Czevak to the Dark Tower Came Review

This is from Index Nocturnus, whose review and podcast site can be found here.

"Czevak to the Dark Tower Came by Rob Sanders

A 40k eblurt review by Leon. Published in the 2012 Advent Calendar.

This blurt is based, of course, on Robert Browning's very famous poem, 'Childe Rolande to the Dark Tower' came; as if this poem hasn't had enough milking over the years. Not only has Stephen King had a good go at it, in all sorts of media - including comics - it was also the subject of The Five Doctors Doctor Who 25th anniversary special. Tried to slip one by us, didn't you Rob?

It is a moment in time with the eponymous inquisitor, subject of Sanders' novel Atlas Infernal (see review). Despite the character's existence elsewhere, Sanders includes enough detail so that we begin to know and understand Czevak in a small way, and this blurt works well as a standalone story. Sanders crams the words into this blurt (on my device it registers as being a whole page longer than other blurts, which is a lot when there is only about four pages of content once the licence, bio and book pimping is accounted for). He weaves a rich tapestry from the moment Czevak bursts from the webway into the streets of a 'college' moon at great velocity on the back of a jetbike.

Czevak's harlequin coat and the Atlas Infernal are referenced; always nice to see the iconic devices get a mention. It transpires Czevak spent time studying at the college and has recently learned information about an alien statue that had been on display in the Dark Tower of the title, a repository of 'dangerous' artifacts and information. As he slows his jetbike, Czevak sees that the populace has committed mass suicide. He climbs the Dark Tower and notices signs of bolter fire - his worst fears are confirmed when he comes across a psychic trace of Ahriman, villainous sorcerer of the Thousand Sons and Czevak's arch-nemesis. Ahriman has beaten Czevak to the punch, destroying the statue to see the future, an act which led to a massive psychic backlash that caused visions of despair leading to suicide on a planetary scale. The blurt ends with Czevak dusting himself off and preparing to continue his rivalry with the sorcerer.

Phew, I'm exhausted. Sanders' writing style in his Czevak stories is dense; crafted to be elevated above previous Black Library fare in terms of quality of prose. In a novel form this works, in a blurt form, well, it felt a little much. Coupled with the dark themes of suicide and an Inquisitor being thwarted by his foe, it makes for a surprisingly heavy five pages and something different from the blurts reviewed so far. 4/5"

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