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on 19 June 2017
I read the book on holiday and found the hours go so quickly... It was written as your where acutely fighting the orks with the gunheads and felt the pain when his fellow gunheads where murdered by the orks.....
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on 27 July 2009
In Steve Parker's short story "Mercy Run," anthologized in the Warhammer 40,000 collection entitled "Planetkill," we meet Sergeant Wulfe of the Cadian 81st Armoured Regiment and the crew of the "Last Rites," his Leman Russ tank. Wulfe is a cross between Humphrey Bogart in the World War II film "Sahara" and Marvel Comics' Sergeant Fury of The Howling Commandos. He is a tough and savvy veteran, who in many instances knows more than the officers who command him.

In "Mercy Run," Wulfe escorts sisters of Sororitas to save Captain Waltur Kurdheim before Orks destroy Palmeros; however, as in all 40K novels, the Sororitas' agenda is more sinister and treacherous than immediately apparent.

Time clicks ponderously away as three tanks and the Sisters' Chimera rush across the world in panic. Death awaits them at every corner. The story is a nail biter to the final page and its end sets up the premise of the novel, "Gunheads."

In "Gunheads" Sergeant Wulfe has a new tank; he is haunted by a psychic vision, and he has a new nemesis, one corporal Lenck. This time out the 81st Cadian Armoured is dropped onto Golgotha, a death world inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Orks. Their mission is to retrieve the "Fortress of Arrogance," a battle tank that belonged to Commissar Yarrick, hero of Hades Hive. Yarrick is an Ork fighter extraordinaire and, in fact, is one of the only humans to master the Ork language.

Once again unscrupulous men and machines manipulate the Imperial Guard to achieve their ruthless ambitions. In "Gunheads," the Adeptus Mechanicus deceives both the Imperial Guard and Yarrick by dangling Yarrick's massive baneblade tank and glory before their eyes.

To achieve the retrieval of the legendary and sacred tank the Adeptus Mechanicus choose General Mohamar Antonius deVries, Supreme Commander, 18th Army Group Exolon. Imagine Henry Fonda, playing Lt. Colonel Owen Thursday in John Ford's "Fort Apache" and you will understand deVries' motivation and madness. Both men are looking for glory and they are both willing to sacrifice the lives of their men on the battlefield to get it. It is in this dynamic that Steve Parker excels. He captures the rigid, unforgiving organization of the Imperial Guard and the vagaries of the military life of the rank and file.

This ability to capture the day to day life of the military is Parker's strong suit (just as it was Ford's). However, we also know that as soon as he sets his pieces on the board of battle there will be blood.

In the case of "Gunheads," the playing field itself is dangerous. Golgotha soon begins to devour the men sent there. It is red planet, devoid of water and plants. The only life forms are poisonous and ultimately fatal to the guard. Expect good friends to die.

Additionally, just as Thursday in "Fort Apache" goes against the Sioux Nation with a pitifully small force, so too do the Imperial Guard, when they encounter the hundreds of thousand Orks inhabiting the planet. It is immediately evident to the rank and file that the guard is on a suicide mission.

"Gunheads" contains numerous set pieces of thrilling military science fiction. These scenes are the ones that make your scalp tingle. A primary example is at the beginning the novel when Colonel Tidor Storm and his 98th Mechanized Infantry Regiment find themselves surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Orks. Parker movingly describes the pathos of battle and captures the beauty of the futile gesture. That early battle scene is just one of many but it is fine piece of writing that immediately hooks the reader.

But let's not forget that this is a Warhammer novel so there must be treachery, deception, and evil. In this regard, Parker creates two stories: on a larger scale there is the deception of the Adeptus Mechanicus but on a smaller level there is the personal struggle between the luciferian Lenck and our protagonist, Wulfe. Lenck is an opportunist and a barracks rat. Wulfe immediately sizes him up and conflates Lenck with a past nemesis. Bad feelings and suspicions abound until the two clash in a final violent struggle for survival.

