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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-14-12, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Default Legion of the Damned.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Legion of the Damned

Before I attempt a review of this book, I should state I went into it fairly blinkered towards the whole Space Marines Battles series. So far, the only ones that have impressed me are Helsreach and Battle for the Fang. The rest, on the whole, have been substandard when compared to other series published by BL. I had given up on the series after The Gildar Rift, but when I saw the next instalment was Legion of the Damned, I gave it one more shot.

The story revolves around the Excoriators Space Marines, a chapter descended from the Imperial Fists. They are trying to regain some of the honour they lost when the chapter banner captured by the Alpha Legion by winning a tournament held amongst all the chapters descended from the IFs. When they realise they are almost out of the game, we are introduced to the Scourge, the marine who lost the banner in the first place, and loyal member of the chapter masterís command squad.

He has been lost in a coma-like state since he lost the banner, which for me sounds too like the BAs black rage, if not as extreme. A marine who succumbs to this state is reliving the horror and despair that Dorn felt while standing over the broken body of the Emperor after he defeated Horus. For me creating something like this for a successor chapter when there has been no mention of it regarding the parent legion or more prominent second founding chapters is a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, the Scourge is lifted from his fugue by an experimental procedure, and goes on to defeat both the champions of the Imperial Fists and Black Templars in the final round, winning the right for the Excoriators to hold the Dornsblade, a sword worn by Dorn himself. This feat does not endear him to his battle brothers however, who still blame him for bringing dishonour to the chapter by losing the banner. All the Scourge wants to do is return to his chapter master and try to redeem himself in his eyes.

Things do not go to plan however, as before he can return, his company meets with the Excoriators 5th company, who are down to half strength after chasing the Alpha Legion in an attempt to regain the banner. Much to everyoneís surprise and disappointment, the Scourge has been made captain of the 5th. He ends up leading them to Certus Minor, an ecclesiarchal cemetery world that lies in the path of a comet that is being trailed by a massive Khornate fleet destroying every planet they encounter. Despite hostility and derision from within his own company, who feel the company's veteran Sgt. Skase should have been promoted to captain, and want to continue the hunt for the Alpha Legion and their lost banner, the Scourge decides to stay and defend the planet in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. And so begins a desperate last stand against the forces of Chaos.

There arenít many characters in the novel, but the Scourge makes up for it, as he is now one of my favourite SM characters. He is shamed by the loss of the chapter banner, and wishes only to atone for that sin, but also is determined to do his best to defend what is a small backwater planet not worth a whole lot in the great scheme of things. He refuses to just give up an Imperial world to the forces of Chaos without a fight. He must also (quite literally) combat the discontent and hostility towards him from within his own company. He is a brutal fighter, and is the epitome of the Excoriatorís battle creed of being attrition fighters.

In itís own right this is a very good read, a pleasant change from the likes of The Hunt for Voldorius or The Purging of Kadillus. However, it does suffer in the same way as Prospero Burns in that the subject matter alluded to by the title of the novel only appears at the very end of the novel. Because of the title, all you want to see is the ghostly revenants that are the Legion of the Damned tear into the Khornate warband and win the day for the Emperor, but apart from some visions that the Scourge has of a ghostly marine watching him from the shadows, they do not appear until the last 30 pages of the novel. This disappointment might have been lessened if the novel had been called something else, but it also might not have sold as many copies.

This novel scores a solid 8/10 for me.

Last edited by Khorne's Fist; 02-14-12 at 04:25 PM.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-14-12, 07:14 PM
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This disappointment might have been lessened if the novel had been called something else, but it also might not have sold as many copies.
I go so far as to say your disappointment would probably have evaporated completely if you'd read the blurb for the book.

That is: this is not like Prospero Burns except for the title. The blurb and even the concept of the book are massively different from PB. Not only has this not been marketed as a counterpart to another book, it's not got a misleading blurb and also is about something we (if we've been paying attention) already know to be a pretty odd subject matter, not just 'another' battle (even if a significant one).

To that end, I don't think complaining about the title holds any weight whatsoever.

Having said that, I do agree with you: it's a resounding & stand-out success for the series that sets a very high bar indeed.

I'm slightly surprised you didn't mention one of the other 'big characters' of the novel, even if said character only appears for a tiny fraction of the time that Kersh does...

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-14-12, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, Punisher did rack up a pretty impressive body count.

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To that end, I don't think complaining about the title holds any weight whatsoever.
It wasn't a complaint per se, but to name 360 page novel after a component that only really appears in the last 30 pages is a bit of a stretch. Even then we only briefly see them in action, with Kersh's final gambit getting as much coverage.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-15-12, 02:12 AM
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It wasn't a complaint per se, but to name 360 page novel after a component that only really appears in the last 30 pages is a bit of a stretch. Even then we only briefly see them in action, with Kersh's final gambit getting as much coverage.
Well, really, many books typically have titles which have bugger all to do with the book. They barely reference the book, they don't correspond to something in the book...they just vaguely sort-of chime with gist of the novel.

