Traitor General (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts) ★★★☆½

traitorgeneral (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Traitor General
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 105K

Synopsis:

From WH40k.lexicanum.com

Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt is asked to lead a team of guardsmen on an infiltration mission to the planet of Gereon, held by the forces of Chaos in order to eliminate a captured traitor Imperial Officer who holds secrets pertaining to the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Gaunt leads eleven of his regiment to the planet where they are met by Jerome Landerson, a member of the Gereon Resistance. Landerson and the resistance lead the Gereon Twelve across the planet the fortress where the Imperial Officer is being held. Before getting there the team has to deal with chaos garrison soldiers, glyphs and wirewolves as well as the Chaos Space Marine Uexkull. To escape their pursuers Landerson leads Gaunt and his team into the Untill, home of the Partisans, an old rebel force who opposed the Imperial Government centuries ago. The Untill is a large dark swamp filled with poisonous creatures, the most notable of which being a large species of moth. The Tanith and the resistance meet with the Partisans and help defend them from Uexkhull and his squad of Chaos Space Marines. It is through this action that Gaunt is given Eszrah ap Niht, son by his father, the Chief of the Partisans. The Tanith and Resistance then leave the Untill and make for the occupation fortress.

Meanwhile the traitor or pheguth, as it is called by the Chaos forces is being kept prisoner by the forces of Chaos Magister Anakwanar Sek under the command of Mabbon Etogaur. The pheguth is protected by the life-ward Desolane, a sexless beast risen from birth to protect its wards with its life and brutally gruesome martial skills. The pheguth was captured by Chaos forces whilst on an Imperial Transport awaiting trial for desertion. However as the pheguth knew sensitive secrets the Commissariat psykers put a mindlock on him, locking away his memories and identity. The pheguth is then subjected to the prying claws of the Magister Sek’s psykers as they try to peel back the layers of psychic encryption on the pheguth’s mind. The process is excruciating but eventually meets some success. The pheguth remembers that he is in fact Lord General Noches Sturm, leader of the 50th Royal Volpone. Realising that he must of been betrayed by the Imperium and especially Gaunt, he begins to help Mabbon Etogaur form, train and discipline the Sons of Sek, a new chaos army modelled on the Imperial Guard. It is planned that the Sons of Sek will grow to rival the Blood Pact in strength, allowing Magister Sek to challenge Archon Urlock Gaur for leadership of the Chaos forces in the Sabbat Worlds.

Having reached the resistance safehouse near the location of the pheguth Sturm’s location, Gaunt asks Landerson to have the resistance gather their forces so that they may make a strike on the fortress. The resistance does so, getting slaughtered in the process but allowing Gaunt and his strikeforce to slip in to the fortress and fight their way to Sturm’s room. Upon Gaunt and his ghosts entering his room, Sturm finally remembers certain important moments in Vervunhive, concerning his desertion and his dishonourable conduct. Sturm, once again faced by Gaunt, asks once again for the right to commit suicide. Skeptically, Gaunt grants this request, allowing Sturm to finally regain some of his honour through blowing his own head off. Desolane enters the room at this point and is enraged at his charges fate, flying into a fury beating Gaunt and Mkvenner in personal combat, taking three lethal toxin-laden quarrels from Eszrah’s reynbow and is only killed by a close range hotshot from Feygor who uses Larkin’s sniper-pattern lasgun.

My Thoughts:

This was Grimdark, through and through. Yet I enjoyed every page. There is a lot of page time given over to Chaos and how it affects everything. I actually appreciated that, since I don’t play WH40K or have much reading experience. It helped fill in some gaps. Needless to say, Chaos is truly insidious and this book shows just how it warps everything it comes into contact with, even those directly fighting against it. I’ll come back to that.

