Atlas Infernal: A review
7 January 2012
Welcome to the insane world of High Inquisitor Czevak.
I've not read much 40K Black Library material recently other then the Horus Heresy books, so I was a bit skeptical when first starting this (a Christmas 2011 gift) as my 40K reading palate had become a bit jaded. But Atlas Infernal proved a real tonic.
As a reader you are following the frenetic journey of the likeable rogue of an Ordo High Inquisitor Czevak and his retinue in their mission to thwart the Thousand Sons' Ahriman and Sorcerer Korban Xarchos in re birthing the daemon Mammoshad to be used as their vassal of destruction.
Czevak is well supported by an interesting retinue of heretical characters including an Inquisitor Interrogator, a Relictors Chapter techmarine, a bound daemon within a daemonhost, a warp-seer navigator (and accompanying servo-skull) and various Salvar Chem-Dogs Imperial troopers, amongst others. All are aboard a rogue trader ship captained by a female ex-navy captain. The characters are well-formed, each having enough to make you think they are more than skin deep and you have a real empathy for their fates. No mean feat in a lively 402 page narrative.
It's a good old fashioned adventure story through the realms of the Eye of Terror that takes place during the Thirteenth Black Crusade. You'll have ship-to-ship battles aplenty, battle Khornate pirates, Nurgle Guard infantry, Grey Knight terminators and Thousand Son Space Marines, various daemons and eldar; and be constantly chased by eldar Harlequins and the Thousand Sons in their efforts recover the webway atlas that Czevak stole from the Black Library. Harried from all sides Czevak's retinue have no 'side' of their own, yet Czevak's self-belief that what they're doing is right for the Empire and possibly of great benefit to the ailing Emperor himself binds them together as a solid team.
There is a rich vein of interesting and ghoulish Dark Mechanicus cult and xeno artifacts littered throughout to play with as well as very strange worlds and civilisations to explore. The latter often depressing in their Nurgle-infested decay and atrophe. And everywhere the Thousand Sons are hell bent on killing billions to reach their ultimate goal.
The story is well written and thought through. The literary device of weaving the start of the story through the body of the book in Interregna 'Chorus' chapters is at first odd but makes total sense come the story's conclusion. At no time does it sink to the usual cheap-thrill common denominator blood-fest that is often the downfall of other BL novels. There's an integrity of vocabulary and thought that remains at the same high quality throughout — so full marks to the author and editor for that.
A fast-paced adventure that took me by surprise by its quality and intelligence if I'm honest by an author I haven't encountered before. It's very hard to put down once you get up and running with it. If he writes another in this series then I'd definitely buy it.
UK PRICE: £7.99 (at date of publication)
UK ISBN-13: 978-1-84970-069-6
GW PRODUCT CODE: 6010 0181 152
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