In Darkness We Stand, Divided We Fall – A Review of Corax: Soulforge

I’ve had a sabbatical from the Heresy series for the past six months or so due to Black Library changing the publishing formats of the books, and the tragic collector in me wanting to keep everything on my shelf the same size. Rather than spend my time crying about it on the Internet though (if the size of a book’s initial print run format has “killed your love for the series” you need to get a grip), I just caught up with other things like the Wheel of Time (which I didn’t get on with, but I digress) and WWII novels about the Nazis.

The Horus Heresy series for me has on the whole been a great success. I’ve loved how they’ve used it to explore some of the more obscure areas of the background, such as the Mechanicum, Sisters of Silence, Custodes, Thunder Warriors and so on that have been teased about for years, and to be honest they can take as long as they like to get to the Siege of Terra.

Heresy Novella Collection

Heresy Novella Collection

As one of the asides to the main series, Black Library has taken to producing premium limited edition novellas, which are centred around the Primarchs. This is the fourth in the series and focuses on Corax of the Raven Guard. Set after the events of Deliverance Lost (and thus the Dropsite Massacre), it tells the story of the Raven Guard taking the fight to the Traitors, taking revenge from the shadows against their betrayers.

None.. more black.

None.. more black.

Before I talk about that, I’ll talk about the presentation of the Novella. Like the others in this series, the book is contained within a wrap around cover, with art that depicts Corax and his Raven Guard swooping out of the heavens to deliver vengeance to the forces of the Dark Mechanicum. It’s a great and detailed painting which this format does justice too. Inside the dust jacket, a short story entitled “The Shadow Walkers” is presented, which acts as a companion to the novella. Detailing some of the background to an elite group of Raven Guard, this is a nice touch that makes you feel slightly better about dropping a large sum on such a small book. The novel itself is then completely black: a black on black cover and black edged pages. Thankfully the text inside isn’t printed black on black though and a full on Spinal Tap-esque disaster is averted.

Back of Novella

Back of Novella

On to the most important part of the book, the actual story. As with the short, this centres around Corax and a small force of his Raven Guard taking on a Forge World of the Mechanicum that the Word Bearers have manipulated and corrupted. Depleted in numbers, they have to rely more than ever on their precise and methodical shadowy Guerrilla tactics that define their warcraft, and I really enjoyed the segments depicting this as they escalate from small engagements to causing a full uprising. This isn’t a simple Space Marine Battles 101 book though, the events of Istvaan and after are still raw and resonate deeply throughout the legion, causing division and doubt at every level.

I think Gav really nailed the essence of the Raven Guard in this novel and it’s probably his strongest writing to date, the shortened format really seems to focus his writing that I’ve felt can get lost in some of his larger works, for instance during his Sundering Trilogy. The only part I didn’t enjoy was the “you were too late” trope in the first chapter, which felt jarring and confusing, while also lacking the pay-off he had been building up, as you never find out exactly how they saved the reactor from overloading with seconds to spare.

This is a decent addition to the Heresy, exploring further the 30K universe and showing us the past and glimpses of how it became GW’s Grim Dark far future. There aren’t any huge revelations contained within, so unless you are a completist, you don’t need to drop the substantial funds required to obtain a copy from eBay (It’s extremely debatable that it was worth it’s original £30 too, but what choice do we really have in these matters?), but it’s definitely a recommended read. I imagine converts of the Raven Guard will be particularly satisfied at their depiction within, but anyone with an interest of seeing an alternative way for Marines waging war should check this too. If they can..

This entry was posted in Book Review, Reviews, Warhammer 40k by OC. Bookmark the permalink.

About OC

As well as being a veteran edgeman, part of Atonement Records and bass player in bands such as Ironclad, Ark of the Covenant and Natural Order, OC has an unfortunate penchant for collecting plastic models that come in shiny boxes, such as Warhammer models and Lego, and an even more unfortunate tendency for procrastination, meaning much of their contents never see the light of day.

1 thought on “In Darkness We Stand, Divided We Fall – A Review of Corax: Soulforge

  1. Totally agree about new publishing format. I’ve just switched to ebooks but they’re really expensive compared to the old smaller books.

    I’ve also completely lost the publishing order thread.

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