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I found this tucked nicely in my documents the other day, and thought of posting it. It`s a rather short review considering the length of that I gave for Helsreach, Malekith and Path of the Warrior, but I`m happy with it. Hope you enjoy. A little dissapointed at the lack of responses for these, though very thankful for Boc and Khorne`s Fist for the Reputation:)



Admittidly, this Omnibus, a trio of stories revolving around Ultramarine Protagonists naturally involves a degree of the imfamous strict Codex-Astartes adherence, thus, often bringing about boredom and the bland flavours of Ultramarine society, culture and tradition. So the authour`s intention of portraying our Main-character - Uriel Ventris, as lost in his turmoil at both his natural pressure to adhere to his Primarch`s doctrine of war, but also his former liege`s natural flares of disobediance, is cunning in how an unorthodox character can still function within the Chapter, and help bring about more intruige in the way potential threats are combatted; a clever move by that of McNeill to relish in the untypical nature of his chosen Ultramarines characters. It sets Uriel apart from the cliched ultramarine-clad Space Marines who ply the void in text-book fashion, and with varied supporting characters: The doubting, self-loathing giant of Pasanius, the traditional, rival of Learchus, makes for a strong character foundation.

Nightbringer. Such characterisation dosen`t really flow into the first novel, Nightbringer however. The portrayel of the Dark Eldar is mediocre at best, and is drastically overshadowed by far better interpretations of these heartless and archaic foes in other Black Library works. The Ultramarines of 4th Company are overshadowed by the Adeptus Arbites- the planetry law-enforcers, aptly named 'judges' of the Industy-blanketed world, Pavonis. Varying battles against Rebel Planetry Defence Force regulars, accompanying armoured divisions and a rebel kill-team masquerading as Judges to deliver precise anarchy within the civilian populance, is the pinnacle of the growing unease between Manufactorum cartels and the Planetry Governer; all manipulated by traitors and the Dark Eldar Xenos.
Nightbringer culminates with the rebirth of the C`tan, the ''Nightbringer''. Although for one understanding and familliar with the background of thr 40k Universe, I thought a definitive lacking of history surronding this mystical figure would lead to many readers believing it of Chaos origin; infact the ''Nightbringer'' being a C`tan is the stark opposite of the Ruinous Powers, and unfortunately seemed to gift Uriel with no negative Warp-presence, as one would expect after their climatical encounter; a possible boon against any daemonic foes to come?

Overall, the first book sets about to describe the Ultramarines, although covers too great a spectrum of the Imperium`s society and millitary to achieve this exactly. 3/5 stars for ever-strong talent by Graham McNeill, but a dissapointing portrayel of the Xenos, alongside little emphasis on the Astartes is only saved by the beautiful and almost languid flow of descriptive genius that populated the finale and the birth-throes of the C`tan. Readers not familiar with the Universe may enjoy this, but I found it lacking overall.

Warriors of Ultramar is far more simple in its synopsis: A conglermeration of Ultramarines, led by our hero - Uriel Ventris, a starkly clashing and baroque branch of the Ultramarines Legion, the Mortifactors sharing their lineage to Primarch Roboute Guilliman, and the ''Deathwatch'', concise but deadly, Special Operatives tasked by the Ordo Xenos in the pin-point execution of Aliens. Amongst a sea of Imperial Guardsmen from varying Regimental worlds and the PDF of Tarsis-Ultra, the Space Marines face a simple, yet impossible challenge: To hold a tendril of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan at bay until reinforcements can relieve the System. Several truly fantastic Naval-conflicts within the depths of the cold, void of space against Bio-constructs of colossal proportion perfectly atunes the reader to the scale of warfare. The eventual defeat of the Imperial armarda embarks us the the ground-defense of Tarsis-Ultra by the remnants of the Imperial forces.
Several mores assaults by the Tyranid menace and varying levels of successful resistance, counter-assaults and expendature by the Space Marines is balanced in its single-minded ferocity and bloody nature by emphasis upon human-greed and selfishness during the conflicts by other characters, chancing the ongoing threat to proffit in this unexpected boon. This anthithesis of Astartes values leads to a far more successful portrayel of these supporting characters than the poor attempt of Nightbringer. Each given a nickname based on some trait, these press-gangers are an interesting effort to adding a less superhuman flavour overall. The Deathwatch`s incersion into the biological heart of the Hive Fleet by Uriel Ventris, whilst Learchus and the Imperial nemnants dig-in for all-out siege and a glorifying last-stand, concludes the simple, yet brutal war. A baleful Inquisitor Kryptman sheds an interesting light upon the Tyranids, and the weakness of these Xenos. A Bio-virus drugged into the Queen of the Hive-Fleet ignites an evolutionary bombshell, dissolving the Xenos invaders into cellular mush instantaneously.

