Book Review: “The Macharian Crusade: Angel of Fire”

It is the dawn of the 41st millennium. Humanity has been fractured by internal struggles for millennia thanks to the Age of Apostasy, and hundreds of worlds have remained separated from the Imperium of Man due to warp storms, succession or outright loss of records. But one man stands resolute in the face of this dark time. He is Macharius, Lord Commander Solar of the Imperium! He has gathered the largest massing of the Imperial Guard since the time of the Great Crusade thousands of years ago, and he has vowed that he will reunite those lost worlds to the greater Imperium! But first he must conquer Karsk for the precious resources it holds for his new crusade. But something sinister is lurking within the depths of this world, waiting to be unleashed. Can even Macharius stand up to the ancient evil centered upon the Angel of Fire?

Beware, for there be spoilers ahead.

Well, it’s finally come Warhammer fans. We’re finally getting a chance to see firsthand something only mentioned in little texts of fluff from the rulebooks. We’re finally getting to see the Macharian Crusade! This book covers near the beginning of Macharius’ seven year campaign, and he’s still growing into his power. It’s written by the long time black Library author William King, famous for both the Space Wolves series as well as the Gotrek and Felix books. But how does Angel of Fire stand up to his sterling record?

I’d have to say it does a pretty good job. It’s well within the quality one would expect for William King. The tale is gripping, and the personalities of the characters fleshed out. It was obvious he was experimenting a bit with this book, and I say that because he didn’t write it from the perspective of Macharius himself. He wrote it from the perspective of troopers serving under him. Which actually makes a good bit of sense. I mean, how do you write this larger than life general in such a way that you can relate to him? This man conquered almost a thousand worlds in just seven years! So to properly capture the feel of Macharius, you go to who felt his influence the most. The soldiers who he led and inspired.

Now, I did have a few issues with this book. Most are minor, but the one big one was how King wrote the soldier thinking back on the Crusade. His thoughts are always rather terse and clipped, which makes sense for a soldier but also made the prose a little clunky. I get the feeling King is trying to properly get a handle on how he wants to handle this trilogy he’s got planned, and this book is him testing the waters a bit before he gets his balance. It’s not a bad book by any means. In fact, it’s a pretty damn good book. Nothing especially wowed me, per se, but the over all product is pretty fantastic. So if you’re a Warhammer fan I recommend you pick up this book. For myself, I’m eagerly looking forward to the rest of this series. It promises to be a grand old tale of blood, guts and military action. But for now, let’s leave off on the words of William King himself giving his own thoughts on the novel.

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