Sisters of Battle, a Warhammer 40000 novel by James Swallow (2017)

Imagine a grim and dark universe that only has one thing on it’s mind: war. Not a very bright thing to look forward to is it? But it has been the setting for decades for a tabletop game called Warhammer 40.000. In that game players battle each other with fictional armies of painted miniatures. Taking place in the 41st Millenium (talk about a time jump), it is one of the most detailed science fiction universes ever created. With literally thousands of novels and sourcebooks that tell the tales of the men, women and aliens that are living in there, it can be very overwhelming for people that are not familiar with it. In this far future, mankind has taken to the stars and have created an Imperium that consists of thousands of planets. Humanity is led by The Emperor that was mortally wounded in a great war called the Horus Heresy. He now permanently resides on Terra where he is kept alive on The Golden Throne. In his name vast armies of Space Marines take the fight to enemies ranking from aliens to horrifying demons.

Yup…..we get girlpower now!

I myself have never played the game, but I really love the stories that are written for this universe. I have a pretty big collection of books in this range, and most of these tell the accounts of the soldiers of the Imperium, the superhuman Space Marines. That’s why it was very refreshing to find a novel that does something entirely different. It brings girlpower to this male dominated universe! The Sisters of Battle Omnibus features four stories that focus on the women soldiers also known as the Adepta Sororitas. Fanatically loyal to the Emperor, these women are not supersoldiers or enhanced in any way. But what they may lack in strength, they more than make up for with their courage and faith. In this omnibus we get introduced to Sister Miriya, who has become one of my favorite Warhammer 40.000 characters. Raven haired, headstrong but courageous to a fault she is an absolute delight and a true heroine.

One of the more horrifying enemies that lurk in this book: The Necron.

The second main character of this book is Sister Verity, who is not a soldier but a medic and almost the complete opposite of Miriya. Where the former is of the type to shoot first and ask questions later, Verity always tries to reason through everything and is an incredibly kind soul that always sees the best in people. This unlikely pair soon become vast friends, and are going to have to face some true challenges. The four stories that make up this omnibus are all good, but my two favorites have got to be the two novella length ones. In Faith and Fire the two Sisters are going after a rogue psyker that has killed Verity’s real sister, and is responsible for the death of countless other humans. But soon it becomes clear that there is something far more sinister going on. Inย Hammer and Anvilย Miriya and Verity land on a planet that contains an outpost from the Adepta Sororitas that has been silent for years. No one really knows what transpired there, but the truth is more horrifying than both could ever have imagined.

Who would argue with a woman like this?

James Swallow, the author of all four stories, has really outdone himself. This collection comes running out of the gates, and never once becomes boring in any way. There are some great battlescenes, terrific characters (both heroes and enemies) but there is also enough time amidst all the carnage to tell some great tales. If you have never before experienced the Warhammer 40.000 universe this omnibus certainly is a great way to enter it. As it features a branch of The Imperium that hasn’t been featured in many other novels yet, you need no real other knowledge to enjoy this book. If you love military science fiction, that has fast paced action and interesting characters I highly recommend checking this one out. It really was a great read from start to finish, and one of the best novels that I have read all year. And really, who can resist an awesome cover like that!

I give Sisters of Battle a 9 out of 10 score.


25 thoughts on “Sisters of Battle, a Warhammer 40000 novel by James Swallow (2017)”

    1. It really is a great novel to read, and that cover really drew me in in the first place ๐Ÿ˜Š But then again, pretty much all these Warhammer novels have seriously cool covers. Thanks for your kind words. Appreciate it! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “Then we shall purge it with fire. I have yet to find a cinder that was not faithful in its praise of the emperor”

    Warhammer 40k combines a lot of things that I love: Science Fiction, Orks, and miniatures.

    The miniatures were my first introduction to it, though I have also never played but nor have I painted any of the minis (they were really expensive for a young Weekend Otaku to justify). I did play the heck out of the Dawn of War games though, if my quote is any indication.

    What I ended up enjoying most about WH40K though was the fluff. Interestingly, I never actually read any of the novels! I am just full of contradictions here, I know, but this review has me thinking I should pick a few of the books up. The Inquisition, and by extension their favorite military partners – Adeptus Sororitas, always appealed to me more than the space Marines ๐Ÿ˜›

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    1. Well, my introduction to the Warhammer 40K universe was the old Space Hulk boardgame by Games Workshop. Ever since playing that i have become quite fascinated with that universe I general. With the release of the novels everything became even more interesting. There are so many great ones out there now. This is definitely one of the best, but I also like the Horus Heresy series that focusses on the war between the war between The Emperor and Horus.
      But yeah, I never played the real game either: it’s just too expensive (and I really would not know where to find the time for it either lol๐Ÿ˜‚)
      There are some great Space Marine tales out there, but this one was just more interesting because it focussed on something else for a change. Thanks for your great comment: For the Emperor! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜€