4/5, although only barely, for a more succinct plot, but far better portraying of the Ultramarines, their zealous allies of the Deathwatch and Mortifactors, and the myriad of other human-personna`s. A far better finale and the rivers of blood shed sate the wanton-bloodlust of a reader like myself.

Dead Sky, Black Sun. The finale of this epic trilogy, and yet-to-be series ends in a cataclysm of daemon-wrought adventure, into the heart of Chaos itself, the Eye of Terror, and the spawned monstrosities lurking within its turbulent depths. Having the crisis of banishment from Ultramar and the Ultramarines Chapter, for Uriel`s and Pasanius` abandonement of the Codex Astartes sacred lore in Warriors of Ultramar , by joining the Xenos-hunting Deathwatch, our pair of Astartes protagonists are whisked from Maccragge, totally oblivious of the utterly wretched challenges they blindly stumble towards. Challenges that will test, and even break their doctrines of faith, pushing their warrior-spirit and iron-hard mentalities to breaking- and beyond through pacts with Daemon`s, mutants and McNeill`s darker, and more sinister son: Honsou; upon the industry-charred daemon-world of Medrengard. The vile, repulsive, cesspit of corruption and slavery, made dominion by the Traitor Legion, the Iron Warriors.

True to McNeill`s nature, this book is rivited by flowing descriptions of a complex-depth, unmatched within his collective peers. The sheer volume, and omniscient nature of this talent is ever-present, with every sequence of high-action events or subdued, emotional turmoil explained in a multitude of enjoyable ways. Additional characters within Dead Sky, Black Sun allows for greater flesh to be added to each frame of a personality, in contrast to the forlorn, but ever righteouss Ultramarines: The self-loathing, honour-severed Raven Guard, Vaanes, the ill-fated Blood Raven Seraphys and the blugeoned but ever-hopeful Guardsmen, rebel slaves from Hydra Cordatus. The book follows these Renegades, Uriel and Pasanius legion amongst them, as they dare to infiltrate Honsou`s fortress of Khalan-Gol to retrieve the artifact the Heart of Blood, for their daemonic overlord, in a bid for freedom. Our heroes are caught up in the turmoil of arch-Warsmith`s Berossus and Toramino, as they challenge Honsou in a bloody siege of truly colossal proportion. Several high-octane battles later, and with Khornate Daemon-Princes, Possessed-Titans, Packs of feral Dreadnaughts, scuttling adepts of the Dark Mechanicus` Biologis wing, and Unfleashed mutants all bloodied and rotting amongst the boiling rubble, Honsou`s fortress is in tatters and his forces seriously depleted, with Uriel and Pasanius, escaping through the Warp-borne tunnels of the fortress.


Though fallen beneath the double-hammer stroke of the arch-Warsmith`s, Honsou makes a pact with the Heart of Blood- a colossal Daemon Prince bound to Khorne and recruits followers amongst the Renegade Astartes, such as Vaanes, the Raven Guard, alongside a clone of Uriel Ventris, a result from the distasteful methods employed in the creation of new Chaos Astartes. The interesting, vengeance-riven epilogue sets a revenge plot in motion, to be fulfilled during The Chapter`s Due.

I would still only rate Dead Sky, Black Sun as a 4/5, despite its harsh, and arguably deserved critisisms towards the more grotesque, gory and repulsive details and theme`s. (But this is a Daemon-World, lost within the epitome of madness...)The fighting is more harsh, bloody and on a far grander scale, with Antagonists of a darkly interesting and vile nature. But differing to previous novels, more emotional pressure is heaped onto our struggling protagonists, and their zealous-faith under immense strain. The subtle interwining story of Honsou, and his Warband of Iron Warrior`s from Storm of Iron works well, the famed hero and anti-hero of McNeill facing one another for the first time.

Overall: Enjoyable for a reader not as embedded within the 40k Universe, and a real delight to one who is.

4/5, 7/10.
 

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A good and solid review, enjoy some rep from the Lord of the Night :grin:.

