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Review – “Into the Storm” by Larry Correia

4 Minute Read
Sep 17 2014
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Courtesy of Privateer Press Digital. Used with Permission.

Larry Correia’s version of the Dirty Dozen set in the Iron Kingdoms is a story of absolution and brotherhood.


Into the Storm is a novella from Skull Islands Expeditions, the digital delivery arm of Privateer Press’s fiction engine. It is largely a story of rejects, misfits, and miscreants brought together by an unorthodox lieutenant who has been in disfavor with the throne and the military for over a decade due to the actions he took during the Lion’s Coup, specifically the murder of a close friend of now-King Leto Raelthorne. 
The story follows this Lieutenant Madigan as he is recalled from his posting in the middle of nowhere and is tasked by Major Katherine Laddermore to put together and take charge of a group of the least desirable dregs of the Storm Knights: drunkards, cowards, slackers, gamblers, and trouble-makers all. He is to train them to become a part of Lord Commander Stryker’s new Storm Division, which is set to lead an assault from Caspia, Cygnar’s capitol, into Sul, its sister city and home to a large portion of the Protectorate of Menoth’s population, infrastructure, and sacred sites. In terms of the Iron Kingdoms chronology, this starts the story in 607 AR, during the actions first seen in Apotheosis and carrying on to the exciting conclusion of Legends.

The story begins with Lieutenant Hugh Madigan operating as a solo law enforcement agent for the army in the Thornwood, specifically tasked with rooting out and eliminating bandit gangs that have been intercepting army shipments. When attempting to infiltrate one such gang, a wet-behind-the-ears officer, one Sergeant Cleasby, sent to retrieve him blows his cover, resulting in Madigan having to cut down the gang’s leader and several of his associates before being able to conclude his investigation. This out of the way, Madigan and Cleasby make their way to Caspia to report for duty to Laddermore.

Madigan is portrayed as a character who cares little for military procedure, generally presenting as a classic consequentialist. This is not to imply that he is without compassion, far from it. Madigan is a man with true ghosts in his past, phantoms that constantly bite at his heels. He is persistently reminded, often through overt address by other members of the military, of the innocent lives he took at the behest of the deposed Vinter Raelthorne. He knows that he is a man stained by his past, and so he chooses to do the only thing he can: secure victory for king and country.

Madigan is supported by a colorful cast. The aforementioned Sergeant Cleasby is a stickler for procedure, which somewhat puts him at odds with Madigan. Despite this, the Lieutenant constantly refers to Cleasby as “his conscience”. Instead of acting as a foil to Madigan, Cleasby is a compliment to him. Sergeant Aiden Wilkins is devoutly Morrowan to a fault, and never fails to rub his brothers-in-arms the wrong way. Savio Montero Acosta (also seen in Iron Kingdoms Excursions: Season 1, Volume 4) is the Ordic, would-be Thamarite duelist who seeks personal perfection through combat. Corporal Gilford Thornbury is the womanizing nobleman with a knack for getting away with just about anything and is genuinely bored by the requirements of military service. Corporal Enoch Rains is an apostate Menite viewed by his compatriots with fear and trepidation, particularly given their enemy in this invasion. Even their left-for-dead Stormclad has the disturbing habit of collecting the severed heads of the enemy warjacks that it has cut down in battle. Correia sees to it that Madigan is not the only character in this story with any kind of arc. Every member of 6th Platoon grows and evolves throughout the story, but, as in any good story of its kind, not all of them survive it.

Courtesy of Privateer Press Digital. Used with Permission.

Larry Correia has a strong professional history as a fiction writer with a Hugo nomination and a New York Times Best Seller under his belt. While the tenor of his work tends to fall within the urban fantasy and horror genres, I feel that he has adapted to the steampunk fantasy setting of the Iron Kingdoms quite well. He writes with a practiced hand and does not feel the need to patronize the reader with constant explanation and definition of the trappings of the setting, instead leaving this task to the novella’s robust glossary. The prose of Into the Storm is articulate, yet succinct. The pacing is solid with the novella split into three sections: the creation and training of 6th Platoon, the invasion of Sul, and the defense of Caspia.

I was particularly fond of Correia’s use of the story’s antagonist as a likeness of Madigan. Groller Colpin, a Cygnaran engineer, alchemist, and Vinter-loyalist believed long-dead, is a character willing to commit terrible atrocities in order to achieve his goals, goals that, like any good villain, he personally seems to believe are for the benefit of his liege lord and the country he was forced to abandon.

Overall, Correia’s tale of redemption kept me engaged throughout and felt, to me, quite like the excellent ensemble stories of the Gaunts Ghosts series by author Dan Abnett, save for the welcomed lack of Deus Ex Machina as a literary panic button. While I feel that readers unfamiliar with the Iron Kingdoms can enjoy this story, people familiar with the story of the Caspia-Sul war will certainly get an enjoyable experience out of Into the Storm.

Stay tuned to Bell of Lost Souls for more reviews of Skull Island Expeditions novels, novellas, and short stories!

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