Review: Potentia by Mike Mason

Posted by DarkChaplain at 9/20/2016
Within every noble intention there lurks the potential for corruption, with every pious ideal the possibility of falling into darkness... When a murderous cultist inexplicably turns himself in to the Inquisition, his acolyte-interrogator seeks to learn the reason for the murderer's surrender but ends up receiving a very different lesson...
I cannot tell you how excited I am about Black Library's return to form when it comes to more creative stories. After a drought of the likes in favor of glorified marketing brochures, there's a flood of cool new things seeing the light of day, and more to come. When Eisenhorn returned in The Keeler Image, and the same week saw Inquisitor Covenant star in The Purity of Ignorance, I was happy as can be.

Now, we've got another Inquisition story to talk about, written by Mike Mason, who has a history in pen & paper roleplaying games, including Fantasy Flight Games' Dark Heresy system for Warhammer 40,000. Here's the review of his Black Library debut!

The Story:
"Within every noble intention there lurks the potential for corruption, with every pious ideal the possibility of falling into darkness... When a murderous cultist inexplicably turns himself in to the Inquisition, his acolyte-interrogator seeks to learn the reason for the murderer's surrender but ends up receiving a very different lesson..."

The Review:
Potentia felt shorter than expected. Mike Mason's debut story for Black Library isn't entirely groundbreaking, and its briefness and lack of names for its two characters make it feel somewhat inconsequential.
But that is also, in a way, the point.

The story takes place during an Inquisitor's student's interrogation of a multiple murderer, who turned himself in. The Interrogator himself is firmly on the path of becoming an Inquisitor in his own right, and the murderer plays up the similarities between the two: killing for personal advancement and power. It is a familiar theme, especially with Inquisitors who straddle the line between righteous and extremist.

Due to the story's length, I felt that the topic wasn't explored as much as it deserved to be, in that particular arrangement. More could have been done with the murderer, who to me felt very much like the Joker taunting Batman, laughter included. He hopped between seeming unhinged and clear-headed, which I enjoyed a lot.

But again, neither of the two characters received a name, which makes the story more universally applicable to Interrogators across the Imperium, but also lowered the personal stakes of the story. There is no solid character to get invested in or want to see more of, as the Interrogator is a relatively blank slate, who, while put into a intriguing place by the story, won't be spoken of again. His personal development starts and ends here.

Even though I believe that to be the point Mason was attempting to make, and that the debate about a path lined with corpses is a good one to write about, it also lacked depth. The ending and twists were well done, and hammer the protagonist's questionable character home further, but in the end I felt lukewarm about the story.

It isn't bad, had a solid and worthwhile concept, but in my eyes, the story didn't quite reach its full potential.

Potentia on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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