Review: Restorer by Chris Wraight

Posted by DarkChaplain at 9/01/2017
Shiban Khan has returned to Terra. As the Warmaster draws ever closer, his body is remade and his mechanical shackles cast aside, but there are other, deeper wounds that must still be confronted before he can face battle again.
This may be a mere short story, but I figured it was worth talking about, considering how much it impressed me. The next novel review should be coming soon, once I figure out some things. In the meantime, some gushing about Chris Wraight's White Scars!

The Story:
"Shiban Khan has returned to Terra. As the Warmaster draws ever closer, his body is remade and his mechanical shackles cast aside, but there are other, deeper wounds that must still be confronted before he can face battle again."

The Review:
Restorer is a beautiful story. It perfectly highlights just what power the short story format can have, if used intelligently, as an aside to an ongoing saga. It is not a mandatory read to understand the rest of the Horus Heresy by any means, but just enough of a bonus, an epilogue chapter to a character arc from two previous novels, a novella and some shorts, that it is utterly satisfying and moving for the reader.

If you haven't read Chris Wraight's White Scars novels for the Horus Heresy, Scars and The Path of Heaven, you are doing something wrong to begin with. If you have read them, as well as the Brotherhood of the Storm novella (printed in Legacies of Betrayal), you simply owe it to yourself to read Restorer as well.

It really puts the bow on one of the most striking plotlines from Wraight's Scars stories: The friendship/rivalry between Shiban Khan and Torghun Khan. Where Brotherhood of the Storm established their divergent philosophies of war and showcased Torghun's struggles to accept his place within the Ordu of Jaghatai, and Scars delved even deeper into their origins and paths, with The Path of Heaven handing us the results of their rivalry, which presented the V Legion's own schism in microcosm, Restorer puts past errors, grievances and stubborness at rest in a very introspective way.
An important way, too, if you ask me.

Where many short stories in the Horus Heresy series turn into slices of action across the galaxy, this one brings us to the heart of Terra and gives us insights into the state of the Throneworld in the final months before the Siege. It even gives us a glimpse of the traitor forces' arrival, which may be a first. It does so in a very personal way that speaks volumes about the strength of Wraight's characterization skills. Shiban Khan, for all his faults, invites us to prepare for the impending assault of Horus Lupercal's forces - both physically and mentally.

I honestly believe that Chris got something special here. Even if this turns out to be the final piece in his White Scars saga for the Heresy, it'd be an epitaph worth remembering as one of the most poignant pieces of short fiction across the entire series. It is the final piece that I could only have hoped for after the grim events from The Path of Heaven and puts to rest one of the very few points that book disappointed me with back when I read it.

As far as the depictions of Terra itself go, I can't criticise a thing. There is a clear contrast here to Wraight's recent Inquisition novel The Carrion Throne, with both versions of Old Earth across the Millennia feeling distinct and right, giving just enough of an impression of the world to satisfy curiosity and letting imagination extrapolate the rest. The inhabitants we come across feel troubled and authentic in the situations they are presented in. This is a world just waiting on the edge of its proverbial seat, expecting the arrival of the apocalypse any day now. The dire situation was handled perfectly, in my eyes.

With all that in mind, I cannot recommend Restorer highly enough. It stands as one of the series' finest pieces of short fiction - and with as many dozens of those out there, that's got to count for something.

Restorer on Goodreads

About the Author
DarkChaplain is a big nerd who spends too much time reading and thinking about books, organizing them on his ever-growing shelves, and yet increases his backlog by the month. DC is also an avid Gamer and owns more PC games than he'll ever be able to play. He is certainly spoiled for choice!
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain

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