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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I'm a newcomer to the "Warhammer" universe and Janes Swallow is the first author I've read, and I must say, his novel "Faith and Fire" was awesome. What an introduction to the complex, multi-layered universe of the Imperium!

Swallow's use of Roman Catholic terms/symbols for the Imperial Church, its many religious orders and saints' cults, such as the Sister Sorititas, the Sisters Repentia, the Adeptus Mechanicus, etc., as well as his use of archaic phrases and words give this novel a wonderful Gothic feel. It's the Gothic High Middle Ages in space. You can feel the enormity, grandeur, the self-righteousness, and ultimately the decadence of the Imperium.

Swallow does a masterful job of portraying the piety and zeal of the Battle Sisters, casting their extreme religious devotion in a very sympathetic light-we understand why they serve the God-Emperor with such unquestioing loyality, even to the point of slaughtering all who oppose his divine will. They come across as sympathetic characters and we cheer them on as they stride into battle. The Sisters Repentia are just a really cool idea!

I could not put this novel down, and hope Swallow will write many more. Now I've got to read the other "Warhammer 40,000" titles.

Pax vobiscum.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 26, 2006
Sister Superior Miriya of the Adepta Sororitas and her Battle Sisters are part of the Order of our Martyred Lady. Miriya's group is a Celestian squad. They are usually deployed for front line combat operations. Even though they are used to fighting at the heart of heretic confrontations and mutant uprisings, they do not balk when they are given a simple duty such as this one, a prisoner escort. Miriya's elite squad is the deliver Torris Vaun, a dangerous psychic heretic, to Lord Viktor LaHayn on the planet Neva.

Vaun had been locked up tight, sealed up, automatic gun mounts at ready, and guards placed around him, yet he still managed to escape. Seraphim Miriya is disgraced in the eyes of her fellow sisters and superiors. Miriya and her sisters follow Vaun to Neva with thoughts of capturing him and perhaps wreck a bit of vengeance. They end up uncovering a dark and horrible plot that could very well destroy the Imperium.

***** This is the only novel I have found that stars the Sisters of Battle. I certainly hope there will be more forthcoming. Battle is joined and blood has spilled before I even reached the second chapter. It remained full of action until the very end. Author James Swallow paints a vivid picture that pulled me in quickly and brought the story to life. Stellar novel! *****

Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Faith and fire is, as far as this author is aware, the only foray into the Sisters of Battle in 40k fiction so far, which is rather sad. The Sisters of Battle, also called Daughters of the Emperor, are front line combat forces that frequently work with the Ecclesiarch and the Inquisition to hunt down rogue psykers, heretics, and "witches" (any psyker not under Imperial control). This novel follows Sister Superior Miriya and Hospitaller Verity as they pursue Torris Vaun, an escaped pyrokinetic. The novel quickly delves into the political intrigue of the planet Neva, and leads Miriya and Verity to uncover a plot that threatens not only all life on Neva, but the entire Imperium.

The storyline is well written, with enough wiggle room to make the plot plausible, without requiring use of any deus ex machina or unbelievable technology. The story follows Miriyas faith as her orders and her very faith and beliefs are questioned. It exposes the dark side of the zealotry that plagues the Imperium and could quickly turn against it: if you serve a force that is evil, but questioning that force is also evil, how will you ever defeat it?
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2006
In his third Black Library novel set in Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K universe, M. Swallow uses female heroines of the Adepta Sororitas: Sister Miriya, an elite Celestian Superior and Sister Verity, a non-militant Hospitalier. The story is a rather standard action plot, with no additional personal journeys or significant character development to get in the way.

The characters are two dimensional, and all but Miriya's motivations, which seem limited to the "faith and fire" of the title, seem inconsistent, particularly in Sister Verity. She alternates between capable and cowering, proficient and pacifist. The supporting cast is stereotypical: the stern but fair Canoness, aggressive Seraphim, and steadfast Sisters, reading like the entries of their Codex for the 40K wargame.

