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It goes without saying that the Horus Heresy has had a turbulent history. For every Fulgrim we have had a Nemesis, for every Betrayer we have had a Descent of Angels, and for every glowing success a sub-par installment It’s unfortunate then that coming off two of the series’ best, Vulkan Lives is easily one of the weakest books of the Horus Heresy.
Divided between the events of the Great Crusade, Drop Site Massacres and a time of the legion’s shattering; the tome explores the nature of the Salamanders and their primarch. Throughout it their methods and differences are called into question, along with just what makes them stand apart from their more ruthless brothers at times of strength and weakness.
Or it at least tries to.
Despite taking place in multiple timelines there is no single solid impression of the legion which sticks. For all Betrayer’s flaws, the World Eaters had a clear and very concise presentation of what the legion XII was from beginning to end. Here we get some aspects of the Salamanders’ desire to preserve lives, but little else. The book is so focused upon their apparently superior morality, usually stating rather than showing this, that many other areas are simply left lacking. Their expertise as smiths and their traditions of this era are all but ignored. This lack of distinctiveness and character is only exemplified with eye rolling battle cries of “Eye-to-eye!” “Tooth-to-tooth!” A poor man’s substitute for “Iron Within!” “Iron Without!” if ever there was one.
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