Friday, March 15, 2013

40K Friday - Farseer

This is another 40K novel but it's one from about ten years ago that I somehow missed. I picked it up on our Austin road trip and I'm very happy I did. It's by Bill King, my favorite of the various Warhammer and 40K novel writers. He's written 6 Gotrek and Felix novels and 3 Space Wolf novels and none of them have sucked. A track record like that is hard to find in the realm of "genre fiction". Plus they're actually good - the characters are interesting, the settings and  situations are interesting, and there's some logic to the plot - that's about all I can ask for in a book like this.

This one is no exception but it is somewhat different from other 40K novels and even some of BK's other books.

First, the main character is a Rogue Trader, so right off we have a different take on things as so much of the 40K universe is seen through the eyes of conditioned and engineered space marines or terrified helpless grunts of the imperial guard - here we have a wealthy powerful otherwise normal human who is free to travel and largely do what he pleases without being part of a military organization or a secret conspiracy. As the book begins he is low on funds, in some disfavor and in some debt, and has some other developing problems as well. Much of this is due to a prior expedition that went badly. Part of the story is climbing up out of this hole.

Second another major character is a navigator. These are an interesting part of humanity that have not figured prominently in many of the 40K novels. The high point here is a chapter spent describing a flight through warpspace as perceived by the navigator - I liked it a lot.

Thirdly we have Eldar in a strong supporting role - not as prophets of doom or at the head of massed armies but just two of them, still somewhat mysterious but portrayed as individuals and giving a nice smaller-scale feel of what it's like for humans to deal with them on a personal level. There's also a fair amount of Eldar culture and history tied up in the story so it's not quite as imperial-centric as many of the novels.

I won;t spoil it so that's about all I have to say. It may have been intended as part of a series, but there are no prequels or sequels that I know of - it's a nice self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end. It's also a nice example of how things work for a Rogue Trader if you're interested, especially if you're considering the RPG.


ERIC! said...

Nice been looking for a new 40k read after finishing Ravenor.


JasonZavoda said...

Bill King's stuff is good, but my own favorite is Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cane stories.

Blacksteel said...

I have not read any of the Cane stories - that's a gap I need to address.

The Malcontent said...

Sandy Mitchell and Bill King are two of the best authors for the Black Library. Their stories are consistently well written with full and rich characters and the Ciaphas Cane stories are second only to the Konrad Saga by David Ferring (which is still the best Warhammer series I've ever read).