BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Abnett takes Gaunt and his elite Ghosts on an ever darker journey as they participate in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade against the forces of Chaos, including the insane Blood Pact of the Archon Urlock Gaur.
In the first book, Traitor General, Gaunt lead’s a small team on a suicide mission to the Chaos controlled world of Gereon. Who will survive behind enemy lines? In book two of the Omnibus, His Last Command, Gaunt and his team must solve the riddle of Ancreon Sextus as the try to find their place back amongst the Ghosts of the Tanith First and Only. The Armour of Contempt brings us a somewhat fractured and darker episode in which Abnett drops us into scenes of violent and hellish combat that the common Imperial Guard must endure, while also showing us that not all wars maybe be victories after the battles are won. Abnett closes with the darkest novel of the four. Only in Death is where Stephen King meets Warhammer 40K, as the Ghost’s are haunted during their defense of a remote and mysterious outpost on the dust-ridden fortress world of Jago.
While I enjoy reading all the new Warhammer 40K authors that the Black Library has been recruiting these days, one can never go wrong with a big dose of Dan Abnett. I was hooked by his Eisenhorn trilogy (omnibus available) and loved Titanicus (when will these be heading to the big screen???), but a crucial part of his literary work is the long running Imperial Guard series centered on Gaunt’s Ghosts, the Tanith First and Only. Stealing from Mr. Abnett’s description of the leader of the Chaos forces, the Archon Urlock Guar, “whose voice drowns out all others“, Mr. Abnett has just such a voice in the realm of military Sci-Fi. His stories are well-rounded, visceral, gripping and intense, dominated by a dark and irrational mood. His descriptions of Chaos worlds drag us down into the scene, like quicksand, to share the fight and the misery with our heroes. We suffer amongst the unforgiving lives of Imperial Guardsmen and I often wonder when our author will run out of names for the soldiers that he has killed. Furthermore, as in Traitor General, Abnett does not ignore the workings of the enemy and allows the reader a better understanding of the forces, the hierarchy, and the politics of Chaos, which are central to the arc covered here in this Omnibus.
1016 pages seems a bit of a chore, but in fact, the coherent set of stories, which really seemed more like one novel than four, provided a more epic feel and made it easier to remember the pertinent happenings and details as things rolled along. Ok, so I found myself starting to use the word “feth” (a Guardsmen expletive) in my daily vocabulary and having the Tanith battle cry “Do you want to live forever?” pop into my head as I fought my way through Houston daily rush hour (I swear the guy in the car behind me was giving me the sign of the Aquila). Anyway, immersion into the lives of the Tanith does sort of get to you, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? The Emperor protects.