Review: Echoes of the Long War by David Guymer

Posted by DarkChaplain at 5/27/2016
On Terra, the last Imperial Fist fights to unite the squabbling High Lords in defence of the Imperium, even as treachery rears its head within the Adeptus Mechanicus. And far away, the Fists Examplar find an unexpected ally for a most dangerous mission…

Paralysed by the continued ork invasion of Imperial space, the rulers of Terra continue to fight among themselves. Finally losing patience with the High Council, Koorland – the last surviving Imperial Fist – ousts the Lord Commander and seizes control. Elsewhere, the Fists Exemplar are forced by circumstance to fight alongside the Iron Warriors. Where will such an alliance lead – can a Traitor Legion ever be trusted?
Here we go, the midway point of The Beast Arises has been reached. That's six reviews down, six more to go over the coming half a year. So far, I am enjoying my time with it, and David's entry is no exception. After this installment, I can't wait to see what the rest will bring to the table!

The Story:
"On Terra, the last Imperial Fist fights to unite the squabbling High Lords in defence of the Imperium, even as treachery rears its head within the Adeptus Mechanicus. And far away, the Fists Examplar find an unexpected ally for a most dangerous mission…

Paralysed by the continued ork invasion of Imperial space, the rulers of Terra continue to fight among themselves. Finally losing patience with the High Council, Koorland – the last surviving Imperial Fist – ousts the Lord Commander and seizes control. Elsewhere, the Fists Exemplar are forced by circumstance to fight alongside the Iron Warriors. Where will such an alliance lead – can a Traitor Legion ever be trusted?"


The Review
Echoes of the Long War is the sixth novel in the The Beast Arises series. As such, it marks the halfway point of the overall story, and has to live up to high expectations. For the most part, it succeeded in doing that for me, despite a few shortcomings.

The biggest downside to me was the relative lack of Terra and the politics plotline. Only six out of twenty-three chapters take place on the Throneworld, one of which was shared with the Mars plotline, which other than that had two chapters to itself.
What the book offered of these aspects was solid, enjoyable and intriguing. Drakan Vangorich finally set some things in motion, Koorland took decisive action and we even got to see a glimpse of the incoming disaster from Ecclesiarch Mesring. Adding the research on Mars to the mix, we get some pretty cool reveals and events that will impact the series going forward.

The rest of the book is focused on the Fists Exemplar's battles against the ork menace, both in the void as on ground. I'd say that this was much needed, as we haven't really seen much battle with them for the past few books. The Proletarian Crusade didn't focus much on the action, and neither did the semi-purge of the attack moon over Terra. Most action scenes were either lacking the Last Wall Chapters, or had them on their back foot.

This time we get a more proactive look at the Space Marine operations. While Chapter Master Thane leaves the stage for most of the book, his First Captain, Zerberyn, who we've seen in Predator, Prey already, takes the role of protagonist. He is a Fist Exemplar through and through, and his disapproval of the Last Wall protocol is important to his character development. Throughout the story, Zerberyn is forced to move from his rigid stance and take drastic measures to prevent a greater evil. The guy takes a real beating in having his moral stance and views on the split between good and bad questioned at every turn.
It was a satisfying arc for the character, and I can't wait to see how it will develop from here on.

The same storyline also features the Iron Warriors' Warsmith Kalkator from the previous installments. He provides a counterpoint to Zerberyn and the Exemplars, but once more, I didn't find him to be a real evildoer. He represents many of the virtues of the sons of Perturabo, while sharing few of the post-Heresy downsides of his brethren. He plays a vital role in the overall plot, and leads the Exemplars to Prax, an Iron Warriors world that, in the meantime, has been infested by orks who conduct very, very terrible things there. I won't spoil what they do, but by the Emperor, these revelations left a big impact and turned the grimdark scale of the series a few points past 11.

In general, the orks were more brutal but also sophisticated in Echoes. Their armoury got some big unexpected additions with far-reaching effects, and even their hierarchy got a good amount of pagetime. We get to see the clan origins, for example, which was cool.

What bothered me a bit were the aforementioned lack of Terra chapters compared to the action parts, and some of the Exemplar chapters dragged a little. Though to be fair, the politics were of a high quality (and featured some new players) and the action ramped up significantly towards the end - which was explosive on multiple levels.

As a series midpoint, Echoes of the Long War managed to increase the threat level of the orks while furthering internal schisms but also offer some solutions here and there, and shock the reader with some gruesome ideas. A bunch of characters are left on very shaky ground, and the aftereffects of their actions will ripple through the coming novels.

David Guymer has managed to live up to the series' high standards, addressing previous plot points while introducing new ones and shifting the course of the series into a position where the Imperium might be able to strike back at the green menace. The tables are turning, and Guymer presented that very well.

Echoes of the Long War on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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