Title: Warhammer Adventures: Attack of the Necron
Author: Cavan Scott
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 19th Feb 2019
Genre: Science-Fiction/War/Young Adult
Source: Personal Collection
On the hive world of Targian, Zelia Lor helps her mother search for ancient tech, digging up treasures of the past on the wind-blown plains. They are happy. They are safe. All that changes when the Necrons attack. Without warning, a host of robotic ships appear in the skies above Targian and rip the planet apart. Separated from her mother, Zelia must escape the doomed world, her only hope a scrambled transmission promising safety at a mysterious place known only as the Emperor’s Seat. Launched in an escape pod, she crashes on an icy wasteland far, far from home. But Zelia is not alone. She is joined by a rag-tag group of survivors – the street-tough juve Talen, gadget-obsessed Martian boy Mekki and super-intelligent alien-ape, Fleapit.
I picked up my copy of Attack of the Necron as I fancied reading something a bit lighter and easier after powering through A Thousand Sons! My other reasoning/excuse is that I would very much like to read these with my son as soon as he is old enough and shows more of an interest in the Warhammer Universes.
Warhammer Adventures: Attack of the Necron is the first book in a series of books from Black Library targeted at a younger audience, ages 9 – 12. Clearly, I am not in that target bracket but as a Mum with a kiddo that will approach this age faster than I realise I figure giving them an advance read couldn’t hurt.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. I have heard of a lot of negativity surrounding them and was even linked to a Youtube Review in which the reviewer gives the book the middle finger and then pretends to shoot it with a rifle; hardly appropriate reviewing for a children’s book. To counterbalance such thoughts, I’ll link reviews for this book by Track of Words and Wordaholic Anonymous.
Attack of the Necron follows the story of Zelia Lor, the daughter of an archaeologist, relic-finder, whose life is torn apart when the Necrons attack the hive-world Targian in which Zelia and her mother are exploring. As they flee the planet they’re joined by Talan, a young member of the Runak Warriors, a vicious hive-gang. Also along for the thrill-ride is Mekki, a youngster of the Mechanicum Cult of Mars. Along the way they find themselves teamed up with a Jokaero they nickname Fleapit; an ape-like creature in service to the humans of the Imperium.
Personally, I found the characters rather interesting in their own rights. Each of them had enough personality quirks to make them stand out from one another; Talan being head-strong and stubborn; Mekki understandably good at dealing with tech considering his background and Zelia had her own mannerisms that made her unique. Her choices were her own and there was leadership quality to her that was endearing but her lack of experience hampered her abilities. Some of the characters worked better than others, despite his brutal stubbornness I found Talan to have the most depth to him. He was instilled with the need to protect his new-found friends despite still trying to play the ‘strong-ganger’ trope.
The plot of Attack of the Necron goes fast once it gets off the ground. A lot happens to keep the reader excited and engaged in the plot. While staying significantly dark and true to its setting. The pacing is fast and this works well in the book’s favour, keeping it exciting and the reader entertained throughout. As soon as the plot slackens new elements are added to not only keep the pace going but to add new levels of excitement. There are combat scenes, talks of the immaterium and some pretty inventive tricks that keep the characters surviving as long as they can. As an adult, I am non-too-keen on plots that have children coming across as insufferable know-it-alls and while there is an element of that within Attack of the Necron – to keep children feeling like they’re the ones in control – it isn’t too bad. All the actions seem justified by the children at the time and their solutions to the problems they face are inventive in only a way that children can be.
What I found the most pleasing about Attack of the Necron is that it takes a very grim setting and dilutes it, just enough, to be safe grounds for children and young adults to read. There are still tough topics within; character death, world destruction, war and slavery that make the Warhammer 40k setting what it is, but aren’t laid on quite so thickly as they are in other Warhammer novels. It’s child friendly, without taking away too much from what we, as hobbyists, know and love about Warhammer. The book also eased the reader gently into the intricacies of the setting; explaining the key-concepts such as Space Marines, Xenos, Data-Slates, Cogitators and so on. These are explained in dialogue and character actions in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the reader; as could easily happen with such a vast world-setting.
At the end of the story, there is a summary of the characters and the hive-world of Targian, which I found a nice touch. It helped to round off the book in a nice way.
My only negative interjection is that there are scenes from the perspective of the Xenos – both Necron and Jokaero – which didn’t quite feel right. These minds are meant to be vastly different to those of the humans in the setting and they felt too human; admittedly, I am uncertain how these scenes could have remained within Attack of the Necron and stayed within the reading abilities of the target audience and remained relatable.
Also within the book are illustrations by Magnus Noren and Cole Marchetti, which help to add another level of visualisation to the complicated world setting. They’re mostly black and white images, aside the front cover and cover each of the characters and relate to the scenes in which they are presented near. I found them a nice touch to the book; especially the ones that featured the Space Marines!
As a parent would I allow my child to pick up this book and read it? Most certainly, I think there is enough entertainment in here that offers to be an entertaining read that will, hopefully, lead into a lifetime of hobbying. It’s not a very deep book in terms of character depth and the plot is rather straight-forwards, but I think it offers enough of an insight into the world that Warhammer can become.
A great introduction to the Warhammer 40k setting for a younger audience. The central characters have enough personality of their own without dipping into cliched tropes. I highly encourage parent hobbyists to pick up this book if they’d like to get their children addicted at an early age. However, I would strongly caution against letting children researching these books on the internet without adult supervision as there are some pretty horrible adults out there that can’t cope with the idea that these books might not be for them!