The tenth title in Black Library’s Deathwatch short story series, Mark Clapham’s The Known Unknown introduces not just the first Librarian to the series but also the first Marine from a non-First Founding chapter in the shape of Jensus Natorian of the Blood Ravens. Joining a mission to cleanse a space hulk of genestealers, he finds the lone survivor of a doomed Blood Ravens force and is reunited with his old mentor from the chapter. As the Deathwatch’s investigation continues and the horrific nature of their enemy is slowly revealed, Natorian sees his loyalty to the Deathwatch come into conflict with the purpose of his chapter.
As a straight-up Deathwatch story this is pretty standard – the usual mission onto a space hulk, the usual enemies, and a fairly typical plot – but as a character study of Natorian it’s really rather interesting. While the backstory of the Blood Ravens is only loosely touched upon there’s still a strong sense of character for them as a chapter, especially with Natorian’s sense of unworthiness compared to his brothers from First Founding chapters, and while fans of the Dawn of War computer games may be familiar with the chapter, there’s enough here for everyone else to get a feel for them. Overall it’s a perfectly entertaining and enjoyable story, albeit with more to enjoy in the exploration of characters than in the action, unusually.