“Faith and Fire” is an exciting novel about the Adeptus Sororitas by James Swallow. I normally do not pick up novels by authors I do not know on faction fluff that I care very little for; however, this little gem showed up in our break room at work in the take-and-read library. Since it was free and I enjoy the 40k universe I thought I would give it a chance.
The author immerses the reader immediately in the world of the Sisters of Battle, and does it in a way that grabs fans and first-timers and pulls them into the action. I was pleased with how Swallow weaved a story that introduced the Ecclesiarchy as more than fanatics, and painted devotion to the Emperor as true faith. This was a nice departure from the Horus Heresy books. I also enjoyed how the author played on the Emperor’s “true intent” theme that runs in the Horus Heresy books.
The characters in this book are interesting, but only a few show real depth of character while the rest are somewhat flat and predictable. This is a typical literary device, but I do wish the author would have departed from it because it would have helped certain secondary characters seem more realistic. The characters that did have depth were interesting and Swallow gave us a reason to care about them. I was surprised at the level of sympathy that Swallow developed for the antagonist, which is good for a novel that deals with issues as faith and zeal.
My main disappointment in this book was the amount of intrigue. It was somewhat annoying that almost everyone had an agenda, except the main characters, and that those agendas one-upped other agendas. It felt like reading a Warhammer 40,000 version of the double-crosses in “Pirates of the Caribbean”. The one-upmanship felt like I was reliving the games of my boyish youth where instead of losing graciously I would concoct reasons why I didn’t lose.
Regardless of my issues with the intrigue, I found “Faith and Fire” an enjoyable read. The story was leisurely paced but then had its moments of riveting-page-turning excitement. The book’s pacing gave me time to think about the dilemmas characters faced. The mark of a good Warhammer 40,000 novel is if the author sparks a desire in me to play that particular army in the game. This novel stoked the desire I had 10 years ago to build a Sisters of Battle force. I may do it in time, but this new desire lets me know that the author did his job well. I look forward to reading his other novels.