Kaohlir's Reviews > The Ultramarines Omnibus

The Ultramarines Omnibus by Graham McNeill
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Jun 28, 10

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bookshelves: warhammer-40-000
Read from June 13 to 22, 2010

Please forgive the use of differing tags to those of use upon Goodreads, I originally intended this review for a different site.

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Admittidly, this Omnibus, a trio of stories revolving around Ultramarine Protagonists naturally involves a degree of the imfamous strict Codex-Astartes adherence, thus, often bringing about boredom and the bland flavours of Ultramarine society, culture and tradition. So the authour`s intention of portraying our Main-character - Uriel Ventris, as lost in his turmoil at both his natural pressure to adhere to his Primarch`s doctrine of war, but also his former liege`s natural flares of disobediance, is cunning in how an unorthodox character can still function within the Chapter, and help bring about more intruige in the way potential threats are combatted; a clever move by that of McNeill to relish in the untypical nature of his chosen Ultramarines characters. It sets Uriel apart from the cliched ultramarine-clad Space Marines who ply the void in text-book fashion, and with varied supporting characters: The doubting, self-loathing giant of Pasanius, the traditional, rival of Learchus, makes for a strong character foundation.

[B:][SIZE="2":]Nightbringer[/SIZE:][/B:]. Such characterisation dosen`t really flow into the first novel, [I:]Nightbringer[/I:] however. The portrayel of the Dark Eldar is mediocre at best, and is drastically overshadowed by far better interpretations of these heartless and archaic foes in other Black Library works. The Ultramarines of 4th Company are overshadowed by the Adeptus Arbites- the planetry law-enforcers, aptly named 'judges' of the Industy-blanketed world, Pavonis. Varying battles against Rebel Planetry Defence Force regulars, accompanying armoured divisions and a rebel kill-team masquerading as Judges to deliver precise anarchy within the civilian populance, is the pinnacle of the growing unease between Manufactorum cartels and the Planetry Governer; all manipulated by traitors and the Dark Eldar Xenos.
[I:]Nightbringer[/I:] culminates with the rebirth of the C`tan, the ''Nightbringer''. Although for one understanding and familliar with the background of thr 40k Universe, I thought a definitive lacking of history surronding this mystical figure would lead to many readers believing it of Chaos origin; infact the ''Nightbringer'' being a C`tan is the stark opposite of the Ruinous Powers, and unfortunately seemed to gift Uriel with no negative Warp-presence, as one would expect after their climatical encounter; a possible boon against any daemonic foes to come?

Overall, the first book sets about to describe the Ultramarines, although covers too great a spectrum of the Imperium`s society and millitary to achieve this exactly. 3/5 stars for ever-strong talent by Graham McNeill, but a dissapointing portrayel of the Xenos, alongside little emphasis on the Astartes is only saved by the beautiful and almost languid flow of descriptive genius that populated the finale and the birth-throes of the C`tan. Readers not familiar with the Universe may enjoy this, but I found it lacking overall.

[B:][SIZE="2":]Warriors of Ultramar[/SIZE:][/B:] is far more simple in its synopsis: A conglermeration of Ultramarines, led by our hero - Uriel Ventris, a starkly clashing and baroque branch of the Ultramarines Legion, the Mortifactors sharing their lineage to Primarch Roboute Guilliman, and the ''Deathwatch'', concise but deadly, Special Operatives tasked by the Ordo Xenos in the pin-point execution of Aliens. Amongst a sea of Imperial Guardsmen from varying Regimental worlds and the PDF of Tarsis-Ultra, the Space Marines face a simple, yet impossible challenge: To hold a tendril of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan at bay until reinforcements can relieve the System. Several truly fantastic Naval-conflicts within the depths of the cold, void of space against Bio-constructs of colossal proportion perfectly atunes the reader to the scale of warfare. The eventual defeat of the Imperial armarda embarks us the the ground-defense of Tarsis-Ultra by the remnants of the Imperial forces.
Several mores assaults by the Tyranid menace and varying levels of successful resistance, counter-assaults and expendature by the Space Marines is balanced in its single-minded ferocity and bloody nature by emphasis upon human-greed and selfishness during the conflicts by other characters, chancing the ongoing threat to proffit in this unexpected boon. This anthithesis of Astartes values leads to a far more successful portrayel of these supporting characters than the poor attempt of [I:]Nightbringer[/I:]. Each given a nickname based on some trait, these press-gangers are an interesting effort to adding a less superhuman flavour overall. The Deathwatch`s incersion into the biological heart of the Hive Fleet by Uriel Ventris, whilst Learchus and the Imperial nemnants dig-in for all-out siege and a glorifying last-stand, concludes the simple, yet brutal war. A baleful Inquisitor Kryptman sheds an interesting light upon the Tyranids, and the weakness of these Xenos. A Bio-virus drugged into the Queen of the Hive-Fleet ignites an evolutionary bombshell, dissolving the Xenos invaders into cellular mush instantaneously.

