Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Review: The Unforgiven

And finally, the Legacy of Caliban series ends with The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe. This is book 3, offically, though I will strongly argue that it's really book 4 as the events in Angels of Darkness is really where this whole story kicks off. The Unforgiven is definitely were it all ends and very much comes full circle.

I will also say the same in regards to Gav's writing, which I must say is even better in this book as it was in the previous chapters. I would guess that he was really prepared for this one, knowing full well how it was all going to come together in the end. Perhaps he was working on bits of this since the beginning? Shy of asking him directly, it's tough to say, but regardless, the action is tighter, the descriptive text doesn't get lost in the minutiae, the characters are written in a far more solid way, and most importantly the plot actually moves!

OK, lets get to the meat of it...

++++++++++++++++++++++++++POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!+++++++++++++++++++

I would hope you wouldn't read the review for the 3rd (or 4th) book without reading the others, but hey, you've been warned.

OK, at the end of Master of Sanctity, the 2nd (or 3rd) book in this series, the Ravenwing caught a very prominent member of the Fallen (likely he's the one you know by name). We see them try to figure out the greater scheme of what is happening, why this Fallen would surrender to them, kill another member of the Fallen, why he would lie to them or tell them the truth.

While the first 1/3 of the book deals with the aftermath of The Master of Sanctity, and attempted torture (or as the Dark Angels call it, "excruciation") of the captured Fallen, the rest of book shifts quite firmly to being about Azrael, the Dark Angels Supreme Grandmaster as he attempts to sort out all these plots within plots in order to guide the Dark Angels to their salvation, or at least to their survival.

Highlights for me had to be the Chaos attack on the Rock, the asteroid fortress monastery of the Dark Angels. I never visualized that there was more land mass to the rock as Gav described it, but it made sense to me and it made for a hell of a crazy read. The return to the original site of Caliban was very interesting, and every chapter thereafter made for exciting and riveting read. Telemenus's internment into a dreadnought was good reading as well, and I like that he get's his revenge upon the Great Unclean One that led to his condition.
  • Did I like it? Very Much so, it exceeded my expectations, and it did a splendid job capping off the whole story arc. 
  • Was it hard to put down? Yes, more so when you get past the half way mark of the book, but even the quieter scenes in the early half of the book were paced better than the previous books were. 
  • Could I care about the characters? Yes. Especially Telemenus, and the characters that appear in the 40K game, but the fate of the captured Fallen Angel in particular was quite a hook. As I said above, this book really shines the spotlight most on Azrael toward the end of the book and it's his choices that make the events happen the way they happen. The redemption of Annael was very well written as well, as he has to come to terms with why his decision to not follow an order was an irredeemable mistake. 
  • 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? I would say Gav is just as big a fan boy of these characters as anyone else that would care about them, and he does a good job here making it all work. If anything he answers questions, or a least doubts, that players have been debating about on forums since the 2nd edition Codex: Angels of Death, and why this whole thing is called The Legacy of Caliban will not only blow your mind, it might even satisfy some of your earlier doubt about the Lion and Luthor's final fight. Or, you might say, "WTF?" and toss the book on the ground. It was a risky twist, one that if not handled well could have cheapened the whole Dark Angels franchise, but I feel Gav pull it off and pulled it off well. 
  • Was I being talked down too? No, and if anything Gav's 2nd person voice has definitely grown to be written in a tone that isn't distracting to the events that you are reading. His pacing has improved since Ravenwing (the 1st, or 2nd, book) as well, and although there is a ton of fighting and warfare in this book, it doesn't feel like warporn, as much of Ravenwing unfortunately did. 
  • How predictable is this story? Not too predictable really, Honestly, that's part of what made it so compelling, as the story had many opportunities to turn in many directions. It left some questions unanswered, which is fine as the Dark Angels are mystery even to themselves, and a little ambiguity keeps the reader hungry. 
  • Do I recommend this book? Yes, but I suggest taking it all in as a whole, and you can read the whole thing in this collection the Legacy of Caliban-ebook. ...Although it doesn't appear to have Angels of Darkness in it which is essential reading if you're going to read this at all. 

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