Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Salamander by Nick Kyme

Salamander by Nick Kyme
416 pages

Hailing from the volcanic world of Nocturne, Space Marines from the Salamanders Chapter are in search of an ancient artefact that leads to a world overrun by Chaos. They are the fire-born: implacable warriors with iron hard determination. But all is not what it seems as far more dangerous foe is revealed. As bitter rivalries break out amongst the Salamanders their endurance will be tested to the limit. Will the Salamanders survive long enough to discover the truth about this world and the revelations that will shake the very foundations of this Chapter forever?...

So I received Firedrake to review but hadn't read Salamander yet, so to get the full effect I picked up Salamander at Barnes and Noble...and finished the book in a night. Granted, it was a long night: I finished at 3:30 am.

Mr. Kyme starts it off with a bang: an action packed, emotional prologue that sets the stage nicely. The main characters are vivid, you can't help but get a very clear picture of them. Tsu'gan the noble-born hothead and Dak'ir, the low-born contemplative. Surrounding them are a number of very cool characters that are nicely fleshed out and make this a very characterful novel. The insight in to the Salamander Chapter is awe-inspiring. A progenitor chapter finally fleshed out in detail!

The plot is very well conceived. Very smart. There are some exceptional reveals and some additional mysteries presented. The reader is certainly kept on their toes. The author does a fine job of "splitting the party" and keeping several simultaneous threads going strong: his pacing is very good. I have to admit there are times I got a bit confused on the relationship between the antagonist and the protagonist were.

As I turned the pages, the author led me down a primrose path, setting the stage and tweaking my emotions. Of course like any good author he has plots within plots, and things going on behind the scenes we don't know of, so he's able to keep the tension going and surprises coming. Well done Mr. Kyme.

The finale is powerful. I really didn't see it coming. Maybe it blindsided me, maybe I allowed myself to be. Either way, the end is action packed and it left me anxious for more.

The Salamanders Chapter is very much a "Good Guy" chapter. They have a high regard for humanity and are very honorable in every way. I think they shine in their own way as much as any other progenitor chapter. The author REALLY gives them a very distinct vibe and I love it. I can see some others not digging it as much, preferring Mortificators, Exorcists, Blood Drinkers and other more...gritty, dirty chapters.

Mr. Kyme is also able to write at the down and dirty individual/ squad level, space combat/ strategic level as well as the top end Heroic/ Chapter Master level. This is exceptional as some authors don't seem to give the grit or grandeur the proper feel: Nick Kyme handles this deftly.

The cover art by Cheoljoo Lee is fitting, crisp and clear. Very much an iconic Salamander image. Well done Cheoljoo Lee!

Nick Kyme is on a roll! He's steamrolling his way through the 40k 'verse and taking no prisoners!
This is an exceptional introduction to the Space Marines for anyone who hasn't read about them yet, or a stellar into to the Salamanders for anyone already familiar with Adeptus Astartes. Even for those unfamiliar with the Warhammer 40k setting, this is just some damn good sci-fi/ military fiction.

4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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