Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Warhammer Wednesday: Crusade for Armageddon

Crusade for Armageddon was the very first Warhammer 40,000 novel I ever wrote. It was published back in 2003 and yet, several years on, some people are still discovering if for the first time.

Here's what one new convert had to say about it:

Crusade for Armageddon was the very first Warhammer 40K book I ever read. As such it, and the Black Templars, have always held a special place in my heart for igniting my undying love of all things 40K. Having lost my original copy to one of my greedy friends however I had not gotten a chance to re-read this classic until the Black Library released it, and the sequel Conquest for Armageddon, as a print on demand special. Now that I have read Crusade for Armageddon for a second time I can say that while much of my positive feelings towards it were undeniably nostalgia, it is still a heavy firepower novel sure to please any 40K fan.

Crusade for Armageddon follows a crusade fleet of the Black Templars Chapter, the most zealous and dedicated of all The Emperor's space marines, as they hunt down the vile ork warlord that destroyed their home and slew many of their brethren. Eventually the Black Templars track the ork down to Armageddon, a forge world vital to the Imperium of man that is already besieged on all sides by the greenskin menace. Rather than heed the call for help by the beleaguered Imperial defenders however, the Templars go on their own quest through the desolate ash wastes to avenge their fallen.

The plot is pretty straight forward, the Black Templars have an objective and they pursue it regardless of the dangers. Despite the simplicity of the plot however there is a good bit of depth to the three unique perspectives that alternate throughout the story. One perspective follows the Black Templars, warrior-monks armed and armored with the best weapons in the Imperium, as they hunt for the ork warlord that blighted their honor. Another perspective follows the warlord titan Tyrannus Maximus, a land battleship, as it copes with the loss of its titan legion and takes severe damage fighting in the wastes. And the last perspective follows a platoon of Steel Legion Imperial Guardsmen as they try to survive long enough to relay highly important information back to HQ. Though the character of the Black Templars are pretty flat (duty bound and zealous) the way their Chapter is portrayed is quite vivid. Readers get a sense of just how strict and unmerciful they are, even compared to the Emperor's other devout space marine Chapters. The inclusion of the Tyrannus Maximus and crew as well as the Steel Legion platoon provide a more human outlook to the conflict at hand. On a final note, though the orks themselves don't have a perspective in the story they are described quite vividly. Reading this story I could easily depict the shoddy weapons and jerry-rigged vehicles of the vile greenskins.

The action is the real draw here. This is what hooked me as a kid and bound me to 40K forever more. Readers will experience first hand the zealous fury of the Black Templars, from tactical marines to assault squads and even the implacable might of a dreadnought. There is also some titan on titan action courtesy of the Tyrannus Maximus and readers get to see a battle between giants wielding weapons capable of leveling entire cities. The last fight is, of course, the best of all. A courageous assault on an ork factory that draws all the individual perspectives together into one glorious attack. If you are looking for some intense action you are unlikely to do better than Crusade for Armageddon.

Is my review tainted by nostalgic bias? Absolutely. But does that mean Crusade for Armageddon doesn't deserve five stars? Not at all. Crusade for Armageddon is an explosive good time that shows the Black Templars as they are meant to be shown. The only problem will be getting your hands on a copy, I suggest a visit to the Black Library website where you can order one as print on demand and the sequel, Conquest for Armageddon, will be included as well.

5 stars!

Crusade for Armageddon is now available along with its sequel Conquest of Armageddon (and a couple of short stories) as The Armageddon Omnibus, which you can purchase direct from the Black Library here.

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