There are currently 16’ish books in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series but without that knowledge, you’d think this was the last one. With Gaunt and a select few of the Tannith Ghost’s abandoned on a Chaos controlled world at the end of the novel, I don’t see how the story will proceed. I’ve assiduously avoided reading anything about the future books so as not to ruin the surprise of how they get out of this mess, but considering it is a Warhammer40K setting, I don’t imagine it will be easy or pretty. I’m guessing a lot of blood, guts and extremely dirty politics.

Back to the chaos. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m simply not going to learn much about the Emperor or how Anti-Chaos operates (it definitely isn’t Order, that is for sure). Sometimes those opposing Chaos are just as bad and you wonder, why bother to fight Chaos if this is what you’re going to have to deal with in return? The corrupting influence of Chaos is definitely showcased here, as the Resistance on the planet have had to take on the control worms (there is no better description for it) of the enemy simply to move around without being killed. Those worms change them, even in little ways and it is central point for Gaunt and his Ghosts about whether they can be trusted or not. I have a feeling that that idea of Trust and being warped by Chaos will play a bigger role in the upcoming books.

This was a great read for what it is and probably one of the best of the series so far. I’m looking forward to how the author is going to extricate Gaunt and Crew from the Chaos world and reintegrate them back into the larger group of Ghosts.

★★★☆½

Sabbat Martyr (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #7) ★★★☆☆

sabbatmartyr (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Sabbat Martyr
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #7
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 104K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

At the request of the reincarnated Saint Sabbat, the Tanith First-and-Only is summoned to the remote and tactically insignificant world Herodor. The Civitas Beati, a holy city dedicated to the Saint, is under assault from a legion of Blood Pact, led by Enok Innokenti. While the Ghosts prepare to defend the city alongside the local PDF force, Gaunt learns the truth of the situation: the woman posing as the reincarnated Saint is Sanian, an esholi whom the Ghosts encountered on Hagia. Utterly convinced that she is Sabbat, Sanian has clearly lost her mind. Lord-General Lugo – whose career has been unstable since his disgrace at Hagia – plans to use her as propaganda, and does not care that she is an imposter; he believes that he will be forever remembered as the man responsible for a miracle in the Sabbat Worlds. As far as untold thousands of pilgrims, Imperial and archenemy troops are concerned, Sanian is the true Saint.

However, things take a strange turn when Sanian actually does become the host for the Saint’s spirit, after Sabbat’s true incarnation perishes in the assault. Innokenti deploys nine specialist assassins to the Civitas Beati under the cover of the invasion. Their purpose: kill the Saint and shatter the morale of the Imperials. With the Imperial fleet all but destroyed and surrounded by an enemy who has multiple advantages over them, the Ghosts face one of their most daunting challenges yet.

The title Sabbat Martyr is a reference to the psychic message experienced by a number of Ghosts in Honour Guard. Ultimately, it is one of the Ghost’s most beloved leaders who becomes a martyr in Sabbat’s name, as he gives his life defending her from the final assassin.

Sabbat takes down Innokenti and with the death of the Chaos leader, the Chaos forces retreat and are eventually destroyed by reinforcements. Cuu is revealed as the final traitor and is killed. The book ends with one of the Ghosts, who has been getting messages from himself that have saved innumerable lives, being handed over to the Psykers and his final message being “Help Me!”

 

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, I struggled with this book. I had to check to see if it was written by Abnett because the writing just wasn’t zinging along like his previous books in this series. Part of it was there were a couple of space battle scenes and I don’t care two figs for space battles. I don’t dislike them, but it doesn’t draw my attention. However, even the ground pounder action felt almost like it was a gaming scenario from a WH:40K miniatures game instead of a battle in a story.

How magic is treated (I was going to say works, but that’s not accurate) in this universe still baffles me. It is supposedly of Chaos and therefore tainted. But then you have whole Departments of the massive army dealing with the magic, ie, the Psykers, etc. So why don’t they take in everyone with some talent and use them until they become too tainted by Chaos? Why put them “under the question”? Then you have the whole “Emperor Protects” thing, where the people are basically invoking the Emperor to protect them with his magic and you have reincarnated saint like Sabbath. How does that square with everything? All magic can’t be bad, but it is treated like it is.

