- A Standalone Novel
- Focuses on the Sisters of Battle
- Published by Black Library in 2019
- A Twisting Grimdark Horror
- 392 pages
Sister Asenath Hyades is returning home, with a squad of injured militarum soldiers and their commissar alongside her. But the Candleworld has changed in her absence. It has grown darker. A darkness that is mirrored by the torment within her own soul . . .
Every single author puts care into their words. That’s basically the job description. Choosing not only the right words, but the best words to tell a story. Even so, there are levels to this. Some authors opt for clarity, using direct prose and limited metaphor. Some prefer pages of description, while others will jump right into the dialogue. There’s no wrong way to go about this, only ones that are right for the author, and right for their readers. For some authors, the writing itself is what matters. Not merely the means to an end of telling a story, but an act of artistry for its own sake. I admit, I sometimes dismiss these individuals as more than a little pretentious, but there is no denying the level of skill they put into their work. These are, after all, the authors likely to be lauded by critics and their peers alike. The authors who will win awards. The authors who you might not expect to find writing tie-in fiction for a game in which tiny plastic men wage war across a tabletop. And yet, Peter Fehervari is just such an author.
In an odd coincidence, the three Black Library authors who I think dedicate the most attention to the style of their prose all have names beginning with F. Peter Fehervari, Matthew Farrer, and Jon French all write books that are richer than you might expect. Among these three, Fehervari stands out for the sheer scope of his writing. Requiem Infernal has a plot that could be the work of any Black Library author. A lone Sister of Battle, a wounded regiment, an island fortress with a dark secret, sinister cultists. The elements of the story are not what make this book stand out. Fehervari’s uniqueness is in the way the story is told.
I will say that I didn’t particularly enjoy Requiem Infernal, but in this case more than most others, I can still recognise the skill that has gone into its creation. There is more going on here than I can summarise in a single review. Fehervari plays with the idea of memory in a way that makes my head hurt. Characters remember mutually exclusive histories, both personal and otherwise, and both versions of the past appear to have an impact on the present. Dreams and reality flow together to the extent that I can’t distinguish between the two. None of the characters know what is going on, even when they’re the ones driving the action. Then there are the links to other Fehervari novels, and the Dark Coil storyline that joins them all together. There are layers here, yes, but also things stuck between the layers. It is an exceptionally well put together tale, I’m just not entirely sure I understood half of it.
Despite personally not enjoying it, Requiem Infernal is the sort of book I’d recommend to anyone who thinks Warhammer 40,000 is just men in trenches shooting orks. Even though it’s far from my favourite part of the canon, there’s no denying the skill and artifice that went into its creation.