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Posted July 31, 2012
For those of you who do not follow Science Fiction, or turn your
For those of you who do not follow Science Fiction, or turn your nose up at tie-in properties – get over it! The Horus Heresy series from the Black Library is a spin-off of their Warhammer 40,000 universe. It is also a perennial best-selling series with seven New York Times Best Sellers and always among the leaders on Bookscan’s list for Science Fiction. Now quantity does not always mean quality. In this case the series is written by multiple authors on different “histories” of the era and in most cases you are looking at quality. There are several outstanding authors, but Graham McNeill is among the best. This carry’s over over into the Black Library’s other books dealing with a later time of the 41st millennium. In The Priest of Mars, Graham McNeill does a good job in showcasing those skills.
The Priests of Mars in the title refers to the Adeptus Mechanicum, the tech geeks of the 41st century. They oversee the manufacture and design all the machines and equipment of the Imperium of Man. They also worship machines with a great reverence like cross between a 41st century AV crew – “No one but I can touch the projector!” and Mr. Spock from Star Trek. The higher up the members’ progress in leadership, the more they become more machine via augments and less human. Their reason for living is mechanical perfection and logic. They are constantly searching for technology lost during the great civil war to add to their knowledge. This brings us to the story of The Priests of Mars.
The story has several layers. On the broad level it is the story of an Adeptus Mechanicus exploratory fleet that is sent to the edges of the galaxy to seek lost technology. Below that it is several stories running parallel that shows the different levels of society, how they survive and the consequences of failure. There is an Adeptus Magos (higher rank Mechanicum), Space Marines, Rouge Star Pilots, giant fighting robots called “Titans”, foot soldiers and press-ganged ship crew. For fans of Mr. McNeill’s work there is a reprise of a character from his first work, Storm of Iron, who kicks some pretty serious butt. Opposing them are rouge Mechanicum, space pirates and bureaucracy. There are fights with War Gods, double crossing, mysteries within mysteries and discoveries that could help or destroy mankind.
Mr. McNeill weaves this story with humor and pathos (find the reference to Peter Pan). His characters are engaging and make you concerned about them, which makes any story something you want to read. As a little extra, Graham hides teasers in there that ties-in incidents from the Horus Heresy or refers to characters from other books to show this story does not exist in isolation and rewards loyal readers. If you are a fan of science fiction and space travel you will enjoy this. If you are new to the world of Warhammer 40,000 there may be some areas that are a little fuzzy, but for the most part the Black Library and Graham McNeill tells the story like a standalone novel. If you are a fan of the Black Library you will not be disappointed, if you are new to Mr. McNeill or Warhammer it is a great entry point.
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