So much Warhammer news!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a bit crazy for Warhammer news during August, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve managed to digest it all yet! With the reveals from Warhammer Fest two weeks ago, and now the NOVA Open reveals, we’re going to be in for some amazing times as hobbyists and gamers for a good while to come!

Let’s start with Warhammer Fest, as it was so long ago now. The news that the Horus Heresy series is coming to an end before the actual Siege of Terra itself I find quite interesting, and I’m a little bit worried that it means we’re going to be in for another drawn out series as we see the culmination of Horus’ betrayal. It’s also really weird that the series The Horus Heresy doesn’t actually conclude the events of the Heresy, if you know what I mean. But James Swallow is a good author, and I did like his Flight of the Eisenstein, so I’m hoping for good things as he draws the proceedings to a close.

Of course, we’ve had a lot of stuff for Adeptus Titanicus coming out this month, so I suppose it’s about time I addressed this point now: I am not a fan of this game. Betrayal at Calth, while it’s Space Marine on Space Marine violence, was nevertheless an interesting game. Adeptus Titanicus, being hulking war machine vs hulking war machine, just doesn’t interest me in the same way. I get the sense that it is appealing to those with more nostalgia for the olden days, and the original iteration of the game (those at my local store are all part of the Old Guard), but it just sounds far too boring and bland, and I don’t think the fact that it’s a completely different scale is helping matters – at least Betrayal at Calth and all of the other boxed games they produce have included miniatures that could be used in regular games.

Something in its favour though – I love the fact that we can talk about Games Workshop and “all the other boxed games they produce”. They really are becoming a Workshop of Games now, and I love it!

Rogue Trader! The big box expansion for Kill Team is coming out in September, and I’m really very excited to get my hands on what look like amazing, weird, and very different minis. Perhaps most excitingly of all, though, is the little paragraph at the end of that announcement, saying that we can use both the Rogue Trader crew and the mutants in regular 40k! Didn’t see that one coming!

Codex: Imperial Agents, anyone?

So, even though I already have quite a lot on the go with regards painting projects, I’m looking forward to this quite a bit. It’s that sense of borrowed nostalgia once again. I wasn’t around for Rogue Trader back in the day, of course, but it’s something that looms so large in the background lore, and indeed, the meta world of the game as a whole, that I can’t help but feel excited at the prospect of something so iconic to the grim darkness of the far future finally coming to the tabletop!

So October (sorry, Orktober) is going to be the month of the greenskins, and it’s likely the Codex will be coming then, too. With the Space Wolves getting theirs last weekend, does this mean the Genestealer Cults will get theirs in September, maybe? Anyway. I’m not a big Ork fan – I play against them often enough, so it’ll be fun to go Codex-to-Codex against them now, but there’s very little else about the release that I can say, if I’m honest. It’s always good to see new models that replace the older ones with stuff that looks this good, so there is definitely that!

Speed Freeks seems to be a bit like the Gangs of Commorragh boxed game, in that it involves pure vehicle combat within a single faction, but is including a lot of new models – it seems GW likes to launch new kits this way nowadays, which isn’t always a bad thing, as it allows you to flesh out an army while getting the new stuff, usually with a decent saving.

Something that unites both sets of announcements, though, is the new Adepta Sororitas stuff coming – Emperor willing – next year. From Warhammer Fest, we got to see some renders of the weapons – exciting enough, for sure, but I can’t say as it really interested me. Well, maybe the fact that they’ll get a crossbow is hilarious, but still.

The NOVA Open announcement gave us a look at the heads of these girls, and they’re looking like they have a good amount of movement there to suggest some pretty dynamic poses within the kits. Interestingly, the 2018 Chapter Approved will include a mini-Codex for the Sisters that will allow for a decent amount of playtesting feedback to be gathered before the Codex itself lands. Ever get the feeling that they’re almost going too far with this? I get that people are keen to get plastic Sisters, and they want the release to be a memorable one – hell, I’ve talked about this myself years ago – but it’s almost like they’re getting too much special attention. Why should one army get so much playtesting, while others get landed with a copy-and-paste Codex just so as to get the book out there? Hm. It’s always going to be a difficult one, for sure, but it struck me this morning when I was reading this stuff, it just seems to be making this too much of A Thing.