The villains are similarly single-minded and would be familiar to any fan of the older James Bond films. They monologue (to borrow the term from The Incredibles) and say things to the effect of, "Before I leave you here to die, let me explain my fiendish plan..."

The plot is fairly standard action adventure fair, linear with little in the way of additional twists or turns. The combat scenes read a little like a battle report from the tabletop game, which is interesting if you like a top-down viewpoint, but less so if you prefer your action more immediate and personal. There is little foreshadowing and plot devices sometimes literally fall from the sky. Our heroines emerge unscathed from clearly fatal situations, or vital pieces of their kit conveniently happen to be in the hands of the low-level thugs they just killed. If you like your protagonists to overcome climactic confrontations by divine intervention, in somewhat Homeric tradition, along the lines of "Our faith in the Emperor saved us," then you'll enjoy the finale. If you prefer characters that get by on their own strengths and skills, then perhaps you won't.

The plot would be more forgivable if M. Swallow accurately captured the feel the 40K universe. Unfortunately, his descriptions feel a bit to contemporary, such as specifically calling a meltagun a microwave, and the anachronistic language common to the setting is just a bit off, such as calling an auspex a "sense-taker." He also takes a liberty or two for the sake of the story, such as the somewhat unlikely situation that every psyker on the planet ended up a pyrokinetic.

Though I've been quite critical above, the book is not completely without merit, but those problems make suspension of disbelief virtually impossible for a significant length of time. In short: those 40K readers who aren't completists might want to let this "soon to be series" pass them by.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2006
Faith and Fire is the first book outside of the Games Workshop Codex supplemental books to truly showcase the all-female military arm of the Imperium and its dogmatic Ecclesiarchy. Those who have followed and played the Warhammer 40,000 games from Games Workshop would know right away the subjects of James Swallow's third Warhammer 40,000-based novel. For the uninitiated the book easily introduces the Adepta Sororitas role in the war-torn galaxy of the Imperium.

Swallow does a better job of following the basic guidelines, rules and history created by the makers of the game than in his two previous GW books. Loosely-based on the legendary Amazon's of Earth's past, the Adepta Sororitas are seen as faithful, loyal and zealot followers of the Imperium's God-Emperor. Swallow describes them as both being beautiful as angels and true warrior-nuns. Warriors whose dedication to their God-Emperor, and the church tasked in leading the Imperium in his worship, is unquestioned if not blindly at times. The main character of Sister Superior Miriya owes alot to past 40,000 novel characters like Uriel Ventris of the Ultramarines, Brother-Captain Alaric of the Grey Knights, and Colonel-Commissar Gaunt in that she's not just a blind follower of her religion's dogma but intelligent enough to question the world around her when things don't seem right.

Sister Superior Miriya is given the task of escorting captured psyker-criminal Torris Vaun back to his home planet of Neva where it's Lord Bishop LaHayn of the Ecclesiarchy will dispense justice to the rogue personally. It is a task easier said than done. From the beginning the task doesn't sit well with Miriya and the Celestians under her command. The assignment goes against the very nature and role of her Sisterhood, but an order is an order and the situation soon spirals out of Miriya's control. Soon, Miriya is disgraced by her failure in her mission but given another chance to redeem herself, her unit and those who lost their lives during the mission. She's joined by Sister Hospitaller Verity (non-combatant medical-nun of a lesser order of Sororitas tasked with healing) whose blood-sister was one of the Celestians in Miriya's command who was killed during the mission.

The story moves at the brisk pace and gradually gives insight to the workings of not just the Adepta Sororitas, but also to the Ecclesiarchy they are bound to by ancient oaths and to the mythical and mysterious past of the Imperium's early days and the works of its immortal God-Emperor. Miriya and Verity are soon plunged headlong into political intrigue anethema to the Sisters of Battle, but their unshakeable faith will have to protect them from a secret kept by both allies and foes. The secrets and how Swallow gradually gives out tidbits throughout the book made me want to read faster and finish the novel to its conclusion. Those who hoavee been following the slow release of information concerning the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy histories of 40,000 will enjoy the info given by James Swallow.

