So it's time for another review. This time it's from the Black Library range. Iron Warriors Omnibus draws from characters and events made infamous in the Ultramarine series also written by Graham McNeill. This omnibus contains the following stories: Storm of Iron, The Enemy of My Enemy, The Heraclitus Effect, The Skull Harvest, Iron Warrior, The Iron Without and The Beast of Calth.
Now as most of you are aware I've enjoyed 40k since the 90s and remember the inital release of Storm of Iron fondly. So when I managed to get my hands on the omnibus I was slightly excited. Add to this that I had a two week lazy holiday in Greece and I was set up for an epic reading session. What to say though, first up I feel has to said is it was brillant. Once I started reading, I found it almost impossible to put down. McNeill's writing has aways managed to capture my imagination and as far as 40k stories are concerned he comes second only to Dan Abnett.
The first story is Storm of Iron, which contains one of the most detailed and imagined siege battles I have so far read. Each section of the book is represented by the progression of the siege parallels. This creeping advance of the siege and the story being told from both sides. Combine to absolutely absorb you into the battle happening around. Now I hate spoilers like everyone else, but this is a review, so if you don't wish to know the plot then stop reading now and just get the book already! The characters of the series are well thought out on both sides. But it's best to remember that it's a story about villians, so the loyalist characters rarely survive. But back to Storm of Iron. This is when we get introduced to the main villain Honsou, of the Iron Warriors. Who later becomes a major player in the Ultramarine series. The whole point of this book, is to show Honsou's progression from a Champion to a Warsmith. All the while set in the super descriptive seige. Which shows us titans clashing, deamonic engines rampaging and fortresses falling. This is a fast pace tale, that has you rooting for characters on both sides. Rarely for me have I managed to complete a book so quickly, so praise must be given to the author for his captivating writing.
Following on from this epic, we are treated to a trio of short stories. The first tale is called The Enemy of My Enemy. This short story actually follows the fate of some of the loyalist characters. Who managed to survive the seige. Now captured by the Iron Warriors they are like cattle, working in a hell forge within the Eye of Terror. It also introduces us to some renegade marines working for the Red Corsair. The main character of this group is Vaanes, a former Raven Guard who we get to know better in later stories. This story though short is very fast paced and easy to read in one sitting. Also it's one of the stories only available in this book. In the time line compared to the Ultramarine saga, it is set just before Dead Sky, Black Sun. At this point I suggest reading that book, as the next story is set after it.
The Heraclitus Effect, as mentioned follows on from the Ultramarine book. We find out that the fall out of that adventure, has left Honsou wanting revenge on Ventris and his precious Ultramarines. This tale continues the fast pace of book so far. Humiliated by the Ultramarines and wanting revenge Honus gathers around him his remaining allies and does what all great villians do.....he destroys a world. Once again we get to see Honsou at his best and is one of personal favourite stories of the book.
The saga continues with Skull Harvest. Here we find Honsou riding proud after destroying an Imperium World. On top of this Honsou is now attempting to raise an army to invade the Ultramar system (the invasion is written from the Ultramrine side in The Chapters Due). The story mainly follows Honsou, Vaanes, Grendel and the Newborn as they go through the Skull Harvest trials to gain an army. It's during this period that the Newborn, comes to realise what it means to be a Chaos Space Marine. I enjoyed this story the most as I'm a huge Huron Blackheart and Red Corsair fan.
Following on from Skull Harvest, is Iron Warrior, once available as a limited edition novella. Set during the invasion of the Ultramar system. A star fortress travelling through deep space, contains inside it's core lurking a deamon. Trapped and guarded by a company of Ultramarines, the Deamon's only chance of freedom is to be rescued by Honsou. This is an action paced boarding action/siege. Best part for me is the Ultramarines being lead by a Venerable Dreadnought. This is a brutal, fast paced, enjoyable and action packed tale.
The final two tales can be merged into one. The Iron Without and The Beast of Calth, both take place within the Ultramar system on Calth. The first tale is set during the inital invasion and the second is set after the failed attempt. It's hard to review these without giving away to much of the story arc. But it shows just how calculating and malicious a Chaos Space Marine can be. And rounds off the omnibus perfectly.
So what score to give this great book. Well for me I struggled to put this down and when I finally did I found myself dreaming up 40k army ideas and wanted to read more Graham McNeill books (eyeing up the Ultramarine series now). I could happily pick this up and read it again. So I will give it 4.5 out 5.
Thanks for reading this. If you are interested in reading this book I'm selling my copy at the cost of P&P. So if you want to read it drop me a comment below and we will sort something out.