Warhammer Adventures: Warped Galaxies – Book # 3 (of 6)
Synopsis: Journeying to the bustling spaceport of Hinterland after being saved from certain death by a dubious Rogue Trader, Zelia, Talen and Mekki continue their quest to reach the Emperor’s Seat. But much here is not what it seems. Alone in a strange place and surrounded by aliens, who can they really trust and what are the secrets of the Tau?
After two novels set on a remote icy planet inhabited by hordes of Genestealers and a relentless Necron Hunter, “Secrets of the Tau” takes our plucky young heroes off-world to a exotic spaceport on their search for Zelia’s mother. This change in scenery is a welcome change for the series, transitioning the plot from an isolated fight for survival to a eye-opening visit through a Mos Eisley-style marketplace of different xenos. Writer Cavan Scott develops the tense relationships between the team, using xenophobia as a means for conflict between Talen and Zelia. While their newest locale might be more densely populated, it is no less dangerous and our heroes fight themselves making new enemies and discovering new dangers.
This novel introduces a new primary character in the form of dashing female space pirate, Captain Harleen Amity, who seems to harbour a tragic past relating to her former crew. Reluctantly helping out Zelia and her friends, Amity adopts a maternal role for our heroes and prances across the spaceport with all the confidence of a female Han Solo. In fact, this installment of the Warped Galaxies series certainly feels reminiscent of the Star Wars franchise and those outer rim spaceports populated with a colourful cast of aliens. Scott’s writing certainly captures that “fish out of water” vibe with our inexperienced travellers quickly causing chaos upon their arrival at the spaceport – not unlike a certain farmboy in a certain cantina.
One strong element of the Warped Galaxies series has been the development of the cast, and how the three humanoid protagonists have formed an unexpected friendship despite their different personalities. Here we see more of that as Talen, Zelia and Mekki attempt their own individual plans to rescue Fleapit from a corrupt trader, only to find that they succeed much better when working together. Despite their brief time together, the trio have formed strong bonds – even if they won’t admit it to themselves. Scott excels at making these characters believable and likeable, bouncing their personalities and idiosyncrasies off each other to develop conflict and humour. Even Fleapit, despite his silly name and odd appearance, fits into the bigger picture nicely to complete the set.
Artists Cole Marchetti & Magnus Norën continue to bring Cavan Scott’s prose to life on the page with some simple, yet effective illustrations. Each one works perfectly to help visualise the hustle and bustle of the Hinterland Outpost and the variety of alien creatures that buy and sell merchandise there. Despite the title of “Secrets of the Tau”, the Tau only really feature in the final act – however, they are presented as a morally ambiguous race. While they might not be as outwardly vicious as the Necron and Genestealers encountered thus far, they prove themselves to be just as deadly and ruthless. Scott’s writing style is great fun, and he manages to strike a youthful energy and exuberance that is infectious. I’m really enjoying the way the plot is developing and how each novel seems to highlight and showcase a specific faction within the game. The serialised nature of the novel works extremely well, with the use of ongoing plot threads across books such as the mysterious inquisitor that now pursues our motley crew.
While this is clearly written for young adults and offers a slightly more sanitised view of the Warhammer 40K universe, it is extremely enjoyable and a strong introduction to the fantasy world. This is a great move for the Games Workshop brand, making its tabletop miniature games even more accessible to a younger audience. Obviously, I am not the target demographic for these novels – but I know I would have gobbled these up when I was in my pre-teens and it would have created a lovely backdrop to the games themselves. Both Cavan Scott and Tom Huddleston have done a tremendous job at translating a dense, and somewhat intimidating, mythology into exciting child-friendly novels that engage and entertain without losing what makes the series so special. I can’t wait for the second half of the series to be released next year, beginning with a spotlight on my favourite faction in “War of the Orks”.
Score – ★★★★
Warhammer Adventures: Warped Galaxies – “Secrets of the Tau” is currently available in paperback on Amazon, or as an eBook from Amazon Kindle. An audiobook version is available for free on Audible, if you sign up for a free 3-month trial.