REVIEW: The Wolftime by Gav Thorpe

Last Updated on March 8, 2024

In The Wolftime by Gav Thorpe we explore the struggles of the primaris space marines as they try to implant themselves into space marine chapters that have grown and changed for 10,000 years. It’s a book about the outsiders wanting to be insiders, and the insiders not understanding how they could ever be so. The Wolftime is a relatively standard 40K book, packed with action and awesomeness, wrapped around a core question the 40k community has been asking since the announcement of the primaris marines: “how are these primaris marines going to fit in with the lore of the established space marine chapters?” It’s a challenging question to respond to, but Thorpe does it really well.

Cover for The Wolftime by Gav ThorpeThe overarching story of the book is about the Indomitus crusade to recapture the half of the Imperium lost to the great warp storm that has split an empire of billions of worlds in half. With a great mass of orks assaulting the part of the sector the Space Wolves are responsible for defending, the mighty Roboute Guilliman seeks to re-establish contact with the Wolves, reinforce them with thousands of primaris space marines (remembering even the Wolves are unlikely to have more than a couple thousand space marines left, all told), and have them defend one of his crusade’s flanks while he charges off to reclaim the lost worlds of the Imperium. It’s far-reaching, broad, space military sci-fantasy, and it’s fucking awesome.

The Wolftime has a range of characters telling this story that every Space Wolf fan is going to love, with Logan Grimnir’s great company front and centre and all of the almighty heroes therein getting plenty of screen time. You’ll also get time with the only confirmed live loyal primarch, Roboute Guilliman, some chaos characters (I love Thorpe’s depiction of the Raptor traitor space marines), and a naval crewman on an imperial ship captured by orks. However, the key character in showcasing the very core of the story is Sergeant Gaius. Gaius is a newly minted primaris space marine, one of the Unnumbered getting assigned to a storied space marine chapter. Gaius is taller and bigger than his firstborn Space Wolf brothers who have waged war in defence of the imperium these last ten millennia, but he’s also younger, inexperienced in battle, and lacking the native-born understanding of the chapter–the “why” you might call it, were you in sales. Having landed upon a world stricken by war, he now stands against the traitorous brothers of the Night Lords traitor space marines who are clad in armour more ancient than the city in which he stands, their hatred older and fiercer than his will ever be. And that, fellow 40K fans, is not the biggest challenge Gaius will face.

As always with 40K novels, everything is on the line in The Wolftime. If our heroes fail, all will fall, and our heroes sometimes do pretty shitty things to benefit the greater whole–which is why I love 40k fiction. Thorpe does an excellent job in staying true to why the absolutely obsessed 40k fanbase devour anything the Black Library publishes, while also doing well to continue the thematic pulling away of the Wolves from being roudy space vikings that Dan Abnett started in Prospero Burns, while also making sure the core purpose of the story drives the overarching narrative of the primaris space marines forward.

The one thing that bugged me in The Wolftime isn’t a problem with the writing or story. It’s not the author’s fault; it’s probably not even Black Library’s fault (probably). For Space Wolf fans, we know what The Wolftime means. We know who is supposed to be returning when it happens. And we know the stakes that are in play that would dictate that character returning. And I’d be lying if I said I did not pick up this book and ramp it straight to the top of the TBR because I thought the title meant that character returned. I’m going to save Space Wolf fans the heart break: He doesn’t.

The Wolftime by Gav Thorpe is full of action and characters fans of the setting will know and love. The pressure and risk is there, the desperation on full display, the awesome moments drop on you like bombs of awesomeness. Even better, the purpose of the book is clear and really well done. This is Thorpe at the top of his 40k game. Pick up this book; you’ll love it. Just don’t expect him to show up.

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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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