Finished the third of the Space Marine Conquests series this morning, and while I think it was probably the best of the three we’ve had so far, I’m still not entirely sure I like these new breed of Space Marines in the lore.
War of Secrets deals with the Dark Angels, and so we have the usual round of secrets within secrets. It’s actually quite a straightforward story in that regard – the Dark Angels chasing down one of their Unforgiven. The new Primaris are a part of the chase, though of course they aren’t trusted and so don’t fully know what’s going on. So we have a lot of angry marines on both sides, the Primaris for being kept in the dark, the “regular” chaps due to what they see as Guilliman’s spies in their ranks.
Layered on top of this, we have a T’au storyline that involves Shas’O Kais, one of the three star pupils of the legendary Puretide. Kais, heretofore merely a Codex background character, is held in stasis due to the fact that he is an unpredictable ‘living weapon’. However, a conspiracy is launched with Tutor Twiceblade, another of the legendary tutors of T’au society, to launch him again into the front lines.
The stories converge over the planet of Saltire Vex, which has come under some kind of psyker plague, possibly as a result of the presence of the Unforgiven marine (that’s my inference, anyway!). The action follows the twists and turns of both factions, with some decent action scenes throughout, particularly near the end as we see a Ghostkeel battlesuit put through its paces. The T’au side of things was probably the most interesting to me, possibly due to my recent interest in building an army of the blighters, but Kelly is well known for his T’au writing at this point, so it’s probably no surprise there.
While the story was definitely a lot better than the last installment for me, I suppose that was due to the fact I’m a lot less interested in Space Wolves than Dark Angels (and, especially, T’au). But even so, we’re back into this mix of Primaris vs non-Primaris stuff that started off in the first book, though given the First’s penchant for secrecy, the friction is a lot more pronounced here. The way the storyline is concluded, however, did slightly annoy me – I’m trying to avoid too many spoilers in this, but suffice it to say, it felt like too convenient a finale, somehow.
At any rate, I’m sticking with the series, in the hope we might see some really intriguing aspects of the new 40k universe. The fourth book in the series has just gone up for pre-order this weekend, and features the Ultramarines in “a mission of vital importance” to the Indomitus Crusade – interesting, as I thought that was over already. Sounds a bit vague, but I suppose we’ll see! I’m hoping we might see the series move beyond the First Founding chapters, but I suppose I’d rather have a shorter series that just takes us through these than an unnecessarily long series that shambles through the thousands of chapters one by one…