Book 5 of the Siege of Terra
After a series of victories, the Imperial forces are on the back foot once more. The power of Chaos is rising, the Traitors gain ground, and all hope seems lost. Can Terra endure?
READ IT BECAUSE
Delve back into the biggest war in Imperial history, which is getting even bigger as Traitor Titans land and the influence of the warp grows, plaguing the defenders in all sorts of vile ways.
The victories of Saturnine and the sacrifices of the Eternity Wall space port have faded into the hope of yesterday. Denied but not defeated, the Traitors intensify their assault on the Imperial Palace. With the principal space ports in Horus’ hands, the Warmaster now drains the heavens of his reserves.
As the pressure of the assault increases, the power of Chaos waxes. The waking lives of the defenders are filled with despair, while their dreams pull them in search of a false paradise. As the fabric of the defences fails and the will of those who stand on them cracks, Horus commands the Titans of the Legio Mortis to breach the walls. Against them stands the might of Mercury Wall and the strength of the Legio Ignatum. Ancient rivals, the god-engines of both Legions meet in battle, while within the walls a few desperate individuals seek a way to turn back the tide of the warp’s malign influence. Across Terra, lost warriors and travellers make their way through wastelands and gardens of horror, towards home and an unknown future.
Written by John French
Brilliant, with one flaw…
I really enjoy John French’s additions to the canon. He really gets the setting and can weave very detailed stories without sacrificing character along the way. This wasn’t quite as jaw-droppingly epic as Saturnine, Dan Abnett is the king of this kind of writing, still - it comes close, considering it had a huge chunk of plot to bring up and deal with.
The only point that really felt like a flaw, however, was the end of Perturabo’s play. Amidst 30,000+ words dedicated solely to characters we don’t know and are mostly there to die in the Grimdark horror of war, we get about 2 pages where Perturabo and the Iron Warriors have a quick look outside, have a four line soliloquy, and - bam - they’re off, never mentioned again. Badly judged. I know we need to see some of the combatants and views from the line, but honestly - Perturabo! Just downs tools on his masterpiece and says “hey-ho, never mind…” and we, the readers, get nothing. It reminded me of tv shows where an actor asks to be written out and gets the boot in a duff, perfunctory manner. I’m not sure who Perturabo’s agent is, but I think she can legitimately complain about her clients rather pathetic end.
5 stars for the breadth and depth and finding ways to keep talk about mega explosions and blood rain from growing dull.
1 star for totally forgetting to write Perturabo’s exit and apparently publishing the rough notes version with the starred coda: must finish writing this bit…
Muddled, inconsequential, Incomplete
The Siege of Terra series has so far been rather disappointing compared to the Horus Heresy series. The Praetorian of Dorn was the last truly excellent entry, with the normally dependable Abnett’s Saturnine and the Solar War being passable entries. So we arrive at Mortis - purportedly the story of titan warfare on Terra. Sounds thrilling, right? Well, sadly, it isn’t. Somehow, there is little drama to the limited tactical vocabulary of these machine confrontations, with potential game changers like vortex missiles and psy-titans somehow wittled away for little impact. Where are the Banelords set up in Titan death? Instead we have something which was not set up previously - it is as if this writer had not even read the earlier entries except in summary. But this is not the novel’s biggest problem, not at all. In fact the titan battles were bearable. No, what comes betwixt is so bad I found myself skim reading. There are subplots going on with time-travelling or dreaming (I had no idea which) perpetuals who seem to have stolen the Subtle Knife from Pullma which were confusing to the point of being infuriating. The writer was attempting to pull of clever literary allusion to Paradise Lost, Greek myth etc but as a writer and literary student myself, who should LOVE this stuff, I feel it did not work at the levels it was trying to do. The overall effect is boring and confusing (yes I said that already) and nothing has any consequence at all. But I persevered to the end - because it would end with some kind of conclusion right? But no, we were denied even that. The novel does not reach the conclusion even of its premise, and there is no more cardinal sin. This novel is filler and u can skip it with likely no loss of comprehension. My advice is do so.