REQUIEM INFERNAL / AUTHOR: PETER FEHERVARI / PUBLISHER: GAMES WORKSHOP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Warhammer 40,000 is one of those popular franchises that can be rather intimidating for new readers. Given that the setting is 10,000 years long and a galaxy wide, it’s no surprise that many get a little lost, especially with the wide range of potential stories on offer.
Requiem Infernal is a good place to start. It’s a horror-thriller which focuses on the Adepta Sororitas, Warhammer 40,000’s militant cult of battle nuns who fight demonic and alien forces with their unshakable faith, powered armour and powerful weapons. The author eschews much of the usual features of a Warhammer book. This is not a tale of epic space battles where male power fantasies take on impossible monsters and succeed despite the depressingly low odds. Instead, it’s a slow-burn psychological horror, one that owes more to the likes of Alien and The Thing than The Horus Heresy.
We open with an ominous prologue, where we learn that heresy and the road to hell is paved with all sort of intentions. It’s also clear from the start that this will not be a straightforward adventure. We then cut to the journey of doomed soldiers seeking refuge in a distant hospital, manned by the Sororitas. We are introduced to a dedicated Commissar and his unit, the Void Breachers, as well as various Sisters of Battle and Sister Asenath Hyades, a woman with a past who seeks answers in the most dangerous possible way.
Fehervari’s writing style is appropriately dense, gothic and flows in a smooth, lyrical way. This is a tale of horror during a futuristic dark age, and the language is both flowery and sombre. It will take most readers a while to get hooked; there are a lot of characters and there’s a lot going on here. Pretty much everyone has something to hide (or something they’re avoiding) and, by the time you’ve gotten the hang of these tangled lives, you’re a third of the way through the book.
Though this is a standalone novel, those familiar with Fehervari’s previous books will recognise themes and characters throughout. There’s plenty of action and some very memorable ‘horrors of war’ scenes that hammer home the ‘grim dark’ themes of the Warhammer world. This book nails one of the core themes of Warhammer 40,000 - there is only war because mankind can’t stop fighting its own darkness.
If you have no interest in the toys and games produced for Warhammer 40,000 but you really want to understand what the appeal is, check this out. Or take a look at Fehervari’s other books, such as Fire Caste or Cult of the Spiral Dawn.