 23 May 2015

Horus Heresy Novella Review: Corax: Soulforge by Gav Thorpe

There are a surprising number of the Limited Edition Novellas that are still to be released in a format obtainable to us mere mortals. Scorched Earth and The Imperial Truth are two that come to mind and two that i would really like to read. Corax: Soulforge by Gav Thorpe is another.

And Soulforge is the one i have finally got my mitts on. I was greatly looking forward to reading more Raven Guard from Gav who's Deliverance Lost i really rather enjoyed, particularly for its excellent portrayal of the XIX legion's Primarch Corax. Haunted by the events of the Dropsite Massacre but driven to conduct his guerrilla war best as he can with the remnants of his legion and the new warriors he has managed to create, including those that were affected by the Alpha Legions sabotage. These twisted unfortunates sadly only warrant only a very brief mention in the early stages of the book. Its a shame as i would like to see them more prominently featured. Hopefully the future will lend this opportunity. 

Instead, the focus of Corax: Soulforge is.. well Corax really. In this novella we get a great deal more on Corax's character and a view into how his mind works. There is some great stuff where he talks about his Primarch brothers and he comes across as very rounded and well written. I have always found Gav's character writing to be very strong, making his dramatis personae very identifiable and this is another example of that as Corax fairly flies off the pages, his compassion and determination very well realised. Sadly it does mean that in this novella there is not really any room for anyone else's character to be strongly developed but then it is the Ravenguard Primarch's name on the title after all.

Story wise, Corax: Soulforge deals with a Word Bearer alliance with a Heretic Mechanicum Magos, leading to the taking over of an entire Forge World. something that must be stopped at all costs. For some of the Ravenguard this represents nothing more than a chance to get revenge on the Word Bearers that have hurt them so badly. This often gets in the way, and presented is a wounded legion one that is damaged and divided with Corax being the only thing holding them together. Indeed the very first section of the book deals with a mission aboard a Word Bearers Vessel that is severely jeopardized when one of the Sergeants decides to pursue retribution rather than supporting his battle brothers in the mission objective.

It is up to Corax to bring all this under control as the Raven Guard use the captured vessel to travel to the Forge World that the Word Bearers have corrupted. Even here many of the Raven Guard look to pursue personal vendettas and it is Corax who must remind them that Victory is Vengeance and the best way to hurt the Word Bearers is to beat them. Thus the Ravenguard conduct war against the Dark Mechanicus in the way they know best. Though Corax: Soulforge is not exactly action all the way the latter half of the book in particular certainly is. A scene that involves Corax against 3 defilers sticks in the mind and overall the climax of the story is more than satisfying. It's not bolterporn but its not all character development and exposition either. In my opinion Gav strikes a fine balance between the two.

All in all i really liked Corax: Soulforge. Im not sure it is ever going to be revered as a classic but its a decent sized chunk of something a bit different. It's great seeing the Dark Mechanicus crop up in the Heresy more and Gav is great at characterisation, even working his magic on the numberous Magi in the book. Its a compelling portrayal of a wounded legion and there is plenty of action to go with it and a decent look at Corax's Psyche. Gav Thorpe's next book is Angels of Caliban but he has assured me ' there is always room for more Corax' so hopefully he'll pick this up a bit later and we will get another Ravenguard novel. For now we'll have to make do with this Novella and when it is finally rereleased, Ravenlord. Next up for me is Blades of the Traitor but i really enjoyed Corax: Soulforge Its not particularly ambitious or clever but it is fun to read and gets the job done. Reccomended.


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