Being an Ultramarine player, there is an unspoken contract that requires me to read the Graham McNeill series about Uriel Ventris and the rest of the boys in blue. Until recently, I’ve been fairly lax in my duties, but I did finally answer the call and picked up the first book in the trilogy: Nightbringer.
As my second “book report,” I found this book to be immensely superior to the first: Draco, but not because of my love of the Necrons. If you’re considering reading this book because your fondness for that metallic species, I must warn you that it deals very little with the Necrons. In fact, you’ll get more than 2/3rds of the way through the book before you’ll even hear about the necrons–much less read about a “living” one.
The book focuses more on the Ultramarines & Dark Eldar, with a nod to the Adeptus Arbites & Imperial Guard Planetary Defense Force (PDF). Though Necrons are brought in at the very climax of the book, it has almost nothing to do with the race.
What really worked for me is that Graham obviously plays 40k (or at least read through the fluff a ton of times). Unlike, Ian Watson’s references, Graham rarely (if ever) uses the proper name for something. What’s great about this is I was able to conjure up an image of what he was describing, and draw a parrallel to the 40k universe. In addition to allowing the reader to use his imagination, it also fits the tone of the book: Since the characters had never encountered a warp beast before, they wouldn’t know what to call them. Instead, a vivid description immediately conjures up a suitable image in the readers mind, and links that to what’s available in the Dark Eldar army list.
I also enjoyed the parallels between the C’Tan and the Adeptus Mechanicus “Machine God.” Though I’ve heard of the link before, I wonder if this is where it stems from? Whatever the case, it’s fun to think about the devout followers of the emporer worshiping alien gods.
What didn’t work for me was simply not enough Necrons. Without ruining the book, I just expected much more interaction, and the ending (while exciting enough, and leaving room for a sequel) doesn’t seem to carry on to the 2nd book in the series.
Speaking of which, my next book I’ll be reading is Warriors of Ultramar, also by Graham McNeill.
Until then, this book gets 3.5 out of 4 (random things).