Review: Ravenwing / Author: Gav Thorpe / Publisher: The Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
Ravenwing has piqued the interest of fans of the Warhammer 40,000 novels as it features the mysterious Dark Angels and promises multiple insights into the habits of these strange and secretive warriors, specifically their high-speed attack force which shares the same name as the title of the book.
The Warhammer 40,000 franchise is divided into multiple themed factions, and the thing that makes the Dark Angels unique is that they combine the charm of medieval knights with Machiavellian conspiracy and intrigue. Take The Name of the Rose, blend it with Game of Thrones, and then set it in space with power-armoured superhuman warriors riding high-tech motorbikes fashioned for combat, and you’ll get a good idea as to what the Dark Angels are meant to be like. Gav Thorpe delivers this to the reader in spades, combining action and skullduggery with his distinctive laid-back and curiously engaging style. Ravenwing explores how an elite force packed with hidden agendas works as a cohesive and formidable force, and addresses exactly how they deal with the terrible secrets that they are desperate to hide.
It does this by affording us multiple perspectives across the organisation, from the devoted and perceptive elite warriors who protect the Dark Angels' greatest mysteries to the common warrior who thinks he knows it all and actually hasn’t a clue. Though these characters are distinctive, Thorpe’s desire to endow the entire organisation with a unique personality misfires at times; for instance, he gives everyone the same rather stiff speech rhythms, and this can grow tiresome and repetitive.
The Dark Angels are getting a lot of love from the Black Library at the moment, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of the tabletop game, as the new boxed set comes with a small army of Dark Angel models. Cynicism aside, it’s nice to see the First Legion at the front, where they belong. Fans of the monk-like Space Marines will lap this up, and though it’s laced with Easter eggs for die-hard fans of the setting, newcomers won’t find anything that will put them off.