Monday, 6 July 2015

Horus Heresy: Deathfire (Book Review)

If ever there was a Black Library release which can be judged by its title alone, it would be Deathfire. Really, the very word itself is all you need to know, cringe-worthy, almost juvenile and written with a mishandled intent to produce something meaningfully epic. What’s inside proves to be a drawn out tumorous mass of needless plot, padding, confused messages and an attempt to deliver shout-outs to The Odyssey which devolve into equal parts naval gazing and bolter porn.


  1. I hate to correct the occasional spelling mistake, we all make them, and I'm only bringing this up because it's the summary quote: "Mundane naval gazing with some of the most borNing bolter porn ever put onto paper."

    You know, I'd be genuinely more interested in going through a random Imperial Citizens tax papers than I am in reading more about the Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard. How many more books are we going to get about the shattered legions? At least taxes would shed more light into how the universe works (and could make a great April Fools joke for Black Library to release) and this sentiment isn't just mine, back when the last anthology came out (about the Shattered Legions naturally) the majority of people on every forum I found that brought it up shared my sentiment.

    I really do like the way you usually do reviews though, breaking down the good, the bad, and giving the final line (or the insulting if you want to keep to your website name) is a really good idea for focussing on any novel in my opinion, and it really says how bad the novel is that you jump very quickly to the bad.

    I'm also very curious about why the Death Guard/Salamanders were chosen for some of these plot points, and by that I mean surely there's some other legions to work in rather than the two toughest legions (I mean they're known for their endurance and how hard they are to kill) and making them die by the truckload.
    Wouldn't it have made more sense to have the somebody like the Iron Warriors sending in troops without air support if their air support was busier elsewhere because they're very pragmatic like that?

    I mentioned a long while ago that I found it extremely implausible that the traitors could do what they did after Isstvan III (where Forgeworlds books say they attempt to kill roughly 30% of their forces since they were loyalist, and lose another 30% sending some of their forces down to kill them), then Isstvan V happened, (sure they wrecked the loyalists but they had to have taken some losses), though you came up with some explanations that made sense, but if death counts like these keep happening I have no idea how they stand a prayers chance in hell at waging the Siege of Terra against three Legions, one of which is almost full strength, the other two aren't doing too bad and at this rate (including the other books) the traitors will be down to roughly 10% of their starting forces.

    1. hey, would rather you point them out than they go missing entirely, so I do appreciate you citing such an issue. Truth be told that last bit was added at the last second anyway, upon forgetting that these articles needed a brief opening statement.

      That sides, i'm torn. On the one hand, unlike a lot of people I actually have enjoyed some of the Shattered Legions stories thus far and don't mind that they're getting some focus. On the other hand though, some of the stories are really bad (including a one which had Nick Kyme retconning "Flesh is Weak" to be Ferrus praising biology, only the Iron Hands didn't understand it. Really, someone up top must seriously hate Ferrus Manus' chapters.) and they're not adding much to events. They're supposed to be side stories, additional events to help flesh out the universe and show the scale of the conflict, but they've become so prominent they've hijacked the entire narrative. The series should be expanding things like the Imperium Secundus, how Terra is facing this gradual onslaught and problems of the war, perhaps even just a few side stories about certain planets. There was a rather inventive one involving the Alpha Legion turning a world to their favour without firing a shot, or even needing a single astartes to be there. However, rather than sticking to any of these interesting elements, we're now stuck with faux intelligent ideas and books padded out with enough bolter porn to make even the most bloodthirsty reader start to feel tired. If they wanted to focus upon these legions, they could at least do something interesting like showing them.

