Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blood Pact, by Dan Abnett

As some of my readers are probably aware, I'm a very big fan of the Gaunt's Ghosts series set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and follow the adventures of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First-and-Only. However, all of my adventures with the ghosts so far have been in omnibus form that contain three or four books that I'll read in more or less one go. Blood Pact is the first book I decided to read by itself and while I certainly found it enjoyable I found it rather short as well. However, I think that's simply because I read it as a stand-alone novel rather than as part of an omnibus and I look forward to more of Gaunt's adventures from Abnett.

The basic plot of Blood Pact is in a very broad sense a retelling of the previous Ghost book Traitor General, and this is rather explicitly mentioned by the characters as well. However, instead of Gaunt and a small Imperial team on a Chaos-held world looking to eliminate a rogue Imperial General before he can spill his secrets to the enemy, a small Chaos team of Blood Pact land on an Imperial-held world to eliminate a rogue Chaos general. While the book is definitely reusing an idea, Abnett manages to tell the stories in new and interesting ways. In addition, the use of warp witchcraft by the Chaos strike team frustrates communication among the Imperial forces and leaves Gaunt relying mostly on his wits and combat training to evade the kill team. Despite the feeling of brevity I thought this book as rather good and I'd recommend it to 40k fans as a good action sampler.

The other thing that I found very interesting was the fact that the planet Gaunt and the Ghosts were based on, Balhaut, was a secure Imperial world well behind the front lines of the Crusade. While many troops would welcome the opportunity for a nice, quiet garrison duty and the Ghosts initially enjoy their stay, they quickly find themselves bored with the absolute tedium of garrison life and are become restive, which presents an issue for Commissar Viktor Hark who has taken over many of the disciplinary issues of the regiment. In addition, a number of the senior staff cadre are beginning to feel the twelve years of campaigning the Ghosts have experienced and the regiment is beginning in some respects to feel old. This is definitely a good subject to cover but I feel like it wasn't really fleshed out in this book. My hope, however, is that it will definitely be fleshed out in later books in this series.

Overall an enjoyable read and highly recommended.

- Kalpar

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