REVIEW: Tears of Raphaela by Richard Swan

In Tears of Raphaela by Richard Swan, a new Warhammer 40,000 short story from Black Library, Brother Ramethos of the Lamenters space marine chapter hunts the last Tyranid Prime across the devoured cities of the planet Raphaela. With his sniper bolt rifle and three remaining executioner rounds he can destroy the horde’s synaptic link to their last leader and end their domination.

In Tears of Raphaela, we get another look into the Tyranid invasion we first read in Blood Harvest, this time from the elite space marines’ perspective. I loved the way Swan showcased that even the super human space marines and their ancient power armour could fall and start rotting in the miasma of a world where the Tyranid bio forms had devoured everything and poisoned the very air with their carnivorous spores.

As Ramethos chases the Prime we are shown a vision of a world where the mighty and many have fallen beneath the teeth and claws of the innumerous, and every act of heroism from the smallest Astra Militarium soldier to the mightiest space marine is forgotten in the eyes of the universe, but for one lone space marine to lament their passing.

What makes Tears of Raphaela a fun read is that it creates a feeling of constant movement and action, without resorting to it being one long battle scene. I also really liked the play on the bad luck of the Lamenters chapter—something I didn’t previously know and that I think, for this reader at least, added a tiny bit of humour.

One of the things I love about Black Library is their focus on creating ongoing stories with retained characters (If you’d like a starting point for some of their best series, check out Warhammer 40k: Where to Start Reading) who you cheer for (and sometimes maybe cry a bit for) as their bloody, brutal lives are portrayed on the page (and soon on screen!). With Blood Harvest and Tears of Raphaela, it feels like Swan has taken the first two steps towards creating a Lamenters versus Tyranids playpen for stories of might heroism and all-hope-lost moments against the never-ending horde of Tyranids, and I can’t wait for more.

Make sure you grab this quick, 20 minute read full of non-stop action.

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.

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