I’ve stuck to pretty much only reading three series by the Black Libary over the last few years: the Horus Heresy, Space Marines Battles and (this year at least) the Beast Arises. Last week though, I thought I’d give a one-off novel a go, and with the recent Deathwatch releases I thought Deathwatch by Ian St Martin was the way to go.
In summary, I thought the book was a really good and engaging read. I didn’t quite know what to expect from one of the Black Library’s newest authors but I am pleasantly surprised with how good the style of writing was. The book didn’t just descent in to endless fight scenes but instead nicely focussed on the kill-team dynamics and the wider situation.
The context the novel was set in was very interesting, it being in the most present and up-to-date history of the 40k universe, with Hive Fleet Leviathan going toe-to-toe with the Ork Empire of Octarius due to the machinations of Inquisitor Kryptman. The question of how to deal with the mess this created is the main driving force for the story.
The characters are very well written and fleshed out, particularly Watch-Captain Artemis. Off the back of this I think Ian St Martin should look at doing a novel about the Mortifactors Chapter that Artemis is part of. Also of interest were Rogerio the Crimson Fist and Hyphantes the Scythe of the Emperor; the recent tragedies of their chapters and the references to those made them all the more interesting.
Although limited the human element added to the story. The tremendous loss that the humans are faced with vs their duty was very poignant; a particular highlight of the novel was the confrontation between Artemis and Admiral Nearchus that focused on this conflict.
As for the xenos, Ian St Martin conveys a feeling that they are entirely unstoppable and that the Imperium will be in huge trouble should their eyes turn upon it. The descriptions of the space battles between the orks and tryanids are awesome and a nice change to see xenos vs xenos battles.
All in all, I highly recommend this book as a one-off and I will be seeking out future works by Ian St Martin.
Best battle/fight – the final confrontation with the Overfiend
Best non-battle/fight part – the aforementioned confrontation between Artemis and Admiral Nearchus
Where to buy – the Black Library website – here
By Ian St Martin:
Further Deathwatch Reading:
- Storm of Damocles (Space Marines Battles)
- Watchers in Death (The Beast Arises)
- Deathwatch: Ignition (includes City of Ruin)