4/5, although only barely, for a more succinct plot, but far better portraying of the Ultramarines, their zealous allies of the Deathwatch and Mortifactors, and the myriad of other human-personna`s. A far better finale and the rivers of blood shed sate the wanton-bloodlust of a reader like myself.

[B:][SIZE="2":]Dead Sky, Black Sun[/SIZE:][/B:]. The finale of this epic trilogy, and yet-to-be series ends in a cataclysm of daemon-wrought adventure, into the heart of Chaos itself, the Eye of Terror, and the spawned monstrosities lurking within its turbulent depths. Having the crisis of banishment from Ultramar and the Ultramarines Chapter, for Uriel`s and Pasanius` abandonement of the Codex Astartes sacred lore in Warriors of Ultramar , by joining the Xenos-hunting Deathwatch, our pair of Astartes protagonists are whisked from Maccragge, totally oblivious of the utterly wretched challenges they blindly stumble towards. Challenges that will test, and even break their doctrines of faith, pushing their warrior-spirit and iron-hard mentalities to breaking- and beyond through pacts with Daemon`s, mutants and McNeill`s darker, and more sinister son: Honsou; upon the industry-charred daemon-world of Medrengard. The vile, repulsive, cesspit of corruption and slavery, made dominion by the Traitor Legion, the Iron Warriors.

True to McNeill`s nature, this book is rivited by flowing descriptions of a complex-depth, unmatched within his collective peers. The sheer volume, and omniscient nature of this talent is ever-present, with every sequence of high-action events or subdued, emotional turmoil explained in a multitude of enjoyable ways. Additional characters within[I:] Dead Sky, Black Sun [/I:]allows for greater flesh to be added to each frame of a personality, in contrast to the forlorn, but ever righteouss Ultramarines: The self-loathing, honour-severed Raven Guard, Vaanes, the ill-fated Blood Raven Seraphys and the blugeoned but ever-hopeful Guardsmen, rebel slaves from Hydra Cordatus. The book follows these Renegades, Uriel and Pasanius legion amongst them, as they dare to infiltrate Honsou`s fortress of Khalan-Gol to retrieve the artifact the Heart of Blood, for their daemonic overlord, in a bid for freedom. Our heroes are caught up in the turmoil of arch-Warsmith`s Berossus and Toramino, as they challenge Honsou in a bloody siege of truly colossal proportion. Several high-octane battles later, and with Khornate Daemon-Princes, Possessed-Titans, Packs of feral Dreadnaughts, scuttling adepts of the Dark Mechanicus` Biologis wing, and Unfleashed mutants all bloodied and rotting amongst the boiling rubble, Honsou`s fortress is in tatters and his forces seriously depleted, with Uriel and Pasanius, escaping through the Warp-borne tunnels of the fortress.


Though fallen beneath the double-hammer stroke of the arch-Warsmith`s, Honsou makes a pact with the Heart of Blood- a colossal Daemon Prince bound to Khorne and recruits followers amongst the Renegade Astartes, such as Vaanes, the Raven Guard, alongside a clone of Uriel Ventris, a result from the distasteful methods employed in the creation of new Chaos Astartes. The interesting, vengeance-riven epilogue sets a revenge plot in motion, to be fulfilled during [I:]The Chapter`s Due[/I:].

I would still only rate [I:]Dead Sky, Black Sun [/I:]as a 4/5, despite its harsh, and arguably deserved critisisms towards the more grotesque, gory and repulsive details and theme`s. (But this [I:]is[/I:] a Daemon-World, lost within the epitome of madness...)The fighting is more harsh, bloody and on a far grander scale, with Antagonists of a darkly interesting and vile nature. But differing to previous novels, more emotional pressure is heaped onto our struggling protagonists, and their zealous-faith under immense strain. The subtle interwining story of Honsou, and his Warband of Iron Warrior`s from [I:]Storm of Iron[/I:] works well, the famed hero and anti-hero of McNeill facing one another for the first time.

Overall: Enjoyable for a reader not as embedded within the 40k Universe, and a [I:]real [/I:]delight to one who is.
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