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Dead Sky, Black Sun by Graham McNeill

April 10, 2008

Readers of the previous incarnation of I Can’t Stop Reading will have noted my weakness for pulp fiction. Anyone who has only read this version will be wondering if I read anything else. Should I feel embarrassed? If so, I have to apologise as I do not. Some people watch CSI: Miami – I do this.

My fondness for pulp science fiction centres around these Black Library books concerning Warhammer 40,000. For those not in the know, Warhammer 40,000 is set in the 41st millennium, a grim future where there is only war, where humanity is best on all sides by alien and supernatural menace, and from within by traitorous forces. Humanity is ruled by the Imperium, though ruled might be too lenient a term. The Imperium is a totalitarian government that keeps most of the population in an industrial dark age, concerned only that they produce goods, arms and soldiery to feed the requirements of war without end. Nice.

Which brings us to Dead Sky, Black Sun. This book unites characters from Storm of Iron, and from the Ultramarines series of books, so the attraction is clear – two pulp serials for the price of one!

While this book is hardly new, I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t got there yet. Storm of Iron is being re-released, and this is the closest thing you are going to get to a sequel. Uriel Ventris, the main character from the Ultramarines series, is sent on a Death Quest into the Eye of Terror to prevent the rise of a terrible evil. In the Eye Ventris finds unexpected allies, and also finds himself in the middle of a power struggle among the Iron Warriors.

Ventris’ loyal to the Imperium is not to be questioned, although the loyalties of everyone else around him is often unclear, and strange alliances can be forged in a place where the laws of physics are often considered an optional extra.

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