Whats the point of reviewing a book that’s two years old at this point? This irregular review series recognises excellence – and Atlas Infernal is most certainly excellent.
To a lot of newer readers, the name Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak won’t mean much. But those of us who have been playing through the 90’s and early 2000’s Czevak was an enigmatic character.
Always in the background somewhere (even if it was just the a quote here and there) he seemed to be everywhere, yet nowhere all at once. Add in mysterious background like him being allowed to visit the Eldar Black Library and being pursued all over the galaxy by Ahriman for the knowledge he possessed and he was pretty cool dude all round.
Rob Sanders’ book takes us through the somewhat potted history we have of the character, whilst fleshing out his other adventures in the Eye of Terror as he attempts to escape the grasp of Ahriman, who wishes to use the knowledge in Czevak’s head to ascend to godhood.
Perhaps it was an unconscious thing, but in between the unreliable sense of time and the way a lot of the story seems to separated up into short adventures, I got a very Doctor Who feeling from the book. This was actually playing through my head a lot whilst I read, especially in the sections based on the plague planet.
At the same time, it’s certainly not a PG version of the 40k universe. Instead, Sanders uses Czevak’s unusual methods to highlight the weird crazy parts of the 40k universe we rarely get to hear about.
Pariahs, a Techpriest from the Relictors chapter (who reminded me very much of Brian Blessed for some reason), an Imperial Saint, a virus that makes one compulsively hunt for knowledge all make regular appearances and the final confrontation very aptly takes place in the mind more than on the battlefield.
There are a few problems with the book: mainly that towards the middle narration and sense of time starts getting confused and jumbled up, which was jarring at first. Before I read on I even thought it was a massive error that the editors had failed to notice.
When it becomes apparent what is happening though, it rewards repeated readings, which were far more rewarding than most books I’ve read in the Black Library range.
Impossible to categorise and a real page turner, Atlas Infernal is much like the titular Inquisitor himself. I really look forward to reading what trouble Czevak gets into next.
Atlas Infernal is available from The Black Library and all good high street bookstores. You can also purchase a few short stories featuring Inquisitor Czevak on the Black Library site. They really are worth your time.