- A Standalone Novel
- Focuses on the Sisters of Battle
- Published by Black Library in 2022
- A Grimdark war story
- 181 pages
In a galaxy aflame with war, faith is more powerful than any weapon. The blessed Saint Katherine knew this, but now she is fallen. Yet through the power of faith, Katherine may be reborn. And through faith, the day may yet be won . . .
Danie Ware has quickly made a name for herself among Black Library readers as the rising star of the Sisters of Battle. Her stories of Sister Augusta are told across numerous novellas and short stories (soon to be gathered in on omnibus), and they are a great example of Warhammer 40,000’s unique blend of hopelessly endless war and stunning acts of faith. The Triumph of Saint Katherine is Ware’s first novel-length offering for Black Library, and while it does not feature Augusta, it continues the work commenced with those stories. Because in the grim, dark future, everyone needs to keep the faith.
On a structural level, I adore this book. It’s one of Black Library’s short novels, about twice the length of their novellas, but it packs in a lot more than you might expect. In under two hundred pages we are witness to half a dozen battlefields and acts of heroism by the titular Saint. How is this achieved? I hear you ask. Well, it’s all thanks to one of my favourite narrative conceits. The framing narrative. In the present, we see a young Sister of Battle discover she may be the new incarnation of Saint Katherine. In all honesty, I don’t fully understand the rebirth angle going on here, but then neither does she. In order to have her faith affirmed, she takes part in a ceremony that sees six Sisters (herself included) recount tales of Katherine’s heroic deeds.
That’s right. We’re telling stories around the campfire. It’s a technique that Ware uses well, creating an in-universe anthology of stories that may be entirely or only partially true, depending on one’s perspective. Each one offers some insight into Katherine’s life (and death), while also exploring the role of the Adepta Sororitas within the larger Imperium. It’s the uncertainty of their veracity that really adds to the appeal of this spoken-word hagiography. Because what really matters isn’t the exact reality of the stories. It’s the belief they inspire that gives them their power.
As with several other recent releases, The triumph of Saint Katherine dives into the power of religion in a universe that has gods both real and less-provably-tangible. It’s great to see this level of detail, especially when it is done in such a way as to maintain many of the mysteries of the setting. For a world that has its roots in a game with hard and fast rules, it’s thankfully refreshing to see Warhammer 40,000 keeping the cosmic powers more nebulous. The God-Emperor may not have combat stats, but his daughters do. This isn’t a book about that specifically, but it is about how that intangible power is transformed into something rather more direct. Faith in a higher power has always driven humanity to great and terrible things, and the Sisters of Battle are no different.
Overall, this is another strong entry in Ware’s canon of Black Library offerings, and I look forward to seeing what comes next. After all, it’s about time the Sisters of Battle had a proper-length series.
Did you enjoy this book? If so, you might also enjoy:
Ephrael Stern: The Heretic Saint, by David Annandale
Mark of Faith, by Rachel Harrison
Sisters of Battle, by James Swallow