Baneblade (Warhammer 40000) Paperback – 11 Apr 2013
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About the Author
Guy Haley began his career on SFX Magazine in 1997 before leaving to edit Games Workshop's White Dwarf, followed by SF magazine Death Ray. Since 2009 he has been a wandering writer, working in both magazines and novels. He lives in Somerset with his wife and son, a malamute and an enormous, evil-tempered Norwegian Forest Cat called, ironically, Buddy.
Top customer reviews
I normally skim read prologues as they can be a bit weak but this one is fantastic. As a piece of flash fiction that introduction would stand proudly aloft praising the Omnissiah. It sounds simple and a little boring when I say that it is about the final stages of construction and commissioning of the tank. It is so well done that it sticks with you all the way through the book to the end. There is a sense of synchronicity between the start and the finish which would leave the story unfulfilled without the prelude.
There is a dichotomy that runs through this book. The massive size of the Baneblade and the cramped interior that squeezes the tankers at every move can seem at odds. I've seen my share of tanks and even been lucky enough to climb inside a few of them. The one thing they all have in common through the ages is that they are all cramped and hostile places. Fuel, ammo, electricity and people are not exactly four things I'd fancy having in close proximity for long periods of time. Tankers are a different breed and that come through in a way that helps shape the people and their interactions.
Orks and Imperial Guard always make for a nasty battle of attrition but when you add in Super Heavy Tanks and and Ork Super Heavy Walkers the carnage is greatly increased. Now throw in a powerful Weirdboy building a special walker and things get pretty nasty even for a Baneblade. The tension builds nicely in this book and the final third of this book flew by so fast I barely realized I was near the end. This is a great read and I now want to read one about all the over variants, especially the Shadowsword.
Centred around a (rare for 40K novels) noble-born Imperial Guard tank commander, and his adventures serving aboard a Baneblade super heavy tank in a campaign against Orks on a hostile desert world, the book very effectively captures the claustrophobic atmosphere and punishing grind of tank warfare in the Grimdark Future. The characters are extremely well drawn and plausible, both in their drip-fed background, and in the way they interact and talk to each other. Indeed there are some conversations in this book that I think are more true to real life than almost anything I've read elsewhere in 40K fiction - for example a great little flashback scene where the guilt ridden central character approaches his Guard veteran uncle asking his help to get into the Guard, and the uncle basically says though he's proud of his war record, he wouldn't wish his life on an enemy, let alone his nephew, and then goes on to advise the hero to live out his life at home, serving the God-Emperor in safety and comfort. You just don't get this kind of true to life stuff in most 40K books, but I think if the setting were real this is entirely how people would be.
The descriptions of the interiors of the tanks, especially the massive and ancient Baneblade, are brilliantly done, and the battles are tense and suitably bloody. Characters die, and they are missed, that's a good sign.
On the negative side, the hero is pitched out of the tank rather too often, which is a shame as the tank warfare is well written and exciting, and constantly having the hero running about outside just ends up feeling like any other Imperial Guard story in places. There is one section toward the end in particular, where he ends up befriending a band of mutants, that felt really unnecessary and adds nothing to the story. Also, there is not enough tank on tank action throughout.
On a personal note, I cannot stand Orks. I hate them. They just don't fit the pitch-black themes and atmosphere of good, modern, 40K books. They are way too broadly comedic and absurd, their ridiculous speech and such like jarring me out of the story time after time. Now, I don't hold that against Haley, he's simply writing the Orks as per canon, and indeed does a valiant effort at making them more threatening and 'darker' seeming than normal. It doesn't really work, but he does at least try. It is notable though, that even given the fact Orks are the opposing force in this book, a fact that would normally make me skip the book for another, I nevertheless really enjoyed the story.
Good stuff. A great go-too book for tank warfare in the 40K setting. I am really eager to see what new books Guy Haley comes up with in future.
Most recent customer reviews
Interesting story, well written and provides a decent insight of the inworks of a baneblade / armour decision
Lieutenant Bannick, an noble man from planet Paragon who joins the imperial guard (IG) and is send immediately to the planet Kalidar, as a armoured army...Read more