Anyway, clearly I’m now one of those old farts who is just never going to be happy!

I’ve been quiet about Age of Sigmar for a long time now, for the simple reason that I’ve been moving away from the game, and focusing more completely on 40k. However, what looks like the return of Slaanesh to any of the game systems simply cannot go un-mentioned! It has always been my favourite of the Chaos Gods (don’t judge me!) so I’m always going to follow what happens here with a keen eye. Expect more blogs when we have more information on this, including one devoted to just why I like Slaanesh so much…

Now, what the hell is this, when it’s at home?! Is it really going to be the new Battlefleet Gothic? The fact there are ships in the announcement video seems to have a lot of people assuming so, but the announcement compares the game to Silver Tower in a way that makes me think we’ll get a similar line-up of infantry-based miniatures battling through the impossible halls of a Blackstone Fortress. Indeed, it’s being described as a dungeon crawl game over on the 40k facebook page, so I reckon we’re definitely getting people miniatures, and not starship miniatures.

(As an aside, I don’t really know if I’d be into Battlefleet Gothic in the same way I’m not into Adeptus Titanicus – I guess cross-compatibility might be an issue for me, after all!)

Intriguingly, the protagonist/voiceover chap in the video seems to be another Rogue Trader, so it may be possible we’ll see some sort of merging of the miniatures from the Kill Team expansion and this in the future…

I am really excited for these two boxed games, if nothing else, so I’ll be saving the pennies from here on, for sure!

Fear to Tread

This is a Horus Heresy novel that I’ve had on my shelf for a very long time now, back from when I had just gotten into the series and was excited to find out more about it. I honestly don’t know why, but the Blood Angels kinda fascinate me as a space marine chapter – I don’t own an army of them, and have no intention of doing so, but I’m still weirdly drawn to them. Space Marine Legions all seem to have their counterparts between loyalist and traitor, but the Blood Angels, while they’re more commonly compared with the World Eaters for their assault-focus and brutal efficiency in close combat, are also similar in so many ways to the Emperor’s Children in their artistry. I suppose they don’t pursue things to absolute perfection, but there is a strong link between the two… and I do rather enjoy the Emperor’s Children in a lot of ways!

At any rate, Fear to Tread is the 21st novel in the Horus Heresy series, and is the first to truly follow the Blood Angels to the exclusion of all other Legions. While Sanguinius did pop up all the way back in Horus Rising, he’s here very much at the centre of things. We follow the Blood Angels as they battle the weird alien menace known as the Nephilim, before Horus then sends the legion to the Signus system with the report that there have been Nephilim sighted there. Horus has also learnt of Sanguinius’ dark secret, that of the Red Thirst, and hints there may be the answer to that problem held on the planet Signus Prime.

The Blood Angels travel there, but instead find that the system has been truly taken over by the forces of Chaos: there are droves of daemonettes along with bloodletters under the leadership of the bloodthirster, Ka’Bandha. The Blood Angels are joined on this expedition by a small coterie of Word Bearers sent by Horus, and another small band of Space Wolves sent directly from Malcador the Sigillite. As it turns out, Malcador has sent the Wolves out to all Legions, as he suspects that more may have turned from the Emperor in the manner of Horus and Magnus.

The war does not go well, as Sanguinius is seemingly defeated in single combat by the bloodthirster, prompting a shared madness of the Red Thirst to break out among his sons. The fighting is particularly brutal, especially among Amit and the Fifth Company (later the Flesh Tearers), who actually kill the Space Wolves while in the grip of this madness. Sanguinius is revived when a band of former librarians goes against the Edict of Nikea to bring him back psychically, and he manages to defeat the daemons with the help of the apothecary Meros, who sacrifices himself to a Chaos ragefire that had been intended to consume Sanguinius himself.

