The Flight of the Eisenstein is the fourth novel in the juggernaut of the Horus Heresy series, and takes place sort of around the same time as Galaxy in Flames. It’s a pretty harrowing read, but also really great, and provides some great alt perspectives on the preceding novel. Let’s take a look!
Anyone who has read Galaxy in Flames will already know the novel’s protagonist, Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard, as we saw a pivotal scene with him aboard the Eisenstein freighter towards the end of that book. While he was only present for a mere handful of pages, he takes centre stage here, as the novel forms something akin to a flashback episode of a tv series. The novel begins a short time before the events on Isstvan III, as the Death Guard, led by their Primarch, Mortarion, fight a campaign against a xenos world before being summoned to the Lupercal’s Court. During this campaign, they fight alongside the psyker-hunting Silent Sisters, a fascinating part of the Great Crusade that I’m saddened to find out are barely featured in further works – as much as I am to find there are no models from Forge World, either!
Anyway, for a good portion of the middle of the book, the events overlap those of the previous book. Almost as soon as I realised this, I began to dread some awful kind of rehash was coming, but instead, we get a significantly interesting alt viewpoint that makes this a legitimate novel, in fact I’d go so far as to say I think it enhances Galaxy in Flames a whole lot. Something I found curious last time was the amount of time allotted to both the Sons of Horus and the Emperor’s Children while on Isstvan III, however the Death Guard were just reported as “being there” – clearly, because that aspect of the story was being dealt with in this novel.
For anyone with a passing knowledge of Chaos Space Marines in Warhammer 40k, you’ll likely know that the four Chaos gods have their own dedicated legion, with the other legions somehow orbiting around them: Khorne has Black Legion (the former Sons of Horus); Tzeentch has Thousand Sons; Slaanesh has Emperor’s Children, and the Death Guard belong to Nurgle. As such, you can expect a lot of disgusting bits here as we see reanimated corpses and disgusting Nurgle-ness generally. There’s usually only so much putrescence I can stomach, and despite being prepared for it, there were some sequences, particularly towards the end with the climactic battle between Garro and the Lord of the Flies, where I did feel a little squeamish…
Overall, though, the novel is excellent. We get to see more of the universe as we explore the Death Guard early on – something I particularly enjoy about these novels so far is seeing the little idiosyncrasies of each Legion explored – while also finally making it to the Sol system, our own solar system, and the Luna base of the Sisters of Silence there. While Galaxy in Flames felt like a natural closure for the opening trilogy of the Horus Heresy series, I feel that Flight of the Eisenstein forms a closing epilogue to those novels in such a way as to be a required read, as well. White Dwarf featured a two-part guide to the Horus Heresy novels that suggested moving to other books in the series from Galaxy in Flames, but I feel that it would be wrong to do so, as this book really forms a close.
With a novel series numbering 34 at the time of this writing, I’d been concerned that the series would see some lumbering turkeys along the way, but so far, I’ve been continually impressed by them. Well worth a read!