Very Quick Review: SCIONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

HorusHeresy-ScionsOfTheEmperorA short collection of stories to add colour to some of the Primarchs

From their shadowed origins to the desperate battles that ensued when half of them rebelled against their father, the Sons of the Emperor – the vaunted primarchs – were among the greatest of humanity’s champions. They were warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend. From a tale of Ferrus Manus in his earliest days to mysterious murders that lead Rogal Dorn into peril on the eve of the Siege of Terra, the eight tales in this volume lay bare key moments in the lives of these mighty heroes.

CONTENTS
Canticle by David Guymer
The Verdict of the Scythe by David Annandale
A Game of Opposites by Guy Haley
Better Angels by Ian St Martin
The Conqueror’s Truth by Gav Thorpe
The Sinew of War by Darius Hinks
The Chamber at the End of Memory by James Swallow
First Legion by Chris Wraight

Each of these stories adds a bit of colour and depth to what we know about the Primarchs. There are eight stories, so they don’t cover all of the Emperor’s sons, but a good range is featured. I enjoyed these. Continue reading

Review: SATURNINE by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

AbnettD-HHSoT4-SaturnineA superb novel: action-packed, revelatory, both grand and intimate in scale.

As the traitors tighten their grip on Terra, Rogal Dorn must marshal the Imperial hosts to weather the storm. But not all of the defenders will survive the onslaught…

The Traitor Host of Horus Lupercal tightens its iron grip on the Palace of Terra, and one by one the walls and bastions begin to crumple and collapse. Rogal Dorn, Praetorian of Terra, redoubles his efforts to keep the relentless enemy at bay, but his forces are vastly outnumbered and hopelessly outgunned. Dorn simply cannot defend everything. Any chance of survival now requires sacrifice, but what battles dare he lose so that others can be won? Is there one tactical stroke, one crucial combat, that could turn the tide forever and win the war outright?

The Loyalists have their backs against the wall. Resources are fast depleting, and nobody knows the status of potential reinforcements. The Traitors are throwing everything they have — corporeal and never born — at breaking open the Imperial Palace’s walls. Primarchs Dorn and Perturabo are locked in a deadly game, trying to find chinks in the other master tactician’s plans. When one appears, both sides rush to exploit it. This is a superb novel: it packs quite a punch, drops revelations all over the place, advances the overall meta-story, and is utterly gripping. Continue reading

Quick Review: MANFLAYER by Josh Reynolds (Black Library)

ReynoldsJ-FB3-ManflayerThe conclusion to the Fabius Bile trilogy

As his Homo Novus project comes to fruition, Fabius Bile faces a new threat – the dreaded haemonculi of the Thirteen Scars. Can he marshal his forces to protect his creations, or are the New Men doomed to death?

In the centuries since his return from Commorragh, Fabius Bile has distanced himself from the affairs of friend and foe, content only to oversee the cruel evolution of his New Men. But when his creations are threatened by the monstrous haemonculi of the Thirteen Scars, the Manflayer is forced to seek out new allies and old enemies alike in an effort to preserve all that he has built. Homo Novus must survive… even if Fabius Bile must die to ensure it.

Josh Reynolds brings his Fabius Bile trilogy to a dramatic close. Bile is one of the most intriguing WH40k characters, one of multiple contradictions and eccentricities. The author once again brings him to life on the page, displaying in full his narcissism, mania, and insatiable thirst for knowledge. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: SONS OF THE SELENAR by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeillG-HHSoT-SonsOfTheSelenarThe Shattered Legions’ story comes to a heroic, tragic, and fitting end

The Shattered Legions crew of the Sisypheum, broken and at the end of their endurance, find themselves divided – torn between following their resurrected captain on a suicidal mission or obeying orders to return to Terra and rejoin their Legion brothers.

Following a series of garbled messages intercepted by the Kryptos, the divided warriors descend to the shattered surface of Luna. Here, their bonds of loyalty, duty, and their devotion to one another will be tested as ancient horrors of the earliest days of gene-manipulation are unleashed, and a long-buried secret is revealed.