Fear to Tread

While there is nothing inherently bad about this book, I found it incredibly hard-going, and took over a month to wade my way through. I’ve noticed this with the last Blood Angels novel to pass under my nose, Devastation of Baal, which makes me wonder if it’s something about this particular chapter that I just can’t seem to gel with! I find it odd, though, considering – as I mentioned earlier – I do actually like the idea of and the lore behind the Blood Angels…

There are quite a few nods to other Horus Heresy novels, particularly the opening trilogy (the lone survivor from the planet Murder, brother Targa, was originally part of the ragefire that created the Red Angel, a daemon later presented to Horus by Erebus). Obviously, the use of the Space Wolves as the Emperor’s executioners also harkens back to A Thousand Sons, and the novel ends with Sanguinius arriving at Ultramar, which leads into the plans of Guilliman to set Sanguinius up as the head of the Imperium Secundus. It’s handy reading the novels in publication order, I feel, as things like this are a nice way of tying up the narrative.

Ultimately, I feel that not a lot happened in this book, and that it was essentially filler for what is already becoming a massive series. The whole point of the book is to test the Blood Angels, and attempt to bring the legion over to Chaos. Horus decides to eliminate Sanguinius lest his brother replace him as Warmaster, but none of that works. Yet the novel plods its way across more than 500 pages to do so. A lot of it just felt like padding, somehow, and I think it could have done with a trim.

I also haven’t really been convinced by Horus’ turn from the light of the Emperor in a lot of the novels where he directly appears, but here especially, his readiness to kill his brother seems to come out of nowhere. I think this is made especially glaring in that Horus and Sanguinius appear fighting side-by-side in the prologue; they have a very close relationship anyway, but not enough has been made of the break on Horus’ side, it just seems to be too much of a jolt. I know Horus is meant to be the bad guy, but sometimes (like here) he just comes across as evil for the sake of it.

It was good to have the Blood Angels and Sanguinius centre stage, but I do feel that a lot of the middle novels of the series tend to draw things out a bit too much.

So much new goodness!

I mean, these Idoneth Deepkin miniatures look incredible. I was keen as all hell to get myself some Daughters of Khaine, but the incredible weirdness of these deep-sea elves has just got me, man!!

Namarti Thralls Idoneth Deepkin

They’re amazing!! I’d been planning to get some for either Wyches or Incubi for my Dark Eldar, but now I think I might just get some for their own sake! I am utterly captivated!

Alpharius

And finally, it’s the big daddy of the Alpha Legion himself! Absolutely no surprise whatsoever after the rumour engine from back in the day, but even so, it’s real nice to see the full model at last.

I am so looking forward to seeing the full model kits for the new Deepkin, and I think I may actually find myself getting Alpharius to head up my Alpha Legion

So much good stuff coming out of Games Workshop right now!!!

The Necromunda Weekender

Hey everybody!
Well, I’m a little late to this stuff, but I’ve just been taking a bit of extra time to digest all of the news that we’ve been seeing from the guys over in Nottingham!

Horus Heresy Necromunda Weekender

For those who don’t know, last weekend was the Horus Heresy & Necromunda Weekender, something that has been an annual celebration of the Horus Heresy but, this year, has been a joint affair between the Heresy itself and Necromunda, the new smash hit boxed game from GW! For the first time ever, I’ve actually been genuinely gutted that the weekend had sold out, as I would have liked to have popped along and soaked up all of the atmosphere – and pick up some brand new plastic!

Let’s start with Necromunda!

Orlock Gang Necromunda

The Orlocks are coming up for pre-order this weekend, which is just so exciting I can’t even begin to tell you! They’re coming alongside their House-specific cards, naturally, with all the rules held in a second Gang War book. This rulebook also holds the rules for some new terrain tiles that are on their way also – it’s going to be quite the weekend, I can tell you!!

