Helsreach: Space Marine Battles: Warhammer 40,000

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Helsreach: Space Marine Battles: Warhammer 40,000 Audiobook

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Review #1

Helsreach: Space Marine Battles audiobook free

A compelling, well-written novel that exceeds the expectations I’ve (unfortunately) had for the 40k line of books.

All too often, characters in the Warhammer 40k novels are telegraphed. We know who the good guys are because they act nice; we know who the bad guys are because they act like jerks. Dembski-Bowden remembers that the basis for these books is covered in the introductory page of each of these books, which clarifies that the “good guys” are, in fact, the bloodiest, most oppressive regime imaginable. The heroes of this novel, such as they are, are representatives of said regime. Dembski-Bowden nails this by giving us protagonist-characters who display not just traits that make them sympathetic to the reader (courage, martial prowess, etc.), but also those “virtues” that make them plausible “champions” of the Imperium (the aforementioned regime) they serve–hate, xenophobia, intolerance.

Dembski-Bowden does a good job of juggling a cast that includes Space Marines, the crew of a Titan, Imperial Guardsmen, and others. By transitioning throughout the various characters, he keeps the action from getting stale. The time device is also neatly managed–allowing for the reader to feel as if time has passed during the siege, without the feel of a grind.

I initially planned to avoid this novel precisely because I felt the subject matter would make for a dull story. All too often, 40k novels are eventually bogged down by mind-numbing, repetitive battle scenes, heroic stands, and Space Marines shouting in all CAPS. I am pleased to say that I was surprised by this book. I was afraid that “Soul Hunter”, also by the same author, was a lucky find soon to be followed by a disappointing follow-up (I didn’t read any of his other previous novels), but “Helsreach”, if anything, meets–and perhaps exceeds–the standard he set with the former.

Helsreach gets four stars from me. It’s a very well-written, entertaining book that does not require one to be a dedicated 40k reader.

Review #2

Helsreach: Space Marine Battles audiobook Series Shifters Unbound

Haven’t read any Black Library before but thought I’d give it a try. I have a few to read too after they did the free kindle downloads for a while for some and I got a few more used. A few blogs seem to recommend this as one of the best so I figured it’d be a good place to start. So, in a few words…

Would I recommend it? Yes. It was a very easy read. Gripping enough to keep you reading late into the night, and although its a large book it has big print so doesn’t take long to read (4 nights for me). Plenty of characters to get into, you get a good feel for the Imperial side, and there is plenty of cool fluff. Negatives? Well the orks are a bit of a characterless mob, and the Black Templars are a bunch of dicks so its hard to like some of the lead characters.

Review #3

Audiobook Helsreach: Space Marine Battles by Cris Dukehart

This was really one of the best 40K books I’ve read in a very very long time. It reminded me of the bleak, gritty, dark and bloody 15 Hours (another 40K book by Mitchel Scanlon), and the desperate heroism. The glory. The death. 11/10 would recommend every damn time. Honestly I’m sad it had to end. Buy any copy you can get your hands on.

Review #4

Audio Helsreach: Space Marine Battles narrated by Cris Dukehart

Read this novel if you want to see a gigantic battle in the 40k universe, highlighted by amazing characterizations of the Black Templars.

This novel is the second in the Space Marine Battles series. The series is non linear, you don’t have to read Rynn’s World (the first novel) to have any idea what is going on here.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden has been writing some amazing books lately, Soul Hunter was a ridiculously interesting novel about the Night Lords, and here he does not disappoint. Just like the Chaos Marines in Soul Hunter became real people with different thoughts and motives, the Black Templars here are much less homogenized than you might think. The Black Templars are all heroes, but their various perspectives on the task in front of them are varied.

Grimaldus is one of the better written characters in any novel I have read recently. He comes to life as a knight dedicated to a cause, and I don’t think I will look at the Black Templars in the same way again.

Review #5

Free audio Helsreach: Space Marine Battles – in the audio player below

Dembski-Bowden does his usual magnificent job of humanizing the inhuman; Grimaldus, the Templars, the Mechanicus, all painted with a deftness unsurpassed and rarely equaled by other Black Library authors. Helsreach combines nice pacing with memorable characters, especially the minor ones: Andrej, the Titan priest, the dock master. Great addition to any scifi collection.

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