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Title: Salvation’s Reach
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #13
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Following the events of Blood Pact, Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and his Ghosts are returned to active duty, and are given one of their most formidable assignments yet; a mysterious space hulk known as Salvation’s Reach. According to the turncoat Mabbon Etogaur, the Sons of Sek, a breakaway faction within the Blood Pact commanded by the warlord Anakwanar Sek, have secretly been using Salvation’s Reach as an R&D installation; concealing their activities there from all factions, even their overlord, Archon Gaur.
If Sek’s covert operations are brought to light, it will shatter the uneasy alliance between Sek and Gaur, sparking an internal feud that will tip the balance of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade in the favour of the Imperium. The Tanith First – reinforced with additional troops drawn from Verghast and Belladon – and a trio of veteran Space Marines are sent to neutralise the facility at Salvation’s Reach and gather as much intelligence as possible before they destroy it. However, Gaunt must also see to the protection of the incarcerated Mabbon, deal with the malcontents within the Tanith First, and cope with personal issues that he never anticipated.
A sub-plot in Salvation’s Reach follows Doc Dorden’s battle against terminal cancer, and his determination to serve the Tanith First until the very end. Another sub-plot explores the relationship between Captain Ban Daur and his new partner, Elodie. Through the latter, readers are granted an insight into the lives of the wives and other civilians that follow Imperial Guard regiments around the galaxy. The novel also features the appearance of Brother Kater Holofurnace of the Iron Snakes, a Chapter of Space Marines that previously appeared in Abnett’s novel, Brotherhood of the Snake.
I knocked this down half a star because there were some space battle’y scenes and I just don’t care for spaceships slugging it. It wasn’t bad or anything, I just like groundpounder action.
There’s a lot of “hinted at” threats that I sometimes wonder if anyone is going to survive. The rot within the Ghosts, which is typical for most of the armies of man, is really revealed here. It makes you realize WHY the Commissariat exists in the first place and that the Ghost’s have been a pretty exemplary unit. The bad apples are starting to bob to the top though. With this being Warhmmer40k, I half suspect that the entire unit will die by betrayal and fail in a critical mission. That just seems like WH:40K flavor
Dorden dying was no surprise given his cancer. However, it seemed like it was supposed to be poignant or something, like previous characters dying. The problem is, you know people are going to die because this is war and what’s more, this is an ongoing, intergenerational war.The emotional punch has been removed because it is the ordinary, not the extraordinary.
The inclusion of 3 Space Marines (super beings from another age) didn’t do it for me either. They talk a lot about past glory, blah, blah and then toss in how technology has been lost or something for making more of them? I’m not up on my lore, so I don’t see why the Empire can’t churn them out like candy. Even if “something” has been lost, fething find it or rediscover it again! There are hundreds or more of worlds not being assaulted by Chaos, use them for research and development. I am sure the people directing this franchise have taken care of that issue but it wasn’t adequately explained to me at all in this book and just pissed me off with their defeatist attitude.
The fight scenes were what really saved this book for me. The infiltration of the base, finding and disarming boobytraps, then the retreat, it was all in the great groundpounder format that I like.