Most helpful positive review
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Mostly a good read, despite a few « cliches »
on 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.