Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"For the Emperor" By Sandy Mitchell

A friend of mine gave me the push I needed to start reading ebooks and said push involved a lot of Warhammer 40,000 books. Also, other friends have been trying to get me to read this series for a while now. 

Summary: This story follows an officer in the Imperial Guard of the Imperium of Mankind in the Warhammer 40k universe. There is a huge collection of books, movies, video games, role-playing games and table top wargames all based in this setting. Humanity is constantly at war with a variety of aliens and internal threats. The Imperial Guard is the largest force of soldiers that stand between the the subjects of Terra and certain doom. There is one particular office in each regiment called the Commissar. It is the duty of the Commissar to ensure the regiment is loyal to the Emperor and ready to serve Him. Commissars are authorized to summarily execute troops under their command, including other officers.

This story follows the exploits of Commissar Cain, a peculiar individual amongst his cadre. Cain is in many ways a psychopath, worrying only about himself with no regard for the well being of his friends and companions. He is constantly calculating the odds of his survival and makes decisions that will maximize it. Despite this selfishness, he is an exceptionally good officer who achieves great feats for humanity and takes good care of the soldiers under him. In fact, Cain is an interesting case-study exploring the idea that a morality can be built out of rationality. That one need not have good intentions in order to behave as a good person.

Anyway, "For the Emperor" starts when Cain is transferred to a new regiment that was formed out the ashes of the 296th and the 301st Valhallans. Both regiments had been severely reduced in their last major battle and many of the officers had been battlefield promotions. Cain comes in as the most experienced leader among them and helps them take the reigns of the rowdy group so that they may once again be a fit fighting force. They are sent to Gravalax where the aliens called the Tau have established a foothold through trading with the locals. The politics are delicate as a war has not started, but the Imperium fears this Tau incursion will lead to a takeover of the planet. Unfortunately, Gravalax is not an important world and few resources can be devoted to the task. Cain and the other leaders are forced to walk carefully in both their fights and their negotiations to resolve the situation.

What I Liked: This is my first ebook and I should note here that I very much enjoyed reading this way. I admit I am addicted to my phone and waste a lot of time on social media or playing with dumb apps. Reading an ebook means I can fulfill my phone addiction and my reading addiction simultaneously.

As for the story, I really liked the narrative style with Cain telling his stories as an unreliable narrator, but then having annotations added in by more reliable source.

What I Didn't Like: My ebook formats strangely, so the footnotes do not work quite the way I want them to.

Rating: Love it! I will definitely read the rest of the series.

Also Read by this Author: Scourge The Heritic, Innocence Proves Nothing.
A side note, Sandy Mitchell is a pseudonym for Alex Stewart.

Reviewed by: Nick

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