The legendary Grey Knights are all that stand between mankind and the horrors of chaos. Secret Guardians who journey into the very realms of the warp and beyond in pursuit of the enemy; to most they and their foes are nothing more than myth and legend, those are the lucky ones.
The fortress of Titan is where new recruits are brought for intensive training, the lucky few of which will join the hallowed 666th chapter. This legendary force must be ever vigilant and always ready to defend the Imperium against the forces of Chaos, an enemy that is never truly defeated.
I've been reading a few stories by Aaron Dembski-Bowden lately and it's clear he's a very talented author but The Emperor's Gift transcends anything else he's done before by a wide margin. The subject matter of course couldn't be better, the Grey Knights make the perfect hero's in this grim Warhammer 40k universe and the author manages to capture the essence of these secret battle-brothers brilliantly.
If I had to sum up this book in just one word it would be "evocative" but it's so much more than that too, the story holds an incredible amount of power, the prose is crisp, friendly, easy to read and more gripping than a bulldog clip. Above all though are the characters, these legendary warriors who fight their battles in secret are brought to life perfectly. Each of them have their own distinct and colourful personality and its impossible not to be drawn to them. They also grow and change as the story progresses too, something that feels very organic and pretty realistic.
This creative characterisation extends to the way that these post-human's behave too, clearly very different to us mere mortals and the author does a very effective job of distancing them from the rest of humanity, even so far as providing the lead character Hyperion with a fascination for the human.
The fight scenes are just beautiful, richly described, fast paced and pretty brutal; the author manages to capture perfectly the Grey Knights ability to use their psi powers just as much as their physical prowess. The theatres of war are nicely diverse too from the void to the claustrophobic confines of a starship each is described in an almost elegant fashion. The ending to the story is pretty powerful too, a brooding, and thoughtful conclusion that fits perfectly.
The Emperor's Gift is one of the finest Warhammer 40k novel's I have read so far and it should be seen as essential reading for any fan of the genre.
Written on Wednesday 6th June 2012 by Antony.
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