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Rate what you Read, or the fight against Necromancy

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#26
Roomsky

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A Horus Heresy re-read, part 1:

 

Horus Rising - Dan Abnett

 

This is actually only my second reading of this book, and it was the first 40k book I ever read. It stands up far better now that I could catch all the nods to the future, and the sheer amount it manages to convey about the series it started. Characters that become caricatures of themselves later and shown in a very restrained light here. HR Loken could have just as believably gone for the warmaster as against, Abaddon isn't defined by a single character trait (he's really mad), and you can see why people put their trust in Erebus. Abnett creates a great alternate culture for 30k, full of seeds for what is to come but noticeably distinct in character attitude. All in all, pretty great.

 

Must-read

ANR: 8/10

 

 

False Gods - Graham Mcneill

 

This book doesn't exactly have the best reputation, but I'm glad to say I still liked it well enough. Characters have been pared down a bit, Erebus keeps making shifty eyes at everyone and the cast's IQ seems to have lost a few points, but I actually found Horus' revelation more believable this time round. This benefits from hindsight of course, now that we know it wasn't exactly 0 to 100 in his corruption, and I don't actually think that misconception is fairly placed on this book. Graham covers a lot of ground very quickly and never did I go "well, why didn't I get to see that part." His action is always on point and he has a lot of cool ideas. The world building at this point in the series is some of my favorite, while perhaps not the best literary practice, I love the depths to which Mcneill delves into Crusade-era culture and societal attitude.

 

To Taste

ANR: 7/10

 

 

Galaxy in Flames - Ben Counter

 

"Local man who can't write attempts to forge satisfying conclusion." This was frustrating. I won't say I hated it, but nothing good about this book comes from Counter himself. Reading about the Isstvan Atrocity is interesting because of the broad strokes events, Counter adds no depth to what you could read out of a codex. Reading about what happens to the cast we fell in love with back in Horus Rising is interesting on momentum alone. Everyone's character has been pared down to their most basic attributes, the introspection that characterized the protagonists in Horus Rising and False Gods has been excised, and characters go where the plot needs them to be with no regard for basic common sense. Horus has mutated from a conflicted soul who killed a few pests to a card-carrying villain who shows his core of remembrances his bombing of a world, just so he can kill them afterwards. A scene will start, characters will say something ill informed, characters will do something ill-informed, scene end. Let's not even get started on the conversation between Garro and Tarvitz.

 

Diehards Only

5/10 


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#27
bluntblade

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Galaxy In Flames also suffered from a weird lack of scale in a more pronounced way than the books which preceded it.

#28
Fedor

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I thought Horus killing the remembrancers was a strong scene and not really too big a step from the stuff that happens in False Gods. He's already initiated a dishonest brutal worldwide conflict with that human world where he casually executes the ambassador  by this point.... i've just realised i can't remember the reason for that conflict now, but it was a bit more than just killing a few pests.  I badly need to reread these.

 

Liked all three overall, but from  fading memory False Gods was my least favourite, largely because of how quickly Horus fell. McNeil rushed through so much in his early heresy books, though i understand it was within a different context than what the series would open into a few years later. Horus, Fulgrim and Ferrus all suffered from the pace he set.

 

The character work for Eidolon and Lucius across all three books was the other thing i recall disliking, they were 2D villains in waiting from the start and it almost ruined the Murder part of Horus Rising and lessened the impact of lucius eventual betrayal of Tarvitz as they never seemed realistic friends.


Edited by Fedor, 12 November 2018 - 01:08 AM.

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#29
b1soul

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The early Heresy series (opening five or so novels) and the later Heresy series feel like two separate series.

#30
Knockagh

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The early Heresy series (opening five or so novels) and the later Heresy series feel like two separate series.

I think your absolutely right. Given that in the early days they never envisaged it as a series that would run and run. I don’t know at what point they consciously made any decisions or if they did at all until relatively recently. But definitely the early books feel like a series with a purpose after that it feels lost.
When I scan the heresy books on my shelf the number I really enjoyed aren’t huge. There was a period of years it felt like a task buying and reading them. I got far more enjoyment from Forge Worlds heresy books at that time.
I also think we lost much of the richness of the Warhammer universe by focusing so much on the Heresy, it became all about marines, which truthfully are far from my favourite aspect of it.
I do think if BL hadn’t shifted its focus off the Heresy and back onto 40k I probably would have drifted off to other sci fi fiction.
The Beast Arises was a turning point for me. It reintroduced aliens, political intrigue and normal people back into 40k and as imperfect as it was it felt like water for cracked lips.
In recently reread the opening trilogy of the heresy, and throughly enjoyed it. But going past the opening 7 the pickings are slim. Only others I would hope to reread at some stage are Mechanicum, Nemisis, the outcast dead, descent of angels, fallen angels and legion, tallarn, scars and the garro audios.