The body count is pretty high and even with the injection of the Verdegast volunteers from a couple of books ago, the Ghost’s are going to need a fresh dose of people to keep things moving along. At some point though the Tanith Ghosts will lose their identity if that were to keep up. My guess is by the end of the series they’re chewed up to nothing and the few survivors are rolled into other units. We’ll have to wait and see.

Finally, the biggest reason this was dropped half a star is because of the end of Lijah Cuu. That miserable son of a gun has been a cancer within the ranks of the Ghosts and caused so much trouble that his ending should have been appropriately horrific. Instead, he’s dispatched like a rabid dog with just a couple of shots. Bam, he’s dead. No justice for the horror and betrayal he’s committed ever since we met him. That just stuck in my craw and was like vinegar and gall.

Even with all that complaining, I still enjoyed the book enough to continue on with the series. Obviously I won’t enjoy every single book and I guess this one just falls into that “I mostly enjoyed it but didn’t love it” category.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Straight Silver (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #6) ★★★☆½

straightsilver (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Straight Silver
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #6
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 107K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Still under the command of Van Voytz, the Tanith First is deployed as part of the Imperial Expeditionary Force to Aexe Cardinal, where a deadlocked land war has been raging for forty years between the Aexe Alliance (a handful of loyal nation-states) and the Chaos-corrupted Shadik Republic. Warmaster Macaroth insists that the Aexe Alliance is to remain in command of the campaign, with strained success. The Alliance employs methods of warfare considered obsolete and inefficient according to the modern standard tactics of the Imperial Guard.

Gaunt is quickly frustrated with the brutal strategies and lack of reliable intelligence, and disagrees with the deployment of the scout-specialist Ghosts as grunts in the trenches. Van Voytz and Count Golke – the Alliance/Imperial liaison – negotiate with Alliance Command and agree to a compromise: one half of the Tanith First is sent to the northern Montorq forests to scout the area, while the other is redeployed to the Seiberq Pocket – the most dangerous section of the war zone – where they are tasked with infiltrating the Shadik lines and destroying the enemy’s newly developed siege guns.

Straight Silver is the first novel in which the Tanith First does not see a campaign through to its conclusion: after successfully taking out the siege-guns in the Seiberq Pocket and repelling a Blood Pact flanking manoeuvre in the Montorq Forest, the Ghosts are withdrawn from the front lines and redeployed to Herodor.

 

My Thoughts:

Another book in the series that doesn’t disappoint. Action, politics within and without, drama, tension, this is everything I want in a ground pounder sf book.

The story line about Lija Cuu (who is an insane psycho who kills his allies as easily as the enemy) ramps up and Mad Larkin (a sniper who seems to be one of the better guys) pretty much loses it. Larkin is completely intimidated by Cuu though, so I’m not sure that justice for Cuu will come from Larkin. Cuu is definitely set up as the Bad Buy within the Ghosts. He cleverly kills another Ghost this time around and once again it is blamed on the enemy. Cuu makes me want to kill him (which is the whole point of the character, but still…)

The greater political game was good in that it put Gaunt in his place. Not that it was necessarily enjoyable to read about a competent man being over-ruled time and again and watching the bad decisions play out, but it keeps him from becoming a Candidate for Emperor in the reader’s minds. Gaunt is a great commander but he’s not in overall charge and the story does a good job reminding us of that.

While these books are not great tomes of literature, they are still well written, enjoyable and I can see why Abnett has made a name for himself as an author of franchise fiction.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Guns of Tanith (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #5) ★★★☆½

gunsoftanith (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Guns of Tanith
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #5
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 104K

 

Synopsis:

WH40K.Lexicanum.com

In the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, the heretical forces of Chaos are fighting back hard. Dangerously overstretched, their supply lines cut by degenerate enemy troops, the Imperial forces grind to a halt. Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and the Tanith First-and-Only must recapture Phantine, a world rich in promethium but so ruined by pollution that the only way to attack is via a dangerous – and untried – aerial assault. Pitted against deadly opposition and a lethal environment, how can Gaunt and his men possibly survive?

