Author: George Mann
Publisher: Black Library
Setting/Series: 40k / Space Marine Legends
Shrike is all about (you’ve guessed it) the Raven Guard Space Marine Shrike. It looks at Shrike in three stages:
- As a line soldier
- As Shadow Captain
- As Chapter Master
This essentially breaks the novel down in to two novellas and a short story at the end. The overriding themes throughout each story is the Ork Warboss Gorkrusha and the brotherhood that the Raven Guard share.
If I’m being honest, I had never heard of Shrike before or read that much about the Raven Guard beyond novels in the Horus Heresy series. I bought it though because I fancied something a little bit different and this novel certainly gave that.
Shrike was one of those novels that took me a bit of time to get in to but after about 20 pages I was hooked. Shrike is a really interesting character and it is surprisingly easy to feel empathy for him, unlike quite a lot of space marines. His actions and thoughts are also surprisingly human; this isn’t a criticism at all, in fact I would say it is a positive. Too often Space Marines are portrayed as inhuman and perhaps too much. Although their superior physicality and minds take them a step above humans, it has to be remembered that they were human in the first place.
The empathy and humanity of Shrike makes him (and the novel a lot easier to understand). I particularly thought the relationship with Shrike’s brothers Corus and Kadus was really well done. This theme throughout the stories worked very well and tied each piece together. The flashbacks to the three of them as initiates and the revelation the final flashback makes Shrike’s actions even more understandable.
As for the Orks and Gorkrusha, I can’t say they were portrayed any better or worse than in other novels. Orks are Orks in the end but the final short story gave an interesting twist on Gorkrusha’s intentions.
Memorable Moments (no spoilers!)
- Gorkrusha fight 1 – with Shrike as a line trooper
- Gorkrusha fight 3 – with Shrike as Chapter Master
- All of the flashback scenes with Shrike, Corus and Kadus
- The interactions between Shrike and Kadus when he is Shadow Captain and then Chapter Master
Shrike is a really solid 40k and Space Marine novel. If you are a fan of the Raven Guard or love Shrike as a character from elsewhere then this a must. If you are a 40k and/or Space Marine fan I would also give it a go as it is something a little bit different from the norm. Non-40k fans would probably struggle but I wouldn’t discount it either.
I think the best thing I can say is that Shrike has made me want to know a lot more about the character and the Raven Guard and I will be looking to get some of the other novels and audio dramas relating to them.