      As for the Death Guard, trust me it gets dumber from there. We have a Terminator taken out by a hammer (just an icon of a hammer, non-enhanced or made for war) and it's never explained, just given a vague "faith proved it" detail. The novel even goes so far as to try and excuse this with a blink and you'll miss it declaration of these Guard being outcasts, but it's never expanded upon nor are they ever made remotely interesting. Worse still, even the Iron Warriors are not so careless as the Death Guard here. We've seen their boarding actions in the past, and it involves a hell of a lot more strategy, tactics and planning than just rushing the enemy. Honestly. you know things have gone to hell when the World Eaters on a bad day are displaying more tactical capability and skill. With this one, i'm really beginning to agree with you that the casualty count makes no sense. Originally the idea was that Horus basically rushed Terra with as much as he could afford to send at the world, minimising his own losses even in the face of the Isstvan conflicts, and letting those who were more battle ready take the brunt of the fighting. Here? With bits like this i'm really beginning to wonder just how any of these legions are going to have anyone left by the time they arrive, save for a few hundred badly wounded astartes.

    2. All right then, I'll point them out when I see them, though I promise not to go too nit-picky with them.

      Oh don't get me wrong, I did enjoy Shattered Legions stories, but as you say they focus on them so much that at this point I'd love for anything except the Shattered Legions. At the least they could finish off the heresy, then go back and do some more Shattered Legions as a flashback or "untold story" or some such thing like that.

      On the plus side Forgeworld's books did Iron Hands pretty well, in those Ferrus is hesitant to replace their flesh, but when he saw his troops were so willing (in some cases replacing parts was mandatory to test out some of his inventions, specifically certain suits of terminator armour) he decided to let them without complaint, and even continued development on these inventions until right before Isstvan V.

      If you're interested in a book that did a campaign that focuused on the villain fairly well, including losses of the villains forces as the campaign went along, just look up Forgeworlds Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos book (otherwise known as Army Book: Chaos Dwarfs). In it the Chaos Lord Tamurkhan is trying to get the titular Throne of Chaos, which is eternal dominion over the mortal realm in an immortal body.

      Basically the gist of it is the Chaos Gods were very bored of waiting for the right Everchosen to show up, and decided to have a four-way battle through their greatest champions to see who was the best, with the winner being awarded command of all armies and given a goal: The destruction of Nuln, the city of Magnus the Pious (the former Emperor and slayer of the previous Everchosen). If their champion succeeded in destroying Nuln they'd be awarded the Throne of Chaos, which was surprisingly nice for them, but to be fair this was before they wanted to destroy the world (they only wanted to condemn it here).

      Surprisingly Nurgle won the four-way brawl and his champion, Tamurkhan, took a lot of preparations. He knew that attacking from the north never works out at all, even though he had a horde the size of which made previous hordes look pathetic, and decided on a different approach, to come around from the east and attack their western border where they have barely any defences and recruit Giants, Mammoths and Chaos Dwarfs along the way to add extra firepower to his army.

      This ended up being a shockingly bad idea, though to be fair he had no idea you could piss off mountains, or what determined Night Goblins could do to Chaos Warriors, and he never saw the movie 300 whereas the Ogres he fought against had. By the time he actually reached the Empire his forces were barely a third of what they started out as, and this ends up being one of the major factors in his downfall.

  2. "Deathfire", not to be confused with fellow Image Comics' releases, "Deathblow" and "Deathmate".

    That title... I'm honestly expecting BL to just hire Rob Liefeld at this point.

    1. Yeah, and it's pretty much exactly as you'd expect from that. Well, no, actually it's a hell of a lot worse. At least Deathblow was entertaining during World's End after joining Stormwatch.

  3. I actually thought that this was one of the better BL library books I've read. I don't know much for the messages in the book but the plot and characters were excellent.It was so heart wrenching to see Numeon go through his journey and all the shit he has to deal with. I heard the audiobook and those sirens were seriously disturbing. It was like someone let insidious into 40k. I have to admit that though the defense of Nocturne was emotionally vindicating and stuff the death guard were pants on head retarded. Still, it was a great book. I can't wait to see what Barthusa Narek or Kor Galek does. If we're lucky John Grammaticus might pop up.