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12/27/2015

Xathrodox86 reviews: "I am Slaughter" by Dan Abnett

Some time ago Black Library anounced the start of a new series, spanning the entire year 2016. Apparently it will concentrate on the biggest WAAAGH!!! in the history of the Imperium, right until the invasion of Ghazghkul.


Every good or bad thing eventually comes to an end. The execs at Games Workshop know that and even tough they wish that Horus Heresy would go on forever and ever, one day it will end. Despite my feelings about this overblown series, I agree that when it'll finally hit the end, Black Library will be left with no strong follow up. That's why I've met the news about "The Beast arises" series with enthusiasm. Not only is it set a thousand years after the apocalyptic civil war, responsible for the grim darkness of 41st millenium, but also presents xenos as a credible threat to the Imperium, something that is less than common in Warhammer 40, 000 media lately.

However there were some... troubling signs as well. Only the first book was written by an author, who can be considered "decent" in the Black Library. Abnett is definetly still the best they have, alongside Aaron Dembski-Bowden and Chris Wraight. Ok, granted there's also Guy Haley on board this train, whom I really like (check oout his Black Templar stuff) but then I've spied names like Gav Thorpe and Rob Sanders, both of whom are not exactly terrible, but also not that great. "Deliverance Lost" by Thorpe was cringe-inducing, same with terribly boring "Skitarius" and "Tech-Priest" by Sanders. Of course it's quite normal for BL to advertise their new series with a BANG, in this case the BANG is none other than "Mighty Dan" himself. So how did it worked and is "I am Slaughter" a decnt book, heraldling a great and fresh series, set in the universe of WH40K?

Don't hold your breath folks. It's decent, but unfortunately just that.

Oh and of course there will be SPOILERS. You have been warned.

Check out the reflection in his sword!

"It is the thirty-second millennium and the Imperium is at peace. The Traitor Legions of Chaos are but a distant memory and the many alien races that have long plagued mankind are held in check by the Space Marines. When a mission to exterminate one such xenos breed on the world of Ardamantua draws in more of their forces, the Imperial Fists abandon the walls of Terra for the first time in more than a thousand years. And when another, greater, foe strikes, even the heroic sons of Rogal Dorn may be powerless against it. The Beast Arises… and it is mighty."

The book is told from multiple perspecitves. There's the titular "Slaughter", an Imperial Fists captain, leading his men in a xenocide of Chromes, a species of alien insects, living between dimensions. These creatures pose such a huge threat that an entire chapter is sent to Armatura, the world where Chromes have emerged, with only a few Battle Brothers left on Terra. It's at this point that we learn about a huge change that occured within the Sons of Dorn.

Their names are fucking stupid.

Apparently after the Siege of Terra, the Fists decided to take "honour" names who are simply silly. Like the titular captain "Slaughter" or a dude named "Zaraphustra", "Kill-shot", "Longstrike" (do not mistake with a rather famous Tau) and many other. Now this is a perfect example of Abnett's "improvements" to the setting. He did that a couple of times before, but every time these changes were actually good or at the very least decent, like the "theoretical - practical" in "Know no Fear" or a more savage look of Vlka Fenryka in "Prospero Burns". This however is simply dumb. These names are not badass, they don't invoke fear or respect. I will never take seriously a guy whose name is "Benchpress", given to him by his gym buddies.

There are other characters as well and, unfortunately, every single one of them is more interesting than the Astartes. Officio Assasinorum Grandmaster and backstabbing enthusiast, Drakan Vangorich, plays a huge part in the story and is easily the most sympathetic hero of all. Every 40K nerd knows that Vangorich, at one point, axed the entirety of High Lords of Terra, but only now we can understand his motives. Abnett masterfully portrays his frustration and anger at the Council's of Terra unwillingness to act against a threat, that is almost at the doorstep of the Mankind's cradle. He's not a power hungry maniac, like Gorge Vandire, but a patriot who dosen't wish to see his Imperium, which barely survived the onslaught of Horus, once again threatened with destruction. Vangorich's motives are relatable and given the other High Lord's incompetence, Dan really made a character that's not only sympathetic, in a 40K sort of way, but who's actions are also thought out and carried out with best interests in heart.

Of course one could say the same about Horus, so what do I know?

