Book Review: The Last Days Of Ector by Guy Haley

The Last Days Of Ector - Header

Last September I read a book by Guy Haley called Valedor. A Warhammer 40,000 story it recounts a battle between alien armies fighting for consumption or survival throughout an Imperial galaxy. Essentially Sci-Fi warfare. And while, I wasn’t overly impressed by the book, I did enjoy it and it certainly created a growing passion for reading and writing within me.

The Last Days Of Ector - Tyranids

Released at the same time as Valedor, Haley also wrote: The Last Days Of Ector, a novella that outlines the attempts of Imperial resistance from the invading Tyranid hoards in the months leading up to the events recounted in Valedor, and while focussing on armies and characters that hold a smaller interest in me than those depicted in depth later on, I thought I would risk Haley’s writing style again and give it a go. After all, as a novella, it wouldn’t take long to finish even if I hated it, and I had enjoyed Haley’s Wraithflight short I read at Christmas.

Sadly though a lot of the problems I had with Valedor, borne out of Haley’s writing style, were evident again. I just find his way of bringing everything to life to technical and precise. Everything is the book is laid out through description and dimension; “fifteen steps leading to a room 100 meters long”. And I therefore found that I wasn’t able to really relax into the book, I wasn’t able to paint my own picture in my head of this hive world in which everything takes place. I would create an image, but it was never fully clear, never set in stone. Purely there for the passage of words before vanishing. And this fuzziness to cement the setting meant that as rooms reappeared they never looked the same.

The Last Days Of Ector - Guy Haley

I never created that mental map of the world I saw in my head with any strength and I never felt able to confidently place the events and characters onto it. Having to constantly draw it everything the action moved. I couldn’t confidently described the world in which this book took place.

I also found the characters hard to follow. I have always had a problem with the names and descriptions of the Imperium’s Space Marines. I highlighted it during my review of the Ultramarines Movie and once again, because they follow a religious structure and carry names that suit, they feel more like a cult, blended together. A camouflaged to B rather than obviously allied alongside. It’s hard to connect the military structure required when everyone is called Brother, Father or Chaplain.

And this all meant that I never really fell into the story. It never dragged me into the fight. There were times, especially during the fighting that you could feel the pace increasing or the tension building, and it slightly entertained but it never really moved me emotionally. I was just reading words, never feeling gripped or unable to stop, I never become engrossed. I’d stop reading at the natural break points rather than forcing myself away.

The Last Days Of Ector - Space Marines

My biggest problem with the plot though is that it doesn’t feel like it really connects to the events that come later. I must admit, reading the stories the wrong way round as it were probably doesn’t help, but it’s too clean and finishes in a way that makes it feel standoffish and independent. It makes flirting references to Valedor and what is to come, but I never felt it was setting it up. It felt more filler. It feels like the action takes places years, not months before.

However, for every complaint I have; created through my in ability to connect with Haley’s style, I will admit that I adored the Underhive characters he brought to the fight, especially the children. They injected a sense of naive blindness to the tale that I found fascinating, and having loved Necromunda, felt a real connection. They are something I would love to have seen explored more. Sadly though, the books position as a novella which prequels greater events, and wider populations meant this wouldn’t and couldn’t happen, but the fleeting interest they provide was the few moments of greatest derived pleasure..

I’m glad I read book, even if I’ve come away having drawn less from it than I would have liked or it probably should deserve. And worse still, it’s confirmed to me that in future, there is an incompatibility between my reader’s imagination and Haley’s writers language, so I will probably shy away from the author; but it’s greatest disappointment is that, sadly, I cannot recommend The Last Days Of Ector. Even if it is just a class of styles, it’s left me feeling cold and withdrawn and, if I had read it first, I doubt I would have bothered continuing on to Valedor.

Posted on by 5WC in Book First Edition

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