[Book Review] The Emperor’s Legion – Chris Wraight

Title: The Emperor’s Legion
Author: Chris Wraight
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 16th Sept 2017
Genre: Science-Fiction
Pages: 16th Sept 2017
Format: 352
Source: Private Collection
Series: Watchers of the Throne

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Blurb/Synopsis

The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s praetorian guard, the defenders of Terra and watchers over the Golden Throne. But when a threat arises, they and their Sisters of Silence allies may find themselves pressed almost beyond endurance…

The Custodian Guard have stood watch over the Emperor’s Palace on Terra since the foundation of the Imperium. Charged with protecting the Master of Mankind from all threats, within and without, their fearsome resolve is renowned throughout the galaxy, and their golden armour is the last thing that a would-be assassin or saboteur will ever see. Alongside the Null-maidens of the Sisters of Silence, who are anathema to psykers and sorcerers alike, there is no threat to the Golden Throne that they alone cannot vanquish… until now.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I picked this book up from Stockports recent Warboot (War-gaming carboot sale) and was really excited to read it. I’ve enjoyed reading about the Custodes and Sisters of Silence in the Horus Heresy series when they turned up, so thought it was about time I read about the 40k version of them.


The Emperor’s Legion follows three characters perspectives of the events unfolding after the loss of the Cadian Gate. Bound to Terra by an ancient edict, the Custodes have their hands tied to the Throneworld. Senator Tieron is trying to convince the Lord of Terra to rescind the edict and let loose the Imperium’s strongest weapons about their mounting foes. All the while the Silent Sisterhood is being recalled back to Terra to join the vicious fight against the psyker and daemonic menace plaguing the planet.

There are three central characters, each being the key figure during their feature chapters. The first being Tieron, chancellor of the Senatorum Imperialis, who is intent of unleashing the Custodes to help the failing Imperial Troops along the front lines of Chaos Invasion. As a character, he himself is enigmatic and playing the political game of cat and mouse amongst the Imperiums Finest nay-sayers. He’s up against them all in regards to his idea’s and needs to gain a powerful ally in order to sway the votes of his goals.

Valerian, member of the Emperor’s Custodian Guard is another of the feature characters, powerful, stoic and dedicated to his vows. And chained tot he Imperial Throneworld; for the first half of the book he seems to do very little of note, but as the plot plays out his role becomes more apparent. Aleya is a member of the Silent Sisterhood and most of the reason I got through the book. While I found her to be rather carbon copy when it comes to Black Libraries female leads – abrasive, confrontational and having to overcompensate compared to her male peers – she carried the part well. Her reasons for her attitude make a lot of sense considering the poor treatment that the Sisters of Silence have endured since the Horus Heresy; forgotten until they become of use again. She is a pleasure to read about and her inner thoughts and the perspective she has on being silent, her vows and other characters fit with my dry sense of humour. The characters carry the book and its plot through any other misgivings I have about the novel, which are many.

I really struggled with the writing style that author, Chris Wraight has adopted. At times the anecdotal extracts presented by each character addressed the reader personally as though the chapters were presented as a diary, which felt jarring when put alongside longer, very flowery, descriptions. At times, I got so lost in the descriptions of various things and objects that I lost track of what it was I was actually reading about. Mostly during the combat scenes where things were so deep in description that the flow of fighting was interrupted whenever one of the characters looked at whatever it was they were fighting against.

What I felt like this book lacked was any real sense of antagonist. Yes, there are hordes of daemons, but there was no singular focus for the protagonists to band against. It made the whole combat element to the book feel abstract and lacking in meaning. We are shown a massive sprawling army combat on the throneworld of terra, but there’s no sense of danger for the most holy planet, because the foe lacks any depth, so you know that the Imperial armies will win the day.

The characters are decent though and they carry the day, there is a sequel to this book that I am tempted to pick up just to see where the story goes and to learn more about the fate of the Custodes and the Sisters of Silence. When Valerian and Aleya work together, there is something rather special in their union and their attitudes work perfectly together – I look forward to reading more about them, if nothing else.

Summary

I struggled to get through this book. It was a decent enough read, but there’s something about the way it was written that didn’t work for me. A bit to much in the way of description that interrupted the flow of the novel. However, the characters were good to read about and I took particular enjoyment in Aleya and her sarcastic, angry attitude. Great to read about some Non-Space Marine Imperium characters too. Would love to read more Sisters of Silence books, if anyone has any recommendations including them?


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