Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Purging of Kadillus - Book Review

The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe
Faced with an ork invasion of Piscina IV, the 3rd Company of the Dark Angels believes the threat to be minimal. As enemy numbers continue to increase, their commander, Captain Belial, insists that his Company are strong enough to resist. But Scout-Sergeant Naaman knows just how dangerous this foe can be, and when a renewed greenskin offensive takes the Dark Angels by surprise, the orks swarm towards Kadillus Harbour. Little do the Dark Angels know of the technological power available to the xenos, and the true scale of the threat they face. Belial, Naaman and their fellow Astartes fight a desperate siege at Kadillus, knowing that they must hold out until Imperial reinforcements arrive or the planet will be lost.

Before we start and I rip in to it too much and despite comments that may suggest otherwise I actually enjoyed this book, but I was really hoping for something more when it comes to the enigmatic air that there is about the Dark Angels. Surprisingly there was less of that but there were a good set of fast paced battles instead. So I can say I was let down in the action stakes but more got something I wasn’t expecting as the Dark Angels provided the Bolter and Chainsword action we hoped for.

One thing I did enjoy was the structure to the book, which provides a series of story arcs and different battles for the planet from the view of various members of the Dark Angels Chapter. What also appealed to me was that the characters were ones, that for the most part, have been introduced (and in some cases killed) in other books in the Black Library range. I especially liked Veteran Sergeant Naaman's take on things and his heroic but, from the Dark Angels viewpoint, reckless attempts to establish how the Ork reinforcements keep arriving. I also liked Nestor and his stoic approach and slight defeatist viewpoint that spurs him on.

The different natures of the Space Marines is really noticeable in this novel, the independent Naaman, the by the book Ravenwing commander and the very very hard-line chaplain really stand out as emotional characters. This is more in line with the Black Library trend where the various Space Marines are showing greater and greater emotion, including self-doubt, something which stories from the late 90’s/early 00’s didn't consider or really deal with. I did find in this case more than some of the other novels that this really worked and highlighted the different nature of them, so despite them all bring peerless warriors they are all different and outstanding in different ways.

The areas I didn’t feel were fully covered or even barely touched on were the tumultuous history of the Dark Angels, there were hints and phrases but for the most part we were left in the dark about the Dark Angels, from that viewpoint I guess this was a book for Dark Angels fans not for those wanting to find out about them. They hinted at their roles and at the purpose of the Dark Angels. There were hints about the fallen and about the destruction of Caliban but nothing that gives us new insight. It was nice though to get to hear from the Chaplains and a Master of the Dark Angels but I felt we could and should have had more.

The one low point for me was really the Orks, as unpredictable as they were they were predictable. They were too jokey and they didn’t show the “fight” one normally expects from them. However the one thing I really didn’t like was the way they were dealt with when they spoke. I appreciate its to make them look base and animalistic but it’s just damn annoying and gets tedious after a while. Another area I wasn’t impressed with was the PDF/IG bashing, the PDF in this novel were treated as secondary to even the Orks, despite the fact they were a principle part of the story. They worked well and there was character in them and I do appreciate this was an Astartes novel but it would be nice just for once (as Naaman does) to show the IG some respect.

Still overall the book was good, the action was fast paced and well timed within the flow of the story. The Dark Angels certainly delivered on that action and the bolter wielding death, just not on their own history and background – the things that make them appeal to so many people – so overall I think the novel is a solid 4 stars and a good read for any Space Marine fan. The only thing I wish is that that would let Dan Abnett loose on them and see what wonders he could deliver.

Available from:
The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe
Paperback • ISBN 9781844168965

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