Once again, reluctant hero Commissar Cain is catapulted into glory in the fourth instalment of this tremendously popular series. Escaping from a disastrous space battle, the commissar and his malodorous sidekick Jurgen crash-land behind enemy lines. Even the sly Cain can’t avoid a straight fight this time, as the only way out is to round up what few troops they can find and fight their way back to safety. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of barbaric alien orks stand in their way.
Author: Sandy Mitchell
Publisher: Black Library
Series: Ciaphas Cain #4
Genre: Science Fiction/Warhammer 40k
Audio Release Date: 27/03/2021
Running Time: 8hrs 50mins
My Rating of ‘Death or Glory’: 5 out of 5
This is probably my favourite Cain novel yet.
Unlike the previous entries in the series, Cain is not with the Valhallan 597th (this is set some period of time before the events of said books). In this offering he is attached to a Valhallan Armoured division whom he becomes detached from due to the unfortunate events of a space battle.
With the bad luck of being entirely bereft of the Imperial Guard support he was expecting, and the even more rotten luck of being alone, but for his aide Jurgen, amidst a planet teeming with orks, Cain is forced to try and make it through insurmountable odds to as close to safety as he possibly can.
This is the sort of dynamic that works incredibly well and delivers a (in my case at least) appreciated break in the regular structure. It’s also the kind of dynamic that would get old if repeated.
Despite the drastic break in structure, it still very much felt like a Cain novel and, like the others in the series, is just such easy reading (or in my case listening). I do find that some of the characters are a bit simple or some times feel shoe-horned in because they are needed rather than they naturally would have been there, but the overall product is just one of those things that I can’t help but love and find it very hard to detract from. The character simplicity could also be attributed to Cain’s self-centred writing style. When you are writing solely about you, the people around you, people you only know for a short time, are hardly going to have much depth, after all.
My main gripe would be that in this, and in Caves of Ice, orks are treated like we are seeing them for the first time and it got a bit ‘being taught to suck eggs’ as far as explaining the Valhallan’s hatred of orks goes.
Other than that, though, absolutely top notch and I have already nabbed the next book in the series. Easily my favourite series in the Warhammer 40k universe.