Blog Archives

The Beast Must Die by Gav Thorpe (Book Review)

Legends beget legends. But they all have to begin somewhere. In David Annandale’s The Hunt For Vulkan, we saw the beginnings of the latest legend-in-making when Inquisitor Veritus sent Chapter Master Koorland to a planet of legend to find a living legend in the form of the Primarch Vulkan. In the process, the novel itself became a legendary story about honour, oaths, duty and service. As I’ve said so many times in reviews of the previous novels, The Hunt For Vulkan laid the foundation of what was to follow.

And follow Gav Thorpe’s The Beast Must Die did. With the return of Vulkan to the highest levels of the Imperium, the stage has been set for an explosive confrontation with the Orks and their new warlord, the Beast. Legend must now fight legend at a location that is itself legendary. As Vulkan often says in this novel, there is a certain pattern to events, and those who are attuned to these patterns stand to benefit the most. Following on from his last outing in the series with The Emperor Expects, Gav delivers yet another masterpiece that does justice to the characters involved.

Note: Some major spoilers from the previous novels and this novel are mentioned here.

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The Hunt For Vulkan by David Annandale (Book Review)

When politics gets in the middle of prosecuting a war effectively, then that usually spells doom for the good guys. As we’ve seen in The Beast Arises over the last six novels, this has been a central theme, something that has let the resurgent Ork threat run wildly rampant across the Imperium. And those who must fight this untenable war have grown ever more disillusioned of those who run the Imperial government, their incompetence a direct threat to the safety and security of the Imperium. But now that’s about to change.

In David Annandale’s The Hunt For Vulkan, we see one of the biggest turning-points in the conflict. The Last Wall is sent on a mission to locate the last known living Primarch, Vulkan of the Salamanders, and bring him back to the larger Imperial fold so that he can lead the resistance against the Orks. The how and the why of it is wrapped in multiple mysteries, and that’s part of what made this novel so damn good. As before with The Last Wall, David really captures the essence and motivations of his characters, telling one hell of a story here.

Note: Some major spoilers from the previous novels and this novel are mentioned here.

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Echoes of the Long War by David Guymer (Book Review)

First and foremost, the Warhammer 40,000 novels have always been about visceral action first and foremost. It really wasn’t until the Eisenhorn and Ravenor novels by Dan Abnett that we began to see something much wider, in my experience. I know that books like Inquisition War existed before, but those have long been declared non-canon if I’m not mistaken, so they don’t count. And of course, the Horus Heresy novels have been about Imperial politics on a galactic scale as much as they’ve been about the battle scenes. But it hasn’t been until the Beast Arises trilogy that we’ve really gotten to see Imperial politics up-close and personal on Terra itself among the Imperium’s highest elite.

David Guymer’s Echoes of the Long War is the sixth novel in the series and one which is perhaps the most focused of them all so far. Following on from Throneworld, this novel had a lot of baggage coming in and some really high expectations, not all of which it was able to meet unfortunately. It was, in effect, far too focused on one particular event to the detriment of the other narratives, and that definitely hurt the series overall. However, it was still a decent novel and did keep the story progressing somewhat so there’s that.

Note: Some major spoilers from the previous novels and this novel are mentioned here.

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Throneworld by Guy Haley (Book Review)

A galaxy-wide Ork invasion that heralds the rebuilding of their lost empire on an even greater scale yet. Political bureaucracy and infighting that paralyses the Imperial response. Secret and possibly traitorous experiments being carried out by the Cult Mechanics. Terra itself directly threatened. A Chapter lost. Entire sectors lost. Possible Chaos interference. The Beast Arises series has it all it seems. The previous four novels have been rather revolutionary in many ways, and as the story progresses there’s always another big twist just around the corner.

With Guy Haley’s Throneworld, the series marks the third straight novel which is among some of the best works to come out of Black Library in the past five years. I’ve read a fair number of novels from Guy Haley and he’s always impressed me with his narrative styles and his plot twists. That all holds true for Throneworld as well, in which we see the Eldar themselves getting involved with the Ork-Imperium conflict, even as the larger narrative progresses well beyond the weirdness happening on Terra, for the stalwart sons of Dorn have managed to consolidate their power and beginning anew their campaign against the Orks.

Note: Some major spoilers from the previous novels and this novel are mentioned here.

