Title: Sigismund: The Eternal Crusader
Author: John French
Published by:Black Library
Publication date: 10th May 2022
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Private Collection
Series: Horus Heresy: Characters
The Great Crusade is ending. The Emperor has returned to Terra, while Horus remains among the stars to complete the unification of humanity.
As the Imperial armies fight the final battles of the age, Remembrancer Solomon Voss seeks the answer to one question – why does Sigismund, First Captain of the Imperial Fists and greatest champion of the Legions, believe that war will not end?
Granted a rare audience with the master of the Templars, the answer takes Voss on a revelatory journey to a time before Sigismund became a Space Marine, through his first battles and oaths to the bitterest duels between Legions.
After enjoying reading Luther: First of the Fallen in the same series, I was eager to pick up Sigismund: The Eternal Crusader swiftly after publication. It was amazing!
Sigismund: The Eternal Crusader follows the interview style pattern that has been established in the previous Horus Heresy characters series. Set near the beginning of the Horus Heresy the story sees remembrancer Solomon Voss meeting with the famous Imperial Fist champion to get his personal take on the Crusade. Through a series of questions we are shown life in the Imperium through Sigismunds eyes.
The first part of this book had a huge impact on me as a reader; while I’ve always known that the Imperium of Mankind isn’t all sunshine and lollipops – this is a huge topic of conversation that can be a bit of a minefield in itself – Sigismund: The Eternal Crusader offers a unique and personal insight into the initiation of a Space Marine, how they’re taken and indoctrinated into the regime. I found this to be an absolutely stellar section of the novel that sets the tone perfectly throughout. Not all Space Marines are volunteers and the Imperium’s greatest Champion wouldn’t chose this path if he’d been given a choice at all. What a revelation! Also within this section is how the early Space Marines were assessed and assigned to their Legions. And, it makes for a great read. Hearing the titular character lament his origins to Solomon Voss is as wonderful as it is insightful.
The question on Solomon Voss’ lips is ‘Will this War ever end?’ Of course, as a reader, we know the answer. But seeing this question raised and the answers that are given by the characters – who at this point are still hopeful that the Great Crusade will unite humanity – are startling and enlightening. Along with the brief conversations between Voss and Sigismund are visual flashbacks to various events of the crusaders life; his time amongst the other Legions, his accession through the Imperial Fists, his views on some of the other Legions. The novella gives an in depth view on a pivotal Horus Heresy character as well as his thoughts and opinions, giving details to why he does some of the things he does that aren’t touched on during the main heresy series – why he wears his sword on a chain, why that particular sword, etc.
These are the sorts of books that I adore from the Horus Heresy and Primarchs series of books. They get really into the ethos of the name character and offer a deeper perspective of what makes that character who they are. Their core is exposed and the reader is given a great understanding of them. The others like this in the series, for me, are Lorgar: Bearer of the Word and Alpharius: Head of the Hydra. A lot of the other books in this series feel like that have fallen short of the mark, only having loose connections to the characters depicted on the cove, but it makes gems like Sigismund and the others mentioned really shine through.
While Sigismund: The Eternal Crusader is a character-driven study, it’s not short on action, either. Some of the flashbacks depict the titular character in the heat of combat and the balance between action and drama is perfect. Seeing the interactions between the usually stoic Imperial Fists and other Legions is captivating in itself, but there’s something… more to Sigismund, a charisma that doesn’t seem to translate to his Battle Brothers, a determination and grit to his demeanour that I found captivating to read.
After the belter of the opening chapters, I found that the rest of the novella dipped more into the ‘standard affair’ of Black Library novels in places, but honestly, there wasn’t anything I disliked about this book. It was a brilliant character study that has helped turn my eye towards enjoying the Imperial Fists Legion and I am eager to continue reading about them in other iterations. It makes me excited for the Rogal Dorn novella that has recently been announced by Games Workshop as well as plodding on through the main Horus Heresy series with Dave.
If you’re in any way interested in Space Marines, their recruitment process and indoctrination process. Read this book. If you like Imperial Fists and want to know more about their finest champion, read this book. If you’re not sure about those things but like Warhammer… read this book!!