In the immense city of Varangantua, life is cheap but mistakes are expensive. When Probator Agusto Zidarov of the city’s enforcers is charged with locating the missing scion of a wealthy family, he knows full well that the chances of finding him alive are slight. The people demanding answers, though, are powerful and ruthless, and he is soon immersed in a world of criminal cartels and corporate warfare where even an enforcer’s survival is far from guaranteed. As he follows the evidence deeper into the city’s dark underbelly, he discovers secrets that have been kept hidden by powerful hands. As the net closes in on both him and his quarry, he is forced to confront just what measures some people are willing to take in order to stay alive…
I am reading this as both an approval via NetGalley and as an owner of the book. My review will be unbiased as always and I thank Black Library and NetGalley for the approval. Special thanks goes to Becky Crook on Twitter who brought me a copy of Bloodlines as part of a giveaway.
Bloodlines is the first book in the new Warhammer Crime series. Considering the vast majority of my non-Black Library reads are in the thriller/crime genre I am, needless to say, excited about this release.
The story of Bloodlines follows newly introduced Probator Agusto Zidarov. A member of the local ‘Police Force’ in the vast city of Varangantua. The basic premise of the plot is simple. Zidarov has to find the missing heir of a filthy-rich corporation owner. Of course the investigation doesn’t stay simple and as the plot thickens more complexities are added to the novel and expand on the developing intrigue.
What I enjoy the most about Bloodlines is how it represents the hidden, every day aspect of Imperial life. So often we read novels that have mighty heroes fighting on the front lines of battle. To see a humble approach to the everyday elements that make up the Imperium of Mankind and the lives within its clutches was enthralling. A big part of this is due to Augusto Zidarov as a main character. There is something world-weary and long suffering about him. This makes him as captivating as his surroundings. Not only is he an average sort of guy within the Enforcers he is also a family man with troubles of his own to deal with. Mostly in the form of an equally world-weary wife and a daughter who insists she’s destined for the Imperial Guard. Bloodlines re-enforces the fact that the Warhammer 40k setting is grim and gritty. And there is very little in the ways of pleasantries about it. Life in the Imperium is unfair and Bloodlines does little to sugar-coat that fact.
As stated, It’s dark in Zidarovs world and only those that can escape the depths of the darkness are those that can afford to do so. This is the other aspect of the every-day that we’re shown in Bloodlines, through the eyes of Udmil Terashova. The High-born woman who contracts the Enforcers to find her missing son. The richer element of Imperial life. Those that can afford the luxuries to make the day-to-day life in the Imperium bearable. Those that can afford to keep themselves looking young through rejuvanant treatments – a process which is vital to key-plot elements within Bloodlines and the criminal cartels that are involved with the process of procuring the vital chemicals required. A process that involved ‘Cell-Draining’ in which the youth are drained of their vital essences until there’s nothing left but a husk. Naturally, all highly illegal. As the plot progresses more elements are added and more clues need to be pulled together for Zidarov to solve. It’s highly entertaining and kept me guessing as a reader. I was keen to see all the individual elements wrapped up and solved.
I’m pleased to announce there isn’t much combat in Bloodlines. It’s not the run of the mill shoot-em-up that Warhammer 40k books usually offer. It makes for a refreshing change of pace. Bloodlines is an intelligently written, complex story that is well worthy of the crime genre. Not a moment passes when you think this is anything other than a 40k novel. There’s a lot of grounding done to keep the reader firmly established in the individual world setting of Varangantua as well as the Warhammer 40k universe as a while. There are references to Imperial Faith and the Astra Militarum amongst other standard Imperium of Mankind aspects. It’s very cleverly handled that blends the two elements perfectly as newcomers to the Warhammer Universe will be able to pick up and read this book as easily as those who’ve been into the genre a long time.
When the action comes it’s fast-paced and easy to imagine and over quickly. There are scenes of thrill and tension too and they all blend well together making Bloodlines a mixed-bag of entertainment.
What I found rather novel about Bloodlines is that it draws on some usually over-done tropes of the Crime genre. The protagonist is ageing, weary and having family troubles on-top of his ever growing pile of cases to solve. His boss in on his back; and the dubious work partner. Usually, I would tear a book down for it’s over reliance on triteness. However of Bloodlines I am more forgiving as these are masterfully interwoven between plot developments and personal character twists.
Bloodlines offers a different view of Imperial life far removed from the usual offering of front-line combat. It’s a well crafted and equally well considered crime novel with intriguing plot twists and character developments. All led by a brilliant lead protagonist; Augusto Zidarov.