Review: Damnos / Author: Nick Kyme / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
Damnos is a hardback relaunch of a previous novel, The Fall of Damnos, with a new novella, The Spear of Macragge and a collection of rather pretty full colour illustrations.
The plot of The Fall of Damnos is quite straightforward; ancient mechanical horrors rise from the depths of the densely populated mining world Damnos, and the galaxy’s finest warriors, the Ultramarines, turn up to punch said antediluvian menace in the face. The bad guys in question are the spooky robotic skeleton monsters known as the Necrons, and they work well as full-on manic bad guys. This is a rip-roaring tale of adventure starring lantern-jawed heroes smacking villainous villains, peppered with gritty darkness.
The trick to a good action story is to make the reader care about characters involved, and The Fall of Damnos does this by giving us an insight into the daily routine of the main characters: we see Ultramarines politicking in a ‘Greco-Romans in Space’ sort of way, we see the inhabitants of the doomed planet getting on with their lives and most interesting of all, we see the Necrons vying for favour and power within their own ranks. Given that Necrons are basically Gothic Terminator-style robots, this is a bit of a treat. It’s nice to see the evil robot monsters get a chance to actually be theatrical
The novel is not without its flaws; Kyme spices up the Ultramarines by giving them a bit more of political bent, and this isn’t explored strongly enough to be compelling. (However, this did parallel nicely with the struggles of the ordinary mortals from the plucky resistance fighters to the despair-driven commander – poor, doomed normal people who bring a level of depth and meaning to a mostly action-driven narrative.) Also, the Ultramarines suffer from being a little bit too interchangeable, and though this paralleled nicely with the robotic hordes, this element didn’t engage me strongly enough to work.
The novella, Spear of Macragge, follows directly on from the events of The Fall of Damnos, quite dramatically so in fact. It is a much faster paced story and relies heavily on the momentum generated from the previous story to make the reader care about the characters. This mostly works, though one of the key protagonists is still quite wooden. It is the violence that carries this tale forward, and though it’s a nice bonus, it’s not as strong as the main feature. This is a treat for fans of Necrons and Ultramarines, and a reasonable introduction for those looking to get into the world of Warhammer 40,000.