I guess needing an easy, untaxing read, I downloaded a discounted copy of Dark Imperium, a 2017 novel about Games Workshop’s Space Marines.
For as long as I can remember, the Warhammer 40,000 background has been a grim dark future where there is only war, but not much ever changes. In a cunning plan to boost profits / move the setting forwards they recently blew half the galaxy up and introduced new, larger Space Marines so people could buy new plastic soldiers. And of course, they then needed to update the background, hence a new crop of books.
Again, this also seems like a stealthy method to teach nerds about the structure and politics of the Roman empire, of the danger and mutability of religious dogma, and (as it includes the impressively stupidly named Chaos God of disease, Nurgle) the Importance of Washing Your Hands.
It’s the first of a series so there’s a lot of set up for future books. There are some pretty good fight scenes and some wonderfully disgusting satanic clocks, but at the same time it feels a little workmanlike. Games Workshop wants to sell more toy soldiers and so the high-priced ones like Mortarion and Rouboute Guillimann don’t seem like their characters are at risk of ever dying. On the other hand, they got bored in 2016 and killed off everyone in their fantasy milieu, in a great example of kicking over the ornate sandcastle they’d been building for thirty years, so I guess you never know.
If you don’t like reading baroque stories about ridiculous Space Marines, this is not the book for you. If you do, it’s actually quite a good example of the genre: better, at least, than the drivel that was the last third of the Grey Knights Omnibus. I really must get around to writing my Blood Bowl novel, but I think that may require more incredibly strong painkillers.