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The Last Wall by David Annandale (Book Review)

We are now getting to the point where the series is starting to pick up some momentum. The first three novels have laid out the conflict and we now are starting to see some real movement every which way. Leading up to the fourth novel in the series, we are now in that particular mode where you can start to predict how certain characters are going to react to certain situations and that anticipation is what is driving this series more than anything else because in the meta-sense, these characters and their strife really do leave a mark.

David Annandale’s The Last Wall had a lot to deliver on, given how Gav Thorpe ended The Emperor Expects. It was certainly a very unexpected ending, and the questions that it raised got me to push through this novel, finishing it in less than a day, as the clock counts. It is full of some amazing action and tons of intrigue all of which deepens the mysteries behind the resurgent Ork threat and I feel that it is a great addition to the series as a result. David definitely didn’t disappoint in any way.

Note: Some major spoilers from the previous novels and this novel are mentioned here.

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Organization, Doctrines, Disposition

Organization and Doctrine

The Sons of Corax have modified the teachings of the Codex Astartes to suit their own needs and to fit their role as a fleet-based crusading chapter. Company captains are referred to as Commanders as they have responsibility not only for the battle-brothers of their company but also have flag command of a particular ship and its attendant escorts of the chapter fleet. The chapter also maintains a large number of Thunderhawk gunships, Caestus assault rams and drop pods. With all the resources at their disposal, each company Commander is able to act autonomously for long periods when needed. Consequently, the fleet-companies of the chapter rarely come together as one, unless it is by the writ of the High Commander for a major campaign.

As one of the oldest chapters, the Sons are able to field sufficient quantities of the rarest arms, armour and vehicles meant for Astartes. All veterans are able to go to war in the revered suits of Terminator armour and several rare and advanced Land Raider variants like the Achilles, Prometheus and Ares. The Sons also maintain more Dreadnoughts than many other chapters combined, evidence of their close relationship to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Consequently, the Sons’ Techmarines are some of the most experienced and skilled of their calling.

The Sons of Corax trace their origins to the Primarch of the XIXth Legion and they remain dedicated and committed to his teachings. They place great emphasis on infiltration missions and swift lightning strikes. Scouts are used to identify enemy locations and harass the enemy troops. Terminators and Veterans then deep strike via teleport homers and locator beacons planted by the Scouts while other troops engage the main enemy strength and move into position. The Sons rely on fast moving troops like Assault marines and battle-brothers on bikes and Land Speeders almost as much as other Chapters rely on their Tactical marines. Devastators and Tactical marines are afterwards deployed via Thunderhawk or Drop-pod after which the Thunderhawks are used in a support role to achieve air superiority as soon as possible. However, with their assault-dependent tactics, the Sons field few Devastator squads.

The officers of the Chapter prefer to use lightning claws as their chosen armament and the Chapter possesses several sets of these weapons, thanks to their forge-ship, the Raven Song. The Chapter Master bears the Claws of Corax, a pair of master-crafted lightning claws forged in the time of Corax by Master-Magos Bachbergens of the Mechanicus for the Primarch himself. The Claws were instead bestowed by the Primarch to the Raven Guard First Captain and then later gifted to the first High Commander of the Sons of Corax by the Raven Guard Chapter Master at the time.

Company Disposition

The Sons of Corax maintain a fighting strength of nine companies instead of the Codex-approved ten. These nine fleet-companies, as they are sometimes known, also do not fall into the typical categorization of Veteran, Battle, Reserve or Scout companies.

The First Company contains the highest concentration of the Chapter’s Veterans, six entire squads, as well as two full squads of the most experienced Scouts. The Company’s Scouts are often deployed as a vanguard force that allows the Terminator squads to strike with precision at the heart of the enemy’s force.

The Second through Fifth Battle-Companies are completely autonomous and self-sustaining forces in their own right. Each of these mainline Companies is able to field two combat squads of Veterans, six squads of Tactical Marines, three squads of Assault marines and two squads of Devastators and Scouts alike at full operational strength.

The Sixth through Ninth Companies are not just Reserve Companies but are nearly as powerful as a Codex Battle-Company. The Sixth and Seventh Companies can field five squads of Tactical marines, two and half squads of Assault marines and a squad and half of Devastators. While the Eighth and Ninth Companies are organized along the same lines, the Eighth replaces its Devastators with Assault Marines and the Ninth replaces its Assault Marines with Devastators.