The novel begins with the Tanith First training to take part in the airborne assault on Cirenholm, a dome-city perched above Phantine’s toxic Scald. The archenemy’s elite Blood Pact have captured the city, which the Imperial forces plan to use as a staging ground for their campaign to reclaim Ouranberg, one of Phantine’s largest cities and a major source of promethium. After the Ghosts successfully infiltrate the Blood Pact’s defences and prevent a disastrous loss for the Imperium, Lord-General Van Voytz re-considers his approach on the Ouranberg invasion.

A number of Ghosts are hand-picked to form specialist kill-teams, placed in a regime of additional jump-training and covertly deployed into Ouranberg prior to the invasion. Codenamed Operation Larisel, their mission is to kill Sagittar Slaith; the Chaos commander of the Blood Pact holding Ouranberg. Doing so will break the morale of the Chaos worshippers and enable the Imperial forces to recapture Ouranberg with greater ease. The task is made more daunting with the prospect of thousands of Blood Pact troopers and Loxatl mercenaries standing between them and their target. However, the rest of the Tanith First face their own trials as they await deployment; a great unease is brewing between the Tanith and the Verghastite soldiers, and a crime case involving several Ghosts highlights this divide.

 

My Thoughts:

Something about ground pounding marines in a science fiction setting really does it for me. While the Horus Heresy deals with demi-god levels of warriors, Gaunt’s Ghosts are nothing but baseline humans. The common man fighting the forces of Chaos with gun and sword.

Both invasions, the first being a general free for all with everyone and the second with 4 teams of 4 infiltrating and attempting to assassinate Slaith, are just jam packed with fighting. More fighting than you could shake a Power Sword at!

The little side story about about the divide between the original Tanith and the newly integrated Verghastites keeps things from becoming to fight’y, if you know what I mean. Plus, the whole murder of a civilian and Cuu the bastard incriminating another Ghost added some spice to the story. I have to admit I’m looking forward to Cuu getting his just desserts, hopefully in an appropriately horrible way.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Honour Guard (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4) ★★★☆½

honourguard (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Honour Guard
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

From the Wiki and Me

The Ghosts are sent to the Shrineworld Hagia, religious capital of the Sabbat worlds and homeworld of the revered Saint Sabbat herself, to reclaim the holy world from the clutches of Pater Sin and his so-called Infardi. During their campaign to reclaim the Doctrinopolis – the planet’s central city – Gaunt, who has command of the ground forces, is forced into a trap set in one of the most holy structures in the city. A warp-beacon is activated in the process, and a Chaos fleet advances on Hagia to obliterate the Imperial forces.

With just eighteen days until the fleet (large enough to wipe out the liberation force even if the fleet were a quarter its current size) arrives, Gaunt is given one last chance to redeem himself by the arrogant and pompous Lord-General Lugo: recover the Saint’s remains and holy relics from the Shrinehold in the Sacred Hills for evacuation. The Ghosts are appointed as the honour guard of these relics, and together with units from the Pardus armoured regiments they form a convoy and journey into the mountains. However, much of Sin’s Infardi horde has pulled back into the hills; leaving the Ghosts with no choice but to fight the heretics while at the same time fighting the elements and navigating the unfamiliar terrain.

Several of the wounded, left back in the city, start hearing a voice telling them “Sabbat Martyr” in their heads. They band together and meet Gaunt at the shrine. Turns out they are all needed to activate a secret weapon left by Sabbat to protect her homeworld. The Psychic Weapon is activated and destroys every creature on the planet with the taint of Chaos. It also destroys the chaos beacon and scatters the approaching chaos fleet.

My Thoughts:

As long as you turn off your brain about the super psychic weapon (as in, why aren’t those things being studied and recreated now, instead of lying around for 6000 years), this was a lot of fun to read.

