Book Review 104 // Faith and Fire (Sisters of Battle #1) by James Swallow

I was excited to read this novel Faith and Fire by James Swallow as I've never read a Sister of Battle novel before. It's a side of 40k that has never appealed to me over the years. The idea of the Church, in general, is something I have a distrust in so the idea of the fanatical 40k world and warrior nuns just didn't sit well. But after discovering the Sister of Battle Omnibus at a thrift store, I decided I should crack the spine and sink into the God-Emperor of Mankind's chosen daughters. Wish me luck.

An Adepta Sororitas novel

Disgraced by the escape of a dangerous heretic psyker, Seraphim Miriya of the Adepta Sororitas swears to hunt down and recapture the traitor, whatever the cost.

READ IT BECAUSE

It's an in-depth look into the Sisters of Battle, and a cracking tale – a part detective story, part actioner, with strong themes of faith and redemption. And also fire.

THE STORY

In the grim nightmare future of the 41st millennium, the witch-hunting zealots of the Sisters of Battle stand between humanity and damnation. From the elite Seraphim warriors to the berserk Sisters Repentia, they are the strong arm of the Ecclesiarchy and the brutal hammer of witches. When dangerous psychic heretic Torris Vaun escapes from her custody, Seraphim Miriya is disgraced in the eyes of her fellow sisters and superiors. Following Vaun's trail to the planet Neva, Miriya takes her sisters in pursuit and, along with Hospitalier Sister Verity, starts her investigations. When they uncover a terrifying plot that could threaten the future of the Imperium, is Miriya's and Verity's faith strong enough for them to triumph?

Once again Black Library brings an exciting-sounding tale. Sitting at 416 pages in total this was a chunky book and one I wasn't sure I could get behind, but I soon found myself hooked and started reading at a pace I hadn't done in a little while. For me, the characters (especially the villains) are the true highlight of the book. The sisters of battle all come across as fanatical believers, all angry and with chips on their shoulders. The main villain comes across as cold, moral-less and ruthless a very one-dimensional character but in the perfect way and with badass powers as well.

The main story arc is as described, with some fast-paced action, well thought out detective scenes and a twist I didn't expect too early on in the tale. I enjoyed the setting of Neva and how the "faith" of the world is viewed as extreme to even other faithful planets and I also enjoyed how due to faith controlling everything skilled labours are hard to come by, it is small touches like that, that actually add the weight of realism to a world being created in your imagination, as you can see the towering monuments built to honour the Emperor slowly eroding due to lost knowledge, the perfect mirror of the Imperium at large.

One troublesome part for me was the freedom the sisters had from their own order, just being able to do as they pleased, whenever they pleased. This didn't seem realistic especially the Hospitalier Sister, actually being able to freely move to an ashamed combat unit to aid in tracking down her biological sisters killer - just seems too far of a stretch. But that is just me being picky.

When the twist finally was revealed, took long enough for the reveal, it was great to see how it took shape and watch how everyone was played to manipulate the final plan. I wish more time had been spent on this as it really sparked my interest.

Pros

  • Worthwhile Characters
  • Excellent Villians
  • Intriguing World
  • Fun Psykers
Cons
  • Weird plot hooks
  • Sisters having too much freedom
  • Repentia Sisters (the author seemed to enjoy writing about a bit too much)
  • Not enough page time on the villains.
Overall great read and excited to continue reading the omnibus, not going to start an army of Sisters but it has made them a more interesting faction. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and go click follow.

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