Talk about late to the party! This was released a while ago now and I’ve only just gotten around to ‘reading’ it. Bit of a confession, I listened to it on Audio Book instead. This was a new venture for me, and after I got over the voices and overly English accent of the reader, I found it enjoyable. I was able to paint and listen at the same time. Who knew…
I’ll start with the good. There are some really well constructed scenes in this story that enable the characters to show their core values well. For example, there is a part of the tale where Calgar and some of his cronies are dealing with an uprising. The opponents are mainly youths who are being used by adults because they are impressionable. The Ultramarines quickly realise how shoddy the work is but instead of just wading in to kill them, they decide to capture them and re-educate them so next time they can do a proper job of it. It made me laugh, could anything be more Ultramarine?
There are other interactions as well, Mortarion, Typhus and a daemon prince are talking via phychic ‘phone’, to which the Death Guard Primarch is outraged. The part where Uriel Ventris introduces himself to Guilliman is also marginally hilarious. All the characters play to themselves and are enjoyable in one way or another. The internalisation of Guilliman’s thoughts are also interesting and the contrast between the modern Imperium and what he knew are good to read. His frustrations are very relatable too. The language used to convey the characters, and the setting as well, is easy to follow.
Description wise, I think there are good and bad parts. The language used to describe the Death Guard and the Nurgle aspects of the novel are exceptionally well done. I had no idea there were that many words for guts. It allows the reader to really picture what the disgusting creatures look like. Some of it is quite nauseating and I liked that part. When it came to describing arches and other such things, I was less bothered. Some of the pacing of the novel is lost due to long descriptive passages or history lessons, which while vital for the background, I found rambly. There are some that enjoy such aspects, I am not one of them. I like to read the action and I like it to be fast paced.
There is also a lot of information on the Primaris marines and how much superior they are to the older spec of marine as well. It was when they had first been released however and I suppose they needed to be bigged up to the readership. They are fine by me and I rather liked the characters, especially when they they were relaxing in the mess hall lamenting that there was no booze to toast with. It made them seem human in many ways and I have always enjoyed reading about the human side of Space Marines.
This novel ambles, rather than surges, along and I am sure that if I was to tackle this as a read rather than a listen, I would have struggled with it. Still, it is worth reading all the same to get an insight into the mind of Guilliman. The other characters are no less engaging either and are certainly interesting.