The Great Crusade reaches a feral world known only as One-Five-Four-Four. The forces of the Imperium arrive to deliver the primitive natives from enslavement at the hands of the alien eldar. The Iron Hands of Ferrus Manus and Mortarion’s Death Guard fight in theatres of war across the world, but the most vicious combat takes place in the deep jungles, where Vulkan and the Salamanders bring the Emperor’s wrath to the heathen aliens.
Vulkan and his sons must brave the deadly jungles, battle monstrous reptilian beasts and contend with the vile sorcery of the eldar if they are to liberate this world and bring the Emperor’s light to its backwards inhabitants.
The Story takes place on the world known as One-Five-Four-Four, which given the naming conventions of the Great Crusade we can assume this is the fourth world discovered by the 154th Expeditionary Fleet. Crusading alongside the 154th are the Eighteenth Legion, The Salamanders.
The break from “tradition” within this Horus Heresy Series novel is that this story features not Daemons or traitors we find all three legions are pitted against The Eldar in this novel. That’s right it’s nice to see the Xenos making an appearance (and rightly getting their arses handed to them).
The story is a nice link in to the short story compilation Age of Darkness, in particular the Salamanders story, and links us to Heka’tan who appears in both books. Also for all you Salamanders fans we also get to meet Gravius (sound familiar?) so it’s a nice link in to all the different facets of the current Salamanders Novels and Short stories.
The story’s plot is straight forward and does everything you would expect from a Space Marine novel, it is a basic cleanse mission on planet One-Five-Four-Four. It is a story with two threads, firstly the cleanse and marine action to keep us hooked but also there is a strong thread that runs through the story concentration on the story of Vulkan and how he was reunited with the Emperor. this is one of the most detailed retellings of a Primarch reuniting with the Emperor, and Nick certainly uses the “accepted” background of the Salamanders and their Primarch.
Although the plot is deceptively simple, there is a lot of description as Nick continues to develop the history and background of the oft forgotten eighteenth legion and who knows this might open it up for some more Horus Heresy action soon. Unfortunately though there is only a bit of character development, namely in flashbacks which detail the coming of the Emperor to Nocturne, and how the people of the world react to his appearance, though as it’s a short story that’s understandable.
The layout of the book is well put together, the faux Salamander skin works and the colour pages in the centre as with all the Black Library novellas are a nice touch. The pages don’t show anything new other than to provide some nice pics and some history, but are welcome and I have included a few interspersed within the review.