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Flight of the Eisenstein (The Horus Heresy)

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One thing I love about the HH(so far) is that the action and war take a back seat to character development and politics and such. Here instead, we're given a book of fully-fleshed characters with dreams, desires and motivations, set against a backdrop of war, intrigue and a literal fight for one's soul.

His Marc Dane novels are fast-paced action thrillers featuring a former MI6 field officer turned private security operative; NOMAD is the first in the series, published in the US by Forge. In a preliminary battle to take an outer facility held by the rebels the Death Guard and Emperor's Children encounter a Warsinger, one of the rebel leaders who can create sonic force and inspire their followers through their singing. Flight of the Eisenstein actually backs the story up to tell us the story of Death Guard Captain Nathaniel Garro and his men, who, shocked by the treason of their Primarch Mortarian and their fellows, steal a small ship and make flight to warn the Emperor. The character of Nathaniel Garro definitely grew on me as the story wore on, and I could almost feel James growing into *him* at the same time.

The blurb tells you straight up, Garro and his loyals are heading for Terra to bring news of the betrayal to the Emperor himself. In den ersten Bänden freundeten wir uns mit Garviel Loken, Capitain der Luna Wolves, spätere Sons of Horus, an und lernten seine bedächtige, souveräne Art zu schätzen. It's an interesting exercise in comparisons really, watching the way in which the two characters are similar and yet also different in their outlooks.

Running throughout the sequence of the 'flight' and its immediate aftermath is also a fabulous sense of the perils of the warp, which put me in mind of the way the ocean was seen by ancient sailors; respected, feared, capricious and inherently unknowable. Anyway, space guns go “pow pow”, chainswords go “rhm rhm” and we all scream “Blood for the Blood God, Skulls for the Skull Throne”, etc etc. For those who aren't aware of this critical moment in the Horus Heresy, the premise of the book is that Horus, warmaster and recent convert to the forces of darkness, has turned his back on his father and the Imperium they built together. After many years of swearing I'd get around to reading it, I've now read it and can wholeheartedly recommend it. It's incredible how many things are still just being introduced and expanded upon, which are handled wonderfully.in something of a pretty pickle and it was a gripping experience as a reader to have absolutely no idea whatsoever how they were going to get out of it. That’s really the main flaw that I found in Flight of the Eisenstein, for the rest of this book manages to still be enjoyable, for reasons that I’ve already mentioned. Dark and atmospheric, Flight of the Eisenstein also deals with some interesting developments – how do other legions than the Sons of Horus react to the Warmaster’s betrayal? All of the Horus Heresy books have astonished me with how much better written they were than I expected.

A nice look in particular with the whole “old” concept was looking at Space Marines who were so old that they couldn’t fight any longer.Lots of trials and tribulations occur and some choice banter – including a situation with Life-Eater virus (which is used to exterminate… well… everything on Istavaan III) and soon after news of the betrayal arrives to Garro via a desperate Tarvitz. I read a lot of historical fiction so that was a cool parallel, and coming from professional men aboard these enormous gothic starships was particularly jarring, in-keeping with the whole process of faster-than-light travel through hell! The narrator goes pretty much overboard with the acting; half the Death Guard (even in their uncorrupted state) sound like zombie orcs, there are some that speak like Gollum (Kaleb, most notably), and some are so posh (Voyen maybe), that such an acting could only fit an arrogant playboy like Fulgrim. Set slightly before the events of Galaxy in Flames, The Flight of the Eisenstein introduces the reader to more of the Death Guard and puts Captain Nathaniel Garro in the driving seat for most the novel.

I had a gap of 6 months or more between book 3 and book 4, but I can't wait to charge through a few more of these right now. If you haven't read the first three books, or if you're not a fan of Warhammer 40k, then this isn't a book you'll enjoy. As this book follows new characters, it starts off before the events in the last book and builds up to where it left off. It works almost as well as a standalone as it does in the series and I would rate it as high as Fulgrim or Legion as the best of the series. The events of 'The Flight' are equally as intense and emotive as they were in 'Galaxy in Flames' if only slightly diminished by the story being centred on a new cast, predominantly made up of The Death Guard.

Of course I understand that the point is to distinguish the marines from the men, but it still comes across as very stilted and clumsy. However a lot of the dialogue falls into a common trap authors face when depicting astartes, particularly in 30k: they sound like parodies of Shakespearean characters. I think I can appreciate the more tightly focused story around a single character (Garro) this time around, though in doing so found his personal religious rebirth a little tiresome by the end.

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