Necromunda Hired Guns

Over on the Forge World website, we’ve got the set of three Hired Guns also available for preorder at the weekend. Again, awesome looking models (but not quite so awesome as the Orlocks), and I’m looking forward to getting some. Only trouble, of course, is the fact they’re resin. But I’ll just have to live with that…

In the meantime, I’d built up an Escher gang over the Christmas break, and have slowly started to get moving with them. I mean, I have a colour scheme sorted in my head, so it’s just a matter of time before I get them painted! The Warhammer Community team have put up this handy dandy guide to naming your Necromunda gang, and so I’m quite chuffed to announce that I’ve named my little team the Viridian Venom. That’s got nothing to do with my initials, incidentally, but I took the kinds of conventions listed and went with it. Anyway!

The reason I’m waffling about all of this, anyway, is that there are gang heroes, the Escher Queen and the Goliath King, as well as the Orlocks having a Boss (with dog). If the miniature is anything like this artwork, that Escher character is going to be bloody spectacular!

Escher Queen

I’m looking forward to all of this, having decided that I’m going to collect just everything I can for the game. It’s really fantastic, I have to say! (I’ll try to get a game day review up soon!)

Escher Huntress Necromunda

Heroes aren’t all that we’re getting though, as each House is also getting a sort of faction-specific bounty hunter to go along with the rest of them, and the Eschers have this rather amazing Huntress model. It’s a model strongly reminiscent of some of the artwork that had been doing the rounds while Necromunda was still in its early promotion, so to finally see the miniature is quite amazing. Looking forward to adding her to the roster!

But that’s still not all!

After the beastman bounty hunter that came out shortly after the game’s release, we’re getting more hired gun types, starting with the now-famous Squat bounty hunter. Yes, that’s right – Squats are back! Except they’re not. I mean, one of them is, but he’s hardly enough to build an army with. Anyway, here’s the little guy in all his resin glory:

He looks like a fun model to paint, so I’ll be treating myself to one of these when he arrives. Another bounty hunter on display at the Weekender was Eyros Slagmist (what a name!) who has a very Samurai-esque look about him. In fact, he reminds me of a couple of different Star Wars characters, as well as a hint of Mei from House of Flying Daggers:

Eyros Slagmist Necromunda

I’m sold, at any rate! I’ll be snatching this chap up as soon as possible!

But what of the Heresy, I hear you all type?!

Well, we’ve got the next Primarch for the series they’re doing, Rogal Dorn himself has turned up – much, it seems, to the internet’s dismay. Cries of “he’s a big Custodes?” aside, the model looks quite strident, which I suppose is what we should have expected from Dorn, so I can’t really fault that. I thin it looks decent, and as always with the Primarchs, I love the base!

We’re also getting a new magos dominus for the Dark Mechanicum, some more vehicle doors, and – oh, hello Alpharius!

Alpharius

Jokes aside (seriously, the whole “I am Alpharius” thing is really old and tired now, people!), the model should be amazing, and while I’ve not been interested in picking any of the Primarchs up (price tags notwithstanding), I might find myself getting one of these when he comes out. I do have an Alpha Legion army, somewhere, after all, so it’s only fitting!

Of course, the size they’re going to do this model at does interest me. I’ve talked about this at length in the Alpha Legion blog linked earlier, but Alpharius is consistently referred to as short (for a Primarch), and the fact that anybody in his Legion can feasibly masquerade as him means that he really ought to be regular marine height. Sadly, I can see him coming out as a massive dude like the others, which is a bit sad for my own Legion aesthetic, but even so, it’d be nice to have the daddy…

And that’s all I really wanted to ramble about from the Weekender! Maybe I’ll get to go one day, as it does look like an excellent event. There are a few more models that were shown off during the two days, which I’m sure by now you’ve all managed to devour, so I think I’ll leave it there…

Exciting times to come, though, at any rate!!