Indeed, in that regard, 'legion of the damned' does correspond to more than the literal phenomenon of the Damned Legionnaires themselves. There's the 'legion' aspect of the Imperial Fists - that they're all dealing with/damned by the Emperor-less universe glimpsed in the Darkness.

There's the microcosm look at the fracturing/splitting of the Imperial Fists Legion after the Heresy: how without their figurehead intact (Kersh's standard) everything falls to hell (the company starts bickering/fighting) and almost sets the Imperium on a path to self-destruction and further in-fighting or wasted expenditure (chasing off after the Alpha Legion).

Rob's done a nice piece on his blog about titles, it's worth a look, but personally I still can't get behind the 'gripe'. ('Twas wrong o'me to say it's a complaint.) Especially in comparison to Prospero Burns (mainly because it's the blurb that's the trouble; not the title). Similarly with Galaxy in Flames - it's only a prelude to the galaxy. They could've just called it Isstvan III and that'd have been enough.

(I cite Galaxy in Flames mainly because it's a grand name for a HH anthology, as per the massive tome Let the Galaxy Burn)
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-29-12, 03:51 PM
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So I just read this book and I have to say it was a very good book. But I was severely disappointed that the Legion of the Damned was nearly absent from the book. The Legion also was of interest to me and I was very excited to read about them (I figured we would get a book about them intercepting a call for help and see things a bit from their view as well as the planet they were going to save).

Instead, we get pretty much nothing on them and quite frankly I was a bit miffed about it. It is like going to see a movie with your favorite actor and then he only show up for the last 15mins of the movie.

I thought the book itself was good and enjoyed it a lot, but I also felt like I was tricked by BL and that has me a bit miffed regardless of my enjoyment for the book still.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-01-12, 03:37 PM
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I actually realluy enjoyed the book I read atlas infernal and this book from Rob. I did not like atlas infernal but I enjoyed legion of the damned, Rob give very visual descriptions of settings and for me that really works, the chanting around the khorn shrine, the description of the cemetery world, the ecclesiarch setting was really well described. Kersh and the excorciators was also excoriators were very convincing, (the metal bearing). I will certainly pick up Rob his next book
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-05-12, 10:45 PM
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Read the book. It was more about Kersh than the Legion of the Damn. Honestly I would like to see more of the Legion of the Damn but considering that they are more like specters and silent warriors I could see how hard it can be to write them as characters.

Overall the book was OK. The action was so-so and at times I found myself just speed reading waiting for the Legion of the Damn to appear. The story line was predictable to a degree . I mean you got the sense that this is their last stand with the Legion of the Damn coming to the rescue.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-21-12, 11:30 AM
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I agree with kwak76 about the Legion. If you really think about it, they are ghosts, spectres who are mysterious figures, they aren't meant to be understood. They're another phenomenon of the Warhammer 40k universe that doesn't make sense, but still works, and that's why they aren't given a big presence. Also what yo're missing is that they are there, almost too much; The Damned Legionnaire that stalks Kersh and other characters throughout the novel is almost constantly there, watching over things and generally being mysterious, which I think is what Rob intended for the Legion. I read it on kindle so I don't know about the blurb, but tbh I was very impressed with the the novel and I actually prefer Kersh to the Legion. Kersh is like Sharpe in 40k, he's a bastard, condemned by his Chapter and fighting to prove his worth. Kersh my second favourite BL character now (after Thanquol), and I hope he gets more material written about him.

Hey, I write a lot, I read a lot, and everything from BL that I read I'll review.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-29-12, 12:04 AM
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I agree with kwak76 about the Legion. If you really think about it, they are ghosts, spectres who are mysterious figures, they aren't meant to be understood. They're another phenomenon of the Warhammer 40k universe that doesn't make sense, but still works, and that's why they aren't given a big presence. Also what yo're missing is that they are there, almost too much; The Damned Legionnaire that stalks Kersh and other characters throughout the novel is almost constantly there, watching over things and generally being mysterious, which I think is what Rob intended for the Legion. I read it on kindle so I don't know about the blurb, but tbh I was very impressed with the the novel and I actually prefer Kersh to the Legion. Kersh is like Sharpe in 40k, he's a bastard, condemned by his Chapter and fighting to prove his worth. Kersh my second favourite BL character now (after Thanquol), and I hope he gets more material written about him.
My sentiment exactly. Sanders handled this novel perfectly in my opinion and did indeed give us a truly great character in Kersh.
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