A true patriot right there

The rest of the cast is a pretty solid assortment of individuals, ranging from High Lords of Terra to Inquisitors, being still a realtively fresh faction, to Tech-Priests. None of them is as memorable as Vangorich, but their power plays are entertaining to read, especially when the Ork threat finally arrives and suddendly politics and shadowy deals in the halls of Terra go down the drain. The Greenskins themselves are presented as a genuine threat, one that SPOILER wipes out the entire Imperial Fists chapter and will soon move towards Terra itself. Here's another problem tough. You see, the Orks are in this book for maybe 3 chapters tops (similar thingie was done to The Razing of Prospero which took about the last 2 chapters of Dan's "Prospero Burns"), and given the fact that this is a relatively short read/audio it's not much. Oh yeah, I've forgot to mention that this series will apparently consist of half-novellas, instead of full releases, something which I've found mildly irritating. For all the fuss that the Black Library gave us, having a 12 short books is kind of a letdown, especially for the price they're asking for it.

Anyway, back to the Orks. The Greens have apparently constructed a Death Star-like super weapon with moving mouth (I'm not kidding), which works as an entrance to some big orky empire, from which they can transport huge quantities of troops and materiel to fight their endless wars. The horde is commanded by a Warboss known as the "Beast" and... "Slaughter". Oh, I see what you did there Dan. Pretty clever. Anyway the "Beast" is such a badass that apparently he can make the Ork Super Moon talk, because... it's dramatic? I don't know. By this point things gotten really silly and I was just waiting for some more action from Drakan Vangorich, because that was interesting and easily the best part of the whole book.

I will be honest with you. I think Dan Abnett is slowly getting tired of writing 40K. It really shows in his last books such as "The Unremembered Empire", "Macragge's Honour" and now in "I am Slaughter" as well. I had a good reference to his earlier work, beacuse when reading this newest, blockbuster-like entry in the world of Grimdarkness, I was also reading the "Eisenhorn" trilogy and boy is there a difference. Altough you don't have to come back that far. "Propsero Burns", one of my favorite sci-fi books of all time, released a couple of years ago, is so much better than this, not only beacuse it's longer, but simply beacuse it's better written. I know that Dan is also working for other publishers and companies, and that his newest entry into the Gaunt's Ghosts saga has already been delayed. Maybe he should take a break from writing for Black Library, take a vacation, recharge his batteries and then come back to expanding the universe of Warhammer 40,000. He's still one of the best, if not the best, author that BL employs and it'd be a shame to see him go to waste. It's not about Dan and Space Marines, since he portrayed them incredibly well in titles such "Know no Fear", "Legion" and "Prospero Burns". I think that it's about having too much on your head. Take a break and then come back to us Dan. We need you to keep writing excellent fiction and while "I am Slaughter" was a good read, it was far from excellent. Unfortunately.

Pros:

-Shows the Imperium right after the Heresy.
-Interesting portrayal of Imperium's inner politics.
-Drakan Vangorich's character and motivations.
-Battles are decently written.

Cons:

-Imperial Fists dumb names.
-The main antagonist/threat appears at the very end of the book.
-Talking Ork Moon.
-It's a very short book, too short for its price.

Until next time and a Happy New Year! Hopefully 2016 will be the year of more regular updates.

Don't worry, it's not that bad

Xathrodox86

12/02/2015

You mad bro? A small talk about being butthurt in the grim darkness of the far future. Rant warning!

We need to talk dear 40K fanbase. We need to talk about your attitude, which lately has been... lacking to say the least.


But first a daily reminder that Age of Sigmar a shit.

Age of Sig....OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

Done. Now back to our scheduled program. I'll cut right to the chase, because I'm not in the mood to pan this one out. For the last couple of days the internet has been full of butthurt, whiny, nasal voiced assholes, complaining about "Mont'ka", the newest campaign addon for the Warhammer 40,000. The second part of the epic Tau vs Imperium campaign had made quite an impact on the 40K community worldwide, and by "impact" I meant "made a lot of Imperium fanboys butthurt like hell".

Now before we go any further, I'd just like to point out two things. One: I'm an Imperium player myself. I have 3 armies dedicated to the glorious Emperor, two of which are Space Marines. Second thing: I don't play Tau, altough I do like them a lot as a faction, mainly because of the air of freshness that they've brought to this setting. That said, when I was considering which army to collect next, I've finally settled on Legiones Astartes, and not little blue men. Like I've said, I'm an imperial at heart.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

That said, it's time for me to adress the current situation that is happening on various forums, websites, communites etc, concerning the "Mont'ka" supplement. In principal it's about Tau managing to beat the imperials and sent them packing. You see, after the events of "Kauyon", the Imperium has sent a huge Crusade fleet, which included Titan Legions, Skitarii, countless Guardsmen units and whatnot. Initially they've kicked Shadowsun's ass on Agrellan (Mu'gulath bay for you xeno lovers out there), due to Tau being unable to reinforce their depleted armies, but then - surprise Farsight!

