I read another book about Space Marines, but this time not part of the incredibly long Horus Heresy series. Instead, this is set in the 41st millennium, which is the present day for Games Workshop’s setting. Confused enough?
It’s another Aaron Dembski-Bowen book, which means there’s more sympathy for the evil Chaos Space Marines and less for the loyalists. There’s betrayal, reversals, and hope snatched away near the very end.
There’s also, as per ADB’s earlier The Emperor’s Gift, the Inquisition being awful, but I won’t give away that plot point. The book is focussed on the Spears of the Emperor, a Celtic-themed Space Marine chapter (perhaps similar to the Space Wolves, who are Vikings in Spaaaace, these are the woad-coated Ancient Britons in Spaaaace, which is odd when the Space Marines are all kind of the Roman Empire in Spaaaace), along with the Mentors, a chapter of Space Marine know-it-all who were in the first White Dwarf I ever read.
The Mentors tool around teaching other Imperial soldiers to fight better. The Mentor in this book goes to report on the Spears of the Emperor, gets captured and grievously tortured, and then gets rebuilt like the 6 million dollar man and goes fighting some more. This is all narrated from the view point of one of his chapter slaves, responsible for cleaning his armour and polishing his guns, and that’s the human viewpoint the novel needs.
Well, that’s a truism. I think ADB’s best work is his Black Legion stories, narrated by Chaos Space Marines. I’ve not liked his Horus Heresy books so much so far.
The book, then, is good, although it feels odd that a person would ever survive capture by the dreaded Chaos Space Marines. There’s a lovely twist about who they are, and who the Spears of the Emperor have been fighting all the time they’re isolated on the wrong side of the galaxy, but it does feel a little too much like it’s been built as part of a series. I wanted it to end, in a final way, all the ends wrapped up tightly. It did sort of deliver that, just I wanted something extra and I don’t know what.