One thing that bugs me about Ultramarines is Uriel's banishment. He saved an entire planet, two companies of Space Marines or at least what was left of them, decimated a Hive Fleet which is something that only ever occurred once before, and it cost nearly an entire battlefleet and nearly crippled the entire Ultramarines chapter.

Uriel's superiors claim that he broke the Codex but they have no appreciation for what he did. Guilliman himself would likely have done the same thing, because if Uriel had adhered to the Codex then Tarsis Ultra would be dead, or dead earlier, the 4th Company would be gone and a Mortifactors company with them. I understand their reasoning behind the exile but in the end, whats more preferable. A Captain breaks with the codex to achieve a grand victory, or the Tyranids win.

Uriel should have just told Sicarius. 'Then next time I promise to ignore a chance for victory and let the Tyranids win.' That would have shut him up.
 

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A good and solid review, enjoy some rep from the Lord of the Night :grin:.

One thing that bugs me about Ultramarines is Uriel's banishment. He saved an entire planet, two companies of Space Marines or at least what was left of them, decimated a Hive Fleet which is something that only ever occurred once before, and it cost nearly an entire battlefleet and nearly crippled the entire Ultramarines chapter.

Uriel's superiors claim that he broke the Codex but they have no appreciation for what he did. Guilliman himself would likely have done the same thing, because if Uriel had adhered to the Codex then Tarsis Ultra would be dead, or dead earlier, the 4th Company would be gone and a Mortifactors company with them. I understand their reasoning behind the exile but in the end, whats more preferable. A Captain breaks with the codex to achieve a grand victory, or the Tyranids win.

Uriel should have just told Sicarius. 'Then next time I promise to ignore a chance for victory and let the Tyranids win.' That would have shut him up.
I agree. Part of me wonders whether the banishment was merely a device used by McNeill to test Uriel and Pasanius` characters; their faith in Codex Astartes being tested upon arguably the most inhospitable and moral-crushing environment: A daemon world, which of course links in with the Iron Warriors and Storm of Iron. But yes, it does beg us to ask whether the Codex is adhered to far to zealously by the Ultramarines.:)
 

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True, plus one other thing about it. Uriel Ventris broke the Codex to defeat the Tyranids and he is exiled. Marneus Calgar breaks the Codex to fight the Tyranids and he is lauded as a hero. What Uriel did was little different from what Calgar did during the First Tyrannic War and yet the consequences are so different. Hypocrisy, thy name is Ultramarines.

They should just accept that against the Hive Fleets the Codex Astartes is useless.
 

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True, plus one other thing about it. Uriel Ventris broke the Codex to defeat the Tyranids and he is exiled. Marneus Calgar breaks the Codex to fight the Tyranids and he is lauded as a hero. What Uriel did was little different from what Calgar did during the First Tyrannic War and yet the consequences are so different. Hypocrisy, thy name is Ultramarines.

They should just accept that against the Hive Fleets the Codex Astartes is useless.
Exactly, infact against the myriad of foes presently against the Imperium, the majority upon the Eastern Fringe: The Tyranid Hive Fleets, 3rd Sphere Expansion by the Tau Empire and the increasing awakening of the Necrons, the Codex Astartes is simply ill-prepared to deal with such threats, and should be revered more as an artifact and a guidline, than a tome of the absolute-mastery of warfare.

I believe The Chapter`s Due focuses more upon Honsou`s vengeance against Uriel for his hand in the destruction of Khalan Gol, so it will be interesting what other foes our Ultramarine protagonist shall face; possibly a prequel? Upon Ichar IV?
 

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Captain Idaeus had the right idea. The Codex Astartes is guidelines, helpful but you've got to know when to draw the line.

Ichar IV would be a sweet novel. Someone should write a Duology of the Second Tyrannic War. One for Ichar IV and one for Craftworld Iyanden, Graham McNeill should write Ichar IV since its an Ultramarines campaign and Gav Thorpe should write Iyanden because its Eldar.
 

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Nightbringer: I know the Ultramarines believe strongly in the Codex Astartes. The author knows this as well, and wants to make sure everyone knows it. But seeing the words Codex and Astartes paired together several times on the same page is going a bit far. At one point I was expecting to be told how the Codex expects a Space Marine to wipe his a$$ after his morning 'ritual'.

I also disliked the concept of the Nightbringer itself; I tend to balk at "This station is now the ultimate power in the universe" plot devices. The ending was as predictable as the charges for Lindsey Lohan's next court appearance.

