Forgeworld, Orestes, is being attacked by the titans and skitarii of the Dark Mechanicum. The forge world is home to the Titan Legion, Legio Tempestus and they quickly determine that they need some support, so the forge calls in Legio Invicta. So we get to see the arrival and mustering of a full Titan Legion to this Hive World. We get to see it from the point of view of the engine drivers themselves, their commanders, the front line tank crews, the activated Planetary Defense Force (PDF) and even a few common folk who dwell in the hive.
These points of view break up into the common stories that we follow in each chapter, and each one could have been a novel in itself, but in the capable hands of Mr. Abnett, we are treated to a vast overall story that doesn't rely on cheap plot ploys or gimmicks to tell or complete it. His handling, again, is what makes his stories so charming and "real" to the reader.
We follow a PDF force, Activated 26th, and a particular member of it, Cally Samstag, whose experience is little more than weekend warrior hikes when the war starts, and she finds herself as an unlikely leader when shit hits the fan for her PDF,
Erik Vargo, a tank commander, finds himself and the survivors of his tank division in situation much like Cally did when their tanks are wiped out by a rival titan. We follow this motley band's attempt to get back into the fight throughout the course of the novel, and this story has a very satisfactory conclusion. I say no more on this point to avoid spoilers.
We also follow an assortment of different Titans and mechanicus members, some live and some die. But the more important one that we follow, I feel is Princeps Gearhart, leader of the Titan battle group and of Legio Invicta. We see his fight to hold all the groups together, to win the war, and to win his war for his own humanity.
Adept Faust's story is particularly fascinating for it's inner look at the Mechanicus and how his research is conducted. Prior to this past year's release of the Adeptus Mechanicus Codex books for Warhammer 40,000, this book was probably one of the more in depth reviews of the Mechanicus side of 40K lore, and Faust's story is particularly revealing in that regard.
These stories all tie together, but distantly, and we get to see the good, bad, and ugly of this massive war from all these perspectives to get a big picture that few of these protagonists ever realize themselves. I have always been fascinated by the concept of Hiveworlds, especially what goes on outside them and the ash plains that surround them. What type of people live there? What are their lives like? Etc. ever since we gamers were first exposed to the idea back when White Dwarf (vol 1) #130 was released with the introduction to Confrontation, the game that became Necromunda). This novel shows us what life is like in these industrial suburbs, and what warfare does to overturn this life. On the flip-side, we can see how life in the central hive is effected as well, and it indeed becomes something of a concern when the Hive almost tears itself apart for reasons not concerned with the war.
|The French get the better cover for some reason.|
- Did I like it? Hell yes I did. The start was slow, but the build up was very much worth it.
- Was it hard to put down? I picked and poked at this book for a few months, when I could find some quiet time read, usually before bed. And yes, it was a difficult book to put down. Every plot is quite riveting and the curiosity to see what comes next was addictive.
- Could I care about the characters? You really can't help it, even though it's an Abnett novel, who is famous for introducing characters and killing them a few chapters later (Fell Cargo is a great example) but damn, you want to see these people make it through the book.
- Did the writer truly grasp how the 'world' of the 41st millennium works in the sense that it doesn't betray or retcon previously established (as I know it) lore? Abnett is the master of it. This book only affirms it.
- Was I being talked down too? Not once, I like Abnett's style, and whether he presents the story in 1st or 3rd person it doesn't matter, it feels right to read his works. He is writing about some serious and intense combats but they never feel like "war porn" to me. Knows when to gloss over it, and get on with the story, a trick I wish McVey would figure out each time I read his Dark Angel bools.
- How predictable is this story? It's not really, another reason why this book is so satisfying to me.
- Do I recommend this book? Highly.