In concluding I want to note Parker's rendition of the Orks. Frankly, his description of the greenskins is one of the best in the Warhammer mythos (As a side note Chris Roberson has also created a realistic view in his short-story "Gauntlet Run"). In looking at Parker's oeuvre (yes I said oeuvre) to date, Orks appear again and again. They are the xeno foes of "Rebel Winter," "Head Hunted," "Mercy Run," "Gunheads," and I suspect in the forthcoming "Rynn's World."

Parker seems to be slowly sussing out the inner workings of the green brutes and in a sense I see him ultimately embracing them in the same way that Abnett has fleshed out and made real the "Blood Pact" in his Gaunt's Ghosts series.

All in all "Gunheads" is a satisfying novel with brilliantly drawn characters that convincingly present us with a dynamic rendition of military life in the far Gothic future of Warhammer 40K.

Wulfe is a strong character that could carry his own series. Let's hope we see more of him and the Orks.
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on 22 March 2009
Just finished reading this yesterday. Probably in my top three Warhammer 40k books of all time. Lots of action, great characters, fast pace, good writing. One criticism. Parker finishes the story off well, but leaves a secondary few threads that I would have liked to see tied up neatly. He's probably planning a sequel, I think. Anyway, I found this book and Rebel Winter (his previous novel) smoother reads than a lot of other 40k books.

If a sequel to either Gunheads or Rebel Winter does come out, I'll get it. I like Parker's writing so far and I hope his next book is up to the same standard as his first two.
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on 18 March 2009
This is by far my favorite GW book in a long while and enjoyed it as much as my all time favorite Storm of Iron. The action scenes are well written the charicters interesting and enjoyable to read..

Anyone who enjoys reading about the Imperial Guard will love this book its everything that you could want with mass Infantry and Tank battles and a grand mission to save the mighty Fortress of Arrogance from the savage Ork hoards.
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VINE VOICEon 28 August 2010
Almost four decades ago the Imperial Guard were forced to retreat from the planet of Golgotha after a massive defeat at the hands of Ghazghkul Mag Uruk Thraka and were forced to abandon a large amount of equipment including the Fortress of Arrogance, the personal Baneblade of the legendary Commissar Yarrick. Now, with massive Ork forces invading Armageddon a task force has been dispatched to retrieve the famous tank for use against Thraka once again, at any cost.

`Gunheads' was an enjoyable read and was much better than the previous book by the author `Rebel Winter'. The book was well written with some very nicely detailed battle scenes that get across the role of tanks in an Imperial Guard army quite well. The book also has some nice scenes which show the effects of the hostile environment of Golgotha and the everyday struggle of the Guard on campaign.

The book does have a few problems which caused it to lose a star though. First, many of the characters are rather clichéd and while there are a couple of interesting ones here and there, most are rather bland. Another problem is that the subplot with the Adeptus Mechanicus having their own secret agenda is an incredibly overused and unoriginal one, although at least it didn't involve the Necrons this time but that is only a small improvement. The final problem though is that anyone who has read the entry for the Fortress of Arrogance in the `Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse' rulebook will have a good idea of how the story will end, which does kill the tension somewhat.

With the exception of these problems though it was still an enjoyable read which should be on the must read list for any Imperial Guard player.
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on 23 November 2009
I felt Steve Parker's previous book, "Rebel Winter" was a good, solid read. However "Gunheads" is a different beast all together. I was absolutely delighted by the quality of the work. The characters so real you feel you've met them, and the action is gritty and relistic.

To summarize, this is one of the best books in the Black Library collection bar none. It ranks right up there with the Eisenhorn trilogy and some of the better Gaunt's Ghosts books.

Does that seem excessive? No, this book is really that good. Buy it.
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on 14 March 2009
following on the story of wulfe and his last rites leman russ from the planetkill anthology, this was a surprisingly good read. lots of running tank battles and lots of cadian action.

i prefer the guard to the marines because there's a lot more humanity involved and wulfe is definitely a well written character. parker has done a good job of creating a good mix of supporting chracters and the novel does a good attempt at showing the story from several viewpoints.

as the title suggests, this book involves a lot of pitched armour battles and so infantry fans should take note, it's not as good as the gaunts ghosts series by dan abnett but this second book from steve parker (i think his first was rebel winter) is well worth a look

if the typical black library ending hadn't been involved this might have got 4 stars, as it stands it's one of the better imperial guard novels
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