Warriors of Ultramar: What can I say? A book with the Tyranid as an antagonist pretty much writes itself. (and almost guarantees awesomesauce) That said, I really noticed an improvement in the narrative, along with many interesting minor characters (save the psycho-burned priest..like wtf..).

But yet again, I disliked getting beaten over the head by the Codex Astartes every other page.

I thought the Mortificators were cool. Apparently, so did Captain Bandon (?) of the Deathwatch and that Inquisitor, since both lent that Chapter their support. But Uriel gets his tighty-whitey britches in a bundle because they drink (their own) blood, pray to the spirits of their ancestors and have a fetish for bones... I mean, has Uriel even met a Space Wolf? So what if the Mortificators were descended from Guilliaum? Were they not still true to their oaths as Space Marines?

Dead Sky, Black Sun was really hard to get into, but once I got about half-way, I blazed through it. Didn't much like the Chaos Choo-Choo train, and the ending was a tad too contrived for my liking.


Codex Astartes: as several of you have said in this thread, I find the emphasis on the Codex was mishandled. In Dead Sky, Black Sun, Uriel is censured for breaking with the codex by leading the Deathwatch into the Hive Ship. Was it necessary for him to do so? No. Could the Deathwatch have succeeded with him? Sure. Was his presence on the planet more important than his contribution to the mission to kill the queen? Um...NO. If the plan to kill the queen failed, having a hundred extra Space Marine Captains on the planet would make little difference.

A similar thing happens in Courage and Honor when Leachus and his team of Scouts are behind enemy lines, attempting to free the Governor. Spotting heavy reinforcements moving to flank Uriel's men, he struggles with the urge to communicate a warning to his Captain, or follow the Codex which stipulates that Scouts behind enemy lines must maintain radio silence.

From my perspective, displaying creativity and initiative in Battle is contrary to the teachings of Guillium. I'd say then that the Codex is far more helpful in losing battles than it is in winning them.

But so far of the 5 books I've read in the series, I've enjoyed Warriors of Ultramar and Courage and Honor the most, and I have high hopes for Chapter's Due.
 

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Nightbringer: I know the Ultramarines believe strongly in the Codex Astartes. The author knows this as well, and wants to make sure everyone knows it. But seeing the words Codex and Astartes paired together several times on the same page is going a bit far. At one point I was expecting to be told how the Codex expects a Space Marine to wipe his a$$ after his morning 'ritual'.

I also disliked the concept of the Nightbringer itself; I tend to balk at "This station is now the ultimate power in the universe" plot devices. The ending was as predictable as the charges for Lindsey Lohan's next court appearance.
Whats wrong with the Nightbringer?, I really like him cos he's a unique concept. An energy being that exists outside of Chaos, he devours stars and is the oldest life-form alive. And its not that kind of plot device, the Nightbringer may be a threat that can end planets but at least he wasn't defeated due to some meaningless conclusion. Ventris was only able to force him to retreat, and has unleashed a terrible evil upon life.

I thought the Mortificators were cool. Apparently, so did Captain Bandon (?) of the Deathwatch and that Inquisitor, since both lent that Chapter their support. But Uriel gets his tighty-whitey britches in a bundle because they drink (their own) blood, pray to the spirits of their ancestors and have a fetish for bones... I mean, has Uriel even met a Space Wolf? So what if the Mortificators were descended from Guilliaum? Were they not still true to their oaths as Space Marines?
Space Wolves dont drink blood, they dont venerate their dead so much that they preserve their bodies in a mausoleum. The Mortifactors are a Chapter that pushes the boundaries of acceptable behaviour by Ultramarine standards, they are loyal but too far from the source of their gene-seed.

Codex Astartes: as several of you have said in this thread, I find the emphasis on the Codex was mishandled. In Dead Sky, Black Sun, Uriel is censured for breaking with the codex by leading the Deathwatch into the Hive Ship. Was it necessary for him to do so? No. Could the Deathwatch have succeeded with him? Sure. Was his presence on the planet more important than his contribution to the mission to kill the queen? Um...NO. If the plan to kill the queen failed, having a hundred extra Space Marine Captains on the planet would make little difference.
No. Uriel and Pasanius's presence was the only thing that saved the Deathwatch team. Only two other members of the team survived the mission and if Uriel and Pasanius had not been there then they would not have made it past the Norm-Queen's guardians. They would have failed and the Tyranids would have won.

