Knights, Great War horses, and primitive weapons protect the great lands of Caliban. Young boys train to become the elite fighters that defend their homeland against the great beasts of the forest.
Zahariel and Nemiel are eager men determined to join the Order, to be selected to become the elite knights to fight for their people.
Zahriel undertakes an intense and traditional initiation process that is the last step for him to join the Order, bringing him face to face with two influential and powerful leaders – Luther and the Lion. Luther is always by the Lion’s side. The Lion, a figure found living in the forest amongst the beasts, rapidly increasing in intelligence and strength. The Lion leads The Order to wage war on the beasts.
‘That the road into darkness is paved with good intentions.’Descent of Angels.
Those in Caliban have their lives turned upside down when the emperor’s people and Astartas arrive to implore Caliban warriors to join them on the Great Crusade across the galaxies. Enthralled, Zahriel eagerly pledges to join the new brotherhood known as the Dark Angels, unaware of the descent brewing that could spell destruction for all of Caliban.
Arriving on the supposed peaceful planet Sarosh, a planet designed to become compliant to the emperor, Zahriel struggles to come to terms with his abilities and what results.
A major battle sets some apart, and Zahriel faces a different foe that none have experienced before.
I was instantly drawn into this new fantastical land where monsters existed, and predators stalked the endless forest of Caliban. Before the emperor came from the heavens with his angels, before they conquered Caliban, before the great crusade.
The writing draws you into a world of honour, perseverance and determination. Zahriel is so determined to become a knight he takes on a traumatic ordeal that haunts his sleep.
The way the author writes creates a vivid picture of this world, of the malice that lurks within its depths. There is a hint that a forest on the edge of the fortress holds a darkness that threatens to ensnare the strong and destroy the weak.
The story takes you completely away from the characters in previous books. I almost forgot I was in the Warhammer universe. Yet, at the same time a certain corrupt presence lingers in this world. Once you get about half way through the book, and a lot of character arc, the immersive world of Warhammer begins to take hold, and a visual masterpiece is created on the pages.
The fight scenes are graphic, gruesome, terrifying, and insanely riveting. I felt drawn into this dark world of beasts and spirits. The imagery that the author creates is like no other. He balances the descriptions perfectly without going into too much detail. Each scene casts a clear image of the battle and what is at stake.
Zahriel finds himself on a perilous journey to avenge a mentor. Venturing into a doomed forest of monsters massacring the villagers. A gloomy and depressing scene is set. Zahriel’s strength of character, loyalty and dedication to those close makes him a riveting protagonist. From humble beginnings, he rises to develop into an esteemed fighter that catches the attention of mighty men.
‘The taint is within him.’Descent of Angels.
A Malignant threat lurks within the forest. An evil malice that seeks to consume all humanity. There are faint hints to this evil, an evil we have perhaps seen in earlier stories. Zahriel now is exposed to a truth that could lead to all their undoing.
Once a Knight’s purpose has been fulfilled, discontent begins to arise amidst the order. A world that does not have a common enemy tends to turn on each other. Is this where Caliban is headed? Throughout the book there are hints of a malevolence lurking. Each quest or war takes them closer to this force. The more they destroy, the closer they get.
The descent of the emperor introduces Zahriel to a new stage in his life. The author creates vivid imagery of this magnificent being. An aura that glows around him that no mere human can dare to look upon. Zahriel‘s character goes through a myriad of changes. Remaining loyal to who he is, at the same time continuing to show loyalty to Caliban, and then to the emperor whom he still knows very little about.
It is actually quite fascinating to read how quickly these fearless warriors succumb to what the emperor has to offer. Perhaps unaware of what the emperor will do if they do not…
Or is it his all-understanding physic abilities that leads the emperor to believe that a belief in unknown entities leads to human destruction…?
It might have started a bit slow, but damn, I was not prepared for the gruesome trek the plot would take me. I could see it, almost feel the dread building. The dark worlds reveal how the warp has spun its evil into their very planet.
It is interesting how the Primarchs progress throughout the story. Horus and the Lion both start off as strong and likeable figures that their warriors easily follow and will die for.
Throughout the story they begin to show another side. Narcissistic, self-indulgent, and push aside those that perhaps they feel are a little too strong for their own good.
I always feel there is a psychological aspect to Warhammer. Alluding to things without fully explaining them, hinting at plot elements that end up in later books, and in-depth character progression that leaves the reader to decide – who is the bad guy? How do you understand the scene? Why did they make that decision? Not everything is explained. Which adds to the allure of the Warhammer series.