Sunday, 28 November 2010

Books in Brief : Legion by Dan Abnett

This is the first of my book review posts, these aren't intended to be in depth discourses on the novels (fear not, usual waffle service will be resumed in other posts) and there won't be any spoilers; I've been caught out far too many times by other reviews that have given the game away, to the ruin of my reading pleasure and I won't visit that tragedy upon those of you who visit the Edge. 

These are just brief thoughts on the general quality of the book / author and whether I enjoyed and recommend it, as always I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.

                                                   "Choose an author as you choose a friend." Arthur Helps

Legion by Dan Abnett

This is an outstanding book; I couldn't put it down and ripped through it in two days. Dan Abnett conjures up a vivid future and places you smack bang in the middle of it; with all its brutal conflict and dark intrigue. This was my first Black Library book and the 2nd coming of 40k for me, it's what brought me back to the fold and as a result you may always see a bit of Abnett bias in my reviews, for that I make no apology, the man is a legend to me.

It was great to see the Guard getting a more human face, something that I would continue to discover in the Ghost's series; showing future humanity not just to be a bunch zealots hell bent on fanatical death dealing. The brilliant take on the Alpha Legion, paves the way for a much more versatile slant on the Space Marines and introduces a tragic twist to their choice of allegiance. Also the setting of the Heresy in the wider context of it's relation to the rest of the Universe's inhabitants and their own motives is both fascinating and refreshing.

I particularly like Dan's non explanatory vocabulary, when he coins a word for something, he leaves it to the reader to figure out what he's talking about, you must enter the world the story lives in, not the other way around. I know some readers have a problem with this, but I find it immerses you all the more into his particular take on the 40k 'Verse.

A massive and resounding thumbs up from me, a must read.


Spyrle said...

I enjoyed the book, as I have most of the Heresy series. I do sometimes wonder if they really have sat down to make sure that everything lines up in the end, or the authors are given a bit too much free rein sometimes. In the end this book is frustrating, in that it doesn't ever explain why the Alpha Legion would accept mutants/demonic gifted individuals and the rest within the legion. So a gap between the book and the modern legion is left. Also, having heard the prophesy, when would they admit that to continue to fight for chaos was no longer going to end the conflict quickly. Better that they stayed out of it all together one might think.

James said...

I love the series. Yeah a lot of people had trouble with the ending on this one. It seemed trite and almost dictatorial - an entire legion of Space Marines turning on the say so of a Xenos prophecy? Accepting daemonic control? Going completely against everything they know based on psychic mumbo-jumbo? Sorry, just does not compute. On top of which, very little is actually explained about the Alpha Legion at all. It read to me like no one could come up with a satisfactory answer for their turning and instead decided to "cloak" the details as a "mystery". I still think this is one of Abnett's weakest works. Fulgrim was almost as specious in its conclusions. I think the authors are not being nailed down enough as to WHY in their reasoning and are merely going after the shock factor.

Bix said...

Interesting points you raise there guys and I thank you for them. I agree that the actual turning of the Marine Chapters has been a tad rushed in most cases; but giving the authors the benefit of the doubt I put it down to time and page constraint and maybe more than a little pressure from GW to get on with the action bits.

Spyrle, I wouldn't pin too much hope on it all falling into place; one of my greatest frustrations with the 40k verse is its lack of consistent cannon. The odd error, fine, but over the years many things have been turned on their head. Remember when the Dark Angels were like North American Indians? Happy days.

James, although perhaps the 'catch 22' for the Alpha Legion was a bit of a tough sell and after the Heresy didn't work out it could be reasonably argued that they might have come helmet in hand back to the Emperor.

They were a Chapter mired in secrets and deception, the way they work it may be doubtful that most of the Legions Marines ever really knew the why's and wherefores of what missions they were sent on. Doing necessary evil for the greater good is an often used and compelling tool for clandestine organisations.

Plus after so many thousands of years playing 'The Great Game' they're most likely all bonkers and couldn't tell the truth from a lie anyway, they may still think they're fighting for the sake of the universe and that would be the greatest tragedy of all unless its true. ;o)

Brian said...

I'm convinced that we're gonna find out towards the end of the heresy novels this cabal are a secrect Tzeentchian cult

Bix said...

Thanks for your comment Brian and for stopping by the Veil's Edge.

Phew it's been an age since I visited this post, thanks for digging it up, it reminds me how succinct and to the point my reviews used to be. With Hobby time so limited currently perhaps I should make efforts to return to form.

As for what you suggest? Well having just had a close and frankly shocking literary encounter with the Changer of Ways heralds I could well believe them capable of anything.

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