Earlier this week, I finished the penultimate novel in The Beast Arises series, Shadow of Ullanor, which I have to say was quite a strange book! Following on from The Last Son of Dorn, the Imperial Fists chapter is no more. During the memorial for Koorland, Thane comes to the decision to re-form the Imperial Fists out of the various successor chapters, much as had been done in the wake of the Ardamantua catastrophe, and musters this new chapter on Terra with the approval of Vangorich, though the other High Lords remain hesitant at best.
Thane takes the “new” Imperial Fists to Ullanor to destroy the Orks once and for all, and leads a frontal assault on the planet. The marines use Mechanicus technology to crash a series of asteroids into Ullanor, one of which contains the marines, and a massive pitched-battle follows as the upper hand moves between the combatants. Thane also brings more Sisters of Silence with more Ork psykers, and the plan is basically the same as last time – rile the Orks up, and detonate the psykers.
With a few odd twists and turns, this is exactly what happens, and ultimately, The Beast is killed. While in the previous book, we thought we had seen the end of the greenskin menace only to discover there was another, bigger Beast out there, but this time, the big baddie at the centre of the maze has been killed.
And this is precisely why I think this is an odd book. We know that there is a twelfth book to cap the series off, and it is called The Beheading, but I feel that this book has finished the series, and there is no real impulse to read the last one. Sure, it’s one book, and we knew it was coming, but if you read this novel series without that knowledge, there is no logical need to continue the story from this point. It’s just very weird!
I feel really bad for being so hard on this book, because I was as hard on Rob Sanders in the last installment he wrote for this series. But the story was just, well, boring. I mean, it’s the third incursion to Ullanor against the Orks in the course of this series, a full frontal assault once again – which had been decided against as the best course of action prior to the Deathwatch attack in Watchers in Death. It does feel a lot like it is going over the same ground again, and I found myself getting bored quite easily this time around. The pace also feels quite padded – the story just seems so slight, when compared with the more recent books.
Overall, I do feel it’s just a bit of a let down once again. Hopefully the series will go out on a high…