The Cadian Shock Library
I recently came across a great idea by a blogger going by the name of Cadianshock to give away Black Library books. Essentially, the idea is that if you are the lucky recipient of a free book once you have read it you should also give it away for free. As an English teacher, this idea of sharing books really appealed to me and so I was very honoured to be the first recipient of a Cadian Shock Library book.
In keeping with the rules of the project, I too will be giving away the book to the first person who replies to this post expressing an interest. I will post the book, free of charge, to anywhere in the UK. If you are overseas get in touch and I will look into how much postage will cost you. Full rules can be found here.
Fifteen Hours is the debut Black Library novel by writer Mitchel Scanlon. The book is a tale of a young farm boy who finds himself conscripted to the Imperial Guard and leaves his quiet, peaceful world to confront the horrors of the grim dark universe that is the forty first millennium.
I must say, I have always been a fan of the Imperial Guard and one of my earliest 40k armies was the metal Cadian Shock Troops (sadly, long-since thrown away). It is a point frequently made (although no less true for that), that the guardsmen are perhaps the most relatable inhabitants of the 40k canon as they are normal humans struggling to survive in a hostile universe with little more than their training, faith in the Emperor and trusty lasgun. Scanlon really plays on this and the protagonist, Arvin Larn, is a very likeable character. He is essentially a naïve, Luke Skywalker-type character who leaves a simple farm life and finds himself plunged into a larger and more dangerous universe.
The book is well-written and fast paced and the plot rattles along nicely, following Larn’s home life, training and deployment. As one would expect from a Black Library novel, it is full of action but, where the novel really shines, is the dark humour running through the narrative. This really showcases the uncaring bureaucracy of the Imperium and Larn is sent to the wrong warzone because of an administrative error. This element of the story reminds me of the fantastic film, Brazil by Terry Gilliam and its one of the elements that sets the book apart from the standard military SF novel.
The training section of the novel is the weakest part and is full of clichés such as the angry, insult-hurling drill sergeant and is essentially Full Metal Jacket in space. However, once the novel moves beyond this it really improves and I found myself gripped by the action and hoping things would work out well for Larn (although the opening of the novel hints at his eventual fate).
Overall, this is a nice little novel and, while unlikely to blow you away, will keep you entertained for a few hours.
If you’re interested in reading this book, drop me a comment below and I will post it out to the first person who replies.