Adeptus Mechanicus and Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard "Wiki"

Ave Omnissiah!


My blog is primarily my own personal fluff in the Warhammer 40,000 universe regarding the Draconis system such as the Knight House Yato in Draconis III, the Imperial Guard...I mean, Astra Militarum regiment trained there, the Draconian Armored Force, and the Forge World of Draconis IV with its Adeptus Mechanicus priesthood and Skitarii legions, and perhaps the Titan Legion, Legio Gojira (which will never happen because I don't have money for Forge World Titans).

Oh, and I'll throw in the Thousand Sons from time to time because they're my favorite Space Marine Legion. I refuse to believe that they are Traitors! They're just...ahem...secretly loyal to the Imperium!

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Titanicus

I promised to write more reviews regarding the Adeptus Mechanicus, and Titanicus was one of them. The Mars trilogy will take a longer while, maybe another month or two, depending on how fast I read my Japanese light novel. My Japanese isn't good so I'll take a longer time to read it as compared to English novels.

Yes, Singaporeans are native speakers of English. It may come as a surprise to foreigners, but our first language is English. And as to why a Singaporean knows Japanese despite having Chinese ancestry, I'll leave it to your imagination. One big hint is me being a fan of manga and anime.

Anyway, Knights of the Imperium will be next, followed perhaps by Tempestus, a novel regarding the Militarium Tempestus and Tempestus scions during the Shield of Baal campaign. After that I will write a review for Mechanicum from the Horus Heresy series, and finally I'll write a review for the Ciaphas Cain series as a whole. As there are way too many Ciaphas Cain novels, and they're fairly formulaic and repetitive, I will treat them as a whole rather than review them one by one. They are my favorite Warhammer 40K series, though, so they shouldn't be underestimated or discarded despite my criticism earlier. The humor is awesome and Ciaphas is deserving of his status as a legend. Besides, the first two omnibuses were what got me into the Warhammer 40K lore in the first place. My first ever Warhammer 40K novel was Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium, the first omnibus that compiled Ciaphas' stories.

Eventually we will get to the Mars trilogy, and again, depending on what happens after I read them, I will either review the books separately or as a whole a la Ciaphas Cain.

Anyway, back to Titanicus.


The God machines go to war. Epic tagline, epic story. Titanicus is a book about massive Titans rampaging across the surface of the forge world Orestes and duelling each other in gigantic battles of fiery destruction and explosive deaths. It isn't just one or two Titans duking it out as in most campaigns. Even in Tech-priest by Rob Sanders, which I have reviewed earlier, you only had one or two Titans appearing at most, and it's just a little Warhound blasting away at daemonic engines and other massive Chaos machines. The scale in Titanicus is on an entirely different level - here, you have entire Titan legions going to war against a traitor Titan legion, the sinister forces of the Dark Mechanicum at work here as they plot within the shadows of Orestes while unleashing the massive corrupted God machines upon the hapless citizens of Orestes.

Like most Warhammer 40K novels except the Ciaphas Cain series, Titanicus suffers from trying to throw in too many characters at once. Yes, all the characters are eventually linked together by tying their threads to a single plot line involving the Titan legions, but honestly, while I felt sympathy for the Planetary Defense Force reserves, Activated Twenty-Six led by Cally Samstag, I felt they were unnecessary. Her husband, Stefan, was even more pointless. I understand Dan Abnett's attempt to garner sympathy for the common men and women, but Stefan's fate was just ridiculous and left a bad taste in my mouth. I liked Cally and the ragtag band of PDF Activated Twenty-Six survivors she was forced to lead, but really, all they did was rescue a Princeps. Their thread could be taken out completely and the book wouldn't suffer at all. Erik Varco could have fulfilled the role of the common man cowering against the might of the titans more than adequately.

I very much like Tarses's character and his relationship with his new princeps, Prinzhorn. Tarses is a great moderati of Dominatus Victrix, and after his princeps died, Prinzhorn was assigned to his Titan. The growing respect and trust between the young, new, and esepcially inexperienced Prinzhorn and his more experienced and wiser Tarses were very well developed, particularly when Abnett expanded on how the two started off their relationship at odds with each other. The fact that both of them are from different Titan Legions also came to play in their complex relationship, particularly at the end, and the way they eventually resolved their differences was very satisfying. Despite the titan crews being part of the Adeptus Mechanicus and augmented with bionics and mechanical contraptions, they are very human, with human flaws, emotions and relationships.

Erik Varco also made for a compelling character, and as I said, he could have fulfilled Cally's role. Being the commander of a Leman Russ Vanquisher squadron that got pretty much wiped out by a single titan (who also effortlessly destroyed the entire Leman Russ column), he basically relied on his faith in the Omnissiah to carry him and his surviving crew and other tank crews through the devastated battlefields left behind by the towering titans. As I said, he fulfills the very human aspect of the Mechanicus story.