Surprise buttsecks!

Farsight turns the tide of battle, as the master of Mont'ka, the killing blow, and together with Shadowsun they begin to take back the initiative. The Imperium grows desperate and decides, at first, to deploy the Assassins to kill the Xenos command cadre (they've only got Aun'va tough) and finally they use a doomsday weapon that scorches the entire surface of Agrellan and creates a fucking firestorm in space, which cuts off the entire Damocles Gulf from the rest of the Dominium. Nearly 50% of Imperium's forces get wiped out in the process, but hey - it's still a victory, right? The Xenos lost. They've lost to the superior might of humanity. Muh Space Marines! Muh Emperor! DURRRRR!

Well, no. Not exactly. The Tau actually won, or at the very least this one's a draw. First of all, they've managed to fend off an entire imperial crusade, which not only consisted of millions of Guardsmen and AdMech units, but also the entire Execution Force (usually deployed against things like Abaddon's lieutenants), two first-founding Chapters, which they've decimated, together with killing one of their Chapter Masters and  a buttload of Navy vessels. Despite all this shit thrown at them, they've still won and forced the Imperium to use its "fuck you we win anyway" card in the form of the aformentioned doomsday device. The Tau even managed to snatch some imperial tech which will come in handy, when they'll finally develop their FTL drive.

All in all, not a bad action on the Blue Guys side, eh? However it's worth mentioning that the Tau did suffered horrendous losses on the hands of the Emperor's armies, as well as having their Empire cut off from the majority of their forces. The Adeptus Mechanicus were also successful in nicking their air purification technology, for use on their Forgeworlds. Aun'va, the Supreme Leader of the Tau, also got killed and Commander Farsight has a lot to do, steeming the tide of Tyranids, who decided to try and omnomnom his Enclaves. All these points paint a picture of a victorious young race, who ultimately paid a high price for their triumph and is actually one of the better written conflicts by GW in recent years.

And then the Imperium fags came on and oh my God, are they fucking unbearable. I do mean - unbearable to the extreme.

It's too late for that. They've already begun to breed

All across the internet, Space Marine fanboys and Astra Militarum armchair generals shed the tears of impotent rage, as their Mary Sue factions got kicked in the gonads by the blue Xenos. Cries of "Shadowsun's plot armour DURRRR" and "Tau would never defeat my beloved Raven Guard/White Scars/Cadians etc." could be heard from the vaunted halls of Bolter and Chainsword to the blasted plains of 4chan's /tg/. The sheer outrage and butthurt that for once, for fucking once, the Imperium is on a losing side, was deafening. These morons analised every single engagement from both Damocles books, writing treaties claiming that, no really, Corvin Severax should totally kill O'Shasera and that the Execution Force should butcher every single Tau Commander, not only Aun'va, because they're Assassins and they're awesome and who gives a shit about the little, blue commies anyways, right?

The answer is: no and go fuck yourselves you shitposting retards. Seriously, someone posted a very good summary of imperial players in general - in that they're like a cancer on this hobby. I couldn't agree more, and I'm an imperial player. When I've begun this hobby, back in 2008, most of us were not THAT bad. People bitched about Matt Ward and the Ultramarine wank in general (which was overrated, but that is beside the point), but there was still a level of civility. Nowdays you can't go to any 40K board without reading how "Imperium rule and Xenos drool". The level of general hate towards any other faction than Space Marines, Ad Mech or Imperial Guard, which manages to grab a spot for even a short time is incredible. People who spend most of their time painting power armour and pauldrons, can't comprehend for even one second, that their guys are A) not invincible and B) prone to fail from time to time. Yes, the Imperium is the protagonist of 40K, but that dosen't mean it can't fail. That's what makes a faction great in the long run. Not it's myriad victories, not Marneus Calgar having a successful rematch with a Swarmlord or Sicarius blowing up the Necron Monolith with a Stasis Grenade, but the notion that these guys, even the superhuman ones, are still only humans and can lose. A hero who fails, but ultimately fights on is how you build a good narrative and make people interested in his developement, instead of just showing how great of a fighter he is, and how awesome and unstoppable he is in combat.

