Friday, 29 July 2011

Descent of Angels - a review


Some may recall I got Descent of Angels for my birthday and I've recently finished it and moved on to another couple of 40k books.Obviously the Horus Heresy series has sold 'over a million copies' but there seems to be about half a million titles in the series so that's not quite the grand claim it makes out to be. I obviously wanted DoA for the Dark Angel angle. Getting a bit background story on the first legion is nice, particularly when this particular chapter has changed so much over it's history and particularly since I was on hiatus. Apologies in advance for any spoilers but I'll aim not to give too much away.

Reinventing the Dark Angels around a knightly order and not the Native American theme from Deathwing is really interesting and a theme I can really appreciate. The story initially focusses on the idea that the potential knights on their home world of Caliban only prove their worth when confronting the many monstrous beasts stalking the endless forests. Meanhwhile the future Primarch of the Dark Angels Lion El'Jonson has set about to exterminate all the beasts to free Caliban from their predation. It doesn't take you very long to realise th flaw in this set-up. Unless of course you're the main protagonists. What happens when all the beasts are gone? Thankfully you get 'discovered' by the Imperium and you never have to cross that bridge but for those that were concerned about how that future may have turned out they'd be rueing the day they thought to oppose the Lion and his crusade as the whole enterprise ends up irrelevant.

The book follows Zahariel and Nemiel, two Calibanites as they rise up through 'The Order', the largest of the knightly groups on Caliban, in part because of their tradition defying open-door policy on inititiates, not just the posh folk. So it's an interesting way into the world of the Dark Angels because you can identify with these two cousins. However, there seems to be plenty of gaps in description of that era that as a fan you would love to know about. Heresy era weapons and equipment are fascinating in comparison to the current levels but what if they predated that era and had been manufactured before the dark ages? Well you'll just have to imagine as most of the description of these is 'they're not sealed', 'they're not as big as astartes', 'this bit doesn't work' and 'one guy has a vox com-link'.

Don't get me wrong there are some good bits and it has increased my appreciation for the Dark Angels but because the book is split into a number of 'books', each one detailing a different part of  Zahariel and Nemiel's progress, it essentially works like a set of short stories about the same characters and therefore has no real connection with the bigger picture - the Horus Heresy itself. I was certainly left wanting more, sadly because I'm still starved for more background information. Hopefully I'll get that in the next part Fallen Angels.