Review: Into Exile by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Posted by DarkChaplain at 12/09/2016
When the traitorous allies of Horus and Kelbor-Hal seized Mars, they sent elite hunters to apprehend key targets and ensure that any loyal resistance would fail. One such target was the legendary technoarchaeologist Arkhan Land, the discoverer of many lost treasures and curiosities from mankind's Golden Age - and the Imperial Fists cannot allow such a valuable mind to fall into the hands of the enemy. Does Land have good reason to fear his apparent saviours?
Another Horus Heresy story from the Black Library Advent Calendar. This one's a prequel to The Master of Mankind and features Arkhan Land, who was one of my favorite characters from the numbered novel.

The Story:
" When the traitorous allies of Horus and Kelbor-Hal seized Mars, they sent elite hunters to apprehend key targets and ensure that any loyal resistance would fail. One such target was the legendary technoarchaeologist Arkhan Land, the discoverer of many lost treasures and curiosities from mankind's Golden Age - and the Imperial Fists cannot allow such a valuable mind to fall into the hands of the enemy. Does Land have good reason to fear his apparent saviours?"

The Review:
Into Exile is a story told in reverse, featuring Arkhan Land's escape from sacred Mars. Hunted by a Mechanicum construct and protected by a single Imperial Fists legionary, Arkhan has to swallow his pride and get to safety. This is also set during the initial evacuation from Mars, which we've seen tackled by Mechanicum in the single-digit novels of the series.

Sadly, it didn't work for me. The concept seems novel at first, intriguing, but I didn't feel like it added much, if anything, to start with the conclusion and work back towards the beginning.
There were no unexpected twists that might have turned the plot on its head in ways that complimented the unique style, and knowing exactly how a character would meet his end made the whole evacuation chase here feel rather dull. Knowing that the hero escapes (which was obvious from him being a part of The Master of Mankind) and the protector sacrifices himself in the very first scene, made the tension evaporate for me.

I liked the character of Arkhan once again, but Nicanor felt flat to me. Stoic, stubborn and dutiful, but that's an Imperial Fist in a nutshell anyway. The plot itself is simple and filling a gap that I don't think really needed plugging. I'm glad to see AD-B experimenting with the short story format once again, which I loved in previous advent calendar series, but I'm not sure the subject matter lent itself to the test.

Into Exile 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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