Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Booknote: Hammer and Anvil

James Swallow, Hammer and Anvil (Sisters of Battle, Book 2, Warhammer 40K). Nottingham, UK: Black Library, 2011. ISBN: 9781849700665.

This is the second in the series of Sisters of Battle novels by James Swallow. Though I have not read the first novel, I think you can read this one on its own just fine. It stands alone well enough. The Adepta Sororitas, a.k.a. the Sisters of Battle, are the female warriors of the Ecclesiarchy, the imperium's church. Since there is a rule saying that the church may not have "men at arms," the church got around that by having an all-female army, the Adepta Sororitas. I always wanted to read about them, and now I got the chance. The sisters are fierce warriors, and they are the most fanatical worshipers of the God Emperor.

A mission of the Adepta Sororitas returns to the Ecclesiarchy planet known as Sanctuary 101. The planet was overrun by the Necrons, and this mission is there to reconsecrate the site and bury their dead. This is years after the fact. What the members of the mission do not know is that there are secrets buried in the desert sands of the planet, and others, including members of the Imperial Inquisition and of the Mechanicum, have an interest on the planet as well. What exactly is hidden in Sanctuary 101? That is part of the mystery the sisters have to solve as the Necrons rise once more.

This was a well-paced novel. The mysteries of Sanctuary 101 certainly keep the reader interested. What is the Mechanicum's motivation? What are they seeking? We get a big part of the novel from the view of Sister Miriya, a sister that was disgraced and demoted and came on the mission hoping to make amends. Another view comes from Sister Verity, a hospitalier sister (medical support) who was with Miriya on the fateful mission that cost Miriya her rank. They suspect that they are not being told everything, and to complicate things, it seems their leader may know more than she is telling the sisters. The novel has plenty of action for fans of Warhammer 40,000 combined with a nice mystery plot.

I really liked this one, so I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars. I will try to seek out the previous novel in the series, and if I get it, I will review it here as well. From what I learned, the previous novel details the events that led to Sister Miriya's loss of rank.

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