Four days into Black Library’s Summer of Reading and the Space Wolves are back, in Hollow Beginnings by Mark Clapham. Following on from In Hrondir’s Tomb (way back in 2012’s Hammer & Bolter 20, now released as an e-short) it sees Anvindr and his pack braving a burning ork fortress to make sure the warboss is really dead, unwilling to trust to the guns of the Imperial Guard. Billed as looking at the Wolves’ objectives and whether they’re really there to help the Guard, it’s actually much simpler than that – it’s a case of Marines doing what mortals can’t.
There’s a promising start, watching from a human’s perspective as the Wolves almost accidentally come to the aid of the beleaguered Guard trying to stem the tide of orks fleeing their burning fortress. Sadly once the view switches to the Marines things quickly become bogged down in generic Marine stereotypes (the quiet one, the massive one, the brash one etc.) and writing that’s too often clumsy and overly simplistic. It’s plotted quite well, and there’s an interesting ending beyond what might be expected, but overall it’s just not quite executed as well as it could be, and the Wolves feel like a step backwards compared to some recent depictions. Uninspired, really.