A couple of weeks ago, Pat from the 11th Company contacted me to do an interview/book review. That review was of Deliverance Lost, and at the end he asked me if I wanted to do another review in the future. I gushed a little and said, "sure," so a week later we sat down and reviewed Fifteen Hours.
It had been a while since I had read this book so I sat down to read it again, and I re-found out that this is really a very enjoyable book.
One of the things that really make this book enjoyable to me are the characters. Mitchel Scanlon does a great job of creating some very memorable characters in a few short pages. These little vignettes are what make the story.
The first one we see if of Erasmus Ng. He is what I guess you would call a scribe. He works 12-hours a day 7-days a week transcribing a series of numbers broadcast to him by some disembodied voice.
Hour after hour the voice sends him numbers and hour after hour he types them into a cogitator. Believe it or not, from time to time his mind wonders and then he thinks to himself, "was that supposed to be a 2 or a 1? Oh well what matter could it possibly make?"
Somewhere else in the galaxy, Arvin Larn, newly inducted trooper in the Imperial Guard and the 200 men in his green-as-grass company are diverted from their nice cushy pacification assignment and dropped into the middle of Bouceroc, a city that has been under siege by a "million" Orks for over a decade.
The title of the book comes from the life expectancy of "new fish" assigned to Bouceroc. On average they only only live fifteen hours. As Larn comes to grips with the fact that he is on the wrong planet, and he has be seconded to a new unit it becomes his goal to prove the statisticians wrong. He is going to beat the fifteen hours.
Now this book is very different than your average 40k book. In much the same was as Horus Rising was different with all of the political machinations, Fifteen Hours is different because it is not your typical hack and slash 40k book.
Pat mentioned during our on-air review that this book feels like a "classic" that you would read and analyse in school, and I completely agree. I could easily see a teacher asking, "what is the significance of the rat-boy in the story, why is he in the book at all?"
Now I have to say that this book is quite possibly the grim-est of the grim-dark books I have read from the Black Library, it is also a nice change of pace. I love the pure hack-and-slash stories that BL put out, but it is nice to change gears every once in a while.
While I do not think that this book will appear to everyone, I do think it is an excellent story and I give it five