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This is a rather superb title that I will rate five stars for a number of reasons. The first is that most of the action takes place on Terra and in and around the Imperial Palace in particular, with the Custodes taking centre stage. The author has, in this respect, very well rendered an atmosphere of decay and decadence, with large parts of the Palace Complex having been abandoned and areas of the megalopolis where the enemy plots, bids its time and attempts to penetrate the Palace.
A second set of interesting features is the way the story is told by and through the perspective of its three main characters.
First there is Tieron, the human, ageing and cynical Chancellor of the Council of the Lords of Terra, who finally drops his traditional neutrality and conservatism and becomes an agent of change. The character with all his doubts and uncertainties, but also his moral and physical courage despite being no warrior was, in my view, particularly well-drawn with all his human flaws and strengths in such a way that he appears to be perhaps the most sympathetic.
Then there is the Custodian and Shield-Captain Valerian, with his own set of values as one of the Ten Thousand guardians of the Throne who also sees the growing need to break the centuries old routines as he and his brethren are faced by the increasing pressures and menace of an invasion by the forces of Chaos. A rather good feature is a night assault by these forces against the Gates of the Palace. Another one is Valerian’s hunt through the empty corridors and rooms of the half-abandoned Palace and his fight to the death against a Chaos Space Marine who has managed to get in despite all the security measures. Valoris – the Captain General – and his two Tribunes are also particularly impressive in their golden and shining armour and might, even if they are somewhat less original and complex characters.
The third character and narrator is the unyielding Aleya of the Silent Sisterhood, exiled from Terra long ago and which, at the beginning of the book, returns to her secret convent to find it raided, destroyed and full of the dead bodies of her Sisters. Both she and the Custodian, with the help of Tieron, will become the vanguard of the Empire’s counter-strike lead by the Emperor’s Avenging Son against the last Black Crusade of Abbaddon whose fleet advances on Terra through the Warp.
Great read, it has fleshed out the background of the Custodians and the Sisters of Silence (in the 40K timeline rather than 30K). I found the pacing and characters kept me hooked. If you are looking for more fluff on "current" 40K, after the launch of the 8th edition of the wargame-buy this book.
This well crafted story form Chris Wriaght shows why he is so highly thought of as an author. The story is told by three POV characters and is written in the first person to give the book a personal feel and encourages the reader to feel like they are part of the action. The story is set during the Gathering Storm and shows how those on Terra react to the events that unfold. Any fan of 40K and the new timeline and events should make this the top of their To Read pile.
Great book couldn't put it down can't wait for the next in the series. Characters were likeable and you say a new side to the custodians which was interesting and nice to see the sisters playing a greater roll in the stories.
I love Chris Wright's novels and this book more then lived up to my expectations as the story surprised me in its directions. His high level of detail in his writing means Terra, a sadly and strangely under developed planet in 40k background is finally coming to life.