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Review: Ahriman – Exile / Author: John French / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now

Ahriman is one of the signature characters of the Warhammer 40,000 setting; he’s the greatest Chaos Sorcerer in the Galaxy (or so it is claimed) and responsible for saving his own legion (The Thousand Sons) by cursing most of them for all eternity. A book like Ahriman: Exile was always going to require a steady hand to prevent this key protagonist from becoming a cackling Skeletor-like cliché.

French tackles this by setting the story during a time when Ahriman is keeping a low profile. He’s changed his name and identity and joined a wonderfully demented war-band in order to recover from mistakes in the past and restore his confidence. A challenge worthy of his powers swiftly arrives and he breaks cover in order to deal with it. This is not a maudlin journey of self-pity and discovery; it’s an adventure tale about a villain taking his place in the galaxy.

They are some nice touches; the sorcerous scenes are nicely surreal at points and are reminiscent of early Michael Moorcock in places. The supporting cast is interesting and you get a strong sense of the greater galaxy through French’s writing; the story is littered with renegade Space Marines, Inquisitorial agents and strange seers, lending further depth to the ongoing tale. It’s written in a readily engaging and straightforward style which makes it ideal ‘on the move’ reading; the story is interesting without being challenging and they are enough twists to keep the reader going until the end.

It’s unlikely to appeal to those not already familiar with the franchise, but those with a love of all things Chaos will want to snap this up.

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