Edited by Punishing Pete, 12 November 2018 - 06:55 AM.

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#31
Roomsky

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My issue isn't so much that he killed the remembrancers, keeping in mind his legion's general disdain for them and their minor threat, but rather the manner in which he did it. It's a blatant sadism that makes him seem quite a bit more unhinged than I believe Counter was going for; most of his interactions at least communicate the attempt at pragmatism.

 

The Flight of the Eisenstein - James Swallow

 

It's been a while since I read a Swallow book. I'm not exactly in love with his style. He doesn't impress with action, nor world building, nor character. Garro strives in the audio format but just comes across as dull when I have to put up with him on the page. His supporting cast is largely flat, but more disappointing is the expansion of Death Guard legion culture, it's all very basic, even compared to the Luna Wolves' very mild culture on these early books. It's certainly not all mediocre, Garro's meeting with Dorn is one of my favorites, and Mortarion at least comes across as the somewhat well meaning guy who has no idea what he's getting into. Positives aside, by 80 pages in I was wondering why I should bother continuing, and beyond a sense of completion that reason didn't present itself.

 

Diehards Only

ANR: 5/10


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#32
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The Inquisition War - Ian Watson

 

Man, what a ride. Have you ever read a book that made you feel high, in the absence of any drugs? Never have I read a series a books with so many moments causing me to question: "Is this real?"

 

I must reiterate from previous posts: I think every 40k fan should read this, at the very least Draco. It's pure madness, a glimpse into that religious, psychotic fervor which motivates the Imperium of man. The plot is based only on the characters, system-shattering events are scarcely traveled through, friends and foes alike don't so much as contribute as they do act as window dressing. Jaq and his merry band of misfits sprint from one side of the galaxy to another, apparently leaving plot hooks dangling with nary an iota of resolution. Magnus the Red appears in barely a couple pages, but is given one of my favorite descriptions, ever. Jain Zar, never explicitly named and appearing for no more than a few paragraphs makes one of the most important contributions to the story. The galaxy feels vast and uncaring, machinations grind on, never more than inconvenienced by Inquisitor Jaq Draco. And frankly, there's never been a more overt summation of 40k, no one story can begin or end the events at large; it can only exist in their shadows.

 

Must Read

ANR: 144,000 / teehee.gif 


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#33
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I'm likely to nip onto a re-read of Matt Farrer's "Junktion" at some point soon, one of the finest (from memory) low key stories 40k has. About as polar opposite to "Draco" as is possible, yet still infused with an absurd madness that presents an almost seemlessly identical 40k.

Or at least that's my memory of it. The Necromunda books excel in that regard. Hopefully it'll stand up to a re-read.

Pure 40k, but in the absence of almost any 40k stock.


Edited by Chaplain Dosjetka, 24 February 2019 - 03:00 PM.
AoS is not B&C-relevant.

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#34
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I'm hoping to find the time to dig into Space Hulk's Sin of Damnation novella sometime soon, though I'll probably give the other new novellas a bash before it. Has anybody read Sin of Damnation back in the day when it originally released?


Edited by Chaplain Dosjetka, 24 February 2019 - 03:01 PM.
AoS is not B&C-relevant.

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#35
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Fulgrim - Graham Mcneill

 

Well, that was disappointing. Certainly it wasn't bad, I just remember liking it so much more on that first read. The highlights are certainly still there, the cast is wide but fairly memorable, the remembrancer plot is very compelling, and Mcneill is never afraid to get disgusting, which I appreciate in light of some of the setting's more recent, toothless grossness (You sure do have a lot of PC infection on display there, Nurgle). All that said, the amount of "tell, don't show" on display here is kind of astounding. Everything is "legendary," most characters don't display half the characteristics they are purported to have, and the astartes dialogue is very overwrought. The pacing, too, is all over the place, and Mcneill seems more interested in writing set pieces than character work. Unfortunately, this is a book about the erosion of a legion's character, so it isn't the best mix. And dang Fulgrim, you have more of a hair-trigger temper than Ferrus. Overall, still a positive read, the remembrancer plot really is tragic (and is composed of better prose, somehow), the Iron Hands are actually pretty likable, and Maraviglia is still a treat, but it's marred by a strange lack of focus.

