Book Review: Firewarrior

October 14, 2015 ·

Author: Simon Spurrier


Ok, so basic story line, a Tau kid struggles with his father's disapproval and goes postal on first the Imperium and then a resurrected legion of Chaos Undivided. He literally raises hell, and performs in an utterly non-Tau fashion.

Longer Story?  Sure.  Kais does not do as well in the Battledome training cycle and embarrasses his well-decorated and high-ranking father.  He is shipped off to a conflict where he somehow manages to survive a botched fire warrior insertion.  

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Kais discovers he has a talent, not the cherished talent for teamwork and discipline the Tau respect, but a talent for killing.  And a passion for it as well.  In his first combat action in a hot landing zone, Kais manages to kill several guardsmen, a space marine, and a couple of vehicles before rescuing a captured ethereal from a powerful planetary governor.

He goes on to almost single-handedly fight off dozens of boarders from the tau flagship and wreck an adeptus mechanicus infiltration mission.  He later kills a buttload of chaos space marines and a dreadnought before he allies with an Ultramarines captain.  Kais hijack a Marine Drop pod and goes planetside to re-rescue the re-captured ethereal.  

Along the way, he then takes out a couple of warp talons, an obliterator, more chaos space marines as well as their champion and a deamon prince before taking on a full blown greater deamon. Oh, he also takes out a corrupted Titan... how did I forget about the Titan?

All of that mahem and gore really goes to build his character.  Kais is slowly losing the fire warrior's requisite control, order, and discipline (as well as himself) to his inner deamon who finds release and to some extent joy in the death he delivers to his foes.  Death is like a drug to him.  His is a classic struggle between the greater good and surrendering control to his passions and fear.  

It turns out that he is not alone in his walk on the dark side.  A very powerful greater deamon, trapped in a collapsed section the webway by the Eldar 3000 years ago is subconsciously feeding his fears and insecurities.  Trapped by the dark side, he is.  But the sweet pheromone released by the ethereal frees him instantly from the grip of the daemon and erases all traces of the chaos taint. 

Kais is so non-Tau in some of his behaviors I expected him to die in the end, and in a way he does. He becomes lost inside himself.  He is a first action hero where conformity commands the day.  He would have been  ostracized even if he had survived his ordeal with his faculties intact.

Kais simultaneously prevails, and fails miserably.


Excellent story, well written, with good foreshadowing and not too much chaff. An entertaining read that didn't piss me off with inconsistencies and errors.

As this story line and characters were taken from the Firewarrior game, I was skeptical as to how it would progress. And true to form, I was correct, but I was also wrong.  The pace of the story was relentless, and constantly engaging. I could barely put it down -and that says something.   

The book itself has a good building action with each opponent being more difficult than the last --just like the game.  But what does not work in the game dynamic is how each decision pulls him further from the approved path firewarriors are supposed to follow.  

Re-education is mentioned several times, as is the eventual assimilation of humanity.  The novel is a good introduction to the Tau Empire, but rather than focusing on the homeworld, Tau culture and group-think are core to the central action and angst of the story.  It hones in on Kais' inner struggle with everything he knows he is supposed to be, and the thing he is becoming -a deamon.


I was disappointed that there were virtually no combined arms combat actions in the storyline, it was pretty much all gunline fire warriors.  I would envision more Tau armour, crisis suits, and other specialized weaponry in the rescue of an ethereal.  Either that or no rescue at all, after all, no Tau is more or less important than another Tau.  

This story invokes memories of Orwell's Animal Farm, you know, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

On another note, "Kais" was the name of one of the three warriors trained by Puretide himself on Mount Kanji (the other two were O'Shaserra and O'Shovah).  Everything about the Kais in this book makes me think of the Kais in the Farsight Enclaves supplement, except it never mentions his experience with the Greatest General in the history of the Empire, nor the Empire's sanction of the Monat or Mont'au form of combat (unlike in the Farsight Enclaves Supplement).  This would have been a perfect opportunity for a tie-in, but it ended up as another fluffy disappointment.

My rating:  9 out of 10.

Have you read it?  

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