I know that most 40K players want just that, to know that their guys are the best and without any flaws, but seriously, that's just weak and childish and fucking pathetic. It's the equivalent of a fictional masturbation, wanting your heroes to be the best evah and treating all other factions as punching bags, getting outraged when they strike back, like the Tau did in "Kauyon" and "Mont'ka". The Imperium's players are generally just like that, and yes, I know that I'm generalising, but since being introduced into this hobby, more than 7 years ago, I've been keeping a keen eye on its fanbase. I'm not talking out of my ass, and this is really sad, because I almost wish that I had. I've never seen a fan faction more rage-filled, arrogant and downright disrespectful towards others, than the Imperium players, mainly the Space Marine ones, who have trouble with ackonwledging other people's factions, the fact that their pet marines don't recieve CONSTANT updates ("why there are no captains for every single chapter's, every single company?") and let's not even mention the level of rage, when one of glorious Astartes chapters gets its ass kicked, like White Scars and Raven Guard did in Damocles. The hate train has no brakes, let me tell you. Then there's the cry of "Tau/Eldar/Necron Codex is OP!", because it has an easy way to deal with a 3+ Armour Save, or their vehicles also have Ballistic Skill 4! Oh those bastards, how dare they do this? It's not like our basic units are above average in stats and armour department. They should be even better. Quick, release the next Space Marine Codex... two months after the last one. What? Faction X hasn't been updated in years? Well fuck those guys, they don't wear pauldrons.

"For the Emperor!"

So yeah, here you have it. The community is experiencing a shitstorm of epic proportions, because the Tau DARED to score a win, altough a costly one, but most of the imperial morons don't seem to realise that. For them the only important things are that Severax, a dude with two pieces of artwork and no backstory, got melted by Shadowsun and that the Xenos had an upper hand, for once. Oh, whatever will you do, dear Space Marine/Mechanicum/Imperial Guard players? Bitch some more? Write a shitty fanfiction about Marneus Calgar teabagging Farsight? Or maybe just infect the 40K forums with more of your fecal brain matter? Reading some of those people's posts I'm generally surprised that they have the mental capacity to even be able to read, write or paint, but then again the Astartes models are big and have large, flat surfaces, all the easier for those syphilitic monkeys to clash their brushes on them.

At this point I wanted to say that I feel really sorry for Eldar and Tyranids players, who did not had a decisive victory over the Imperium in years, unless you count the Mymeara and Anphelion campaigns, made by Forgeworld. Sucks to be them, I guess. Should have chosen the Master Race suckers, even tough the Master Race kinda blows and is really, really boring in general. Yeah, you've heard it. The current fluff quality for the Imperium is horrible, with only Gaunt's Ghosts representing any level of decent storytelling and no, Horus Heresy is horrible and with every book, it spirals even more downwards into hell of identical power armoured dudes, fighting other power armoured dudes, while some immortals watch creepily from the sides, doing... nothing really. Yeah, the whole Perpetuals plot seems to have been dropped from the story altogether. None of them had a geneseed in them, so maybe that was the reason.

Watching that whole affair made me realise one, sad thing. If I'll ever leave this hobby, then it won't be beacause of high prices, time, real life problems. No, it'll be because I'll read one too many threads about an outraged, basement-dwelling virgin who'll be furious about glorious captain Steelpants getting killed by an Eldar, the only casualty on the Imperium's side, while the Xenos will get once again wiped out to a man. Then it'll be time to fucking quit that whole ordeal and finally move on to a less toxic hobby. Like professionally playing Battlefield or Call of Duty.

Warhammer 40,000 has a lot of factions to collect, paint and play. Space Marines and Imperium in general, are not the only ones. They are not the only ones to recieve regular updates, new minis, cool story arcs and victories. There are players who don't get a hard on for "beakies" and Leman Russes, and who also deserve some love and recognition for their favorite armies, even if said armies don't have the Imperial Aquila as their symbol of allegiance. Hammer that into your thick, ceramite-plated skulls. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to assembling my Horus Heresy Ultramarines. It's kinda hard for me to find the willingness to do so tough. Don't really know why.

Oh and here's a nice, farewell pic from the Age of Sigmar.

Nothing is sacred. NOTHING!

Until next time!

Xathrodox86