February 6, 2016
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
What happens when Grey Knights and Dark Angels invade the Space Wolves business and sees the Wulfen? Spoiler: it's nothing good. Let's not forget the Thousand Sons running around and mucking things up too.
In Watchers of the Throne: The Emperor’s Legion, Tieron and Valerian mention two events going on right now that were shaking the Imperium to its very core. One, of course, was the fall of Cadia. The second was far more cryptic. Something was going on in the Fenris system, but no one ever clarified what.
Jen said it was something to do with Magnus, the Space Wolves, Grey Knights, and Dark Angels (oh my!). It sounded like nothing good, regardless, but then again, what is good in this universe? Then she mentioned something called the “Wulfen,” and suddenly I remembered I had a combo book called Legacy of the Wulfen. It combined David Annandale’s Curse of the Wulfen novel with Robbie MacNiven’s Legacy of Russ. The original books were written around the time Cadia Stands published, not to mention the Dark Imperium series. If I’ve learned anything from the world of Warhammer 40,000, it’s that nothing happens by coincidence.
So, as soon as I finished Watchers of the Throne, I literally started Curse of the Wulfen right after. No, seriously, I did. I was on a plane, so once I finished the first book, it was clearly time to start the next.
It’s a short novel, to say the least, and I finished it in a bit of a blur. A lot happens in those 200 pages, and it expects you, the reader, to know a bit of Space Wolves lore. The worst part is that I’m still trying to decide if I liked it or not, because:
- a lot happened in a short amount of time;
- a few questions weren’t answered; and
- it ends on a major cliffhanger.
Kill the Mutant!
Even a n00b like me knows that the Space Wolves have unstable gene seed, one that brings them closer to their legion name over time. It’s known that the Blood Angels have the tendency to become vampires, just like the Space Wolves can turn into werewolves. Of course, WH40k being WH40k, they aren’t called such inferior names. In the case of the Space Wolves, they’re called the Wulfen, and they’re a closely guarded secret. Many already consider the Space Wolves to be mutants, which goes against the fiber of the Imperium to begin with, but if word gets out that they could possibly mutate into wolf-beings, it’s all over for the Sixth Legion.
As luck would have it, the lost 13th Great Company from the days of Russ has decided to pop up right when there are multiple daemon incursions in the system. On the one hand, it’s wonderful they’re back from the warp. Perhaps they’re the herald for Leman Russ’s return! On the other, they’re all Wulfen. Even weirder, these Wulfen are more intelligent than the regular Wulfen. They’re able to control themselves, take orders, and even speak (somewhat).
The Space Wolves obviously want to keep this discovery to themselves, but unfortunately for them, two other Legions have gotten wind of the Wulfen.
The Grey Knights came first, because where there are daemons, THEY WILL BE THERE! Naturally, they want the Wulfen turned over to them because they’ve been in the warp for ten thousand years. However, they’re all in the Fenris system to help them against an even greater daemon threat. Daemonic forces are scattered all over the system, performing a certain ritual, and well, from an orbital view of the system, these seemingly random placements of daemons and cultists form the glyph of Magnus.
Burn the Heretic!
Take my word for it that it only gets more chaotic (pun intended) from here. As the Space Wolves call a truce with the Grey Knights to stop the Thousand Sons, they can’t help but notice that so many Space Wolves are suddenly and simultaneously turning Wulfen. Normally the turning happens in the heat of battle, much like the Black Rage of the Blood Angels, but it happening while coasting on a ship is beyond rare. Harald Deathwolf is troubled by these coincidences, whereas many other leaders are embracing these events as marking the return of Russ.
The two Legions are able to stop the ritual before the Alpha Legion and its cultists complete it, but the ritual to summon a greater daemon was only part of the plan. (Hahahahaha, that Alpha Legion doing things others would expect Magnus to do.) The grand master plan was to summon the daemon to slaughter the Grey Knights, which would make it look like the Space Wolves killed them. Then word would get to the Dark Angels, who would come and do their Dark Angels thing.
Why would it hit the Dark Angels, you ask? Because the Dark Angels conveniently saw the Wulfen, and not in the Wulfen’s best light. Forget the fact that the Dark Angels know a thing or two about keeping secrets, because honoring chapter discretion only applies to THEM, you see. They aren’t going to peacefully come to Fenris, ask to sit down with the Great Wolf, and discuss matters like adults. Nah, they’re going to bring their whole fleet along with a few other loyalist legions for good measure to invade and exterminatus the planets.
It’s always a party when the Dark Angels come calling.
But wait, there’s not more!
And that’s how the book ends. I nearly yelled at the book. YOU CAN’T END IT LIKE THIS! We haven’t solved the mystery of the Wulfen, how these returned, why other Space Wolves are suddenly turning, or what the Grey Knights will do now.
Also, this has to only be one part of what Watchers of the Throne referenced, right?
Well, I guess that’s why the Black Library released a combo novel with Legacy of Russ. I understand how book series go, obviously, but this was a headscratcher. No matter how many books fill a series, each book needs to be able to stand on its own as a complete thought. I don’t believe Curse of the Wulfen does. There are too many loose ends. The one end that was wrapped up—the ritual of Magnus—wasn’t even introduced until halfway through the book.
So I guess what I’m trying to haphazardly say is that Annandale’s book was a fun ride, but the cars are stuck halfway through the track, just as they’re about to start the next loop-the-loop. If Legacy of Russ doesn’t wrap it up 100%, I will consider this to be one of the biggest disappointments at the carnival.
Make no mistake; everything happening in a post-Cadia Imperium is a carnival.