And having another Space Marine Captain present would have made no difference. What could Uriel have done to alter the strategy on the ground against such overwhelming odds, the only thing he could have done to gain victory was to go with the Deathwatch.

A similar thing happens in Courage and Honor when Leachus and his team of Scouts are behind enemy lines, attempting to free the Governor. Spotting heavy reinforcements moving to flank Uriel's men, he struggles with the urge to communicate a warning to his Captain, or follow the Codex which stipulates that Scouts behind enemy lines must maintain radio silence.
I have not read this novel yet but if Learchus did not inform Uriel of the flanking enemies then he is an idiot and if I were Uriel i'd kill him myself for that foolishness. The Codex helps but sometimes it doesn't, and the Ultramarines seem incapable of identifying when it doesn't help.
 

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Whats wrong with the Nightbringer?, I really like him cos he's a unique concept. An energy being that exists outside of Chaos, he devours stars and is the oldest life-form alive. And its not that kind of plot device, the Nightbringer may be a threat that can end planets but at least he wasn't defeated due to some meaningless conclusion. Ventris was only able to force him to retreat, and has unleashed a terrible evil upon life.
Well, nothing inheriantly. I just dislike "all powerful will destroy the universe if we dont stop it" plot elements. Even the Death Star could be destroyed, know what I mean? (see my reference above)

Space Wolves dont drink blood, they dont venerate their dead so much that they preserve their bodies in a mausoleum. The Mortifactors are a Chapter that pushes the boundaries of acceptable behaviour by Ultramarine standards, they are loyal but too far from the source of their gene-seed.
My point was that Uriel acts as if all Space Marines held to the stringent/purist concept of behaviour embraced by the Ultramarines, while their exist many other Chapters who do not. I concede his resentment was angled at the fact that the Mortificators were descendents from his own Primarch, but still, I felt the author took the level of revulsion just a tad too far.

As I recall most (if not all) of the remaining Loyalist Primarchs disagreed with the Codex when it was introdcued, and only acceeded to it to prevent another Civil War.

No. Uriel and Pasanius's presence was the only thing that saved the Deathwatch team. Only two other members of the team survived the mission and if Uriel and Pasanius had not been there then they would not have made it past the Norm-Queen's guardians. They would have failed and the Tyranids would have won.

And having another Space Marine Captain present would have made no difference. What could Uriel have done to alter the strategy on the ground against such overwhelming odds, the only thing he could have done to gain victory was to go with the Deathwatch.

And that is my point: the codex would have complied him to stay on the ground with his men, mounting a failing defensive campaign. Instead, he opted to join the one mission that could bring about their victory. Had he listened to the codex, it's possible Pavonis would have been consumed by the Tyranids.

In the 3rd book, Uriel is essentially penalized for achieving victory under rather difficult circumstances.

I have not read this novel yet but if Learchus did not inform Uriel of the flanking enemies then he is an idiot and if I were Uriel i'd kill him myself for that foolishness. The Codex helps but sometimes it doesn't, and the Ultramarines seem incapable of identifying when it doesn't help.
At the risk of spoiling it, he does in fact break silence to warn his Capt, and then has to deal with the consequences of his squad being discovered by the enemy.

But in my book, putting your unit at risk for the greater good (in that fashion) is called bravery. In Guilliams book, that is called..heresy?

Courage and Honor is a very good book btw, so I heartily recommend you pick it up.
 

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Again, Bobss, an incredibly well thought-out and detailed review. I applaud your efforts!

I definitely agree with you as well. The books would serve as a good stepping-stone for someone trying to figure out the generalities of the 40K universe, but not incredibly strong overall.

This was the first exposure I'd had to McNeill (apart from False Gods) and I find the contrast between these initial books and the subsequent awesomeness to be quite stark. I may need to look back through them, but I don't remember particularly enjoying anything up until Dead Sky, Black Sun.
 

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I agree almost completely with Bobss, the exception being the review of Nightbringer. When I first read the book, I thought of it more as an Inquisitor novel than an Ultramarines novel. Granted, it actually is an Ultramarines novel, but aside from the fact that the SMurfs aren't taking the cetner stage that much, it's still a good story with interesting characters. Barzano in particular reminded me of Agent A.X.L. Pendergrast...bonus points of you know who that is :victory:
 
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