First of all, Captain Darnath Lysander is NOT "beset by unimaginable horrors and tortured by memories of his time imprisoned by the dark forces of the Iron Warriors", contrary to what the trailer blurb mentions both on Amazon's website and on the book's cover. There is not the slightest mention in the book of his time spent imprisoned by the Iron Warriors.
Then there is the way the story is told: you can expect quite a lot of "bolt porn" with masses of blood and gore as the Imperial forces in general, and the Imperial Fists in particular, fight a rebellion backed by the Ruinous Powers and directed by multiple Chaos warlords, including a traitor Marine of the World Eaters and some witches and sorcerers.
Beneath all this, however, lies something even darker as one branch of the Imperium is using the situation to clean up and get rid of one of its embarrassing mistakes. This piece was one of the most interesting of the story, although the plot is somewhat implausible at times. I had, for instance, some trouble in understanding why it was necessary to wipe out the Inquisitor and his retinue at the beginning of the book.
The Legienstrasse creature that this branch of the Imperium, and the Imperial Fists, once they have been brought into the secret, are all tracking is possibly one of the most interesting characters of the book. Another interesting character is Lady Syncella and her very special talents that allow her to be more than a match for any Space Marine in combat.
As you can expect, the war and fights are to the finish, and the price to pay for a victory of sorts is, as usual, a rather heavy one. This was a rather average Black Library Warhammer 40000 book: certainly no bad, given the genre, but not one of the brilliant ones either.
on 15 September 2013
This book is definitely totally mis-sold - I have no idea how they've come up with the description for it. It's an ok read with some interesting ideas, I like the idea of the overall story whereby there is a plot within a plot and all is not as it appears at the start. But after that its really just a run of the mill 40k novel, nothing here that you couldn't miss. I guess though that this is the start of a whole new series about the Imperial Fists and so hopefully later books will built on the characters in this and improve.
Hmm just ordering the new Space Marine Battles Book ~ Malodrax which is also written by Ben Counter and noticed that the book description is
"Held prisoner for years at the hands of the Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines, Captain Darnath Lysander returns to the world of Malodrax with the Imperial Fists Chapter at his shoulder to exact revenge on his one-time captors. But what bargains did Lysander make to escape the world that had become his gaol? And to what lengths will he go to keep those pacts veiled from his battle brothers?"
Wonder if someone got confused between the two books when writing the description for Seventh Retribution... or worse did the book end up being too long, so they fleshed out the first part and released as Seventh Retribution and then kept the second part as Malodrax. Hmmm.
on 26 October 2013
I had hoped for better but could have been worse.
Its pretty much your standard 40k story line, planet in revolt, renegades, deamons, waves of expenable Guardsmen, throw in some imperial fists, boss fight and move on. Its not badly written, the battle scenes are well handeled and Bens gives live to the forces of the warp giving them his own unique take rather than throwing in standard stock deamons but it just lack focus or any real development.
The blurb talks about a conflict Lysander and his someone dark past which would be a pretty interesting read if it actually featured anywhere in the book, aside from a few throw away lines hinting at Lysanders pact with the forces of chaos we may as well have been reading the adventures of generic space marine captain of any old space marine chapter.
Without going into spoilers there are some nice twists on what the true motivations behind the events on Opis and a big bad that will atleast raise some eyebrows but it does,nt really move this book into being anything above your average 40k romp.
on 22 September 2013
I must agree with the other reviewers. The plot is unlikely and clunky, no mention of Lysander's captivity by the iron warriors, or indeed anything of interest. Do not bother - the Soul Drinker books are MUCH better. It feels like he knocked this out to meet a contract - unworthy of this author.
on 8 September 2013
Having just read Ben Counter's two thought provoking short stories in The Best of Hammer & Bolter Volume 2 I was intrigued to see what he made of an Imperial Fists story. As JPS summarises, it is a mixed report and I do not remember reading a 40K book with some really good sections and ideas in it that nonetheless was dragged so low by significant failings as well - bad books are usually totally bad but this bad book has flashes of high quality.
Firstly, there are a lot of good elements. The Opis social structure and cities are well detailed, believable and form the backdrop of the novel. The Imperial Guard regiments are varied and on the whole interesting. The Imperial Fists include Gorgythion, a Space Marine only happy when piloting a Thunderhawk (or his archaeotech variant, Shadowhawk) which I thought was an original idea. There are some good speeches within and plenty of well described Chaos champions who bring a great deal of menace to the setting. The psyker forced readings of prisoners are in the main very good.
However, the characterisation of Lysander is really weak. He charges from one scene to another bellowing challenges with almost total self belief and no self-reflection. We really get little insight into him at all. As JPS also notes, the 'tortured by memories' blurb on the back of the novel is untrue - if only he had this depth of feeling!
The writing can be haphazard. It can be repetitive ('moral threat' and 'corpse liquor' are used too frequently), confusing (a Vindicator named the Beast of Maldon attacks a Chaos creature resulting in the text stating how the Beast is fighting the beast) and laden with outbreaks of 'bolter porn'.
The plot is completely contrived. The Imperial organisation that has created the issue has acted in what seems to me to be at the edge of canon believably when the sum of all their actions are considered. It also does not make sense, their installations on the planet would have been seen by their adversary and completely given away their scheme. The adversary is ludicrous - it was designed for a niche that could have been filled by an existing alternative and is so heretical in concept that would be unlikely to have been sanctioned either.
The timeline is a mess - the adversary was apparently created a 1,000 years ago and can reproduce, but only begins to do so in this novel without presumably anything new actually enabling this. An escape bid via a warp gate has a 2 hour countdown for the Imperial Fists to thwart it like a tired film cliche. To add to the mess there are summoned creatures with their own inbuilt warp portals who could conceivably have been used too are never considered in this way.
At the conclusion, Lysander (elite First Company Captain) takes it upon itself to send a message vowing revenge upon an extremely powerful Imperial organisation on behalf of the entire Chapter. I suspect this is the remit of his Chapter Master not him and further adds to the implausible tone of the novel.