I’ve had a copy of Chris Wraight’s Blood of Asaheim on my shelf for a few years now, but until it was revealed as the seventh book in Hachette’s Warhammer 40,000 Legends Collection I had never got around to reading it. Having two copies on the shelf and STILL not reading it just seemed wrong, so I happily rectified the situation – you can find my review here, but suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed it!
The first of two Space Wolf novels by Chris Wraight, and originally intended as the opening book in a trilogy (which might yet happen, fingers crossed…), it deals with a single pack of Grey Hunters as they attempt to integrate an old member back into the pack. Ingvar, known as the Gyrfalkon, has just returned from over fifty years serving with the Deathwatch, and has changed since he’s been away. His brothers, particularly pack leader Gunnlaugr, are still much the same as they were, so there’s instant tension within the pack. Sent to a distant Imperial world, they find themselves instead fighting alongside the Sisters of Battle against invading Chaos forces led by the traitorous Death Guard.
I’ve suggested before that this collection seems to be focusing on two main things – celebrating classic books, and introducing as many factions as possible. This one falls into the latter category, being a really interesting examination of something that sets the Space Wolves apart from other chapters – the unique bonds of brotherhood between pack members. This is something that has only really been examined relatively recently in Black Library fiction, perhaps only since Dan Abnett first tackled the Wolves in Prospero Burns. There are earlier Space Wolf novels that perhaps justify the ‘classic’ label, like William King’s Ragnar Blackmane books, but I think this is a good choice for the first one to be included in this collection.
What’s more, with the Death Guard as the antagonists as well as the Sisters of Battle and even the occasional snippet of information about the Deathwatch, this covers a surprisingly wide range of other factions as well as the Space Wolves. The Sisters of Battle get the most attention, but it’s a book that does justice to all of the characters that it features.
It’s also the newest book in the collection up to this point (although as I write this, a still newer book has been added), having been published some three years or so after The First Heretic, and a good few more after the rest of them. In my opinion that’s a good sign, suggesting that this collection is going to span the whole gamut of Black Library fiction, choosing the best books regardless of their age. It’s certainly hard to argue with the inclusion of this one – Chris Wraight is comfortably one of the best authors currently writing for Black Library, and while this might not be the first of his books that springs to mind, it’s a good example of his writing.
I think at this point there’s not a lot of need for me to talk about the production values of the book, given that it’s essentially the same format as they’ve all been so far. All that really remains to say is that once again this is a good choice to include in the collection, but also an interesting one. There’s a nice sense of surprise coming through already – we’re not just seeing the obvious choices. Long may that continue!