I'm always a few months behind the release schedule, so while this isn't outright thread-o-mancy, I nonetheless apologize for bumping this topic up from its long sleep.
When we talk about tie-in fiction, we often give what might come across as a back-handed compliment: "this is a very good Warhammer 40k novel," or something to that effect. The Carrion Throne,
in my opinion, is a very good novel, period, and at times approaches excellence. Someone who had never previously so much as perused a book about this setting could immerse themselves in The Carrion Throne,
losing themselves in what struck me as a masterful depiction of a futuristic dystopia.
Having only gotten the eBook version of The Carrion Throne,
I didn't get a chance to read the foreword. The influence Abnett and Watson had on this work, mentioned elsewhere in this topic, is palpable - but that's not a bad thing. One of my complaints about Warhammer 40k fiction is that its authors often sacrifice the dark, positively tragic elements that inform the setting for, well, kind of bland tales set in undistinguishable places. Wraight does well to reach back to some of the original works of 40k: the Inquisition War trilogy by Ian Watson, and the Eisenhorn and Ravenor works of Dan Abnett. To his credit, it never feels like he's aping either predecessor, but rather uses them as a frame of reference to craft his own distinct work. In some ways, it improves on the original.
At its best, The Carrion Throne
succeeds in making the Terra of the 41st Millennium feel real
, and that is a triumph in and of itself. Wraight masterfully makes you feel both the crushing oppression of day-to-day life on the Throneworld and the raw fanaticism felt by the stinking, dying, brainwashed masses of humanity. Wraight's vision of the colossal, decrepit planetary city-scape in which Crowl and Spinoza fight and toil is - to me - what Ridley Scott's vision of 21st century Los
Angeles in Bladerunner
was for cinema; it is a John Blanche painting, in the proverbial thousand words. When Crowl is brought within the Imperial Palace, I didn't just get a sense of the scale, but how it would have felt
to be there - not just in terms of how big everything is, but what it would all mean to someone for whom the Imperial Creed is everything.
If you ask me, The Carrion Throne
has two weaknesses:
1. As rich and powerful as the writing is throughout, once Wraight gets into the closing battles things get fast, loose, and generic. Most of the action leading to - and including - Spinoza's infiltration of the Angels' Tears sanctuary is well thought-out and reads right. The timing of the storm troopers' assaults, for instance, feels spot-on. The more pieces Wraight introduces, though, the more he relies on the standard tropes of Warhammer 40k fiction: vague descriptions of things and people doing bad things to one another.
2. The ending is just a big letdown. The Big Reveal doesn't happen until the tale is almost done and, unlike everything else shown up that point, feels poorly thought-out and... well... highly unlikely
. It's understood that it represents monumental labor on the part of the villains; despite their plot being tied to perhaps the biggest problem of the Imperium, circa 999.M41, though, there is virtually no follow-up. There is no closure. There isn't even a proper "Some people are too powerful to go down, Crowl," moment.
All that having been said, I would recommend The Carrion Throne
to anyone, unconditionally. It's not just one of the best Black Library novels I've read in a long time, but - to reemphasize my earlier point - one of the better novels I've read in a while, period.
Edited by Phoebus, 12 October 2017 - 12:24 AM.