I am a Warhammer 40k addict. I don’t expect you to be. But I love me some space marine vs. ork battles, ships lost in the warp, xenos screams of hate, and prayers to the Emperor. Of the Warhammer 40k novels, the Space Marine Battles seem to be a little lower on the “literature” scale than, say, the Horus Heresy stuff. But none of it, really, is high-class stuff. And I am perfectly okay with that.
Rynn’s World is pure fluff. It’s full of action scenes, space marines lumbering around in their armor, the rather one-track-mindedness of characters, the repetitive storytelling style that reminds you orks are bad and space marines are good, etc. And I love it. It’s like brain candy. All you have to do is turn the page and you do not need to analyze, discuss the levels of meta-fiction, or worry about the symbolic meaning of anything. You just read while the space marines just shoot. It’s glorious science fiction pulp.
This is the first Space Marines Battles novel released by Black Library. Rynn’s World was written by Steve Parker and released in 2010. Parker is actually a pretty cool dude – he lives in Japan and is a beefy bodybuilder. He is into environmental concerns and he isn’t just an iron head. He has not yet written dozens of books, but this one was a decent read for the genre. I hope he writes more.
Rynn’s world is about the homeworld of the Space Marines chapter, the Crimson Fists. If you have no idea what I am talking about, let me oversimplify: there are dozens of “chapters” of space marines. Each chapter has their “thing.” This particular chapter wears power armor where their gauntlets are mechanized and “powered” – and crimson red in color. There you have the basics. It was fun to read about this chapter because they are one of the more famous ones. However, they certainly take a real hit in this novel – their homeworld is attacked by a gigantic warforce of Orks. Orks are green and brown skinned monsters who like to slay and who also have a fondness for motor bikes.
Pedro Kantor is the chapter master of the Crimson Fists. This means, basically, he’s the general in charge. We follow, more or less, him through the battle. Therefore, we are privy to his hopes, worries, fears, and decision-making. Not only does he have to deal with ork invaders, but the welfare of the human citizens of the planet also weighs heavily on his shoulders. This sets up a sort of moral dilemma – his official protocols dictate that he serves the Emperor first, particularly in battle by destroying xenos bad guys. So, how does Kantor deal with also having to play something of the rescue/protector role regarding humans?
And then, there is the whole drama with his friend, the lower-ranked captain Alessio Cortez. Cortez is a fiery, aggressive character who is an excellent space marine, but who gets impatient a lot. Cortez rarely sees the bigger picture, so to speak. Kantor has to balance being Cortez’ friend and being his chapter master. Some of this storyline is also developed early on when a scout endangers space marines by failing to strictly obey protocol. Discipline and obedience are the buzzwords here. Anyway, the good part of all of this is that the novel does actually have some subplots and does touch, however briefly, onto some interesting moral questions.
Nevertheless, this novel is about space marines going to battle against orks. It may seem juvenile or pedestrian to some readers – but I wasn’t expecting anything more than some good old bolt gun explosions, ork war cries, and descriptions of azure power armor. The joy of reading anything WH40k is that orks get smashed. Ork smashing is good and good for you. I’m giving this novel three stars – because it is exactly what it purports to be and met all expectations. Granted, we won’t be reading this in English Lit – but on the other hand – we don’t want to be. We’d actually rather be donning our power armor and firing up the lasguns!