- A standalone novel
- Set in Necromunda
- Published by Black Library in 2021
- A Dystopian story of faith
- 453 pages
In the crime-blighted hive city of Necromunda, the law is only as powerful as those who enforce it, and those with power can make laws of their own. When a vestige of the ancient past resurfaces, there is no telling who will claim it as their legitimate inheritance . . .
Having missed out on the excellent-sounding Outgunned due to the intricacies of Games Workshop’s pre-ordering system, I decided to console myself by getting a copy of Denny Flowers’ other Black Library novel. Being set in Necromunda, Fire Made Flesh leans a little more in the dystopian direction than I generally like to see in my science fiction, but it’s a good story nonetheless. Where this review falls apart a little is with the following admission: I don’t think I actually have all that much to say about the book itself.
Fire Made Flesh is a quality piece of grimdark adventure, with everything you’d expect from Necromunda. There are no real heroes, only varying shades of shifty criminal looking to make the most of a bad situation. The action is appropriately brutal, and the true villains rather nasty indeed. Flowers’ writing is incredibly readable, and there’s not a whole lot that slows the narrative down.
But there’s also not much to dig deeply into. At least, not much that intrigues me enough to write about. I’m sure every character in this book has an essay waiting to be written about them. What I’m going to talk about is a little broader than that. What I’m going to talk about is Necromunda as a whole.
In a real-world sense, Necromunda is one of the older corners of the game world. Aside from being a place where table top battles can be fought with fewer miniatures, it is also the place where smaller-scale stories playout in the fiction of the world. Historically, it has been the setting for stories about criminals, and the bounty hunters trying to bring them down. Necromunda-based stories saw a resurgence a couple of years ago, coinciding with a new game release, but there are comparatively few of them. And I think part of the reason for that dearth is that we now have a new place for criminals and law-keepers. A place called, appropriately enough, Warhammer Crime. Because while Necromunda lends itself well to this sort of story, Varangantua is tailor-made for them. And yet, within the internal workings of the universe, the two crime-riddled hives mark opposite ends of a spectrum.
Varangantua is very much an Imperial hive city. It supports its tithe of soldiers for the astra militarum. It pays taxes. It has a functional, if corrupt, government. Most importantly of all, it has an effective legal system. Yes, they don’t catch every criminal, and there is plenty of corruption within the ranks, but there are men and women working as probators who genuinely stand a chance of improving the life of the average citizen. Contrast that with Necromunda. Here, the city has fallen into ruin. The real power is not in appointed leadership, but in gangs and cults. The noble houses are actively engaged in a civil war, while the best that the law can do is avoid the crossfire. In essence, Necromunda is what Varangantua could become if people were to give up. If the Imperium itself were to abandon the city. Necromunda is far closer to post-apocalypse than it is to crime thriller.
Whether we see any more Necromunda releases will, I suspect depend on two elements. First, the success of the Warhammer Crime range. Second, the release schedule of the Necromunda game. But if you’re just getting started, there’s plenty out there already, and Fire Made Flesh is as good a place to start as any.