 

To Taste

ANR: 6/10


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#36
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Descent of Angels - Mitchell Scanlon

 

Not a fan. Now, before someone flies in here and decapitates me, it's not because it's a "side story", or that it "doesn't advance the plot." Those who actually pay attention to my whinging are familiar with my outlook on the Heresy know I prefer the wide, micro-setting format over an actual series format. I was kind of looking forward to the origins of some of the 1st's knightly traditions, and the book certainly attempted that. I mean, it's got the stuff I come for, legion culture, long philosophical conversation, complex relationships with the primarch. It's just that none of it is really very interesting. The knightly order stuff is more than a little shallow, it brought to mind that mandatory middle school book, Crispin. And I do not wish to be reminded of Crispin. The long conversations don't really go anywhere, and fail to impart any societal philosophy especially unique to the medieval, or to the far future. The Lion is less mysterious and more indistinct, and Zahariel suffers from bland-YA-protagonist syndrome. It's not a total loss, and doesn't really stack up any worse than Eisenstein for me. The core cast is all recognizable, the fight scenes don't overstay their welcome, the attempts at non-verbal foreshadowing are at least commendable, and the Saroshi are actually pretty creepy. Passable, but no loss on a skip, which is more than a little unfortunate.

 

ANR: 5/10,

Diehards Only


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#37
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I need a reread of this one, but my memory is of liking most of the Caliban stuff well enough, but thinking the ending with the compliance action and Luther getting sent home was rushed in there and should have been left for another book.


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#38
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I’ve been rereading/catching up on Gaunt’s Ghosts and some of the Heresy books. I was going to do a complete read through of the Heresy, but that’s just too much time and effort put into reading books I like but don’t love. So I’m going with Abnett, ADB, French, Wraight, and Haley’s works in the series, along with a few of McNeill’s. Read the first 30 books years ago so I should be fine to skip what I don’t want to read.

Horus Rising: Must buy 9.5/10

Spoiler


Legion: Must Buy 9.5/10

Spoiler


Straight Silver: Must Buy 8.5/10

Spoiler

Edited by cheywood, 09 December 2018 - 02:24 PM.

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#39
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Sons of the Forge - Nick Kyme

 

Not terrible, to my surprise. I mean it's not something I'd re-read, but I thought it was worth the time. Kyme has improved so much since Promethean Sun it's kind of astounding, even if he still isn't my cup of tea. All said, the prose is just passable (and tended toward making things overlong), the story meandering, and I wouldn't call the portrayal of the legions on display anything exceptional. But the characters were identifiable, there were a lot of interesting ideas on display, and I do like Kyme's attempts to explore what PTSD means for an astartes, which seems to be the real theme of this one. If I had to describe Kyme's more recent efforts, it would be something to the effect of "like the Star Wars Prequels," with all the pros and cons that carries. Also, I like Iron Hands, so sue me.

 

ANR: 5/10

Only a traitor deals in absolutes


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#40
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A Thousand Sons - Graham Mcneill

 

Mcneill's magnum opus, by most accounts. While not quite as strong as I remember it being, it's still damn good and my favorite of his works (at present). It's fairly light on Mcneill-isms (though they linger, just more spread out and less anvilicious), and the writing style is quite subdued compared to Fulgrim, but doesn't lose any of the flare the guy brings to his action scenes. The whole novel reads like an exercise in well-used restraint from an author that usually seems to have none. The action is good and generally meaningful, the characters are sympathetic despite some truly colossal arrogance, and the tragedy feels genuinely sad. The only thing that doesn't strike me as a straight-up improvement over Fulgrim is the remembrancer plot, they just weren't as interesting as Ostian and Serena. Otherwise, great stuff, though even at his best Mcneill for me never reaches the heights of depth or nuance that some of his peers manage regularly.

 

ANR: 8/10

Must Read


Edited by Roomsky, 22 December 2018 - 06:25 AM.

