Having witnessed the terrible massacre of Imperial forces on Isstvan III, Death Guard Captain Garro seizes a ship and sets a course for Terra to warn the Emperor of Horus’s treachery. But when the fleeing Eisenstein is damaged by enemy fire, it becomes stranded in the warp – the realm of the Dark Powers. Can Garro and his men survive the depredations of Chaos and get his warning to the Emperor before Horus’s plans reach fruition?
Author: James Swallow
Publisher: Black Library
Series: The Horus Heresy #4
Genre: Science Fiction/Warhammer
Release Date: 28/08/2014
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘The Flight of the Eisenstein: 5 out of 5
This review contains spoilers.
The previous book in the series left on such a note of awesomeness that I thought this book would struggle to follow on at the same level of excitement. Especially given the fact it rewinds us to before the events of book three and lets us catch up over the course of 416 pages. That being said, this book was pretty damn awesome and a whole lot of fun.
My initial thoughts were full of critique. The Black Library essentially looked back at the first three books, saw how they did a split between loyalist and traitor marines as far as the high ranking Astartes went and had two choices: 1) We can go a different route and make it so the whole ‘well, this is a pretty even split of good and bad guys having high-ranking positions.’ doesn’t feel forced or like a carbon copy. Or 2) Or they could do a carbon copy.
They did a carbon copy.
That immediately had me thinking ‘oh, goody, who wants new and innovative storylines when I can read the same story with different character names all over again. Yay’. That thought was immediately doubled when I discover that Nathaniel Garro is essentially Garviel Loken wearing different armour. And the first hundred pages or so was going to be the tried and tested ‘legion the book is about fighting the inhabitants of a world they wish to destroy/make compliant’.
But, as dismal as that sounds, it’s a copy that goes skin deep. Because, despite the similarities, the characters in this book felt like they had more going for them than the ones in the first three books, and James Swallow only had 416 pages to achieve that whereas the previous three authors had over 1,200. A copy that goes skin deep, but a copy that has so much more lurking beneath the surface.
There is A LOT in this book that essentially copies from the previous three. Much like how a Space Marine in book 1 got possessed, that happens again. But it’s done bigger and better. Similar to how Horus’ character progression happens at a stupidly fast pace, so does that of Nathaniel Garro. He goes from atheist to Jehovah’s Witness in the space of a page. just like Horus goes from Hero fo the Imperium to the guy who wants to destroy it.
The following pretty much sums up Garro’s conversion:
‘The Emperor is not a god.’
‘But he is, though.’
“You make a compelling argument. Please, join me in prayer.’
But, unlike that of Horus, Nathaniel Garro’s speedy character change is a necessity as, like I said before, he has ONE BOOK to get everything across whereas Horus has THREE WHOLE BOOKS.
Comparisons aside, this book has so much going for it. You might be wondering just how I can give it 5 out of 5 after all of the ‘but it’s a copy of previous books’ conversation above, and the answer to that is simply: because it deserves it. So much happens in this book. There are so many moving parts and set ups for later in the series (and much later in the timeline of the Imperium as a whole).
The combat, the speech (Garro’s far too easy conversion to religion aside), the descriptions of all the nasty things that chaos throws into the mix, just everything was done so well and to give it any less than top marks would be a bit cruel. The first two books felt a bit restrained with what was allowed to be done, but this, and the book that came before it, feel like they had more to play with and it just felt so fun because of that.
I look forward to seeing what goes on with Garro in the future but, alas, I am onto Fulgrim next which means yet more rewinds to before the events of book three. Can’t. Bloody. Wait … 😦