Salamander (book one of the Tome of Fire trilogy) follows the Marines of the 3rd Company as they recover from their loss of their captain at the hand of traitor marines. It's a loss that draws simmering tensions and rivalries to the surface, threatening to undermine his replacement and weaken the company as they follow a trail of strange portents that lead to a doomed world and a 10,000 year old engima.
Nick wastes no time in bringing on the action and manages to sketch the cast of characters in the midst of introducing a Space Marine company on the verge of crisis. The two principal characters, the noble Tsu'gan and the loner Dak'ir, while genetically enhanced to be superhuman, retain a definite humanity that flavours their thoughts and actions, emphasising rather than diluting the scope of their actions.
I sat for a while and tried to quantify what it was that kept me turning the pages in a blur; fact is, there's no single element- it's the combination of the action, pace, tension and mystery that creates the buzz that keeps you hooked.
It's a cracking read and, if this is what we have to look forward to from the Tome of Fire, bring it on!
You can read an excerpt here.