Characters like Manfred Zember, however, were completely pointless. Yes, it was nice to see the common civilians buying his hand-made titan toys and figurines, and get a feel of the height of popularity as Legio Invicta came down to save Orestes from the archenemy, it really gave the story a sense of reality. But at the same time it bloated the book, added unnecessary content and disrupted the real plot and action, not to mention the flow. Ultimately, he was an unimportant figure who didn't contribute much except to show the popularity of the titan legions as they descended. On one hand, I appreciate this because it displays the society in Warhammer 40K, the feelings of the common people, the workings of society, how trends wax and wane, and as a historian I really like this aspect. But from a narrative point of view as a literature student, I found that it disrupted the narrative, made the already huge cast bloated to the extent it became difficult to keep track of so many characters, and took attention away from the main plot. It has both its strengths and weaknesses.

The politics are pretty much, well...politics. I don't really like them, but it does show the tension between the human Imperium and the augmented Adeptus Mechanicus, emphasizing the split between the Imperium of Man and the Martian empire. I much preferred the conspiracies taking place within the forge world of Orestes when the sequestered truth about the Emperor and the Omnissiah came to light, splitting the forge world into two as certain tech-priests fight for power. Such as Magos Tolemy, for example. Among the tech-priests, I like Sonne, an innocent adept who ended up being involved in this conspiracy, his clever master Crusius, and the Lord Governor Aleuton who represents Earth and the Imperium amidst a forge world run by the Adeptus Mechanicus. On the other hand, I feel Etta Severin was absolutely unnecessary. Serving as a liason, all she did was watch the titans slug it out, but she didn't play a huge role in the story. I was more interested in the Skitarii forces, led by Lau. It was wasted potential, not showing the perspective of a tiny Skitarii warrior fighting at the feet of the massive titans. I feel the scale could have been emphasized here, as well as the feelings of the Skitarii who were made to feel little compared to the titans stomping around them. This was something Rob Sanders did very well in Tech-priest.

I also liked the introduction of Legio Invicta as they combine forces with the battered Legio Tempestus to fight off the archenemy. The conflicting beliefs the two sides have, that of the New Way where Legio Invicta believes the Emperor and Omnissiah are one and Legio Tempestus's insistence that the Emperor should not be worshipped and have control over Mars, come to a head near the climax of the story, but eventually (as expected), the two legions put aside their differences to deal with an even greater threat, recognizing that Earth and Mars both need each other to survive.

The battle scenes are in one word, epic. To have such a huge number of titans duking out with their awesome array of devastating weaponry that could level entire cities was like a dream come true. Whenever there was a titan fight I couldn't put the book down (well, mine is an e-copy, so I should say I couldn't tear my eyes away from the computer screen). In one scene where Gearhart took down three traitor titans with strategy, tactics and exploiting the terrain, I couldn't help but be impressed and fully engaged with the action. The climatic scene where an Imperator titan emerged was also amazing, and while I won't spoil the outcome of the battle, I will say it was one of the best-written battle scenes in any Warhammer 40K novels. The way Abnett describes titan combat, movement and tactics is elaborate, impressive and full of details. The crews of the titans feel so human, and I could feel the sting of loss with every downed titan and killed crew, particularly one where a Tempestus titan was overwhelmed and the Dark Mechanicum forces just broke their way in to slaughter the entire crew. It was heartbreaking, and that means Abnett has done a good job making the supposedly mechanical and emotionless Mechanicus crew relatable and human.

For the titan scenes alone, I will recommend the book. It took the war between massive engines into such an epic scale, waging war in numbers of titans not seen since the Horus Heresy. Just imagining the titans marching toward each other and firing their turbo destructors was breathtaking, and putting us in the cockpit of the titans immersed me deeper into titan combat. As I said, Tarses the Moderatii from Legio Invicta and his new princeps from Legio Tempestus had a relationship that was slowly and exquisitely developed throughout the book, and I wouldn't have minded if the book focused solely on them. That was one of the strengths of the Ciaphas Cain series - it focused only on one character and the people around him, which made it easier to keep track of the cast and relate to him. The Princeps Maximus Gearhart was also a great and well-written character, and it is hard to not feel for him as he fights not just traitor engines but also the enemies old age and a slowly degrading mind bring upon him.

Like Skitarius and Tech-priest by Rob Sanders, Titanicus gets my seal of approval, and I highly recommend the book to any Warhammer 40K fan who loves titans. Now, if only Game Workshop would release a non-Forge World, official Titan......I want to field a Warlord titan alongside my Skitarii, Cult Mechanicus and Imperial Knights (*cough Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation cough*). Can you imagine the scale?

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