Thursday, 28 January 2016

Book Review: I Am Slaughter

Games Workshop and Black Library announced at the end of 2015 that there would be a year long event exploring the post Heresy era called "The Beast Arises". As this was an era in 40k lore that hadn't been explored to any great detail, it piqued my interest and bought into it with the first release in December.

I feel that it was an excellent choice to give the first leg of this relay to Dan Abnett, who is an excellent author that has written many classics over his career (check out the Eisenhorn Trilogy that was recently republished if you have never read it before), as his name is an almost guarantee of quality. To give him his due, he doesn't disappoint as he takes us on a two pronged journey to the planet of Ardamantua where the relatively newly formed Chapter of the Imperial Fists are on manoeuvres to eradicate a vermin race called simply "Chromes", and also casts a story of political intrigue on Holy Terra itself.

Being the start of a 12 part epic, it is worth understanding that this story is very much setting the scene for the following 11 parts. The Imperial Fists on Ardamantua are very much the main focus and the Chromes are simply the thing to be attacked, and the story picks up when a mysterious force launches a gravity based attack on the two unsuspecting sides. Only, it really isn't a mysterious force to us, we know this is about a massive WAAAGH! moving towards Terra, the mystery comes in how the Orks are moving and what this huge threat brings.

It's with the Imperial Fists that my largest complaint comes to the fore. They all have "Wall Names", and to me at least, they seem out of character and more towards a Transformer fan fiction. We have the titular "Slaughter" along with "Frenzy", "Heartshot", "Cleaver", "Coldeye", "Bleedout" amongst others. Maybe it's to try and create this less disciplined post-Heresy chapter force that is less about the heavy religious fervour and more about present day army brothers-in-arms, but upon finishing the book, it feels like it was all for a one line pay off in the last chapter.

The Terran side of the story is told from the main viewpoint of the Master of the Officio Assassinorium, Drakan Vangorich, and it was this character that I had the greatest interest in reading about. Without the Emperor to lead them, and the Primarchs either dead or missing, the Council of Terra is leading the Imperium, Vangorich isn't really one of the main players on the council, but being the head of the Assassins gives him a great deal of power, and when he is approached by Inquisitot Weinand to look into the matters regarding the Fists deployment to Ardamantua it starts to suggest that everyone is not playing for the same goal and that there will be heads rolling before the end of it.

The book does a good job of bringing you into the world and painting a picture of the scenario that will unfold throughout 2016 and has certainly ensured that I will be along for the ride. Especially as something happens at the end that is in contrast to what we know of the "present day" 41st Millennium and how that plot line develops is also something that will be interesting to read.

I've already finished Book 2, Predator/Prey, and will be doing a similar book report on that too. But for now, I highly recommend this story as the opening chapter of The Beast Arises with an arbitary score of:

8/10 Chromes.

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