Thursday, 15 October 2009

Salamander by Nick Kyme

If you’ve ever come across Warhammer 40,000 you’ll know who the Space Marines are. 8 foot tall, power armour clad, genetically engineered super humans they are the elite of Mankind’s armies in the 41st Millennium. There may be less than one space marine for every inhabited world but it is enough.

With Space Marines being the most popular army in Warhammer 40,000 it is thus unsurprising that a large percentage of the offerings from the Black Library feature them. Which is why I’m sure when Salamander was released a few people probably groaned and moaned and asked “ Do we really need another space marines series?”

Based on this offering from Nick Kyme I would have to say yes. Of course I may be slightly biased in that opinion as I do have a small Salamanders force knocking around in one of my carry cases. But moving swiftly on.

The Salamanders are probably one of the two most well known Space Marine chapters that have the least amount of detailed background and their possibly unique in how they deal with ‘regular humans’. Whereas other Space Marine chapters seem to keep as far away from the rest of humanity preferring to be seen as almost god like figures shrouded in myth and Legend, the Salamanders prefer to live among the population of their homeworld.

This closeness to humanity is the source of one of their greatest strengths but it also a great weakness as such close relationships means that although some of the best of humanities traits are displayed by the Salamanders they also display some of the worst. So what I hear some of you cry if they show jealously and the ability to backstab. Well imagine those traits in an eight foot tall genetically engineered superhuman and you’ll see how bad it could be.

Nick Kyme really puts his own stamp on the Salamanders and has written a story that really gives them a unique identity and lets them stand shoulder to shoulder with the other Black Library Space marine series such as the Blood Angels and the Ultramarines.

I was especially impressed with how he dealt with one of the big ‘contradictions’ in the background for the Salamanders which has crept in about their founding father. Not even the Salamanders know for sure and believe that both viewpoints could have happened. A solution to that problem that even if the meerkat would called “ simples”.

Salamander is a great start to the trilogy and has set the bar pretty high for the series as a whole. I was also impressed for how ‘closed’ an ending the book has. Yes there are still some plot threads which will be picked up in the next novel but he’s pretty much given himself free reign to take the story where ever he wants.

Four out of five

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