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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2013
I found this to be broadly speaking a simple, but enjoyable 40K novel. It splits it's focus between the investigations conducted by two Inquisition agents on a bleak mining planet, and the training and later deployment of a newly constituted Deathwatch Kill-team.

Though I did like the Inquisitorial agents as characters, both being distinct and interesting, the investigation sections suffered somewhat due to the central mystery (ie what was happening on Chiaro) being glaringly obvious to me as an old 40K hand almost from page one of those parts of the book. Which was a shame. It's one thing for characters not to spot clues, due to arguably not knowing as much as a reader, but the author tries to tease the reader several times with this mystery - that is no mystery. It just doesn't work.

The gathering of the new Deathwatch recruits and their training is also a bit patchy in my opinion. The 21st century style military acronyms, used here and there during the training sections, actually felt somewhat out of place for Space Marines to me. Also I think the training was too long, it taking about two thirds of the book before the kill-team were actually sent into action.

On the other hand, the members of the kill-team are all well drawn and unique feeling Space Marines, each with a clearly recognisable and consistent character. The author makes full use of obscure Astartes Chapters, and the tensions between many of them. The Deathwatch itself is also described well, with the author having clearly used the Deathwatch RPG books for reference material, though I think the stealth/covert side of the DW's remit is somewhat over-stated.

I did also like the sneaky and clearly 'radical' Ordo Xenos Inquisitor 'Sigma', and I look forward to future stories of Karras and his team.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 May 2013
This is another rather good Warhammer 40K book, provided you like the genre, of course. The topic, the Deathwatch made up of the elite of the Space Marines Chapters, is likely to appeal to many since there are similarities with special forces in general, and the SAS in particular. Those that like stories involving the Inquisition, and the devious intrigues of its members, or warfare against terrifying aliens, will also be satisfied: there are plenty of both in this volume.

Again, and as in Baneblade, the plot is not entirely original, with bits and pieces inspired by other volumes and some references to the "Alien" series of films. The growing alien threat to a strategic and largely inhabitable planet sparsely inhabited but full of rare minerals is not exactly original either. You will also see some of the Inquisition's servants at work and this may remind some of Dan Abnett's books. Also, the Death Spectres, the main hero's Space Marine Chapter, its secret and hideous source of power, and the secret and sacrifices that it entails, may also remind some of other deviant Space Marine Chapter stories. There are a few other features that might feel like "cliches" as well throughout the book.

Having mentioned all this, the story is however rather well told, exciting and reads well. A number of scenes are particularly good, such as those involving the Puppeteer, an intelligence agent of the Inquisition who is perhaps one of the most sympathetic characters of the book. The training of the new Deathwatch recruits is also interesting, with their insertion and search and rescue techniques and simulations inspired by current special forces training. The monsters are, of course, suitably horrible, lethal and abominable. The "rescue" mission deep underground along the tunnels of a long abandoned mine delivers just about enough sword and bolter" fighting to satisfy the fans (including myself) while not scarring other types of readers away.

I was a bit less carried away by the end of the story, which I found somewhat implausible, given that the so-called "rescue mission" was more like an elaborate form of suicide. I also was a bit annoyed, just like Baneblade, by the rather clear hints that there will be a sequel. Despite this, I did enjoy reading this book from cover to cover and morning to night non-stop.

Accordingly, and despite my quibbles, I believe it is just about worth four stars (three and a half stars would have been perfect, had this been possible). Not an exceptional title, but nevertheless a rather good one.
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on 11 April 2014
This book turned out to be one of the highlights of Warhammer 40k fiction last year, in my opinion. The author does a great job infusing the characters with a sense of personality, history and intrigue. I genuinely want to know more about them and see where their loyalties, agendas and circumstances take them next. In many space marine-centric books, the human characters generally suffer from a lack of depth and purpose - not so here, the human characters are every bit as nuanced and pivotal to the dialogue as the astartes protagonists. The author also does a good job of showing and inferring the traits of the space marines via the dialogue and banter that goes on between them. In fact, if I could change one thing about the book it would be to see yet more of this.

