Title: Warhammer Adventures: Secrets of the Tau
Author: Cavan Scott
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 5th Sept 2019
Genre: Science-Fiction/War/Young Adult
Source: Personal Collection
Series: Warhammer Adventures
Journeying to the bustling spaceport of Hinterland after being saved from certain death by a dubious Rogue Trader, Zelia, Talen and Mekki continue their quest to reach the Emperor’s Seat. But much here is not what it seems. Alone in a strange place and surrounded by aliens, who can they really trust, and what are the secrets of the Tau?
I picked up Secrets of the Tau as a quick read in between a couple of other books. I’ve read and enjoyed the rest of the Warhammer Adventures series, so why not?
Warhammer Adventures: Secrets of the Tau is the third in the Warhammer Adventures series. A Series of Warhammer 40k books aimed at readers aged between 9 and 12. This book follows directly from the previous novel in the series. Continuing the story of Zelia Lor, Talen Stormweaver and Mekki. Three lost children trying to find their way home in the 40k Universe.
After being rescued by a mysterious figure at the end of Claws of the Genestealer, the gang earns themselves a little respite and the series introduces a new character in the form of Rogue Trader, Captain Harleen Amity. Who despite her own tragic past, acts as a maternal figure for the young children. As a group, they’re taken to the trading station Hinterland Outpost on the fringes of Imperial Space, where they encounter various Xenos species and have to endure further trials in the attempt to find the truth behind the Emperor’s Seat.
Secrets of the Tau helps to open up the wider Warhammer 40k Universe, showing that there is more to the setting than just a few planets and mindless Xenos hell-bent on destruction. It also touches on the Xenophobia that is instilled in the inhabitants of the Imperium. Even the young characters in the novel show prejudice towards the unknown species that they encounter; I’ve mentioned previously that these books don’t dumb down the Warhammer setting as much as you’d first believe. There are still scenes of combat, mild horror and conflict, but adding in a layer of abject xenophobia adds another complexity to the setting that is often apparent in some of the more mature Black Library range of books.
While the topics introduced in this book bring up some good talking points, I didn’t feel like the narrative flowed as tightly as in previous books. The middle section felt a little loose involving a fair amount of aimless running back and forth with no sense of structure leaving little time for the conclusion to wrap up without feeling rushed. The entire end section rushed by so quickly it was difficult to really grasp what was really transpiring.
Through their continued spats and personal conflicts, the main characters and their companion Flea-pit (A Xenos Jokaero) come closer together. Their arguments and disagreements work in their favour within Secrets of the Tau. Even if some of the dialogue is cliche and over-used. For example, the use of the phrase, ‘You don’t need to tell me twice,’ having read other books in the series, I know that author Cavan Scott is a well-versed writer having him lean on obvious cliches felt uninspiring and I hope that Secrets of the Tau is a dip in his usual quality.
While Xenophobia was touched upon in this book, for the first time in the Warped Galaxies series, mostly through the eyes of Imperial Guard deserter Talen. Other conundrums were approached by the main characters; how well do they all know one another really? A lot of doubt was brought forth through the conflicts they experienced within their small group – adding room for character development in the books to come. What does Zelia really know about Mekki? How is he able to do some of the special Mechanicum-y things he can do? Why is he no longer a part of the Martian Cult? How well will Zeila survive in the Warhammer Universe while maintaining her pacifist lifestyle?
Although I found the narrative element of Secrets of the Tau a little lacking, the novel makes up for it in terms of setting. It starts to highlight how morally ambiguous the world of Warhammer is. Introducing some complex issues and in-world politics in a way that is carefully considered in reference to the intended audience of the books. Prior to this book, the reader is led to believe that the Imperium is the good guys because we can relate to them the easiest, but through the actions and interactions of the main characters, we’re shown that this isn’t entirely true. It’s a tricky concept to convey but it’s well presented in Secrets of the Tau.
As always the Compendium at the end of the novel has some really awesome additions to the book. Giving details about the Inquisition, Rogue Traders and other newly encountered elements to the universe within the main story. Also included is an illustration of the Tau alphabet, which is just so cool! Imagine being 9ish years old and writing secret messages to one another using the Tau alphabet!?
The next book in the series is called ‘War of the Orks’ and I am already looking forward to getting into it and seeing how the children cope with the Wagggggh.
Another solid instalment in the Warhammer Adventures series. That brings forth morally ambiguousness to the setting. Characters start to develop further, showing their true colours to one another; be it through Xenophobia or the realisation that they’re an unknown entity. The narrative isn’t fully flowing, but the topics addressed make up for the hindrance.