Sunday, June 28, 2009

Emperor's Mercy by Henry Zou

In the world of Warhammer 40,000 the big stars always seem to be the marines. The armor-encased Space Marines take up the largest number of books, fight on the front lines, and look the coolest. However, as part of the under-pinning of this shared universe, there is a very small but very vital section following the exploits of the Inquisitors of the Emperor. Given all the power they need to accomplish the Emperor's needs, these inquisitors work on any number of missions.

Originally written about only in Dan Abnett's two trilogies (collected in Eisenhorn and Ravenor: The Omnibus, the latter of which will be reviewed on this site in the not-too-distant future), and acting in a supporting role in a few other books, Henry Zou finally makes his mark on the inquisitors with the first book in his new Bastion Wars series.

Inquisitor Obadiah Roth has been called to the Medina Corridor to search for the Old Kings, a mysterious ancient artifact that most don't believe exists. At the same time, the Ironclads, a group of Chaos warriors, begin a system-wide assault on the Medina Corridor, ravaging the planets and their populations. It quickly becomes apparent that these two events are linked.

Roth, along with his side kick Silverstein, head to the Medina system and begin the search, fighting the forces of Chaos the whole way, at the same time dealing with a traitor in their own midst and an admiral who doesn't want the Inquisition's help. Moving from planet to planet, the mystery unfolds as the casualty list grows higher.

Zou packs in a huge amount of action, somehow fitting a very solid plot into the midst of it all. Roth has a very believable demeanour, as he struggles with the losses and the many difficult decisions he has to make. The minor characters also feel well fleshed out. The action never flags through the book.

I have read a number of the Space Marines novels in a number of series, and almost always loved them. However, I never had any interest in the Inquisition part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Zou changed my mind. His fast-paced, high action novel left me with a high desire to read the sequel, as soon as it comes out. I see great things in the future for this new author.



  1. I think Zou describes war very well. The scenes with the siege delighted me in their descriptions.

  2. He definitly had a handle on how to write a realistic, believable battle scene. I have the second book in his Bastion Wars series on my shelf, and will be getting to it soon. I'm quite looking forward to it.

  3. Having just read Blood Gorgons by Henry Zou, the third in the series I think he needs to character build more. Action is good tho.