Sunday, 31 October 2010

Book Review: Desert Raiders by Lucien Soulban

When an Imperial listening station receives an enigmatic call for help from a farflung planet, a regiment of Tallarn Desert Raiders is sent to investigate. Pretty soon, the Imperial Guard find themselves locked in a desperate running battle with wave upon wave of tyranids. Is there any way they can ever triumph against such numberless alien hordes?


I've had Desert Raiders on my bookshelf for a couple of years, having picked it up during a moment of fascination with the Imperial Guard yet never getting around to reading it. After finishing off The First Heretic, i decided to rectify that and make it my first book review to boot.

The book follows the deployment of a Tallarn Imperial Guard regiment in response to a mysterious distress signal. Those looking at the cover may well believe they know the exact origin and reason for said signal, namely a Tyranid invasion yet appearances can be deceiving.

Despite the book art and the blurb, the majority of the book has very little indeed to do with the 'Nids, in fact they don't even appear in the first half of the novel. Instead this is very much about the Regiment itself and the internal strife caused by the culture of the Tallarn.

The Regiment in question is made up of the remnants of two decimated forces, both belonging to different and rival Tallarn clans. This leads to a great deal of conflict between the characters culminating in the regiment nearly tearing itself apart despite the efforts of their friendly neighbourhood Commissar.

As such it's a rather different tale to the usual Black Library fare, if you've picked it up expecting constant action then you will be sorely disappointed. Instead it's strength lies with its delving into the culture of the Tallarn and defining the way they see the Galaxy and their role within it.

I did have some issues with the novel however. Characters were often introduced simply to be killed off a paragraph later, while others would seemingly be introduced from nowhere into crucial roles as the plot demanded it. This led to me caring very little for the majority of the characters, they either had no time to develop or arrived as a deus ex machina to push the story a bit further, when an already present character could have taken their place and received more development to boot.

Nonetheless it was an enjoyable book, if a little difficult to get into. And once the Tyranids show up things escalate to a fast paced running battle that will keep a reader gripped to the end.

If you can find it on the shelves i would recommend it to those seeking further background about the Tallarn when they aren't in combat. If you are looking for an action heavy story i would look elsewhere however.

*** out of *****.

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