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#41
mc warhammer

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@roomsky. dang, agreed with each review almost point for point

@fedor. agreed that eidolon in HR was lacking, but that book still has the best and most interesting depiction of lucius ever. i wish more of that had found its way into GiF
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can't touch this
can't touch this
can't touch this
warhammer time!
 

#42
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So I'm trying to read Tyrant Of The Hollow Worlds, but I just can't keep reading once I get into the part regarding Huron's "Galleons". Something just rubs me the wrong way, possibly the fact that the author is attempting to make them seem like "Piratey" pirates, if that makes sense. So far it's like 5/10 for me
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#43
Urauloth

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anvilicious

 

Is this a Canada-ism I've never come across before, or does McNeill have some particular relationship to anvils I hadn't noticed..?


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Til vind skal du bli

#44
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anvilicious

 

Is this a Canada-ism I've never come across before, or does McNeill have some particular relationship to anvils I hadn't noticed..?

 

 

https://tvtropes.org...ain/Anvilicious

 

It's mostly a giant nerd-ism, though I've heard it used a few times in conversation. 


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#45
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Necropolis - Dan Abnett

 

Now that's what I'm fething talking about. After finding First and Only a pretty big disappointment, and dismissing Ghostmaker as not terribly worth reading, Necropolis swoops in with a massive quality boost, and I totally understand why people love this series. I'm not really into books centred around battles (rather, I prefer books about a personal journey that happens to feature a battle), but despite it running opposite to my preferences it was still a damn good read, made even more impressive that sleepwalking through the previous entries didn't leave me feeling I was missing anything here. The character work, the action, the pacing, it all stands great on its own even, I dare say, if it's one`s entry point into the series. I often hear criticisms of Dan wrapping things up too quickly, but I think it fits well with the fragility of his characters. Gaunt kills Asphodel, I don't need an overlong fakeout of his death, nor was I interested in how everyone escaped the Spike. It was climax, and then an explanation of the war's wrap-up. Pretty perfect, for my own tastes.

 

Must Read

ANR: 8/10 - only because its not my favorite sub-genre. Lovers of Guard books may bump it up a point or 2.


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#46
Commander Dawnstar

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Can't help but notice a distinct lack of Xenos novels here. Time to start slowly addressing that.

 

Jain Zar, The Storm of Silence - Gav Thorpe

 

I’m not at all well-read when it comes to the Eldar. Indeed the only Eldar-centric novels I had read before Jain Zar were the Path of the Dark Eldar series and some of its spin-offs. Nonetheless Jain Zar is a story I found very easy to pick up and one that surprised me with how far it went to flesh out my understanding of the Craftworlders and their character. Haley has absolutely packed this book with just about everything he could reasonably fit in here, running the gamut of locales and peoples across two storylines separated by millennia, and somehow it all works. This honestly feels like the first Black Library book I’ve read for some time where I’ve wanted to reread it for genuine enjoyment rather than to try and get my head around something that just didn’t make sense the first time.

 

This is a story more about the journey than its final destination and it provides a sightseeing tour that moves at a brisk enough pace that nothing overstays its welcome. Despite presenting two storylines millennia apart and working with a cast of immortals, Commorrites, Corsairs and more, Zain Jar was never difficult to follow and everything felt like it had a purpose. I doubt it’s truly one of the best things to come out of the Black Library, but it’s definitely one of the better books I’ve read from them. It’s certainly succeeded at piquing my interest in a faction that I’ve always found a little boring really.
 

To Taste - if you don't like the Eldar then it probably won't do anything to change your mind.

ANR: 9/10

 

Shadowsun, the Last of Kiru’s Line – Braden Campbell

 

This is one of those weird stories that functionally exists outside of continuity because it tells a story which has no bearing on the protagonist’s characterisation elsewhere. It feels like one of those occasions when an author is given free reign to flesh out an under-developed character and ends up making decisions which are ignored wholesale by the higher-ups, with themes established here that could have gone on to inform Shadowsun’s character at a later date being totally discarded. That’s no great loss though as Campbell doesn’t really seem to understand Shadowsun or the T’au in general.

 

The Last of Kiru’s Line is a novella about T’au who don’t fight like T’au, a master of Kauyon who never practices guerilla warfare when stuck behind enemy lines, and focuses on themes that feel almost antithetical to the T’au as we know them now. It’s not completely and utterly awful but it definitely feels like an early take on the character and culture far better left forgotten.

