Monday, June 29, 2015

Mini-review: The Siege of Castellax

I just went through C. L. Werner's The Siege of Castellax.  It's a "Space Marine Battles Novel", though that's a bit of a stretch as the only Space Marines involved are of the traitor variety.  

The basic plot is that the Iron Warriors-held world of Castellax is invaded by a horde of orks.  Mayhem ensues.  Orks and Iron Warriors, how could I resist?  I went through it pretty quickly, and it was a good read.  Not as deep as some of the better Horus Heresy books, but it wasn't meant to be - it's an action story with two bad guy factions slugging it out and it does that pretty well.  Some deeper themes are hinted at, various kinds of loyalty and duty vs. survival and self-interest, and I would like to see what Werner could do with a story that would let him explore deeper things a bit more, like one of the upcoming three thousand further Horus Heresy novels.

(minor spoilers follow)

In my view, the orks come off better in this.  Their betrayals of each other are just matter of course orkiness, like bombarding places they know their own troops are.  That's just what orks do - they expect it, they would do it themselves, no hard feelings.  The Iron Warrior betrayals and infighting really bring them off as petty and counter-productive even as they try to frame themselves as superior to the millions of humans they dominate.  
There was one really good line.  One Iron Warrior addresses another who has recently returned to the fold after a long, enforced absence.  They discuss their mutual thirst for revenge, and the Iron Warrior asks the returnee - "Who do you want revenge against?"  The reply - "I haven't decided yet."  Also it was a nice touch having the product of a certain underground factory be colored green.

There were a couple of parts with questionable distances - a guy runs away, and in moments is two thousand meters away - and gets shot by someone he fled from.  Both normal humans.  Another time they are able to clearly make out what's going on under a streetlamp twenty-five hundred meters away, seeing uniform details, etc. without magnification.  Definitely read like there was a factor of ten error going on there.  Maybe a result of an American author writing in metric.  

Overall a good read, shows what jerks Chaos Marines can be and how ludicrous and awesome orks can be. 

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