So after the last two Black Library books I read, I was a little worried about reading another. I know it seems kind of silly. It is not as if the last two books were terrible, I just didn't care for them, and what is it that people say about opinions?
Anywho, I picked up The Gildar Rift and I was a bit excited because a) I enjoyed Ms. Cawkwells' short stories about the Silver Skulls, b) after Imperial Armour 9/10 & Blood Reaver, I've got a thing for the Astral Claws/Red Corsairs, a c) I don't think I've met "A Space Marines Battles Novel," I haven't liked yet. So with those things in mind, I dove in.
I have to start with a bit of a critisim. The book began with a bit about a Rogue Trade moving into the Gildar system, not waiting for their marine escort and subsequently being attacked by pirates. There was nothing really wrong with it, but it really served no purpose in the story. It is just a gimmick that the BL authors seem to do more and more. Some of them can pull it off (like Dan Abnett in Bloodpact), but for others it really just falls flat, as it does here, in my opinion.
One of the things I was a little torn with in this book is the fact that I kind of wanted both sides to win. I like the Red Corsairs, but I am also a "goodie goodie" at heart. Added to the fact that I was (pretty) sure that the good side was going to win and (pretty) sure that Huron was going to survive, I was wondering what the point of this book was going to be.
Wow, did I worry for nothing. The Silver Skulls are know for their Prognosticators, their librarians are usually very good at seeing the future, and this book sets about telling the story of what do you do when you know what the outcome will be. Do you try to change it, or do you accept the consequences of your actions. THAT is what this book is about, and Cawkwell does a very good job of making me care about it.
Another thing Cawkwell does very well is to describe the Red Corsairs. In the IA books, you get a lot of information about the Astral Claws, but this gives us more insight into what they have become. If rumors are true that a new Chaos Space Marine codex is on the horizon, I am tempted to try to put together a Red Corsair army with each squad from a different space marine chapter that has turned traitor.
Overall this was a very enjoyable read. I give it four defaced Imperial Eagles out of five.