McNeill has done a fantastic job with Mechanicum, although again it’s not a return to the hellish surface of Istvaan III and the ‘hopeful’ possibility of some loose ends left by the original Heresy trilogy. As such it may be taken as another side story from the main arc, but to label it as such is to do the book an injustice.
It may not be about the warring Astartes (it’s a refreshing break from the super soldiers and their constant belly aching over loyalty and honour) but the Mechanicum are an integral part of the 40k verse and the war on Mars is pivotal to the whole Heresy campaign.
McNeill has done an Abnett like job (no offence Mr McN) in conjuring a truly awe inspiring vision of the far future, making it at once both dark and alien, but with touches of the familiar to anchor it to our past. It’s these little touches which are finally bringing the sprawling and at times contradictory 40k verse into some semblance of order.
40k Veterans will find a wealth of old favourites, now sadly missing from the game, within the pages of this tale; Knight Orders, Robots and the Scutarii. The Titan battles are suitably earth shattering, with a wealth of illumination as to their workings and the crew’s mindsets. McNeill shows the God Machines to have a lethal grace and fashions Titan combat into an art form akin to a hybrid of submarine and tank warfare.
My one quibble with the book is that the main story line again is an unfinished tale; it leads us through the early explosion of the Heresy on Mars but leaves us with the war raging and many unanswered questions. So now I’m left wanting a follow up to the main Heresy books and also this grand off shoot; crafty BL sales devils!
An exciting read, with enough depth to place it firmly up there with my favourites of the series; its lack of Space Marines (there is a guest appearance) does not detract from the action and there’s plenty of it.