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The Blood Angels omnibus Paperback – July 8, 2008
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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About the Author
James Swallow has written several books, including Star Trek: Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers and Seeds of Dissent (from Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Infinity's Prism); the Sundowners quartet of ‘steampunk’ science fiction Westerns (Ghost Town, Underworld, Iron Dragon and Showdown); the best-selling novelization of The Butterfly Effect; The Flight of the Eisenstein, Faith and Fire and Jade Dragon; the 2000AD tie-ins Eclipse, Blood Relative and Whiteout; Stargate Atlantis: Halcyon; and the Blood Angels duology Deus Encarmine and Deus Sanguinius.
In addition, Swallow’s short fiction has appeared in Inferno! and Stargate magazine, the anthologies Star Trek Voyager: Distant Shores, the Doctor Who Short Trips collections Dalek Empire and Destination Prague, Something Changed, Collected Works, What Price Victory and Silent Night.
His non-fiction includes Dark Eye: The Films of David Fincher and books on writing, genre television and animation; he has also written for Star Trek: Voyager, Doctor Who and Space 1889, along with several scripts for audio and videogames.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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The Blood Angels Omnibus
by James Swallow
Similar to anthologies, omnibus’ can be hard to review accurately, at least in a concise manner, due to the fact that they are made up of several stories that can vary in quality both in writing and the fact that are different stories.
Thankfully, in the case of the Omnibus of the Blood Angels, there are only two novels plus and short story contained within and all form a consistent story and plot.
The Blood Angels Omnibus contains two novels. Deus Encarmine and Deus Sanguinius and the short story Blood Debt. The Blood Angels are a First Founding Chapter of the Space Marines descended from the Primarch Sanquinius. Rafen and his brother Arkio are both loyal Battle Brothers. Rafen and Arkio are biological brothers thus care for each other deeply. Yet in the midst of fulfilling a Blood Oath to the Inquisitor Stele against the Traitor Legion of the World Bearers, Arkio comes into possession of ancient weapon and becomes convinced that he is the reincarnation of the Primarch Sanquinius. All other Blood Angels fall under his sway save for Rafen and he knows that he will have to confront his brother in order to save his Chapter.
Where this book shines is in its main character: Rafen. Rafen is at war with his own loyalties, to his brother and his battle brothers. He does not want to to raise his hand against either of them but he knows in his heart he must but he has to be careful, lest they kill him for his heresy. The lone wolf in exile story is a very compelling one. The only loyal one left being pursued by former allies. Rafen’s pain in this situation just oozes of the page, he swore an oath to his brother and to his chapter but what happens when both become the enemy. The emotional torment he experiences (particularly one scene in the second book) is extremely well written.
Any story in Warhammer 40k that stresses the humanity of the Space Marines is always personal favorite. The Space Marines are so powerful compared to ordinary humans that it is easy for both the citizens of the Imperium and the Adeptus Astartes themselves to think of them as all-powerful demigods. But they are not gods. At their cores, beneath the training and genetic engineering they are still men, so infinite in their faculties.
That is the strength of this novel. It shows that even Space Marines can fall to the sins of pride and greed and can so cleverly disguise them as faith, something that has happened all too often throughout history. The fact that Rafen and Arkio are real brothers further advances the dramatic tension of the novel and creates a unique tragic side. Space Marines are supposed to forget about their old lives and families on becoming Space Marines, but Rafen and Arkio are truly family and thus the inner conflict Rafen experiences has a level of authenticity not often seen in Warhammer fiction.
At times Rafen can come as a bit too noble considering, but this is quickly overshadowed by moments later in the novel. Perhaps is that the reader knows he will survive and confront his brother making the plot predictable. The torment Rafen experiences in dramatic enough that the reader can feel his anguish and fear, and thus while stoic, Rafen and his journey are not one dimensional. The fact that he was the only one not to fall under Arkio’s sway may raise some eyebrows, making him too much of an ideal protagonists. Maybe there should have been a small enclave of true believers including Rafen. One the other hand that could have distracted the reader from the main story which really is Rafen’s.
Warhammer 40k has existed for many years, nearly three decades. Many people have written stories and lores within it and it encompasses many forms of media. As a result there is an inevitable lack of consistency among the lore. One of these inconsistencies is found in this book. While it was true that they were manipulated, the Blood Angels are said to be among the greatest of the Space Marines and they fall under Arkio’s control perhaps a little too easily to be believable.
Finally: This happens often in Warhammer 40k, is that the antagonists, such as the World Bearers are very one dimesional. They are just pure evil and madness plain and simple. It could be said that is the whole point of Chaos, all consuming madness, but it can make its servants very boring.
Blood Angels is a story of loyalty, faith, deception, and brotherhood. A worthy edition to anyone’s personal Black Library.
Five out of Five Stars.
Book one is a straight forward space marine novel that could have been written by any Black Library author. Uninspired, straight forward hack and slash. The only enjoyable parts come when the Word Bearers are torturing something. The short story in between novel one and two provides much needed context and character insight for a main antagonist. Book two is vastly superior to its predecessor and in a league with other space marine novels including those from the Horus Heresy which features some of the best writing in the genre. Very much worth the cost. If you are getting stuck in book one, take heart, book two will make it more than worth it.
On its own merits it isn't a bad book. It has some slow parts, but for the most part the author does a good job of bringing a very vivid story to life. There are more than a few parts where you might scratch your head and go, "That is a bit of a stretch", but it isn't anything that will make you put the book down. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't go into specifics. If you are a real stickler about canon and plots with plausible events you may want to approach this book with an open mind.
One last note: It is an omnibus, and it contains two books plus a really good connecting story. It really is as if the two books and the connecting story were written intentionally to be packaged like this. Packaging them as separate entities would do this story a disservice.
Overall, a decent read. A person fairly new to WH40K might want to put this one on the back burner so as not to confuse their developing view of the WH40K universe. For those of us who are seasoned, salty, and have stacks of Black Library books: it wouldn't be a bad addition.
I am not a huge fan of Blood Angels in particular but this story was fun and exciting and I found it difficult to put the book down.