Salvation's Reach (Gaunt's Ghosts) Hardcover – October 4, 2011
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Salvation's Reach showcases Dan Abnett's considerable strengths. In the first fifty pages he introduces a dozen new characters, catches up with countless old ones and makes them all memorable. The battles whether in space or in the dark corridors of Salvation's Reach are dramatic and well-told.
My only complaint is one I've had before, this long-running series has many characters and Abnett is reluctant to let go of them, at least until the last 50 pages. Several times he teases the audience with the death of some minor character only to have them show up fine (well alive at least) a few pages later. While several minor characters do die, it's not until the final act. This pattern has endured for several volumes and is one of the few things holding this series back from greatness. I swear Dan, no one will complain if Trooper Cant dies in the first 50 pages of the next book.
But anyway, Gaunt's Ghosts remain a reliable source of entertainment and a fun read. Pick this one up.
It has become obvious that the interesting character pool is fragmented and getting shot to pieces by war.
Blood Pact was an odd GG book as it went to some pains to bring in a few new characters and to deepen others. Blood Pact did not clean up the scene enough.
This tidies up a HUGE amount about those characters and then goes on to show their strengths and weaknesses in the battle scenes.
It also fulfilled a bit of Abnett's expressed need to write a book with space battles in it.
Overall very nice and the few reviews that talk about too much narrative on characters need to understand this book was needed. This refreshed and flushed out the atmosphere. I found the narrative satisfying as it put some to rest/action and others in needed context.
As for Gaunt not being there as much his staff is mature and needed him to back off from the day to day hands on just a bit. Having run an ever changing organization of around 200 people NOT in combat I would say this is a pretty good description of a Colonel's role. As for not enough combat I think there was just enough to keep me going. Without this book the series would have become another poorly characterized and dull 40K space opera.
A note on Abnett vs 40K writers in general.
I have been both a tournament level 40K player and semi professional painter of thousands of 40K figs and vehicles so I have seen the best and worst of the actual 40K players/readers/writers.
Almost ALL of the other writers of 40K fiction write page after page of poorly staged battle scenes with characters no one could possibly care about. My least favorites are the many 10,000 year old supposed genetic "supermen" with the vocabulary and tactical sense of a mentally challenged 12 year old. These tomes are barely fit for 14 year old gamer psychopaths. They do page after page of this: The invincible (insert heroes name here) used his (insert weapon name here) to kill the utterly evil (insert opponents description here) and then he stopped to say (insert inane observation here). Their stuff is not only dull but repetitive and often so bad they are unreadable.
I liked this book but the 14 year old psychopaths won't.
While it has been a while since I've reread some of the most recent Ghosts books, Salvation's Reach felt very different to me compared to what I remember from the last several. Most of the military action is left for the end of the book and we really seem to spend most of our time just living among the titular Ghosts. Abnett's writing also felt a little different in this one. He opens several chapters with these sort of detached, descriptive poignant pieces that set a tone for the story in general as it moves along. They felt out of place at first but I came to eventually enjoy the mood they set. Salvation's Reach also seems to be somewhat shorter then what I've come to expect from a Gaunt's Ghosts novel.
Despite the slight changes in what I've expected, the book really does seem to be pointing towards a last hurrah for the Tanith First and Only and I finished the last page with the usual longing I have at the end of every Ghosts novel. These men and woman are people I have watched live, fight, and die for years and it's always hard to say goodbye to those who will be leaving forever and to those who I only have to wait for the next book to see again. Still, given the nature of the ending of Salvation's Reach (it felt a bit like a cliffhanger), I find myself only worried for what the Tanith First and Only has ahead of them.
Overall, it felt different and, really, was different. It's refreshing to be moving out of the shadow of Gereon story arc, but the Ghosts and Abnett himself seems to have changed a bit from their experience. Still, a very solid book both in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and in the science fiction genre in general.
Top international reviews
There's plenty of action, both on the ground and in the vacuum of space. I know which I think Abnett does best. In space there's no up, no down. No left no right. No horizon. Keep your eyes on the ground.
As far as character development goes there is a lot. Individual story lines progress everywhere. Some end, abruptly, terminally. Some become more detailed. I can't think of one that wasn't either 'oh my gosh', 'ulp, sniff' or 'the fething little fether!'.
This book does leave more questions than answers. I get its part of the journey but by God I needed an epilogue. I'm still creating one in my head, imagining the fallout of several character's actions and reactions to events. But it has left a 'tune in next week!' taste in my mouth. Tastes a little disappointing tbh. My only gripe. An instalment not a book.
The worst thing is it left you wanting more? Yeah, if I were an author, I could live with that I suppose.
Still, if you're enjoying the Ghosts series, this is a must-read, and another sign that Dan Abnett's writing is slowly growing from strength to strength.
As always a great read. Never a dull moment and always twisty. Characters just build and build through the struggle