After reading the short story Stormlord there was no chance of me not giving this book a try. I play 40k and have done for years. I’ve always love the Baneblade. There is something intimidating about placing such a huge model on the board. It really does dwarf the other tanks on the board. I’m a big fan of changing my opponents battle plans before they’ve moved a single model and this is just that kind of asset. In fiction it is if anything even more scary and this comes across really well in this book.
I normally skim read prologues as they can be a bit weak but this one is fantastic. As a piece of flash fiction that introduction would stand proudly aloft praising the Omnissiah. It sounds simple and a little boring when I say that it is about the final stages of construction and commissioning of the tank. It is so well done that it sticks with you all the way through the book to the end. There is a sense of synchronicity between the start and the finish which would leave the story unfulfilled without the prelude.
There is a dichotomy that runs through this book. The massive size of the Baneblade and the cramped interior that squeezes the tankers at every move can seem at odds. I’ve seen my share of tanks and even been lucky enough to climb inside a few of them. The one thing they all have in common through the ages is that they are all cramped and hostile places. Fuel, ammo, electricity and people are not exactly four things I’d fancy having in close proximity for long periods of time. Tankers are a different breed and that come through in a way that helps shape the people and their interactions.
Orks and Imperial Guard always make for a nasty battle of attrition but when you add in Super Heavy Tanks and and Ork Super Heavy Walkers the carnage is greatly increased. Now throw in a powerful Weirdboy building a special walker and things get pretty nasty even for a Baneblade. The tension builds nicely in this book and the final third of this book flew by so fast I barely realized I was near the end. This is a great read and I now want to read one about all the over variants, especially the Shadowsword.