Writing about a existing and much loved story is very much a double edged sword. Although you don't have to come up with the story yourself woe betide you if you get anything wrong as the knives will soon be out drawn by ardent fans.
Which is why Steve Parker must have felt a little nervous writing about the story of Rynn's World and the almost total destruction of the Crimson Fists. This story has been a part of Warhammer 40,000 mythos ever since the Rogue trader rulebook hit the shelves. Add into the fact that it was his first full length novel about Space marines and the opening novel of a premier new series from the Black Library and you soon realise the incredible amount of pressure he must have been under.
So this make me all the more pleased to say that Rynn's world is a cracking read and a fantastic opening for the Space Marine Battles series. It's also a great example of what I call " Car crash reading", it's like car crash TV, you know what's going to happen but you can't stop reading/watching, especially when the fateful order to open fire with the missile batteries is given and you just want to yell " Stop! That's going to blow something up all right just not want you want"
The novel is well plotted and the characters of the Crimson fists are bought to life in a rounded way that few other writers have managed with Space Marines. Torn between the desire for revenge, their dedication to duty and the urge to protect the population you totally understand Kantors anguish as he realises that he could well be in a no win situation with a ever dimishing number of men.
Captain Cortez is also a well written character and provides a fantastic foil for Kantor, as the two surviving senior officers with a dissenting opinion of what the Crimson Fists need to do in order to survive. It does make you wonder what would have happened if Kantor hadn't survived the destruction of their fortress. Would the Crimson Fists have survived at all? or died in a heroic yet futile last stand.
The only dissapointing thing I found with the novel was the much talked about 'fold out maps' which seem at some point to have simply changed into two colour maps in the centre of the book. Quite why this change happened I have no idea but I barely even glanced at them. If you like that sort of thing you will probably find them fascinating but if not well you might not even look at them.
I have heard that a few people have complained about the number of typos in the novel. I can honestly say that I didn't notice any of them as I was far too caught up in the story. If you donotice anything badly wrong ( like when a Dreadnought charged out of a Land raider in one of the Jonathan green armageddon books) just do what I do and send them a email to let them know. Their only human after all and mistakes happen. Plus if you don't tell them they won't know!
Rynn's world is a solid start to the Space Marine battles series and has set the bar very high for the authors who will follow. However this also concerns me as well. Rynns world is a well known story in the sense that everyone can tell you what happens to the Crimson Fists fortress ( It's goes bom) but not what happens next. The Helsreach novel by aaron DB ( yes I am cheating there as I can't remember how to spell his name) will probably also benefit from this effect. However story of the third novel in the series " The Hunt for Volodorius" is well documented in the Space Marine codex and Andy Hoare is going to have to do something special to match Rynn's World.
A solid Four out of five.