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  2. I’ve never played any of the games related to Warhammer either, but the books REALLY sound like fun. I mean… just based off those pictures, I can totally expect a lot of epic action sequences and maybe even some fantastic storylines (sort of like how Warcraft has a pretty intriguing storyline behind all its games). I’ve heard from other readers of Warhammer that it can be quite confusing to know where to start with these books though. I’d totally be down to try one out some day. Hopefully it’ll be the right one to start with! Great review as always, Michel. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Yeah that’s one of the problems, there are now so many novels that it’s hard to find a good starting point. Luckily Google and the Black Library website can help with that as it features quite a few (good) novels with which new readers can start.
      But true that really is one of the things these novels excell at: great and sweeping battle sequences, often great characters and terrific storylines. If you ever are in need of some suggestions for these, let me know: I can give you a few tips with which to start ๐Ÿ˜Š And ofcourse thank you again: appreciate it ๐Ÿ˜€

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  3. I dabbled with Warhammer back when I was a teen, but ultimately gave it up because there are only so many expensive hobbies I can fund. Although I have never read any of the 40k novels, sometimes I play video games set in the Games Workshop universe. It’s neat that this book features females because usually the franchise seems to be dominated by guys.

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    1. Yeah, honestly: it’s just way too expensive. If I were to quit all my other hobbies than maybe I would be able to afford it, but that just doesn’t seem worth it.
      That’s definitely one of the reasons I liked this book so much. It really is a pretty unique view of the universe seeing as usually we only have stories about testostoron filled Space Marines (not that there is anything wrong with that).

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  4. I love the sound of this novel, Michel and that COVER PORN!!!!!๐Ÿคค ๐Ÿ˜€OMG, LOVE IT!๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ“˜๐Ÿ˜„ This sounds so intriguing and I totally am guilty in dabbling in some Warhammer myself!๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ’–๐ŸŽฎ I don’t understand why I am just now seeing this review when it was posted 20 hours ago?! WordPress must be hatin on me a little! But back to the novel, I’m loving how you put some GIRL POWER in there in a male dominated world! This is why I love the shit out of you Michel! Totally true and totally badass!๐Ÿ˜„ Also it seems that I could relate to Verity but it seems that this story has a lot of unexpected twists!๐Ÿ™Œ Fantastic Review and TBR pile for sure because of your awesome review!๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜˜ YOU ROCK!๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ“š๐ŸŽฎ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ˜—๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Yeah I won’t lie, this cover is the thing that attracted me to the book in the first place. After I read what the book was about I just had to buy it. Never any doubt whatsoever lol ๐Ÿ˜‚ No idea why just saw the post make an appearance, but that’s probably WordPress doing the fifty shades of crazy thing again ๐Ÿ˜‚Aww, that’s so cool that you added this book to the TBR pile just because of my review. That really makes me smile: thank you so much ๐Ÿ˜€ I think you would really like the character of Verity, because she definitely has a lot of things with you in common: Kindness and a great inner strength being two of those qualities ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks again for another terrific comment: and never forget: you ROCK as well!๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ Awesomeness ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š


    1. Seriously, I said it over on Kim’s blog, but I can say it to you as well: comments like these make really happy and shy at the same time lol. Thanks so much: it really means the world to me to know that my reviews make you read/ watch things because of them ๐Ÿ˜Š


  5. I’ve never played Warhammer or read any of it’s novels, but I’m really liking this girlpower idea. ๐Ÿ˜€
    This novel does sound awesome and those images. Oh my Glob, they’re amazing and really pulls you in. I think you have convinced me to give this one a read. ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Warhammer has an amazing number of novels to read (literally thousands), so it’s hard to find a book that tries something different. This one definitely succeeds at that. If you get to read it, I hope you will enjoy it. As always thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. Haha, thank you for your kind words, and your great comment, appreciate it ๐Ÿ˜Š This book was definitely a great read and one I highly enjoyed. Hope you are going to have fun reading it as well, if you check it out ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  6. I’m being drawn into Warhammer by my partner and son, and I was saying to them what about the female characters? Surely they must exist??? Thanks so much for highlighting a collection of stories I will hunt down and read – proof that female characters do exist and can kick some arse too.

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    1. I’m really sorry. This, and another comment of yours got sent to the spamfilter. I just rescued both of them, so that’s why I am so late to respond.
      Yes, there are definitely a number of strong women in this primarily male dominated universe, and that’s definitely my reason for my interest in this book. And it turned out to be a great read, so that was an added bonus. Hope you will enjoy it as well if you manage to track it down ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

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