Legion of the Damned by Rob Sanders

For those of you that don’t know Mr Cheesecake he is my brother from another mother. No really. The parallels in our lives are quite scary. Not least because we both married above ourselves, but mainly we have similar tastes. His reviews are always a joy for me to read so I’m happy to have this guest post from him. Over to you Paul.

I promised Tony a review ages ago (sorry for the delay chief. What can I say?…I got there eventually). He gave me carte blanche re topic and after much umming and ahhing I decided I would dip my toes once again in the waters of Warhammer 40,000.

Following the trajectory of a blood-red comet, the berserk World Eaters blaze a path of destruction across the galaxy in its wake. The small cemetery world of Certus Minor appeals to the Space Marines of the Excoriators Chapter for protection, but the force dispatched to deal with this grim threat is far too small and their losses against the renegades are high. Just as all seems lost, salvation is borne out of legend itself as sinister spectral warriors descend upon this planet of the dead, and the enemies of the Imperium come face to face with those who have already travelled beyond the realm of the living…

First off an admission, I’m still very much a Warhammer 40000 noob. Prior to picking up Legion of the Damned I have only read Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. I have to admit that as an outsider looking in, Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 can appear to be massively intimidating. I was concerned that I was going to be totally out of my depth here, but quickly realised that I need not have worried. I think it’s probably fair however, to concede that I may have missed out on some of the more subtle nuances of the story. I am sure there are characters or events mentioned that hardened Warhammer 40000 fans will spot and smile knowingly about, but I didn’t really feel put off by that.

Legion of the Damned covers classic ground. Essentially this is the tale of a small force of soldiers attempting to stand their ground against over whelming odds. Each successive chapter the tension gets cranked up a notch until eventually all hell breaks loose. Just waiting for that moment to arrive is a great deal of fun.

There are quite a number of colourful characters in this novel but the standout is undoubtedly commander, Zachariah Kersh. I’m reasonably sure if you cut him in half you would find the words anti-hero running all the way through his body like in a stick of seaside rock. Disliked by his men and distrusted by his equals I couldn’t help but warm to him. He has an air of stoicism and a grim determination that are difficult to ignore.

The battle scenes have an exciting, almost manic lack of restraint that I really enjoyed. When the forces of the Blood God finally arrive in force on Certus Minor things get particularly gory. Word of advice, if you are a little squeamish you may want to give this one a miss. Turns out that the inter-galactic demon possessed are really keen on ripping various appendages off Space Marines. They do have some fantastic names though. (I’m looking at you Umbragg of the Brazen Flesh – World Eater and Skull Champion of the Blood God).

What I’ve been pleased to discover in my, admittedly limited, exposure to Warhammer 40000 is that there is something for everyone. The publisher, Black Library, genuinely excel at this. There is such a huge scope for the novels that inhabit the Warhammer 40000 universe you are guaranteed that there will be something that takes your fancy.

Legion of the Damned is published by Black Library and is available now. I urge you to check it out, as well as their impressive back catalogue. There will definitely be something there that will interest you.

Oh before I go. For those that may still be curious (I know I was). Where do the Excoriators take their Chapter name from?

Excoriate (verb)

1. strip (the skin) from (a person or animal); flay

2. denounce vehemently; censure severely

See, you didn’t know that reading Warhammer 40000 was educational did you? Now you know a new word, nice.

Thanks again to Tony for the opportunity to waffle endlessly on his blog. Feel free to drop by and visit me at The Eloquent Page. You can also find me on the technological marvel that is Twitter as @PabloCheesecake. I should warn you though, there is likely to be what film censors now refer to as adult content.


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