Review: Dark Vengeance / Author: C Z Dunn / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
Dark Vengeance is the stand-alone novella that also happens to expand the tale told in the audio drama The Ascension of Balthasar. It’s a short and action packed tale of fastidious space monks (known as Dark Angels) taking on a cult of demon worshipping power-armoured warriors, and is the sort of tale that should be familiar to fans of the franchise. Each chapter, short though they are, has been written from a first person perspective, and the tale jumps around quite a bit. One moment we’re seeing things from the perspective of a spooky space monk with mind reading powers, the next we are a huge mechanical beast living a tortured existence.
Dunn tells the tale quickly and cleverly, setting up the various twists and plot hooks in rapid order and then exploiting them just as quickly. It’s a skilfully woven tale, but because it’s quite short, it also lacks substance. The novella is also £12 for about 125 pages; it may be hard backed, but that’s still a little steep. That said, I am a sucker for tales that tell things from the bad guy’s perspective, and it has some great (and scary) moments; it could just do with being longer.
Both The Ascension of Balthasar and Dark Vengeance have been created to promote the latest edition of the Warhammer 40,000 game, also called Dark Vengeance. Though you could make a case that all of Black Library’s products promote some game or another, these two are direct tie-ins, so much so that you can almost picture the little toy soldiers in your head whilst you’re reading it. Neither of them read like adverts however, they seem more like a way of enhancing the imagination of those who are interested in the game. Unlike a lot of the Black Library range, Dark Vengeance is perhaps best consumed by those who are heavily into Warhammer 40,000, simply because it is so plugged into its source of inspiration.