Corax Lord of Shadows is the tenth book in the pre-Horus Heresy Primarch series, featuring the leader of the Raven Guard. Set During the great Crusade, the immense void-cities of the Carinae must be brought under the control of the Imperium. Corax joins his Legion with an Imperial War Host to being the Carinae to heel. The void-cities are well defended however and at the height of this fierce conflict the void-city Zenith unleash a deadly ancient bio-weapon, bringing the imperial force to it's knees and leaving the Raven Guard left to face almost insurmountable odds.
Guy Haley has written a number of Warhammer 40k stories and he totally nails the ambience here, the style and tone are perfect. It's interesting to see the Raven Guard in action, their use of stealth and guerilla warfare marks them as different to most other legions. The character of Corax is also portayed well. We have already had stories of his origins in other novels (see Gav Thorpes Deliverance Lost and the Corax books) so the emphasis is placed on his continued drive to prove himself to the Emperor. I loved the way Haley makes the most of Corax' more ambiguous personality. We know he's a good guy and supports the Emperor and holds himself to pretty high ideals, but he's also got a darkness within him and a ruthless streak which all makes him seem a bit more (post)human than you might expect a Primarch to be. This is nicely reflected when set against the seemingly perfect Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman at the start of the book.
The target of Corax' current wrath, that of the Carinae Sodality, also mixes things up a bit. The Carinae don't live on one big planet, instead inhabiting a thousand artificial moons. This does make the fight all the more interesting and the author manages to find a good balance between the action and story. The use of stealth and other sneak-tactics is a nice change, as is the depiction of the darker side of combat.
The exploration of Corax' personality adds another dimension to an already fine book, while the quality and tone of the authors writing really does set the book apart. It's a short read at a shade over 200 pages but none of it is wasted space.
I love how these Primarch novels add more detail to the Horus Heresy-era Warhammer world, while not essential reading, they all add to this wonderfully rich universe and Corax Lord of Shadows is different enough to offer something new too.
Written on 21st February 2019 by Ant.
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