The in grim darkness of the far future there is redundancy

I like Warhammer 40k. I like minis. I enjoy painting them. I like watching other people paint minis. And I like the lore of the world. So, as a science fiction fan, I decided to read the books. I asked a community I am part of to recommend some good reads. So here I am, 30 minutes into an eight-hour book, questioning my decision.

I have read military science fiction before, but it went poorly. It was so long ago that it seems unfair of me to review it now. But, safe to say, I’ve never read a good military sci-fi.

Cadian Blood by Aaron Dembski-Bowden tells of the plague of Nurgle settling in on a shrine world called Kathur (“I know some of these words”; I hear you say). I know my lore and am familiar with what’s happening, so jumping into this read was free of exposition. This book is Dembski-Bowden’s first novel and is (apparently) a Black Library classic. If that is the case, it doesn’t speak well of the other books on my list.

“The sky had burned for weeks. Literally, it burned. The fires of the fortress cities choked the heavens from horizon to horizon. Amongst the flames of the burning cities […].”

We are establishing here a place which is on fire. I understand the drama Dembski-Bowden is trying to portray, but the man needed an editor in 2009. It was at that quote I stopped listening. But it also reminded me of another quote I laughed at previously:

“Vertain was unshaven. As if he had spent so much time hiding within his Sentinal cockpit, he had not had the opportunity to shave in a week. This wasn’t too far from the truth.”

Before this quote, the character talked about walking through a destroyed city. Immediately after this quote, he radios his comrades. I don’t know when I needed to know about his 5 o’clock shadow. There wasn’t any direction to indicate he had touched his face or that the stubble interfered with a headset. Learning about his stubble didn’t move the story on. Was Dembski-Bowden trying a bit of show-don’t-tell? I might have done something like “… his stubble rasped under his gloves as he thought about a response …”

The story that wants to be told here is a good one. I know this because so many YouTubers who dabble in the lore of Warhammer can tell these stories well. The audiobook is thirty quid, but the book is only 6.99. Certainly not worth it. I have a few more books on the list which are more recent, and I am hoping that the writing has improved. The stories are fantastic; they need to be told better.