Title: Warhammer Adventures: Claws of the Genestealer
Author: Cavan Scott
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 19th Feb 2019
Genre: Science-Fiction/War/Young Adult
Source: Personal Collection
Series: Warhammer Adventures
Having crash-landed on a remote ice planet, Zelia Lor and her friends Talen, Mekki, and the super-intelligent alien-ape Fleapit must do whatever they can to survive. A distress beacon offers some hope of rescue, but what else lurks in the ice and snow, watching them with hungry eyes…?
I’ve been meaning to pick up Claws of the Genestealer and the rest of the Warhammer Adventures books for a while now and thanks to the enthusiasm of BooshHammer on Instagram, we buddied up to read this one together.
Claws of the Genestealer follows on directly from Attack of the Necron and see’s the central characters of the previous book; Zelia Lor, Talen, and Mekki fighting for survival once again. Abandoned to fend for themselves on a remote ice-world, it’s not just the cold that’s out to get them!
While the Warhammer Adventures series is aimed at children between the ages of 9 – 12, they don’t tone down the books too much. Of course they have to be age-appropriate for the intended audience, but that doesn’t mean that the heart of the Warhammer setting has been changed; there are still things out there that are trying to kill you just for the sake of it. People still die. Horrors are still committed.
In Claws of the Genestealer, Talen – a former Hive-Ganger – stumbles across an Ambull pit and awakens something far worse than a raging Ambull within; an alien. Alien is a fitting word to use because as the plot continues there is something very H.R. Giger ‘Alien’-esque about the narrative; the unwitting children are chased through both snowdrifts and derelict spaceship by a Xenos creature they have little true understanding of. At one point Talen gets hold of a grav-gun which I thought was a particularly inspired choice and a good ‘get-out’ clause in terms of arming children! The plot also gets a bit ‘Alien3’ at times with Cult Mechanicum Child-Prodigy Mekki, taking control of the doors of the derelict to try and steer the Alien away from a trapped Talen.
These books don’t let up on the action and it’s a thrill to see the three children working together, despite their differences and disagreements, in solving the problems before them. Claws of the Genestealer starts fleshing out the characters a little more and diversifying their personalities from one another. Flea-Pit the Jokaero, is mostly out of the picture and dealing with hibernation-sleep to cope with the cold weather, leaving the young characters to stand on their own feet, rather than relying on the other ‘adult’ character left with them. The tricks and trips they all work at together in order to survive, keep the pages turning, and even as an adult, I really took pleasure from the victories the children earned and the tensions in their relationships during times of distress. I could have done without some of the bickering ‘one-up-manship’ that’s written in the dialogue, but this might appeal more to younger audiences. The rivalry between Talen and Mekki is further developed in this book and further insight through the characters towards one another is enhanced.
The general feel of this book is mild horror, with the young characters doing their best to survive against the odds of what is thrown at them. The Genestealer is accurately portrayed as a relentless killing organism that doggedly pursues the main characters to the end. The pacing is fast, leaving no time for readers to become bored with what is being presented to them; and the world-building is, certainly diluted for younger audiences, but in a manner that keeps them authentic to the grim-darkness of the setting.
There is a fair amount of running around aimlessly, however, and this comes at a detriment to the story as a whole. Yes, new encounters are being set up, the characters are developing nicely and the action is thick and fast, but at times it feels directionless; there is not always a purpose to the action scenes and they don’t always blend seamlessly. There’s a definite feeling of ‘stop/start’ to the actions undertaken, as though the was a series of really good scenes thought up but the thread binding them all together wasn’t quite strong enough, ending up with a jarring plot.
However, the ending of the book has me deeply intrigued and, as I already own the next book, I am really looking forward to reading it.
An action-filled, fast-paced book that isn’t as seamless as the first, with lots of running about with little direction. The character development is much better and I’m starting to form an attachment to the characters now that they are fleshing out. These books are a great introduction to the Warhammer setting for a younger audience and don’t tone down the grimness of the setting as much as they could! The section at the back of the book remains one of my favorite points.