Know No Fear

Hey everybody!
I’ve been busily reading my way through a few excellent novels of late, so thought it might be time to come here and share my thoughts with you all! First up, it’s time once again to return to the Horus Heresy, and finally get to meet the Ultramarines properly at book 19: Know No Fear!

This novel is basically the start of the famous Battle of Calth. Famous, I suppose in the main, due to the boxed game from Games Workshop back in 2015, which brought plastic Mk IV Space Marines to gaming tables the world over. The battle between the Ultramarines and the Word Bearers has gone down in Warhammer 40k history as one of the most personal, the enmity between the two legions running so deep as to be utterly irreparable. Let’s take a look…

The book reads rather like a disaster movie, as we see the Ultramarines massing at the Calth shipyards for what they think is a joint crusade with the Word Bearers. It has been more than 40 years since the Emperor sent Guilliman’s legion to chastise the sons of Lorgar on Monarchia, and as with everything he does, Guilliman just thinks he was doing his duty and took nothing personally. Lorgar, however, has never forgotten the humiliation he received at the hands of the Ultramarines, and in some respects it can be seen as having caused the entire Horus Heresy. At any rate, the Word Bearers are definitely not about to join forces and fight alongside the Ultramarines…

The book builds tension until about a third of the way through, where a ship crashes into one of the orbital platforms above Calth, and all hell breaks loose as the Word Bearers open fire on their fellow Astartes. Guilliman first thinks it a mistake, that the Word Bearers had thought themselves under attack and, paranoid after Monarchia, have immediately opened-fire on the Ultramarines in self-defence. But no, it doesn’t take long for the Ultramarines to realise that the Word Bearers are hell-bent on the destruction of their legion. Unfortunately, the noosphere has been knocked out by the attack, so vox traffic is halted. With no way to coordinate their defence, thousands of Ultramarines are killed.

However, the Mechanicum and the Ultramarines resistance soon manage to turn the tide, and Guilliman himself just about manages to thwart Kor Phaeron’s plan to annihilate his legion, but the Word Bearers have already unleashed several bombs on Calth’s star, causing terrible radiation poisoning of the planet, and driving the war into the catacombs and arcologies.

know no fear

I really wanted to like this book. Dan Abnett is, of course, a fan favourite, and I had been looking forward to seeing the Ultramarines properly in the Horus Heresy. However, I felt it was a little bit drawn out in terms of the initial impact of the Word Bearers attacking the orbital platforms, then it seemed to end quite abruptly, with an epilogue set long after the subterranean battle had ended. It was a bit of an odd one, and I can’t quite bring myself to say it was that great a book. I mean, Horus Rising was wonderful, and Legion is one of my all-time favourites, so I suppose I was expecting more. I don’t know.

I did enjoy the disaster-movie-feel that a lot of the novel had, and I think it was done really well to sustain that over the course of almost the whole novel. The initial cataclysm and subsequent scattered resistance was really good, though I think I would have liked to have seen more from the Word Bearers’ perspective.

It’s also worth noting that the novel is told in the present tense, which I always feel makes me read it faster than I would otherwise. Instead of chapter sub-headings, we have the “mark of Calth”, the time-stamp of each action described within said chapter, in relation to the initial attack of the Word Bearers. It gave the novel an added sense of urgency, which I think works really well alongside the disaster-movie approach.

It’s nice to see Guilliman in the Heresy at last, and I enjoyed seeing the Ultramarines at war en masse. A lot of people write Guilliman off as boring, but I’m always fascinated to read about him and his incredibly tactical brain. He’s written as being the tactical genius of all the Primarchs, and that comes out here when we see him digest dozens of battle reports at once, to form a plan of attack within minutes, while everybody is stood around him looking vaguely dumb. Some personality quirks – such as his preference for using a stylus – are carried over by the Dark Imperium novel, which I also enjoyed. He’s definitely a more interesting character than people give him credit for, and I think anybody who is bashing on the Ultramarines should take the time to read something like Know No Fear, to see how effective and badass they can actually be!

