Imperial Glory by Richard Williams – Advanced Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews Imperial Glory by Richard Williams, an Imperial Guard novel published by Black Library.
“The Brimlock Eleventh fight to claim the planet Voor for themselves. There’s just one problem… A big, fat and green problem, standing in their way.” ~The Founding Fields
Don’t you just love Imperial Guard Novels? They’ve recently, or rather, since Cadian Blood by Aaron-Dembski-Bowden, taken a rise in quality, at least in my opinion, with the novels that followed it. Redemptation Corps by Rob Sanders was pretty awesome, as well as Dead Men Walking by Steve Lyons. Now, we have the latest Imperial Guard Novel, written by the author of Relentless, which is now Out of Print, and focuses on the Brimlock Eleventh Regiment of Imperial Guard, bog-standard, human troops sent out to the sea of stars to fight against the nightmares of aliens and heretics that threaten the Imperium of Man.
Imperial Glory has, like most of its ilk, a simple plot that doesn’t require much effort to follow. It takes a Regiment of Imperial Guard, in this case – as mentioned earlier, the Brimlock Eleventh – and throws them headlong into action against a feral greenskin tribe on one of the many worlds within the Imperium. There is much at stake here for the 11th, for they are a battered group of Guardsmen and about to collapse. This looks set to be their final battle, in which – should they win, they will claim the planet for their own. However, this final battle may very well be their last.
Having got that out of the way, Imperial Glory, as mentioned earlier, continues the style of the majority of the Imperial Guard series. A random regiment against an alien or renegade faction over a random planet, the battle coming to a conclusion in one novel – which doesn’t look as though it will be expanded in the future.
However, I couldn’t help but enjoy the latest novel in this multi-author series. Although I’ve had problems with a few novels in the past (Not mentioning any names), this one is defiantly, or at least – I found to be one of the better ones. The characters are well varied, a bit stereotypical – for example, you get the Commissar whom everyone loves to hate, being one of them. His name’s Reeve. Commissar Reeve, to you.
But he’s far from the star of the show, seemingly coming across as the author’s attempt to build tension in the regiment, setting this aside as a nice little subplot. Other characters have a starring role in this novel as well, and in some ways, have more page-time. Take, for example, one of the Lieutenants who goes by the name of Carson, who is merely the second of the Lieutenants under command of Major Stanhope, another one of the characters who the novel is focused on. If you get confused by the personality switches, there’s a Structure Chart at the beginning of the novel which shows ‘who commands what’, in the Brimlock Eleventh. It doesn’t show everybody, with characters like Rit ‘Mouse’ Chaffey, ‘Red’, and the man Blanks, who again adds another subplot in this novel, who doesn’t remember a thing about the Thirteenth which he originally hailed from, and his real name – John Stones.
And that itself, seems rather odd – after all, although “John” was the first name of Grammaticus, who was portrayed brilliantly in Legion by Dan Abnett, it didn’t really look out of place in the forty-first millennium, (or rather, the thirty-first, as it would have been in the run-up to the Horus Heresy. Note, if you read my very early (about a year or so ago, and not on The Founding Fields), review on Legion, you may perhaps recall that I mentioned John as an ‘oddity’ of some sort, and everyday names that are common shouldn’t suit the setting of the far future. My opinion on this matter has changed since then, as I believe it counter-balances the situation of Grammaticus very well. John Stones on the other hand, although not seemingly out of place with the names in the Regiment (with people in this novel who share surnames at least with people that I’ve met), but it does seem out of place in the universe as a whole, especially where the ranks of people with names like Marneus Calgar and Njal the Stormcaller exist. (They don’t feature in this novel, though).
As expected, I’m not going to mention every character in this novel, but the ones that I’ve mentioned above have a pretty important part to play.
With so many characters, one may be mislead into thinking that this novel drops the standard on the battle side of things, but no – I found the action to be pretty enjoyable. Although there are quite a lot grammatical and punctuation errors, my copy is an advanced copy so I presume they will be fixed by the release date. This still put me off, however.
Moving on from the characters, the novel itself paces rather well, starting off with action to draw you in, and the occasional break in between, allowing you to really get a feel for what the battles are like for the every-day Imperial Guardsmen, who aren’t genetically enhanced like the Angels of Death, the Space Marines – who don’t feature in this novel, being it a series focusing on the Imperial Guard (well, it is obvious. However, saying that, Cadian Blood does have some astartes in it.)
The description is fairly neat, decently sized paragraphs and long chapters that are typical of most Black Library novels on the market.
In conclusion, although not one of Black Library’s best novels, Imperial Glory is far from its worst, sitting in the middle ground here. Nonetheless, as you’ve gathered from this review, I enjoyed it, and I hope that you will do as well.