Abnett mixed things up by introducing a whole host of armoured tanks to complement the Ghosts and their being strictly infantry. Not a big mechanized tank fan though, so it didn’t do much for me. I did like that Abnett addresses how taking on new “Ghosts” affects them as a unit.

Gaunt is revealed to be a very religious man, with him venerating, if not worshipping, Saint Sabbat. Since there hasn’t been any of that to date, I wonder if I’ll see any more of it in later books. I highly doubt it however. It came across as more superstition than devotion though. I suspect most of that is because the religious side of Warhammer 40K is some paint on it, not something integral to it like a load bearing beam.

Gaunt gets in trouble with the over-General and while he succeeds at the end of the book, what happens politically wasn’t written about. I suspect that will play a big part in the beginning of the next book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Necropolis (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #3) ★★★☆½

necropolis (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
Necropolis
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #3
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The world of Verghast is comprised of Hive cities, which are great manufactoring cities that enable the Empire to continue its war against Chaos. Rivalries exist however and war between cities is not unknown. One such war breaks out and the city we read about call on the Empire for help, as their capture will severely curtail the current Crusade in space.

Gaunt, his Ghosts and several other Imperial forces descend to put an end to the spat. However, things are not at all what they seem. The head of the city is insane and tries to open it up to the enemies. The enemies are revealed to be the entire population of the opposing Hive city, all chaos tainted into fanatical death troopers. It is also revealed that some higher Chaos lord, Asphodel, is behind it all.

Gaunt and Co destroy the enemy but effectively lose the city in the process. The book ends with the surviving population heading off to start 2 new smaller Hive cities and most of the militia and those who fought with Gaunt becoming part of the Ghosts, as they too lost their home.

 

My Thoughts:

I think this was the darkest Gaunt’s Ghost book yet. The Ghost’s rival, the Bluebloods, led by some Captain or General, pretty much loses it and the general tries to run away. Gaunt, as a Commisar, sentences him on the spot and gives him his gun to kill himself. The coward turns it on Gaunt and Gaunt has to kill him. About time as far as I was concerned. Those bluebloods were bad news for everybody.

The body count was in the millions. People die in such large numbers that it was almost incomprehensible. I also didn’t even bother to keep track of peoples’ names because chances were greater that they would be dead in the next chapter than not. The focus was more on the politics dividing the city and on the workers who were fighting in the trenches.

In many ways this felt like a campaign scenario from the game Warhammer40K. I could almost hear the dungeonmaster (or whatever the controller in a game of WH40K is called) telling the facts of what the players were facing and the dice rolling. Scent of a Gamer is a blogger I follow who does miniatures and I kept picturing posts from his blog about various projects he’s done.

I have been wondering how 30,000 Ghosts were going to last 10+ books when we lose so many each book. Well this book answered that in spades. Take on survivors from other lost worlds. Now we’ll have to see if what makes the Ghosts the Ghosts morphs into something else with the influx of new blood.

Overall I enjoyed this and while it threatened to get a little too dark for me it never crossed that threshhold.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Horus Rising

625603Horus Rising
WH40K: Horus Heresy #1
by Dan Abnett
Ebook, 295 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

While a very action packed, gruesome story, I kept waiting for the “Heresy” to show itself, and it never did.

Also, logistics. A space force that is dealing with at least 3 different forms of humanity would not have integrated walkways/doorways/whatever for all 3 subspecies, it simply would be cost prohibitive.

And every bloody “hero” is always godlike, or nearly godlike. I felt like I was reading the Iliad or something. Frack that…

The Superman Monster

The Superman Monster
Superman: Elseworlds
Dan Abnett
Graphic Novel
2 Stars
CBR file

Superman in the Frankenstein story. Luthor the evil scientist, Superman the monster, Lois the bride of the monster. Luthor gets his and the other two fly away to the Northpole to live happily ever after. Nothing memorable

Definitely felt like Luthor got a lot more time than Supes. And that the writers were just showing up for day…