Bane of Kings reviews the latest Space Marine Battles novel, Legion of the Damned, the first addition to the multi-author series by Rob Sanders, author of Redemption Corps and Atlas Infernal. The novel itself is published by Black Library, out in April worldwide, and is the ninth book in the series.
“An action-packed novel with gripping characters and several bloodthirsty battles. Rob Sanders at his best.” ~The Founding Fields
Warning! There are minor spoilers in this review, but nothing that completely spoils the plot for you.
This is possibly one of my most anticipated Space Marine Battles novels yet. I mean, ever since the release of Fall of Damnos by Nick Kyme, the series has generally increased dramatically in quality from the novels that preceded it, with Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Helsreach being the exception. Novels such as Battle of the Fang and The Gildar Rift were enjoyable to read, and although not everyone shares my opinion, I believe – since Fall of Damnos, I don’t think we’ve seen a bad Space Marine Battles novel yet.
I also believe that this is one of the first times that the Legion of the Damned makes an appearance in one of Black Library’s titles, as well as the first time that the Feast of Blades makes an appearance in Black Library lore. For all of those who don’t know what the Feast of Blades is, it’s a centennial honorific competition between twelve Space Marine Chapters (three examples are the Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists and Iron Knights), and has only appeared as of the fifth edition Space Marine Codex.
Right, now that you should understand what the Feast of Blades is about, let’s get on with the review for Legion of the Damned.
The novel itself, at first – looks like it should be named after the adventures of the Excoriators Chapter, descendants of the Imperial Fists that are the Chapter that takes centre stage in Legion of the Damned, and have a lot more page time than the Chapter of the novel’s namesake. The Excoriators are a chapter who have, like the aforementioned Space Marine Chapters, chosen to take part in the Feast of Blades, and Rob Sanders does a brilliant job of portraying it in the novel. Although, don’t think the book is all about the Feast of Blades, oh no – it’s far from limited to that, for the Feast is only the beginning, as the novel dictates the Excoriators in a battle against the Cholercaust Crusade, consisting of Chaos forces.
The Excoriators are a chapter that has had very little fluff about them, and even I thought that they were a homebrew Chapter at first. However, Rob Sanders does a fantastic job at just illustrating as to exactly how different the Chapter is from its fellow brothers, such as the Imperial Fists, and this is one of the main attractions of the novel itself. Just, the unique-ness of the Excoriators I found to make up for the fact that there was very little appearance of the Legion of the Damned at all in this novel.
In fact, it’s not until the last quarter of the novel that they appear, and even then – it’s only for a limited time. But, don’t let this put you off from reading the book – already I’ve seen people criticise it for the misinterpretation of the title on various forums such as Heresy Online. However, don’t be put off by that – the novel’s blurb did in fact mention that the Legion of the Damned would only appear for a short amount of time. Just read, and enjoy what Rob Sanders has to offer. He’s an exceptionally skilled writer in my opinion, and knows how to make Space Marines tick. The interactions between the Excoriators are superb, and this is another reason why Legion of the Damned was enjoyable as it I found it to be.
The main protagonist of this novel is Zachariah Kersh – an Excoriator, who is well-developed, and an interesting, fascinating character, taking up the most page time in this novel, who adds to the strong cast that Sanders has portrayed in this novel, and is indeed, an interesting take on an adeptus astartes.
Although the novel takes a while to get going, with the pace a little uneven, once you do get into it the pace just flies by at an unstoppable rate, and as I found – you won’t be able to let go until the end of the novel, with fantastic action-scenes as we watch the Excoriators do battle against various Khornate hordes, with zombies as an added bonus.
More Space Marine Battles: Rynn’s World by Steve Parker, Helsreach by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Hunt for Voldorious by Andy Hoare, The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe, Fall of Damnos by Nick Kyme, Battle of the Fang by Chris Wraight, The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell, Catechism of Hate by Graham McNeill (Limited Edition Novella) Legion of the Damned by Rob Sanders (April 2012) Architect of Fate edited by Various Authors (May 2012), Wrath of Iron by Chris Wraight (July 2012), The Siege of Castellax by CL Werner (December 2012)
More Rob Sanders: Redemption Corps, Atlas Infernal, Legion of the Damned (April 2012)
If you want to check out what other members of TFF have to say about Legion of the Damned, you can read Lord of the Night’s review and Shadowhawk’s review.