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Book Review- “Vulkan: Lord of Drakes” by David Annandale

February 24, 2019 Leave a comment

Vulkan BookWhen I first started learning about Warhammer 40,000’s various Space Marine Legions I found myself drawn to the Salamanders. All of the legions were heroic, but the Salamanders had something to go with that heroism; a large streak of humanity and compassion. They are renowned amongst the Space Marines for their kindness and devotion to humans. While other Legions are more big picture the Salamanders are more about saving lives. That compassion can sometimes get them in trouble though. It forces them to take on almost suicidal challenges and endure against impossible odds. Fortunately, they have a pretty great example to look up to; their Primarch Vulkan; a brilliant and calculating bad-ass who combines Tony Stark’s engineering process with the stoicism and inspirational qualities of Marcus Aurelius. So he’s a fascinating character, and he’s also the protagonist of David Annandale’s novel in Black Library’s “Primarchs” series, “Vulkan: Lord of Drakes.”

Annandale has written some of my favorite 40K novels, and it’s clear he understands and enjoys writing his protagonist. You get insights into Vulkan’s psyche. You see his doubts, you see his hopes. And you see why he’s special. Also each chapter begins with a passage from Vulkan’s writings that gives insights into what drives him. They feel like could come from Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations.”

In “Vulkan” Annandale take his protagonist and the Salamanders back in time to adavid_annandale pivotal point in their history; when the original Terran incarnation of the Legion and the newer Nocturne based one were forged into one. It fits perfectly with the spirit of the Salamanders who are renowned for their craftsmanship of armor and weapons. And it’s even more perfect that a large portion of the novel takes place on a volcanic deathworld.

That deathworld is where the Terran incarnation of the Salamanders are making a final stand against a marauding ork horde. They must hold the line until Vulkan and the new forces of the Legion arrive to enact a desperate plan to save their brothers and destroy the ork’s attack moon (I’ll never tire of typing those words. So over the top and METALl).

So, “Vulkan” is a novel about finding hope in hopeless situations. It’s about risking your neck for humanity and your fellow soldiers. It’s about standing tall against immeasurable odds and going down swinging if you have to. But it’s also a novel about hope and faith being rewarded. Near the end of the book that happens and Vulkan gets a scene so fun, and cool that all I could do after reading it was throw up metal horns. That’s because with that scene Annandale performs the sci-fi writer’s equivalent of a blistering guitar solo.

As I mentioned, I loved Annandale’s take on Vulkan, but the writer also gives us some fun individual Salamanders as well. I especially loved the leaders of the Terran based Salamanders; Vaughn and Numeon. Those two performed some inspiring and exciting acts of heroism while trying hold back the ork onslaught.

So, with “Vulkan: Lord of Drakes” David Annandale tackles my favorite loyalist Space Marine Legion and Primarch and does them justice. The book is not that long, but it’s got a huge scope and scale, is packed with fun, exciting action, heroes you can root for, and an emotional and inspiring climax that will make Salamanders fans stand up and cheer.

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