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While the first omnibus focused upon the Soul Drinkers trying to start anew, Annihilation depicts them suffering from their mistakes. It was at this point the series shifted direction, moving in a more coherent plotline towards an ultimate conclusion. While the novels were still episodic and separated from one another, the events of each began to have more impact upon the following tales. Furthermore the shadowy dealings of Chaplain Iktinos provided a distinctive thread to link them together previous installments had lacked. Is this addition a boon or a liability to the final half of the saga? Find out below.
The strange thing about both omnibuses is that they both start with the weakest stories in the series before moving onto much stronger tales. This might be due to Counter being at his best when his heroes are trying to recover from some great loss, with their backs against the wall, but it’s a flaw which can easily put off new readers.
Set decades after the conclusion to Crimson Tears, Chapter War shows the Soul Drinkers having rebuilt to their full strength. While lacking in vehicles and specialists, they once more number one thousand battle brothers and are united in their cause to protect humanity rather than the Imperium. However, some interpret their cause differently. Eumenes and many of the later recruits, lacking the indoctrinated loyalty of the chapter’s teaching machines, wish to directly wage war against the Imperium. Striking out against Imperial strongholds with the eventual goal of assaulting Terra itself and smashing the astronomican.
As the Soul Drinkers find themselves on the brink of another chapter war, caught between the Orks they arrived on Vanqualis to fight, Imperial Penal Guard regiments and the loyalist Howling Griffons; a grim truth about their history begins to surface…
As with Soul Drinker,the novel has good ideas but fails to realise them and is largely undercut byits plot. In an effort to make a kind of “soft reboot” many elements were altered from the previous novel and several acts are very questionable. Mostnotable among them is the personality transplant Eumenes has suffered, turning him into Starscream and resembling little of the Scout Sergeant from before.While this could be put down to changes which have taken place over decades,we’re not really told or shown them and they’re hard to accept given thedramatic changes in attitudes between novels. Many of the long standing character who side with Eumenes are little better, with only their duties or a handful of scenes to support their decisions.