All in all, I think I was expecting more from the novel, so felt a little let-down, but still enjoyed a lot of things about this book. Probably not one of the stand-out books from the series, but definitely not one to pass over!

Deliverance Lost

Hey everybody!
I’ve made a return to the Horus Heresy lately, having read book 18 in the mammoth series: Deliverance Lost.

Deliverance Lost

The book follows on from the events of the dropsite massacre on Isstvan V, and details the activities of the Raven Guard, under their primarch Corvus Corax, as he attempts to rebuild the legion. I’ve admired the Raven Guard colour scheme when I’ve seen it in stuff like the Kill Team box set, but I’ve never really thought of myself as a fan of the XIX legion. However, after reading this book – well, I’m not about to start building a new army, but I do think I have a better appreciation for them.

As Corvax and his marines escape the Isstvan system, we discover that the Alpha Legion has managed to infiltrate the loyalists, and there is some really wonderful misdirection throughout the entire novel, as we follow the spy, “Alpharius”, as he gathers intelligence for Omegon, who has placed himself close to Deliverance, the heartland of the Raven Guard.

I think it’s widely known that Corvax obtained knowledge of genetic manipulation from the Emperor in order to rebuild his legion, especially since all of the Primaris hullabaloo that brought out other instances of people other than the Master of Mankind building space marines. Corvax obtains access to the primarch project itself after an elaborate set-piece trap sequence, which seemed somewhat out of place, but was nevertheless entertaining. Postulating that they could mix Raven Guard geneseed with primarch genetics to produce space marines that have the superhuman powers and enhanced growth rate of the primarchs, the Raven Guard begin to re-create their numbers, but this is sabotaged by “Alpharius” and his introduction of demon ichor to the genetic material, which causes the new recruits to spawn demonic talons and such. While thousands of marines are successfully made, it’s an unfortunate stumbling block on the road for Corvax, and I did find myself quite sorry for the poor guy as his continued attempts to re-build are thwarted!

While the Alpha Legion spies all seem to have been outed by the end of the novel, an interesting question is posed by the fact that, if the Alpha Legion has successfully infiltrated one legion, how many more have spies within them now? There is a lot here that has an impact within the wider storyline of the Heresy, and I particularly liked the idea that nobody was quite sure if the Raven Guard were still loyal to the Emperor at the beginning. The undercurrent of fear is shown to be quite the effective weapon, and you can easily believe that Horus doesn’t actually need to march on Terra quite yet, as the mistrust that he has sown among the Imperium is doing so much work for him already.

This is a really good novel, and one that I was surprised at because I hadn’t been expecting to enjoy it quite as much. I think the inclusion of the Alpha Legion helped here, for sure, but even without that, I was suitably intrigued by the Raven Guard that I’ve found myself looking forward to seeing where they get to next.

Until then, however, it’s time to join the Ultramarines properly, as the Battle of Calth beckons!

The Outcast Dead

I’m slowly making progress with the Horus Heresy series once again, having recently finished reading book 17 in the juggernaut of grimdark novel series, The Outcast Dead. It’s probably important to note that I’ve skipped Prospero Burns for the time being, as I’m not interested in Space Wolves (even if it is Dan Abnett at the pen), and have saved the short story compendium Age of Darkness for another time.

Anyhow!

The Outcast Dead is a very weird book, one that alternately fascinated me and annoyed the hell out of me. First of all to note, this is the first time a Horus Heresy novel takes place entirely on Terra. We follow the broken astropath Kai Zulane as he returns to the City of Sight for reconditioning, following a catastrophe aboard the Argo, a ship in the employ of the Navigator House Castana. Kai and the ship’s Navigator, Roxanne Castana, are the only two survivors of the tragedy, which saw a warp storm rip the ship apart, demons spilling into the ship and killing the entire crew. Roxanne herself has taken refuge from her House, who wanted to make her a scapegoat for the loss of the ship, at the Temple of Woe, a strange place near the Imperial Palace where people basically bring their dead for incineration.