 

Diehards only - if you care about uncovering some new T’au words and probably non-canon cultural policies. It also contains perhaps the only appearance by Aun'Va in which he doesn't come across as a self-serving villain, so that's sort of nice.

ANR: 3/10

 

A Sanctuary of Wyrms – Peter Fehervari

 

A Sanctuary of Wyrms is a short story that takes some stock story and character tropes and does just about enough to make them interesting. None of its story beats are really surprising and some of the characters are nigh one-dimensional, but there’s still something intriguing in seeing the T’au pick through Imperial ruins and come face to face with a threat they don’t full understand. It’s certainly helped by Fehervari’s unique (for the T'au) approach to characterisation, worldbuilding and the decision to throw together a team of different Castes to show how their varying humours and damage pull them in different directions. More screen time for Jhi’kaara (Fire Caste, Out Caste) is also welcome.
 

To Taste - it’s a harmless enough short story in the same vein as Fehervari’s other T’au works. A decent read but hardly unmissable.

ANR: 6.5/10


Edited by Commander Dawnstar, 31 December 2018 - 09:17 AM.

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Formerly Brightstar; now with 100% more open Xenos sympathies. Also heresy.

 

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#47
Xisor

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Gav Thorpe wrote Jain Zar, Guy Haley wrote Valedor ;)

#48
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You're absolutely right. I keep getting those two confused and didn't bother to check despite the book being just on the other side of the room.


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#49
Roomsky

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Quality

 

 

Some nice reviews here. I remember reading the Tau LotDM book quite a while ago (too long to leave an actual review), but I remember it basically being dross besides the Fehervari stuff. The Last of Kiru's Line review lines up fairly well with what I remember, though I'm no expert on the faction. I'm sort of hoping Fehervari gets another mini-omnibus like his Spiral Dawn stuff to collect his Tau works, I'd really like Fire and Ice on my shelf, I remember it being awesome.

 

The Emperor's Gift - Aaron Dembski-Bowden

 

Wow, a book by Aaron is great, who could have foreseen this turn of events. The pacing and balance of action and intrigue is near flawless, in my honest opinion. No unnecessary battles, no droning battle reports, no dull grinding warfare. It tells the story of what's happening to our protagonists, and it tells the story of the first War of Armageddon (again, not necessarily describing the war, but telling its story). I wish more authors would take this approach, because I'd enjoy most BL books I pick up a helluva lot more that way. Do I need to go into detail about all the things Aaron gets right again? Read it, it's some really excellent work.

 

Now, I will say that this may be the root of the (incorrect) "Aaron's protagonist dynamic is always Awkward Marine Guy + Spunky Waifu" meme. Jarlsdottyr is a fun character but is the only instance I can recall where I could accuse Aaron of using the male gaze. An uncommon amount of attention is given over to her hotness is all I'm saying, especially from Hyperion who more than once points out that he's incapable of sexuality. That said, it's a very negligible headscratcher against a whole load of awesome, and probably won't even bother some readers.

 

Must Read

ANR: 9/10


Edited by Roomsky, 31 December 2018 - 05:34 PM.

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#50
Rob P

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Mephiston: Blood of Sanguinius

 

I found this book quite difficult.

Firstly, the characters are a little flat. Secondly, the prologue gives too much away. And, thirdly, it has waves of exciting bits and duller bits. Nothing terribly important or engaging happens until about 40% in.

If you do have a decent grasp of 40k lore prepare for a book which has a rather interesting and edgey take on Mephiston which doesn't quite fit with the more unified approach that we have seen more recently from BL regarding lore. For such a big chapter and a big character it appears that there has been editorial restraint in the potrayal of Mephiston and the Blood Angels generally which is somehow both very 90s but rather refreshing at the same time.

I've given it three starts rather than lower because the author has done something which many BL authors fail to do and he's made the action scenes interesting. He carefully weaves the culmination of plot points and reveals into the action so that you feel hooked. The visuals are really well done which pulls you in. The villains were almost interesting. They had infinitely more potential in the prologue than appeared later.

Overall the book was average because it was brought down by the points mentioned toward the beginning of this review. I enjoyed what I enjoyed but it can be sidestepped without missing too much.

 

3/5

 

Essential (probably) to a BA fan - but, otherwise, skip


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