A secret that will have far-reaching consequences for the future course of the galaxy, no matter who eventually claims Terra.

Following the betrayal at Isstvan, a handful of loyalist legions were shattered. Various members of these forces — Salamanders, Raven Guard, and Iron Hands — eventually coalesced into mixed forces that have persecuted their own crusade against Horus and his Traitor Legions. As the Siege of Terra begins, the vestiges of this ragtag force makes its way to the Solar system. I really enjoyed this novella. Continue reading

Quick Review: MECHANICUM by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeillG-HH9-MechanicumThe Heresy comes to Mars

As the flames of treachery spread throughout the Imperium, Horus plots to subvert or destroy all those who would stand against him. On Mars, home world of the Mechanicum priesthood, the great manufactory-cities have long produced much of the weaponry required for the expeditionary fleets across the galaxy – making the world invaluable to whoever controls it in the coming war. Now, the Warmaster’s agents begin to stoke the fires of rebellion, turning the loyalist forges and the mighty Titan Legions against one another. And, with whispers spreading of an ancient terror lurking beneath the Red Planet’s surface, the Dark Mechanicum rises…

For some reason, I missed reading Mechanicum when it first came out. I was reminded recently that I hadn’t read it yet, and decided to plug this gap. The ninth book in the Horus Heresy series, it’s an interesting look at how Horus’s betrayal split the Mechanicum forces and saw Mars fall into civil war, grounded in some human stories of those who were either at the centre of events or existed on the periphery. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Quick Review: ANARCH by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

AbnettD-GG15-AnarchThe Victory Arc comes to an intense, bloody close…

‘Men of Tanith… do you want to live forever?’

On the forge world of Urdesh, the massed forces of the Imperial Crusade engage in a final bloody battle with the Archenemy commander known as the Anarch, and his elite warriors — the barbaric Sons of Sek. A victory for either side will decide more than just the fate of Urdesh… it will determine the outcome of the entire Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Ibram Gaunt — now serving at the right hand of Warmaster Macaroth – finds himself at the very heart of the struggle. His regiment, the Tanith First “Ghosts”, holds the vital key to ultimate success. But as the forces of the Imperium and Chaos square up for the final, large-scale confrontation, Gaunt discovers that the greatest threat of all may come from inside rather than out.

The previous novel in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, The Warmaster ended with a number of cliffhangers — beloved characters’ fates were left in question, and tension on Urdesh was building towards an almighty confrontation between the Imperial and Archenemy forces. It took me a long time to get around to reading that novel, but I knew I didn’t want to wait too long before reading Anarch. I’m glad I didn’t — this is an intense end to a the series’s most recent story-arc, and it packs quite a punch. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE GREAT WORK by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-BC1-GreatWorkA glimpse into the mind of Belisarius Cawl…

In the wake of the Great Rift, Belisarius Cawl turns his attention to the abandoned world of Sotha. Once home to the Scythes of the Emperor, it also hides a long-buried secret… and an ancient evil.

Belisarius Cawl, Archmagos Dominus of the Adeptus Mechanicus is the most brilliant mind alive. For 10,000 years he has furthered the cause of mankind, working under the aegis of the Emperor and Lord Commander Roboute Guilliman to prevent the inexorable march of the alien and the traitor. Many call him heretic, but all must recognise the magnitude of his achievements, for who else but he was entrusted to create a new generation of Space Marines? Who else but the great Belisarius Cawl could even accomplish such a task?

Now, in the wake of the Great Rift and the Indomitus Crusade, his ambitions bring him to the long-dead world of Sotha, once home to the Scythes of the Emperor, now a barren wasteland devoured by the vile Tyranids. Accompanied by Tetrarch Felix and his elite warriors, it is here that Cawl believes the lynchpin of his mysterious Great Work lies. But uncovering it is a near impossible task, one in which the Archmagos must overcome an ancient evil that threatens to extinguish the last hope of humanity.

