Monday, May 8, 2017

REVIEW: Warlord - Fury of the God-Machine

I've always been a sucker for Titans. Ever since I read Titanicus back in the day I just fell in love with Titan stories and Warlord: Fury of the God Machine by David Annandale carries on that megalithic torch with a vengeance.

Black Library was kind enough to send me this book for review, and not only did they send me the book, but they sent me the limited edition version! I have only just started getting some of these limited edition books, and let me tell you, they are pretty cool. This one comes bound in a black leather-esque cover with some very minimal design on the cover and along the spine. I'm always a fan of minimal design work when done right, and they have definitely done a good job on this one.

The whole thing feels very classy and even has two ribbons to mark your page with, one black and one yellow, the colors of Pallidus Mor, the Titan Legion of the novel. The edges of the pages also have a rather cool, aged effect printed on them and we get a forward from the author as well as an extra short story at the end. Don't worry, you aren't missing out on the original cover art either, because they printed that on an inside page in full color before the story starts.

All in all, I am very impressed with the presentation on this book. It even comes wrapped in colored tissue paper and sealed inside its own box. You definitely know you are getting a special edition version of the book the moment it arrives at your doorstep.

Now, onto the story itself. We open up in the middle of a battle that's already raging on the planet of Khania, as the combined might of two titan legions fight off a Tyranid Swarm. The Pallidus Mor legion is stoic in its duty and doesn't go out seeking honor, but only worries about carrying out their mission to completion. As such, we find them parked in front of the planet's capital hive city blasting away at wave after wave of smaller bugs as the Imperial Hunters are off hunting larger prey. The Hunters are your typical arrogant, aristocratic warriors, looking down on the Pallidus Mor as being common, and beneath their notice. They are more interested in hunting down enemy bio-titans then working cohesively or doing what's best in the planet's interest. This whole scene is merely a set up for the main story, showing off the competing and at odds viewpoints of the Titan legions. Without giving too much away, the arrogance of the Imperial Hunters leads to the death of the head Princeps of Pallidus Mor and the near defeat of the Imperial forces.

Despite this, at the victory feast afterwards, Syagrius, the head Princeps of the Imperial Hunters continues to antagonize the remaining princeps of Pallidus Mor, and Krezoc in particular, who is now the acting head of her legion. Krezoc is a somewhat humorless, but entirely capable and qualified princeps who had previously saved the life of Syagrius, much to his embarrassment and humiliation, though he would never admit that fact. During the earlier scenes against the Tyranids, we also had a secondary plot line of an Imperial priest on the neighboring planet of Katara slowly realizing that there was a Chaos cult dedicated to Khorne brewing within his city's depths. As the Tyranid battles comes to an end, the planet of Katara begins to fall to Chaos, as traitor Titans are called from the void. Being the nearest sizable Imperial force in the areas, both Pallidus Mor and the Imperial Hunters are immediately redirected to deal it with along with their supporting forces; many of which hailed from that planet and looked at the battle on Khania against the Tyranids as a way of safeguarding their own planet.

This unforeseen circumstance puts Syagrius in overall command, since he's the highest ranking officer, and means Krezoc must listen to him and follow his orders. Without giving too much more away, once the Titans land on Katara, the arrogance of the Imperial Hunters sees all their best laid plans to waste. The Titan battles are truly epic, with some awesome world shattering confrontations between the Imperial and Chaos titans. The battle that takes place only about midway through the novel is crazy in how over the top it is, in a good way, and that's not even the climatic battle. The final showdown, and the literal field of fire the forces of Pallidus Mor must go through to get there, are a fantastic finale to the book, with an ending as dour and grim as the Titan legion itself.

Krezoc is definitely the star of the show here, and once we get to Katara, we hardly see Syagrius at all, which is fine with me. He's an entirely unlikable character, which is on purpose. I wouldn't say he's on the same level as say, Erebus on the unlikability scale, but he's pretty insufferable. Krezoc on the same hand, isn't an extremely likable character either, since she is meant to be all about duty and getting the job done. This can lead her to being somewhat callous and detached at times, but it's part of her job. She is the completely competent, qualified leader, who should have been in charge the whole time, but instead must defer command to an overprivileged aristocrat who thinks he knows best at all times and won't take anyone else's advice. Make of that what you will. Syagrius isn't all bad though, and he does have a few, very sparse redeeming moments. In the end he is trying to secure a win for the Imperium, but he just can't get his own hubris out of the way long enough to do that.

Krezoc's crew and Moderatii add some variety to the characters and gives her someone to interact with as she pilots her god machine. She also has two princeps of the Imperial Hunters under her command, to make up for losses against the Tyranids, which leads to some tense moments as she skirts the spirit of her orders from time to time. Besides the Titans and their crew we also have a few other characters that give us more of a man on the ground perspective. There's Ornastas, who is the priest from the beginning. His story is interesting, and kind of acts as a mirror for the larger conflict going on, but on a more personal scale, but in the end doesn't do anything to directly influence the plot. It was a nice add on, but I could have done without him after a certain point and been fine. There was also Deyers, a tank commander who is from the planet being ripped apart by the Titans, and provides a much more human take on everything. While the Titan commanders are almost literally gods walking the earth, and Ornastas is wrapped up in his faith and fury, Deyers has very human concerns. He is worried for his planet and the men and women of his battalion, but is dragged along in a conflict that dwarfs him in its scale. He provides a much needed connection for us, the reader, since it's much easier to relate to him. There is also a completely awesome member of the Titan legions personal guard the Secutarii who pretty much just goes around being awesome. He climbs up titan's legs while fighting off Tyranids and other similarly hardcore things.

Overall, this story is about some intense Titan warfare, and it definitely delivers on that, turning the action up to eleven. The Titans literally rip the planet apart around them as they fight, at one point turning a former city into a boiling cauldron of magma. Krezoc and her gang are the main focus, and there are definitely some character arcs here, but in the end it's all about giant robots beating the crud out of each other in spectacular fashion and it's great for that. There are quieter character moments, but they are more to contrast the more intense moments. I do wish we had seen more from the enemy's perspective, but the Chaos Titans seem to be completely demonically possessed, so I don't know if there would have been anything substantial to show. The short story at the end of the book is a flashback to when Krezoc first got her start as a Moderatii in Pallidus Mor and is a fun little addition to the story. It adds a bit more humanity to her since it shows her before she was ground down by the constant battles. If you're a fan of Titan warfare then you'll definitely like this book. It's a good read for general 40k fans as well, just know going in that it's all about the Titans.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

No comments:

Post a Comment