In the immense city of Varangantua, life is cheap but mistakes are expensive. When Probator Agusto Zidarov of the city’s enforcers is charged with locating the missing scion of a wealthy family, he knows full well that the chances of finding him alive are slight. The people demanding answers, though, are powerful and ruthless, and he is soon immersed in a world of criminal cartels and corporate warfare where even an enforcer’s survival is far from guaranteed. As he follows the evidence deeper into the city’s dark underbelly, he discovers secrets that have been kept hidden by powerful hands. As the net closes in on both him and his quarry, he is forced to confront just what measures some people are willing to take in order to stay alive…
Author: Chris Wraight
Publisher: The Black Library
Series: Warhammer Crime #1
Release Date: 08/08/2020
Genre: Science Fiction/Warhammer 40k
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘Bloodlines’: 5 out of 5
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Whether or not Black Library have created the ‘Warhammer Crime’ series to try and carve themselves a slice of the thriller pie or if it’s just because they wanted to breathe new life into the Warhammer 40k universe, I am uncertain. What I am certain of is that they’ve got this series off to a great start.
For die hard bolter porn fanatics I am going to spoil your day: There are no space marines in this novel. It seems like the Black Library want to show that they are more than just Space Marines and Imperial Guard and, with Bloodlines, both they and Chris Wraight have achieved that.
Augusto Zidarov, an ageing probator (a type of policeman/detective in the warhammer 40k universe) is our protagonist and, throughout the majority of the novel I found myself liking the unveiling of his character. He’s often not quite what you think he is, a feat achieved by clever reveals on the part of the author.
Bloodlines creates a grim, dark and oppressive-feeling world in which bleakness and the daily grind are pretty much the only things to look forward to. Unless you’re rich, in which case you can have what you want, when you want. Including rejuvanat treatments (treatments to reverse the ageing process). The fact that much of this trade comes from ‘cell draining’, the process of hooking a living person up to a machine and having the lifeblood, and other youthful goodness, sucked out of them until they die where they lay.
Zidarov’s mission to bring down the cell-draining cartels in his city is a major plot point, one that unfolds to the backdrop of a missing aristocrat he’s being forced to track down at the behest of one of the most influential, and filthy rich families on his world.
Chris Wraight does a great job of showing just how bleak and miserable life can be on many of the world’s within the Imperium. It shows how the Imperium is a society where the rich thrive and the poor are squeezed for every last bit of productivity in whatever job role they find themselves in. It may sound like it, but I don’t think they’re Tories … honest.
Some of the characters do feel a bit two-dimensional but I feel part of this is more because Zidarov isn’t the type to open up to or to reach out and let others open up to him. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t feel like it detracts. It just feels like they are the stoic citizens of the imperium that any fan has come to imagine over the years of reading.
Oddly, for a warhammer 40k novel, there isn’t a whole lot of fighting. There are some heart-pounding scenes that really make you appreciate the build up to them, but a great portion of the book is spent on detective work and snooping around. Which, being a thriller-type novel, I am glad of. When I opened this book I was worried that it was just going to be lots of shooting and explosions coming from a policeman’s gun rather than a soldier’s and just called a ‘crime novel’. Thankfully, in Bloodlines, Wraight has given it a truly ‘crime novel feel’ whilst still making you feel grounded in the Warhammer 40k universe.