An old rival, infighting with fellow Astra Militarum regiments and the small matter of a cult devoted to the Chaos God Slaanesh derail Commissar Cain’s hope for a quiet and uneventful mission.
Ciaphas Cain’s latest mission takes him and his Valhallan regiment to the planet of Adumbria to defend against an approaching Chaos invasion. However, infighting with fellow Imperial Guard regiments from the world of Tallarn, commanded by an old ‘friend’ of Cain’s from the Schola Progenium and the uprising of a sinister cult on the planet puts paid to any hopes of an easy life.
Author: Sandy Mitchell
Publisher: The Black Library
Series: Ciaphas Cain #3
Genre: Science Fiction/WH 40K
Running Time: 9hrs 6mins
My Rating of ‘The Traitor’s Hand’: 3 out of 5
Traitor’s Hand is the third instalment in Warhammer 40k’s answer to The Flashman Papers and, true to form, it continues to be incredibly easy to pick up and enjoyable to read. I do feel that, of the three read so far, this is probably the weakest. It’s by no means a bad book and, those who enjoy the series (myself included) will still enjoy this. Just maybe not as much as the previous two.
My first ‘meh’ moment is the rivalry between Cain and and the commissar of the Tallarn Desert Raiders, and the infighting between the two regiments that was billed in the blurb, just feels unimportant and, to be honest, as though it barely happens. The soldiers don’t really have too much of a back and forth and the commissars rivalry seems based on petty point scoring and school yard stuff. It tries to get a bit serious nearer the end but, by that point, my interest in that little subplot (not to mention the lacklustre reason for the infighting at the time) just wasn’t there.
The coincidental link between Cain and the main villain felt a bit dull as, if I’m honest, we’ve already seen it done in Eisenhorn and I feel it’s too big a coincidental meeting for it to happen to two Imperial servants in the vastness of the Imperium. I also feel like it was done better in Eisenhorn so this just felt a bit like a poor man’s equivalent of that. Would have been nice for it to have had a fresh approach. I also feel that, were the author to stick with one force of chaos rather than the diluted skirmishes between two, it might have made for a tad more dynamic story.
Other than that, Cain’s desperate attempts to keep himself out of harm’s way and inadvertently throwing himself into it will never get old. Sandy Mitchell was born to write this character and I look forward to many more Cain stories. Jurgen, as always, was a great character and I look forward to any part he’s in. He only adds minor aspects to whatever scene he graces, but he is one of the foundations that make the building that is the Cain series so strong.
Although this is the third book, Mitchell writes in a way that you could literally pick up any in the series and not feel as though you had to have read all that came before it. That is one of the great strengths of this series. The characters are all easy to get to know and easy to enjoy the ride with. I look forward to seeing where Cain’s misadventures take him and his Valhallans next.
There were more narrators in this one as the excerpts in between chapters were taken from different sources. I like the touch of a new voice for each book extract as it feels more real. I also like the fact that Amberly Vale’s footnotes are voiced by a female rather than the main narrator as it really serves to show where a footnote is rather than it just sounding like the main narrative suddenly going out of whack.