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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 28 November 2013
When I began reading his book I started to like it. This is because there were a number of features that made it somewhat original and different from previous instalments in the lengthening HH series.

One is that this book is very much about Vulkan, Primarch of the Salamanders, and one of the only ones that had not yet taken centre stage in one of the series' volumes. The other one is the Khân, but from what I understand, he and his Legion will be covered in another volume to be published in 2014.

Another original feature is the use of the first person for many of the scenes with Vulkan, and all of the scenes when he is a prisoner. At least part of the interest in having Vulkan tell the story in the first person is that it allows Nick Kyme to present us with the Primarch's inner thoughts, and his personality more generally. It also helps in presenting the essential ambivalence that lies at the heart of even "good Primarchs". While they may be human, and even at times almost compassionate as is the case here for Vulkan (and was the case for Sanguinius in a previous volume in the HH series), they are also generals and can become, at least at times, ruthless killers.

Then there is the opposition that runs across the whole book between the "good" Primarch - Vulkan - and the "bad" one - Konrad Curze, who is full of self-loathing and hate, and has become sadistic and rather insane. The contrasts, but also the similarities, between the two characters are quite fascinating and well done. The opposition between the two, however, dragged on for much too long. By the time it ended, I had become almost bored. A couple of interesting features were the introduction of both Mannus Ferrus and Corax into the dialogues and oppositions between Vulkan and Curze. A less credible one was Vulkan's escape from his prison.

As mentioned by another review on the UK site, this book does very little, if anything at all, to advance the HH story. You also get treated, once again, to the traitorous massacre on Isstvan V (which I have now read about five or six times!), with the story being this time told in length from the perspective of the Salamanders and their Primarch. Although still interesting, I could not help a sense of "déjà vu" which tended to get mildly annoying at times. This piece was clearly anything but original. The same themes that have already been "flogged to death" by other authors in previous volumes are served half-warmed up and yet again: the fight of "brother against brother", the shock of betrayal, the utter rage that follows it, the massacre on a huge scale, etc...

One of the most interesting pieces in my view is the story of the bunch of loyalist legionary survivors, from the three legions mostly destroyed at Isstvan V. Despite have been so much battered, they decide to keep up the fight against the rebels with a mixture of revenge and despair since they are entirely on their own and, in the case of the Salamanders, wonder whether - and very much hope that - their Primarch is alive, without really believing that this could be the case. The "Iron Hands", of course, have no such doubts. They know that their Primarch has died on Isstvan and may even have seen him fall.

As in "Know no Fear", we again get to meet John Grammaticus, as mysterious as ever, and an agent of an even more mysterious employer to conduct a still more mysterious mission which, of course, can only be crucial for the fate of the whole galaxy. Needless to say, I did not "buy in" to this piece which felt contrived, only told part of the story, and largely assumed that you had already read all of the 25 previous instalments and remembered every fleeting allusion to this character and his manipulative employers.

Then there is the end of the story and I did not very much appreciate this bit either. In fact, I had the feeling that the author cut the story short and in a rather abrupt way because he was getting close to his page quota. While I will avoid spoilers, as I have tried to up to now, I was left more than a little confused with what happens to the little band of surviving loyal legionaries but, most of all, with what happens to Vulkan. Does Vulkan live once the story ends, or not? I could not quite make up my mind. Maybe you will be more successful than I was once you reach the end of the book.

To conclude, this is a story that started rather well, and then it fizzled out and got bogged down for a long time before ending in a rather abrupt and confusing way. While not a "bad" read, it was, for me at least, not a fully satisfying one. Three stars.
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on 4 September 2014
I found it an okay read, but I was left feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

Sadly, the book's primary POV character, Vulcan, spends much of the book in 'same scene, different location' syndrome. A prisoner of Konrad Curze, he moves between several different locations which all repeat the same pattern: Vulcan's inner monologue, trying not to lose his mind, and Curze being nihilistic to the point of being two dimensional. Things get intriguing between the two characters in their final scene, but by that point the book is in the final chapter.

I found myself comparing the novel to "Fulgrim", in which the character arc felt much more satisfying. Vulcan's story feels comparatively static. The novel felt like: "Vulcan lives. He's over here. He's not really doing much."

*character description spoilerish thing here* I was initially elated on the discovery that one of the characters was revealed to be John Grammaticus, previously in the "Legion" novel. But was then disappointed at how underutilized he was in the story. Within Legion, we're treated frequently to his inner-thoughts and occasional bravado, looking to "live a little before I die". But within this novel he's generally just shepherded from place to place by the Space Marines, without becoming integrated into the story. With a confusing sub-plot about something his witnessed once as a boy. I feel this was an excellent character, mishandled. Had he stayed apart from Astartes, following his own agenda, it could have been better.

But lastly, a gem of a character turned up in the form of 'The Huntsman', Barthusa Narek. A Word Bearer marine with a disdain for the zealotry of his legion, and a suggested reverence for The Emperor's divinity that borderlines being a Loyalist on the wrong side. But his conclusion isn't so much a cliffhanger as, "oh he's wandered over here to do a thing". It's an interesting thing, sure, but his character arc felt like it stopped two thirds in. But I'm hoping to see this character in the future.
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on 1 June 2014
Yes its okay but, as with recent books in the series, it doesn't move the heresy along. I felt that it was more a case of "here's a legion we haven't used before so let's give them a book" rather than " let's move the story on a bit". In a way its just a money making exercise as the story gets extended more and more by average books.
The early books were much more enjoyable and better paced but now its all a bit bogged down.
That said, Kyme is a decent writer and he moves the story along at a decent pace. Not great not awful just average overall.
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on 2 February 2015
I have beem an avid fan of the Horus Heresy series since the first book, but was beginning to become jaded as it seemed the writers were not trying and the last few books were a chore to get through. Nick Kyme has written a story that I could not put down and rejuvenated my love of this series.

The story of Vulkan is gripping, his contest with Cruze had me hooked. The other story (which I will not go into so as not to ruin the story) was an excellent back story to the Salamanders and the description of the drop site massacre is something I have been waiting for since I got into Warhammer 40k as a teenager.

Superbly written and I will be ordering Kyme's other books I was so impressed with this one.
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on 27 September 2017
I felt that this would have been much better as two short short-stories. I will avoid spoilers but the plot threads were not connected and there seemed to me to be too much padding that interrupted the flow of the main arcs. I was frequently bored and kept wanting to scream "get to the point".
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on 6 December 2013
I only bought this novel as it was related to the Horus heresy series.
What a surprise it was to read, Nick Kyme has really matured as an author after the second chapter I was hooked, and will now include him on my list of favourite authors.
I will not ruin the plot for other readers but any ardent Warhammer 40k fan who wishes to understand The Salamander Space Marines and their fight for existence in the universe would be well-advised to read this novel
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on 6 August 2017
A must for all who are interested in the workings of the mind of the Nightlords Primarch. Also Vulcan is now my favorite Primarch!
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on 2 August 2015
Been waiting to get chance to read this one for a while now, after finally getting round to it I can say I'm not disappointed. Loved the portrayal of Vulkan and Cruze. Loved reading about the salamanders legion and enjoyed the furthering of john Gramaticus story from the legion book. Look forward to reading the continued story of Vulkan
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on 19 July 2017
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on 17 February 2015
I was very disappointed in this book. It was a real grind from start to finish. In some places it was such a slog to get through, with only a few good parts throughout the whole thing.
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