Review: Blood of Asaheim / Author: Chris Wraight / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
The Space Wolves are a mainstay of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise; in a setting that is famed for taking mishmashed ideas and making them somewhat unique, the Space Wolves stand out as one of the greatest examples of this treatment, as they are genetically enhanced, superhuman, power armoured space Vikings, with a wolf motif.
Blood of Asaheim is a character-driven adventure focusing on a warrior called Gyrfalkon, who has been on secondment in the Deathwatch (a sort of grim-dark cultural exchange programme where various warriors from all over the galaxy get together to exchange stories and murder aliens). He returns to find his former unit in a state of disarray, and much of the narrative is taken up with the band of battle brothers trying to find a common ground. The central plot revolves around a sacred planet and a force of corrupt beings who want to desecrate an entire world. Unfortunately, the only allies available are a detachment of Sisters of Battle, holy crusaders who see the Space Wolves as a savage and pagan bunch. To say that they don’t get on is an understatement, and the author gleefully exploits this conflict to generate a great amount of drama and excitement.
The Space Wolves have been written about many times by various star authors in the Black Library, and the up and coming Wraight finds a sweet spot between the multiple interpretations of these heroes; the result is a heady mix of stereotypical drunken Viking mixed in with a believable and engaging culture. Blood of Asaheim is a bit of a mixed bag; we have lots of good characterisation and some standout action scenes that glue the narrative strongly together, though this does mean that the pacing lags at points. It does feel like an unfinished tale in parts, and I suspect this is not the last we’ve seen of these heroes.