So I've finally gone through Glory Imperialis Omnibus, and seeing that I couldn't find more than a few reviews of either book itself or its content I decided to write this "review". This, and well it's a decent enough way to practice my English.
I'll try to be brief, nobody likes the wall of text. And I'll focus on novels alone.
Inside Glory Imperialis we can find 3 novels. These are in order:
Imperial Glory by Richard Williams
Commissar by Andy Hoare
Iron Guard by Mark Clapham
The Omnibus has a really strong opening. Right of the bat, we are treated with the best novel out of the three and perhaps one of the finest stories published by Black Library. I'm not joking. I can't remember any other book that I've finished in one single sitting. It's that good. It features a large strong ensemble cast. Each character feels like a person and even those who have a brief appearance are memorable (Ducky! Marbles!).
What's more important is that the author avoided writing characters as an "action hero!" types, and instead focused on more believable (albeit broken) cast of characters. For example, the commissar is written in such a way, that while at first may seem like a cliche, by the end of the story feels nuanced and real. He's sadistic yes, but he's not there executing willy-nilly troopers around him for slightest transgressions. He is a monster but, he is there to do his job - keep morale high, men disciplined and make sure the leadership is in good hands - not leading raiding parties (*cough* *cough* Commissar *cough* *cough*), or taking command.
One of the themes of the novel is how we are shaped by our past, and how our past defines (or not) who we are. Every character in an Imperial Glory reflects that theme in some way. Almost all of them are broken by their past and the events they now participate in forces them to face it.
It's masterfully written tragedy with a little weaker 3rd act, but with the brilliant, satisfying and somewhat divisive epilogue. Must read!
5 BLAMS! out of 5
NEXT Commissar by Andy Hoare.
Reading Commissar right after Imperial Glory was like going to domino, after eating true Italian made pizza in a 5-star restaurant. Yes, it's not horrible, but after such a sublime meal, the next thing leaves you struggling with a gag reflex.
At first, the premise seems really interesting. A veteran commissar is assigned to a freshly formed 77th Vostroyan regiment - his job is to make sure the new Vostroyan 77th won't share the same fate as the old Vostroyan 77th: the utter destruction. But soon after introduction, everything falls apart. 77th is sent to quell a rebellion in a military prison and that is the problem - a bunch of inmates armed with pipes and shotguns are not much of a threat to Vostroyan Firstborn. So the author goes into another direction and focuses on Vostroyan politics and bloodlines. At the same time, the commissar doesn't do much work as a commissar. On the first occasion, he leads the scouting party inside the prison. He acts like Ciaphas Cain minus, all the humour, absurd, comedy, self-awareness and style.
The entire novel feels like unironic Ciaphas Cain propaganda piece. Which is extremely dull and boring. Vostroyan politics could've been the interesting angle but Hoare uses it as an excuse to make the governor the bad guy, and make almost every officer look incompetent so the titular commissar could issue orders. The book is more interested in Heroic Deeds of Commissar Flint! which is the weakest part of the book. Before reading Commissar I was quite indifferent to regiments from Vostroya, but after reading it, I actively dislike them. Thanks, Andy! I rolled my eyes so many times reading that book that I almost could see the back of my skull.
Avoid at all costs.
1 sad BLAM out of 5
NEXT Iron Guard by Mark Clapham
Well, Iron Guard turned out to be great palette cleanser if I could say so. Dark (especially the first half), intense, stylish and with a pinch of humour it is grimdark in one of the best meaning of that word. Reading the novel I was reminiscent of Paul Verhoeven action movies from the '80s. Why? Because Clapham took a straightforward concept and made it nuanced enough that it works on multiple levels. Imperial Guard story? Works as a charm! A horror story? Sweet Emprah' it's fantastic! A story about innocence being lost? I'll be damned it just works.
Iron Guard features the strong ensemble cast (especially certain Lord Commissar who is quite bored, by being assigned to Mordians), a fantastic character arc of the main protagonists and one of the most surprising and amusing appearance of Emperor's Finest. I don't want to talk too much about this novel, it is best experienced fresh. It is entertaining, stylish, interesting and above else very good. A real page-turner in the best meaning of that word(s). Goddamn now I want to start a Mordian army.
5 BLAMS! out of 5
Overall Glory Imperialis is a good deal. 2 great books, and 1 that is not. Recommended.