Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Helsreach - Book Review

Helsreach - Aaron Dembski-Bowden

When the world of Armageddon is attacked by orks, the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter are amongst those sent to liberate it. Chaplain Grimaldus and a band of Black Templars are charged with the defence of Hive Helsreach from the xenos invaders in one of the many battlezones. But as the orks numbers grow and the Space Marines dwindle, Grimaldus faces a desperate last stand in an Imperial temple. Determined to sell their lives dearly, will the Black Templars hold on long enough to be reinforced, or will their sacrifice ultimately be in vain.


The Second book in the Space Marine Battles series deals with the second Ork invasion of the Planet of Armageddon. This is one of the more famous planetary invasions and leads to a series of battles that many Space Marine Chapters of the Warhammer 40,000 have been involved in and is the defining moment for many a Chapter or Space Marine Hero. This book tells the story of that invasion and the horrific consequences for population of Helsreach, its Defenders and it Enemies and concentrates on the Black Temaplars Space Marines.

The book sees the lead up to the invasion with details of the invasion and the preparations and decisions that lead to the eventual outcome. The book also deals with the siege of Helsreach and final outcome to save the city and its population. This was an excellent book that I felt looked at one of the most interesting and devastating events that could impact a world and ultimately a Hive city.

The book was well metered for the most part, though some small parts did seem to drag rather slowly and this seemed to pull the whole book back and make it seem a slow read in the places. The story was pretty straight forward and for the most part however did seem well planned out, but there were some issues with the format and style it was written in. The thing that particularly frustrated me where when it flicked between the flowing story and Grimaldus’ inner monologue, those bits whilst interesting and involved didn’t seem to gel with the rest of the book. Again like the first book in the series this book had the 4 colour pages in the centre with maps of the planet, continents and cities. This single little touch really makes this series stand out as something different to the normal warhammer 40000 novels out there.

The story was a very good telling of the siege of Helsreach but rather then concentrate on this (which in my view would have made a great guard and titan novel and could have been expanded) this book looked at the “limited” involvement of the black Templars. And most importantly looks at the development and failings of Grimaldus, a black templars chaplain.

Whilst the novel was well written I wasn’t impressed overall with the battles as the few that the marines seemed to be involved in were over too quickly and didn’t go in to the greater depth I expected to see in the Space Marines Battles series. Most of the characters were fairly two dimensional as well and were pretty much 40k stereotypes, but this I guess is what made it a true 40,000 novel! The novel again was a good start to a good series and is going a long way to help set some of the best short fiction stories down on paper in a more in depth and complete manner then before

As with the previous book in the series (and I’m taking this almost word for word about the previous Space Marine Battle series review) is that my final gripe and one that I though could have made the book an outstanding pinnacle of Black Library fiction was the liberation, or in this case lack of one. Whilst the hive is liberated and we know this, what we don’t know is wholly how or who by. To me adding a few more chapters covering this and all the forces involved would have really finished the novel off and would for me as a gamer opened up some interesting avenues for modelling and army building. Not to mention finding out the fate of the Black Templars Techmarine after his sins!

With all that in mind though Helsreach is a reasonably enjoyable read and because of that and its place in a great looking series of books I personally think this is worthy of a 4 out of 5

Availible from:

Helsreach - Aaron Dembski-Bowden
softback, 416pp • ISBN 9781844168620


RonSaikowski said...

Thanks for the review, I've been thinking about picking this one up since I enjoy Templar stuff.

Millest said...

glad you found it useful, hope you find the book enjoyable.

Millest said...

by the way ron, feel free to add this or any of the other book reviews to your reveiws section.

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