Faith and Fire is a very good start to a new Games Workshop novel series.The character of Battle Sister Miriya and Hospitaller Verity are well-written and come off the pages with their own distinct personalities. I can't wait for the next book in the series and highly recommend this first book to fans of other Warhammer 40,000 novels.
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on April 13, 2011
This is a good novel, mainly because the focus is on the Sisters as a distinct unit. In the vast majority of the Black Library tales, Sisters are used for a variety of purposes ranging from semi-villains as righteous warriors of the Emperor to dupes as righteous warriors of the Emperor to inspiring and deadly fighters as righteous warriors of the Emperor.

This one was nice to read, with a good twist to it and showing nicely the dystopian issues with the 40k universe.

There are the usual Black Library "oopsies" in translating from the tabletop game, namely:
That somehow powered armor allows troops to walk through entire regiments of troops firing small arms and light heavy weapons with only the occasional "unlucky" powered armor troop getting knocked out of combat.
That Storm Bolters somehow hit harder or are more deadly at close range than regular Bolters when they are exactly the same.
That straight Rhino chassis armored vehicles like Immolators can somehow drive through hails of fire and survive, when even lighter support weapons have the potential to damage and eventually kill them. It would actually be a toss up in some of the battles as to whether the heaviest armored vehicles could bunch through some of that firepower.
That non-Imperial Guard units, despite supposedly being just as disciplined in fire combat as the best IG units, somehow have less ability to put fire down range than IG. This one is for game balance.

Those just have to be expected though, because it would really kill the plot line of most of these novels to actually have the squad riding to the assault in a transport end up walking or taking casualties from it exploding and then getting cut down by a torrent of small arms fire as they charge forward shooting.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 14, 2012
First posted on Amazon.co.uk on 28 December 2011

Written in 2006, this is the story of Sister Superior Miriya and her squad of elite Celestians as they hunt down a terrorist psyker that has escaped their custody and wants revenge. But all is not as it seems...

The plot is fast-paced and interesting. Some of the scenes are particularly good, such as Torris Vaun's escape from prison, the attack of the city or the attempted murder of Sister Verity in the library. Some scenes felt a bit "overdone", at least to me, particularly towards the end of the book where almost everything seems to go up in flames at the same time (and this is why it gets four stars).

Having said that for WArhammer 40K fans, I agree with one of the other reviewer: this book is far better than the author's two previous ones on the Blood Angels, although the latter have always been among my favorites, and I much prefer them to the Sisters of Battle. But then I'm a yob, so what else would you expect?

Definitely worth reading, even if not quite as good as Hammer & Anvil
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on September 6, 2011
I have not read extensively in the 40K universe, but this is not the first book I have read. However, it is by far the most grim-dark that I have read. From the moment the book begins, you can feel the hopelessness and overwhelming odds that face humanity in that distant future. Sister Superior Miriya tries her best in all things, but the darkness just always seems to overcome her. She always survives, but with more and more tragedies and loss to burden herself.

Towards the end of the book, however, I began to wonder if the author pulled out the Evil Overlord checklist and began picking things to do. It seemed every action the villain took was from that list. (Have your enemies in your power, but leave them alive. Give lengthy speeches about your plans. Leave their arms where they can be found. Turn your back. Ignore signs of them coming up behind you.) My desire to laugh made it hard to stay in the grimdark mindset.
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on May 11, 2012
I have just recently become WarHammer 40K aware and I have been enjoying Tanith and Caiphas Cain
novels. There are few female warrior novels, so I took a flier on these. The character development
was good and the thread of the novels held together well. I read each book in just a couple of days,
since for me they were hard to put down.
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on December 2, 2014
Not the most impressive bit of literature I've ever read, but it certainly served it's purpose in introducing me to the Sisters of Battle, which was the goal in the first place. Got to read about how they manage large scale battles as well as small scale heroics, with a sprinkling of heresy to make it fun. Overall enjoyable.
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