Originally serialised in eight separate short stories spread out over a period of months, Legends of the Dark Millennium – Space Wolves now collects together these stories from four Black Library authors into a single volume. Not so much an anthology as a collective novel, it focuses on Ulrik the Slayer and Krom Dragongaze as they embark on a desperate search for Logan Grimnar after the Great Wolf fails to return from his Great Hunt. Each author tackles two parts of the wider story, beginning with Ben Counter and moving through Steve Lyons and Rob Sanders before finishing off with CL Werner.
The story opens with the various Great Companies returning to the Fang in triumph and celebrating their successes in typically boisterous Space Wolf fashion. It sets the tone for the story as much more the old-school portrayal of the Wolves rather than the Heresy-esque Vlka Fenryka, but it’s an entertaining and promising start nonetheless. As Ulrik sets out to look for Grimnar though it quickly descends into mediocrity, taking a predictable path full of the usual cliches that’s fine for anyone looking for straight up Space Marine action but proves disappointingly bland otherwise. Steve Lyons picks up the thread next, continuing with the tone that’s already been set and adding additional plot threads to widen out the straightforward story so far. Alarm bells really start ringing though when some of the Wolves find themselves captured by dark eldar, the tau just forgotten alongside the original premise of searching for Grimnar.
Somewhere down the line this could really have benefited from some editorial intervention – where two or three well-written plot arcs would have been welcome, here the story gradually expands to see the Wolves fighting variously with or against the tau, dark eldar, Alpha Legion, Dark Angels, Thousand Sons and various daemons. Throw in a trip to Commoragh, a journey through the Webway, some confused (and confusing) loyalties, and an occasional visit from the Wulfen, and you’ve got a recipe for an absolute muddle. There’s just no clear purpose to the overall story – finding Grimnar seems relegated in favour of roping in as many antagonists as possible.
Sadly the over-complicated plot also forces the authors to spend too much time showing Wolves gnashing their fangs and boasting about their prowess, and not nearly enough time actually building depth and flavour to these characters. As a result the whole thing feels not just muddled but simplistic and shallow. There are occasional glimpses of what it might have been, primarily from Rob Sanders or CL Werner, but they’re few and far between. Overall it’s a frustrating read that seems content to plow a predictable and uninspiring furrow instead of taking risks. It’s not awful, just disappointing.
See my original reviews of the eight individual stories below:
Feast of Lies by Ben Counter
The Caged Wolf by Ben Counter
Eye of the Dragon by Steve Lyons
Dark City by Steve Lyons
The Darkness of Angels by Rob Sanders
The Wolf Within by Rob Sanders
Scent of a Traitor by CL Werner
Wrath of the Wolf by CL Werner