Warriors of Ultramar: by Graham McNeill

In the continuing saga of Uriel Ventris and his rag-tag band of Ultramarines, I finished “Warriors of Ultramar” by Graham McNeill this week.  Though the first book in the trilogy, Nightbringer, was a decent read, this second book lived up to my every expectation of what the Ultramarines are about.

First of all, the book contains references for the following armies:

  1. Space Marines (Ultramarines, Mortificators, & Deathwatch)
  2. Imperial Guard
  3. Tyranids
  4. Witch Hunters (barely)

Since I actively play two of those armies and am half-heartedly working on the other two (sort of), the book just fit well with my definition of what 40k is all about.  Had it been about Tau vs. Orks, I don’t think it could’ve held my interest like it did.  Fortunately though, it fit perfectly into my gaming genre, and even tossed in a fair bit of Necromunda-esque gang wars and intergalactic Battlefleet Gothic into the fray. 

To add to my excitement, the book essentially revolves around Marines & the Imperial Guard staving off an endless swarm of Tyranid bugs.  Reading it reminded me of the battle for McCragge fluff from the first Tyrannic War—and in turn, got me pumped for the what I hoped would be the massacre of humans in: Arctic Apocalypse 2010.

Like in the first book, Graham does a good job of describing monsters in such a way that you can picture them in your mind without having to outright say the name of the creature.  He didn’t stick as hard and fast to the ideas though, as he did drop the words “lictor” and “carnifex” on more than one occasion.  I’ll forgive him though, because he described Zoanthropes, Harridans, & Hierophants to a T and let my imagination conjure up their images.

Despite being a great read, the book did have two downsides.  The first detraction is that, like in the first book, Graham simply introduces too many characters by name.  In order to give meaning to a short passage in the book, Graham will name the characters—even if they only live through 3 paragraphs.  Because of this, I found myself glossing over names entirely until it came up a few times, at which I found it hard to remember what they had done previously.

The second downside is that the book peaks too late.  Without giving away the story, the book comes to it’s climax on page 307, and it ends by 317.  Really, that’s just not enough wind-down for me.  Luckily, I don’t have to wait for the next book to be released, since Dead Sky, Black Sun is already in my bookshelf downstairs.

Until then, this book gets 4.5 out of 5 random things.

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