Hello once again to my readers! I have a guest for this particular review. Namely my inquisitorial friend who appears occasionally. We have teamed up to write a review for the Warhammer Adventures series of children’s adventures novels. But before we discuss the plot we should discuss the history of the concept.
Announced back in 2018, the announcement of children’s books set in the universe that created the term grim dark lead to an almost universal statement of “WHAT!?” You can’t really blame us, given all the horrible stuff that happens in the 41st and 42nd millennium. The best way to describe it is we had a lot of funny joke images made – I particularly like the image of Erebus driving the children characters round in the magic school bus. Now I should point out Warhammer Adventures is the name of the branch of Warhammer books aimed at younger people and not just Warhammer 40k as the Warhammer Age of Sigmar setting is also receiving books in the line (and that setting is probably a little more child friendly, not overly but there are more clear good guys in that one.)
Thinking rationally though all hobbies do need to have a means for new people to come into it so the idea of a book aimed at a younger audience to help them get into the lore is in theory a good idea. Plus at no point is it removing the lore for everyone else to enjoy. It’s not replacing anything. In fact since the announcement of Warhammer Adventures, the Warhammer Horror and Warhammer Crime sub genres have also been announced so we are both all for having sub genres in Warhammer fiction for different groups.
The plot is as follows: Zelia Lor – daughter of a famous archaeologist who excavates devices and historical finds from the infamous Dark Age Of Technology – has her life altered forever when the unthinkable happens. A Necron fleet has come for her home world. A Necron fleet in simple terms is an incredibly ancient army of robot skeletons that have an Egyptian theme. As she escapes with her mother and the Martian boy Mekki who acts as assistant on excavations, they find themselves forced to team up with the fledgling gang member Talen in order to escape into the warp. And yet as they rely on each other for survival they will discover a terrible secret about the attack of the Necrons.
The story is very entertainingly written for a children’s adventure story. Each of the children are given distinctly different personalities. Zelia clearly seems to think she should be the leader of the group as well as generally being the voice of reason although this group doesn’t seem to actually have a leader just a character who somewhat feels like she should be. She also appears to have a distinct hatred of guns.
Mekki the Martian child is definitely the group techie as well as having a semi-logical mind although not being too far above it because he is definitely a child so he still acts like one just one who is very blunt at times. He may possibly be fascinated by and horrified by Necrons in equal measure?
Talen, the would be Hive gang child, likes to act tough when he can, but is clearly a lot more scared than he lets on. He can be very easy to rile which can cause issues. It seems there’s more to him – and the others as well – than you initially think which will probably be slowly revealed over the course of the series.
I did however expect the story to be considerably toned down in content. I think no one expected the forces of Chaos to appear, a person mutating into a Chaos spawn is probably above the range of young readers.(Seriously be thankful the child characters will probably never encounter the Emperor’s Children or ANYTHING involving Tzeentch!) However the opening of the story felt very true to the dark nature of the 41st and 42nd millennium as they show just how dangerous the Necrons are, and the full consequences of what they do as the Ultramarines are defeated by them.On the other hand if it was the great Salamanders chapter they would have been stopped (VULKANLIVES!)
The second half of the book however is much more in line with a standard children’s adventure story as our leads are stuck alone on an alien world and have to use their ingenuity to overcome a seemingly unstoppable hunter.For the purposes of the review as well as listening to the audio I got a physical copy so I can fairly judge it for being read by its intended audience. The type in the book is of a decent size and distance apart as to not overwhelm the young readers it is intended for. As well as this it has the illustrations of the characters and events done by Cole Marchetti and Magnus Noren. Now it may seem odd to talk about a book in this sense but since this is aimed at a young audience they are helpful to new readers.
The writer of this particular Warhammer series is someone by the name of Cavan Scott who I am personally something of a fan of. My previous experience with Cavan comes in two flavours: First in the oft mentioned Big Finish Doctor Who audio series as Cavan was part of a two man writing team alongside Mark Wright who created one of the more recurring and legitimately intimidating original audio villains in the form of The Forge (For King and Country!) who may well be discussed on their own merit someday. More recently Cavan is a frequent writer for Star Wars material with particular mention to the highly regarded Tales From Vader’s Castle comic book series for Marvel and the original audio drama Dooku: Jedi Lost which I was a great fan of and is nominated for an Audie Award currently. An Audie Award is highly respectable essentially being the audiobook BAFTAS or Oscars.
Narration duties are performed by David Tennant in this release. Despite some initial surprise on my part I have to admit to really enjoying his narration on the whole. His voices for the main child characters suit them and portray their personalities well. You definitely find their individual characteristics coming through well as Tennant acquits himself in the roles. Personally I think my favourite voice he does is for Mekki the Martian – partially because of his occasional snark. However there is one small thing that must be addressed. Isn’t that right?
The illustrations however do raise a issue with the audio adaption. Certain characters like the other gangers and Erasmus sound notably older with Tennant’s presentation, this is most likely to differentiate them from the younger leads, but the problem with this in the gangers is that judging by the illustrations they are only slightly older than Talen and Erasmus despite in the illustrations looking at some point in his late twenties sounds like a man somewhere in his fifties or sixties.
A wonderful surprise I found was at the end of the book as it contained various biographies and illustrations on the characters as well as information features in the book like Hive cities and even Necron weaponry. This is absolutely great for new readers into Warhammer lore. My only complaint is they describe the Ultramarines as the bravest Space Marine chapter a fact I think every other chapter of space marines would dispute and as mentioned we all know it is the Salamanders (VULKANLIVES!)
In conclusion Attack Of The Necron is a very enjoyable and entertaining Warhammer adventure and in our opinion would make a very worthwhile entry point to the world of Warhammer in all its various forms for younger readers. Especially those who may be too young for often cited starting points like the Gaunt’s Ghost, Horus Heresy and Eisenhorn series. Personally I would be all for seeing Cavan perhaps do a short story or two in the main 40K setting alongside the Adventures stories. And I look forward to my next sojourn in the realms of the Imperium and those various Xenos and Chaos forces. Hopefully it won’t be so long for my next visit.
Nephrite and Sgathiach