Book Review: Farseer by William King

September 25, 2011 by dracs

For my next review I decided to return to my own introduction to the 40k universe. Created by one of the giants of the Black Library’s collection of authors, writer of the Gotrek and Felix and Space Wolf series William King, "Farseer" is a standalone book concerning the journey of rogue trader Janus Darke to try and save his soul from being consumed by a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Aided by a mysterious Eldar Farseer and accompanied by his crew, Janus Darke attempts to save his soul by journeying to where the Inquisition say is sure to damn anyone who ventures near: the Eye of Terror.

O.K, first lets deal with the book’s bad points. Throughout the book’s descriptive passages there are numerous examples of repetition. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are also rife, containing the most I have seen outside of anything written by Stephanie Meyer ("tougher even THAT duralloy or ceramite" to list but one example). However, it is probable that most of these can be put down to typos and me being overly critical and the book does have some good points to go along with the bad.

The strongest of these being its story, which is a prime example of King's skill at weaving a tale. The plot is thoroughly engaging with many moments of suspense, a favourite moment of mine being the description of  Janus’ ship's journey through the warp. The book also possesses a rather epic atmosphere, as the battle for one man’s soul and body spans from the back alleys and drinking dens of Medusa, to journeys in the immaterium of the warp and battles in the reality of space, to a grand climax on a dead Eldar home world on the edge of the forbidden Eye of Terror.

While I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone looking for an example of academically precise writing, or to anyone looking for a great classic of science fiction comparable to "Dune" (although there are some certain similarities between the navigators described in "Farseer" and the mentats of "Dune", anyone who does not get this reference hang your heads in collective shame), I would suggest it to someone who might just be looking for something entertaining and engaging. Players of the Eldar and the Imperial Guard may be particularly interested in this book due to the interactions between the two races, and the detail it goes into on such factors as the methods of warp travel used by the Imperium and the connection between the Eldar and the Chaos god Slaanesh. People may also find that the book provides them with ideas to theme their battles around, for example a chaos war band trying to capture an Imperial Guard who is designated as Janus Darke and prevent him and his men from capturing their objective i.e. the Eldar weapon which is the focus of the Eldar’s journey within the plot.

Lastly, I wanted to add that while the story is mostly very serious it does contain one moment of inadvertent humour:

"She looked old but huge, a warship of the most ancient Imperial design... A massive head grinned from the prow. It was shaped like the tip of an enormous phallic member bearing the scowling features of some ancient daemon."

If the image of a space ship that has been done up to look like some giant, daemonic penis doesn’t make you snigger with childish mirth I don’t know what will.



+ Good and Intense Plot
+ Eldar (you never forget your first love)


- Grammatical Errors
- Daemonic Penis Shaped Space Ship

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