For my second foray into Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K) literature, I chose Mitchel Scanlon's Fifteen Hours. This story follows 17 year old Arvin Larn, from his involuntary induction into the Imperial Guard to his frontline experiences during the Siege of Broucheroc, an industrial city surrounded by Orks.
The first three chapters introduce us to the main character, his family, and his in-transit training with the 14th Jumael Volunteers.
By the end of Chapter Four, Larn finds himself the sole survivor of the 6th Company, after they were directed--by mistake--to make planetfall near Broucheroc, and ended up crash landing in no-man's land (Chapter Five).
In Chapters Six through Seventeen, our hapless hero learns the significance of fifteen hours: It is the life expectancy of a new recruit to Broucheroc. During these 12 hours, Larn faces Ork snipers, friendly fire, some unfriendly team mates, incompetent officers, bad food, an all-out Ork assault, and a night patrol into no man's land.
Technically, Larn survives past 15 hours to see the dawning of a new day--but his fate is not a happy one.
Basically, Fifteen Hours is WH40K's version of All Quiet on the Western Front--and just as depressing.
The author paints a grim picture on what life for an Imperial Guardsman on the frontlines is like. But this is in-keeping with all the WH40K background material found in the core rulebooks and supplements, known as "codexes."
I give Fifteen Hours a 3-star rating, primarily because of the downer ending.
My rating is only 0.7 less than the average rating on Amazon.com, with only 61% of raters loving the story (4 & 5-stars). Many of the unsatisfied raters (1 & 2-stars) were critical of the author's writing, whereas I thought the author did a good job with this being his first novel.
I just wanted to see the hero prevail over "...the grim dark future."
As an aside, the cover art of my copy of Fifteen Hours is pictured above. The problem with it is, Larn doesn't go "mano-a-orko" against an ork warboss.
So the heroic image is misleading.
There's an alternate cover, but so far I can't determine if it's from an earlier or later edition. While it's more appropriate to the story, there's a 39% chance, based on the 1-3 star raters on Amazon, that it won't improve one's reading experience.
I'm a retired USAF TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) member, now working for Washington State Emergency Management. In addition to being an Emergency Operations Specialist at my day/night/weekend job, I'm a Foreign Affairs Specialist, gamer and writer.
I maintain three blogs as an on-line platform. "Stern Rake Studio," my central site, explores a variety of topics on gaming, pop-culture and writing. "Station WTFO" is where I post comments and discussions on the national and international issues that concern us. Finally, "The Redshift Chronicles," is a spin-off of "Stern Rake Studio." This site focuses on sci-fi gaming and is home to my long-form webcomic "Breakout from Bongolaan."