Review – Fiefdom by Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent

Posted: July 2, 2014 in Sci-Fi
Tags: , ,

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Based on the best selling comic book Kingdom created by Dan Abnett and artist Richard Elson, Fiefdom returns to that world with an original story set one hundred years after the 2000 AD series. I’ve only read one of Abnett’s novels before (a battered second hand copy of a Black Library book bought at a boot sale) but the man is a prolific and touted writer. That, and the fact that I was caught with only this in ebook format available to read on my phone, made for an easy and very enjoyable choice. Check out the blurb.

Evelyn War is a Believer. She knows that in the Old Time, long before the Time of Ice, the Masters fought a war with Them. But in the frozen
ruins of Berlin, Them have not been seen for many
years and now the Aux fight among themselves
and say all that was just stories.
But the ice is melting and the whistling call of Them can be heard in the tunnels of the U-Bahn once more. She knows that the stories are not just lessons in the ways of war. Them were real.

Though Fiefdom is based on a comic book, it reads like a stand alone novel (and even, hopefully, the start of a series). The authors cleverly set the scene and introduce some important factors without any clumsy info dumps. Set in a post-apocalypse Berlin, the novel centres around the ‘Zoo pack’ and Evelyn War whose recently deceased father was a ‘Hearer’ of the Masters voice.

It quickly becomes clear that the pack is a group of dog-human hybrid warriors descended from a long line of soldiers, engineered and bred by humans to fight a terrible enemy. Using the idea of fire-side stories and legends to explain their histories and continue their teachings, it seems that these warriors have lost their connection to the Masters. Living in old, underground train tunnels, the dog warriors have formed packs with tribal territories. However, history is set to repeat itself. The frozen wastelands above ground are thawing and the ice age is coming to an end, and with it the emergence an old and fearsome enemy.

In a way, Fiefdom is pulp fiction at its absolute best. It’s a fast, high energy story full of conflict and explosive action. The plot is a straight shot whilst the characters and the setting are superb. The authors use a narrative trick that, though slight, imbues the soldiers with a canine-human hybrid quality and the tribal idea of the pack, with its Alpha males, hierarchies and territories truly paints a picture. As the threat of the ‘Them’ turns from myth to reality and the tunnels cease to be safe, the book hits an unstoppable pace. I literally didn’t put the novel down until I’d consumed it whole.

The authors’ inventiveness with their characters is brilliant and the action is highly visual. To be honest, if I’d been told ‘hybrid dog soldiers battle giant insects in the underground ruins of Berlin’s train system’ I would have been sold on the book. But, it’s so much more. Yes, there’s gore and frantic battles but there is also a number of deft touches that hints at a greater story and a very creative setting. It’s like a howl in the night; explosive and immediate but hinting at something more impressive and solid at its source.

Review copy
Published by Abaddon

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Comments
  1. Nice to read the thoughts of someone who didn’t know all about Gene the Hackman. And I agree fully with what you say.

    Great book for those of us that have read Kingdom from the start and for those who haven’t even heard of it.

    • thebookbeard says:

      It’s one of those books that makes me want to get back into comics. Really visual and such a cool setting.. Are the original Kingdom comics worth checking out?

      • Yes and you’ll feel instantly at home with them as the legends in Fiefdom are directly referring to the comics.

        There are two collections Kingdom: Promised Land and Kingdom: Call of The Wild. Both written by Dan Abnett.

      • thebookbeard says:

        Quality. I’ll endeavour to check them out if I get the chance. Just so many good books.. 🙂

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