The plot itself is well paced, with a good balance between action and plot/character development. In terms of lore, the novel provides uncommon insight into the workings of the mysterious deathwatch, the training of DW astartes and the sinister secrets of the relatively unknown Death Spectres chapter. The novel offers a lot to the new and seasoned 40k reader alike, its certainly a must for anyone with an interest in the chamber militant of the Ordos Xenos. Space marines and the inquisition - a killer combo. Highly recommended.
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on 8 October 2013
I have to admit I found the way that this book was written pretty refreshing, I'm catching up on my 40k books currently so a little sick of the normal routine even though some of my recent reads have been great. So this style reminds me more of an action movie. Various war zones see a deathwatch marine being recruited one at a time whilst in the background there is a great underlying inquisition story unfolding...the story skips between the two then it all comes together. Extremely gripping.
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on 7 October 2013
I've read several of the Warhammer series. This novel was one of the better ones. I particularly like the involvement of the inquisition and I reckon it could have stood an extra chapter to flesh out their dark designs further. The story now has enough loose ends to warrant a sequel - or most likely it would 'spawn' an unholy series of its own. If a sequel appears I'll definitely take it.
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on 26 May 2013
Won't go to much into detail as I'm not an anorak but suffice it to SAY this is a very good read,highly recommended as it gives a very vivid account of the myriad of rivalries between the varies space chapters and you get to see the(dare I say it)human side to being a space marine ie conflicts of jealousy ,loyalty etc
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on 28 June 2013
For any lover of the Warhamnmer 40k Universe, this is a great book, and a wonderful read. Steve Parker writes a great story, and its easy reading. Finally we get some background on the ever feared DeathWatch Space Marines. I loved this book.
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on 18 July 2013
I haven't read much about hte deathwatch apart from some brief appearances in other black library publications so this was a useful and enjoyable story into their operations and history
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on 4 March 2014
Loved every second of it. Highly recommending it to any W40K fan. If you like it, you may also check the short stories Exhumed and Headhunted.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2013
The first two thirds of this book I loved, Steve sets the scene beautifully with the insights into Sigma's Human/Mutant agents on the planet in question, and the relentless training of the Deathwatch was a fantastic read. Whenever Steve mentioned one of the multitude of Chapters at the Deathwatch Fortress he would reference a Chapter quirk or something already established from that Chapter's past that reassured you this was an Auther who knew what he was talking about. The interactions and building of character of his already established Talon squad was all very interesting.

***BEWARE SEVERAL SPOILERS BELOW***

But then the 3rd segment begins and it may as well have been written by a different Author. These Space Marines who have just undergone the most rigerous training of their lives drop into combat and they become a squad of Hollywood rookies! All discipline is completely abandoned, 'the mission' only matters as long as you get to have some fun while you're doing it, smashing your own assets is perfectly reasonable, in the middle of a hostile nest they can't go five seconds without joking at each other, Cryion can't last a couple of hours on guard duty without drifting off and falling asleep, the WTF 'Daemon's did it' epilogue, the "I'll just use my psychic powers to eliminate all of the 2000 Genestealers surrounding me' get out clause was awful. And worst of all...

Aliens. If you have not seen the movie, try watching it just before reading this segment of the book, you could happily believe you are reading a novelisation of the film. Yes I know the original concept of Genestealers came from the first Alien movie, but they have been given a wealth of established lore since then that takes them away from that theme.

Not: Genestealer 'host mothers' who are implanted into fleshy biological walls so that when the Alien (I mean Genestealer) within bursts from her chest and kills her, she can't run away. What happened to the Genestealer DNA rewriting her own, she should feel honoured to have this baby, not be tied up and screaming about it... That he refers to the 'Genestealer kiss' and Hybrids and the mindless worship of the Patriarch (or as he is now solely referred to as: Broodlord) in other parts of the book just makes this all the more confusing.

That is ignoring the other parts lifted from Aliens; the Genestealers all backing away when he threatens one of their young, the implanted woman waking up and looking at them as they find her stuck in the wall, the Patriarch (I mean Queen, no I mean Broodlord) appearing dead halfway, then coming back at the last minute to grab Ripley (I mean Tarros)'s leg. The burning of the 'birthing chambers'. The fact that the woman was implanted with a "special Genestealer" (read Queen like Ripley in Alien 3). It was just horribly predictable, I'm surprised he didn't give them acid for blood and be done with it.

So the 2 stars is for the first part of the book, the awful 'climactic ending' doesn't warrant any more than that. Very disappointing for what started out so great.
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