Overlooked and underused factions are a dime a dozen in Warhammer. It seems these days that even with efforts to build upon what we know, authors and the franchise as a whole seems determined to stick with the most recognised names. The Tallaran Imperial Guard, Saim-Hann, Sa’cea, the Howling Griffons, the Kabal of the Flayed Skull, the list is endless. One of the most criminally underused however is the Iron Hands.
One of the first space marine legions, the chapter with the closest ties to the mechanicus, a force who fought in the Isstvan V Massacres; they’re important but have all but been ignored by Games Workshop. This was one of the rare opportunities for them to take the spotlight and be the focus characters. It’s also why it’s so depressing to read through this novel’s sub-par content.
Set during the retaking of the Contqual sub-sector, Imperial forces are staging an assault against the major world of Shardenus. With massive heavily defended cities capable of repelling the fiercest of assaults, the crusaders request the presence of a clan company of the Iron Hands. Joining them, the Iron Hands soon realise that there is far more at stake than first seems and the Slaaneshi cultists who now dominate the system will soon summon a being to crush the crusade.
Having written the excellently grim and very costly Battle of the Fang, Christ Wraight seemed like the perfect author to write this book. The Iron Hands were a grimly determined legion, bent upon punishing traitors and while they had an identity they were still flexible enough for creative liberties. The problem seems to have been that unlike the Space Wolves, Wraight doesn’t seem to have enjoyed writing about the Iron Hands.