Review: Salvation’s Reach by Dan Abnett

The Tanith First-And-Only embark a desperate mission that could decide the fate of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade in the thirteenth book of this popular Imperial Guard series. The Ghosts of the Tanith First-and-Only have been away from front line for too long. Listless, and hungry for some action, they are offered a mission that perfectly suits their talents. The objective: the mysterious Salvation’s Reach, a remote and impenetrable fortress concealing secrets that could change the course of the Sabbat Worlds campaign. But the proposed raid is so hazardous, it’s regarded as a suicide mission, and the Ghosts may have been in reserve for so long they’ve lost their edge. Haunted by spectres from the past and stalked by the Archenemy, Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and his Ghosts embark upon what could be their finest hour – or their final mission.

Review

In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war. For years, Colonel Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his regiment of lost souls and outcasts – the Ghosts, otherwise known as the Tanith First and Only – have campaigned across the stars. They have frequently snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. They have frequently paid a heavy price for their audacity and daring.

Now, they embark on one of their most dangerous missions: they will penetrate deep in to the heart of the Chaos held systems in order to acquire vital data to aid the ongoing Crusade across the sector. They will do so without support, and will strike at one of the enemy’s best defended installations. The resistance will be fearsome, and the losses grievous if not catastrophic. Can Gaunt once more pull his men through and complete the mission, or will his luck finally run out?

Salvation’s Reach is another fine Gaunt’s Ghosts book by Dan Abnett. The writing, as always, is of excellent quality. The vast array of characters is unique, interesting and memorable. Abnett begins the book by focusing more on the domestic life of the troopers, and after the innumerable bloody conflicts, death and violence, the change is welcome. Admittedly, one does not read Warhammer 40K books for a lovey-dovey, picnic on the lawn sentiment, and that attitude certainly does not present itself. None the less, finding out more about the personal lives of the roster of characters and their families, such as they are, is enjoyable.

The action is also intense and edgy. There is one particular scene in which a naval battle occurs. The depictions of the enemy ships in particular are both vivid and frightening. Abnett’s words inspire the cinematic reflex – where the words on the page fade and are replaced by images, sounds and smells created in the imagination by the story

The plot is also interesting and relevant to the ongoing and overarching meta story of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. There are also several surprise twists that it would not do to reveal within this review.

There is, however, one caveat. It’s somewhat of a large one. The story is pretty much all build up and very little pay off. Roughly eighty five per cent of the story leads up to the glorious assault, which happens and then… That’s it. It is possible to appreciate that Mr. Abnett wants to leave the way open for a sequel, as he has done many times in the past. This build up and abrupt ending are something of a disservice to his fans and admirers, though.

Salvation’s Reach is an enjoyable read while it is happening. The ending, though, may leave a somewhat sour taste in reader’s mouths. Readers who are familiar will find Salvation’s Reach a decent stop-gap and stepping stone on the path to the next book in the series. New readers may find themselves bewildered by the cast, references to past events and the manner in which the book ends.

  • Genre: Science Fiction-War
  • Demographic: Young Adult and up
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Find At: The Book Depository
  • Published: October 2011

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