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4/17/2016

Xathrodox86 reviews: "The Emperor Expects" by Gav Thorpe

"The Beast Arises" series is getting more intense, with each new installment. In "The Emperor Expects" by Gavin Thorpe, the Imperium finally takes the fight to the Xenos. How will they fare against galaxy's deadliest alien spieces?

I've written before my feelings about Gav Thorpe. He's a big hit or miss, when it comes to Black Library fiction. On one hand his "Legacy of Caliban" and Eldar books are really good, on the other he's written the horrible "Deliverance Lost", a book which drove me away from collecting and playing Raven Guard, who were once my favorite Legion/Chapter. Still, I always believed that an author can improve himself, given enough time, and I'm happy to say, that "The Emperor expects" proved me right in that matter.

They've even got Stephen Lang on board for this book!

I'm going to point out one thing straight awat: this book is for all those, who love ships and space battles in the Warhammer 40,000. The naval action and void combat, presented in the "Emperor Expects" is visceral and brutal. The heavily outmached Imperial Navy faces off against the might of the greenskins armada, and even with a mighty Oberon-class battleship "Colossus", the outcome of this battle is far from certain for servants of the Emperor. "The Beast" once again proves a true master of all aspects of war, as his brutal and punishing tactics take heavy toll on the desperate, yet steadfast and resolute, imperials.

Our main heroes are captain Rafal Kulik, his first lieutenant Saul Schaffenbeck and admiral Price. High Admiral Lansung, one of the High Lords of Terra, also plays a big part in the story, and he's a wonderfully portrayed bastard. It is clear, that Lansung will do anything to remain in power, even if it means sacrificing Terra's safety and countless imperial lives. In contrast, Kulik, Price and Schaffenbeck are portrayed as honorable and... humanitarian. They hate to waste lives and care deeply about their fellow men, yet, when needs must, they do what is necessary to secure victory in the Emperor's name.

Of course we can't forget about the real hero of this series, Drakan Vangorich. The Grandmaster of Officio Assasinorum is once again doing all sorts of shady stuff, with the help of his right hand man, Esad Wire, known also as Beast Krule. This time his kill simulations are directed solely against High Admiral Lansung, whom Vangorich percieves (rightly so) as a clear and present threat to the Imperium's safety. The shady assassin Grandmaster is also working to secure the allegiance and help of Inquisitorial Representative Wienand. Meanwhile, the Inquisition sends a team of its senior operatives, under the command of Lord Inquisitor Veritus, to put the High Lords in line. What this means, is of course a blatant powergrab by the Big =I=, and a show of force, so beloved by them in the late 41st millenium. Needles to say, there is a conflict of interests between Veritus and his men, and Vangorich and Wienand, which results in a tense and bloody action, right in the middle of Holy Terra itself.

"We make the rules around here!"

Aside from the wonderfully portrayed space battles and political infighting, Gav also shows us what is probably, one of the more interesting parts of fiction ever presented in a Black Library publication -  a life of a pilgrim, travelling to the Cradle of Mankind. In "The Emperor Expects" readers can see just how much hardship, must a man of faith endure, to reach one of the holy sites on Ancient Terra. People are standing in an, almost endless lines, preyed upon by gangers and unscrupulous vendors. From the people selling vid-captures of the various Cathedral's inner sanctums, to merchants, offering food, water or even mobile sanitation devices, Gav Thorpe shows, just how strong faith can be in the collective spirit of Mankind. Countless thousands of impoverished pilgrims spend their entire lifetimes, for just a quick (literally a few seconds!) look at a pile of ashes, which was once a robe, supposedly worn by Roboute Guilliman himself, and a scrap of armour, reportedly belonging to the Emperor. It is at once depressing to read, but also strangely heartwarming, seeing the masses of humanity, united by a common faith.

"The Emperor Expects" was a wonderful read. The space battles were brutal and full od dramatic, desperate action. Terra's descriptions were on par with those in Graham McNeill's "The Outcast Dead", and from me that's a high prise. Vangorich and his motives were truly fascinating, and his plans within plans, a joy to read. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone, who loves a good fiction from the world of Warhammer 40,000. I just hope that the next titles in "The Beast Arises" series, will be just as good, as this one.

Also, for double the fun, after reading this book, install the "Batlefleet Gothic: Armada". It's like ordering a delicious dessert, right after a fine meal in a fancy restaurant. You won't regret it.

Mmmm, tasty...

Pros:

-Space battles were wonderfully presented.
-A fascinating and mercilles portrayal of Imperium's inner politics.
-A wonderful, yet immensly depressing, description of a life of countless pilgrims on Terra.
-I'm going to repeat myself, but it needs to be said once again, that Drakan Vangorich rocks!

Cons:

-Just like all the other books in this series, "The Emperor expects" was really short.
-The ammount of plots, political infighting, space battles etc. could sometimes be disorientating.

Until next time!

Xathrodox86