Guy Haley continues moving the WH40k story forward, with this fascinating story centred around Archmagos Belisarius Cawl. Is he a heretic? Is he the Imperium’s greatest champion? What has he been up to since the Horus Heresy? What is he up to on Sotha? In The Great Work, we follow Cawl and a force of loyal Primaris and Space Marines to Sotha, and a reawakening Pharos… I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Continue reading

Quick Review: PLAGUE WAR by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-DI2-PlagueWarGuilliman and Mortarion finally come into conflict…

Intent on rebuilding Ultramar, the returned primarch Roboute Guilliman wages war on the treacherous Death Guard – but the intervention of a greater power threatens all he works for.

In the void and upon the worlds of Greater Ultramar, the battle for the Imperium continues.

Intent on rebuilding his home realm and using it as base to reconstruct the ravaged stellar empire of mankind, the returned primarch Roboute Guilliman proceeds with his war to drive Mortarion and his Death Guard Traitor Legion from the domain of the Ultramarines.

But when Guilliman brings his brother to battle upon the diseased plains of Parmenio, the intervention of a greater power in their fraternal struggle threatens to upend the Imperial Regent’s understanding of the galaxy, and his place within it.

This is the second novel in Haley’s Dark Imperium trilogy. Meant to coincide with the recent, epic changes in the WH40k setting, it is packed with revelations and action. I enjoyed the first novel in the series, and very much enjoyed this one, too. A must-read for all fans of the WH40k setting. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE WARMASTER by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

AbnettD-GG-WarmasterA return to the ongoing saga of the Tanith First & Only, Gaunt’s Ghosts

Returning to the crusade’s heart after a dangerous mission, Colonel-Commissar Gaunt is thrust into intrigue while his Ghosts face a threat to their very existence.

After the success of their desperate mission to Salvation’s Reach, Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and the Tanith First race to the strategically vital forge world of Urdesh, besieged by the brutal armies of Anarch Sek. However, there may be more at stake than just a planet. The Imperial forces have made an attempt to divide and conquer their enemy, but with Warmaster Macaroth himself commanding the Urdesh campaign, it is possible that the Archenemy assault has a different purpose — to decapitate the Imperial command structure with a single blow. Has the Warmaster allowed himself to become an unwitting target? And can Gaunt’s Ghosts possibly defend him against the assembled killers and war machines of Chaos?

There was a seven-year gap between Salvation’s Reach and the release of The Warmaster. For some reason, despite reading each of the previous novels pretty much immediately after publication, it took me quite some time to get around to reading this 14th Gaunt’s Ghosts novel. I’m very glad I did, however, as it reminded me how much I enjoy the characters and Abnett’s writing. Another great addition to the series, I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE FIRST WALL by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

ThorpeG-HHSoT3-FirstWallMaster siege breaker meets master defender…

The outer defences have fallen, but the walls of the Imperial Palace stand. To break them, the Traitors need their most devastating weapons – and so the Lion’s Gate Spaceport must be theirs…

The war for the fate of mankind blazes on. Though the outer defences have fallen, the walls of the Palace itself remain inviolate as Rogal Dorn, the Praetorian of Terra himself, uses every known stratagem and ploy to keep Horus’s vast armies at bay. In Perturabo, the Traitor siegebreaker, Dorn faces an adversary worthy of his skill. A terrible, grinding attrition ensues. The crucial battle for the Lion’s Gate space port is at the heart of this conflict. With it in their possession, the Traitors can land their most devastating weapons on Terran soil. Dorn knows it must not fall. But with enemies attacking from all sides, and the stirrings of the Neverborn drawn to the slaughter, can the Imperial defenders possibly prevail?

This is the third novel in the Siege of Terra series, the closing act of the epic Horus Heresy. The traitors have broken the planet’s outer defences, and are in the process of breaking into the continent-sized Imperial Palace. A bit of a slower novel than the first two in the series, but still an excellent addition to the series. Continue reading