The bulk of the first part of the novel deals with Kai Zulane and Roxanne alternately, and we get some insight into the working of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica at this time. However, when Magnus makes his ill-fated psychic attempt to warn the Emperor of Horus’ betrayal, the psychic shockwave is felt across Terra, and millions are destroyed by the warp spawn that manage to break into reality. During this incursion, Kai Zulane is given forbidden knowledge about the future that is deposited within his centre of guilt over what happened to the Argo, and he is incapable of accessing that knowledge until he has faced what happened.

He is taken to the Custodian Guard, who attempt to break the information out of him, but at this time a group of powerful Space Marines imprisoned within the Custodians’ dungeons make their escape attempt. Led by Atharva of the Thousand Sons, and including three World Eaters, a Luna Wolf, a Death Guard and an Emperor’s Children, the “Outcast Dead” break out, picking up Kai in the process, but their stolen flyer is shot down in the Petitioners’ City, a vast slum close to the Palace. The Marines are tracked along their way, and come up against the local ganglord Babu Dhakal, who turns out to be a Thunder Warrior that has inexplicably survived the Wars of Unification, and attempts to capture the Marines in an effort to use their geneseed to help prolong his life.

In a battle with the Babu’s enforcer Ghota, two of the Marines are killed, and so the remaining Outcast Dead take their bodies for disposal in the Temple of Woe. There, the Custodians catch up with them, and after a bloody battle, all of the Marines are killed, with the exception of Saverian the Luna Wolf. Kai, reunited with Roxanne, begs the Navigator to use her third eye’s power to kill him, to stop any further abuses of his body and mind in the effort to extract the knowledge of the future.

The book is weird, mainly because it takes place in the weird realm of the psychic. The astropaths and other folk at the City of Sight are all slightly odd, and a clear sense of other-ness really pervades the book. While we do get Space Marines in the form of the Outcast Dead, it’s really interesting to see another side of the Imperium, much like with Graham McNeill’s previous novel Mechanicum, which maintained itself largely without any recourse to the Astartes.

In addition, we get a bit of a look at the Navigators, though without as much depth as the astropaths. It was a little confusing at times, as Kai was said to be in the employ of House Castana and to be working for the Ultramarines, and I couldn’t quite work out what was going on there. Of course, the details are largely irrelevant. I don’t think the Navigators have been shown previously in the series, however, so it was nice to have them show up for a bit.

Indeed, we seem to get many fringe elements turn up in this book, as the Sisters of Silence make a brief but pivotal appearance at the final battle, as well as a couple of Custodians having some decent page-time. Finally, we get the elements of the mythical past in the form of two Thunder Warriors, who are all presumed dead following the Wars of Unity. I can’t quite decide if I liked this inclusion, or if it felt a bit like over-kill. Of course, while the fact that there were survivors shouldn’t be surprising given the breadth of the universe we’re dealing with here, I think I would have preferred them to be left out, and Babu Dhakal to have been a Space Marine washout or something.

For all that I found it fascinating, however, I was also really quite disappointed with the book. The story of the Heresy has barely advanced since the first couple of books in the series – with Nemesis providing the first proper step on the timeline since probably Battle for the Abyss. Instead of continuing the story, we’ve instead gone back a step to the psychic incursion of Magnus to warn the Emperor, which we saw in A Thousand Sons, six books prior. It’s not entirely all bad, don’t get me wrong, but I just feel like we’re not really getting anywhere right now. I get that the narrative is immense and epic and all the rest of it, but I’m used to novel series from the Star Wars universe that tell a complete storyline – even padded out quite considerably – within nineteen books…!

I’m still more interested in what’s happened to Garviel Loken at the end of Galaxy in Flames!

It was an enjoyable book for a lot of reasons, although the copy I have is absolutely riddled with typos, word omissions and, towards the end, printing errors. It is a little frustrating that we’re seventeen books into the series and we don’t seem to have advanced very far at all into the story of the Heresy, but I suppose that’s just how the series is being told.