Friday, 29 January 2016

Book Review: The Underworld War - Aaron Demski-Bowden

Book Review: The Underworld War by Aaron Demski-Bowden

You might not recognise the title, but this is my favourite short story within The Mark Of Calth collection (edited by Laurie Goulding).

The book is light on combat but explores the effect of the change from human to Astartes and more specifically the change from Astartes to one of the Gal Vorbak; I thought this was a nice little study. ADB describes successful humans who become Astartes as 'once human' and defines their ability to leave former lives behind as critical in this accepting fully the duties of the Legion without question or fear. He takes this further by looking at the make-up of a Gal Vorbak.

The Ultramarines are absent as ADB focuses on one Word Bearer Sergeant Jerudai Kaurtal. He is a likeable character (for a filthy traitor!) who displays honour and the ability to think for himself aside from the dogma of his Legion.

This independence of thought leads him to consider himself abandoned on Calth and he vows to collect icons of all the fallen Chapters and return them to his Legion so their sacrifice is never forgotten.

I love how ADB give a sense of a pointless war of attrition and he tells us that Kaurtal lost his first boltgun 6years 246 days ago and that he has scavenged 13 since then! He paints a picture of a pointless war which the Ultramarines are winning.

We get to see the Word Bearer wrestle for control with the daemon inside him, and see him retain his Astartes-ness within his own mind, never giving in fully to the daemon.

The book ends with a great plot twist that I never saw coming and we understand what is special about the Gal Vorbak and other Word Bearers sent to the war on Calth.

The verdict: Overall I really enjoyed this story and finding out a bit more about the inner workings of the Gal Vorbak. It's well written, paced and gives us another morsel of info on one of the coolest units in The Horus Heresy! 8/10.

Now go read Betrayal at Calth! This is my favourite story but there are 5 other great ones!

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