Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"The Traitor's Hand" by Sandy Mitchell

This is the third book in the Commissar Cain series. I can't get enough.

Summary: Adumbria is a curious planet that is tidally locked with its home star. This creates three main zones, a hot and bright hemisphere always facing the sun, a cold and dark hemisphere always facing away, and a shadow belt in between. The majority of the population lives in the belt, with small settlements in the desert and tundra regions.

This story is chronologically after the first two books and during the time Cain is with the 597th Valhallans (who happen to be cold climate specialists). A significant time has passed and Cain's unit is urgently being sent to Adumbria in anticipation of a Chaos fleet headed towards the planet. Some of the Imperial fleet arrives before the Chaos cultists and is able to prepare. Unfortunately, travelling through the Warp (the only form of faster than light travel available to the Imperium of Man) is a complicated business and the bulk of the fleet is delayed.

Cain and his regiment originally assume that the Chaos fleet is the danger they need to be ready for, but even as they are deployed on the surface, they realize that a homegrown Chaos thread is already there. As they gather clues, the picture becomes clear as to what the cultists are trying to do on the planet and why the Chaos fleet is headed right for them.

While Cain is trying to maintain his heroic image, an old acquaintance from the Scola Progenium is picking up an old rivalry. Commissar Beije is assigned to the very pious regiment of the Tallarn 229th (who happen to be desert fighters). Beije sees through Cain's legendary reputation and knows him to be the selfish opportunist that he is. He takes it upon himself to bring down Cain during the mission and it is up to our clever protagonist to parry the challenges while simultaneously working to save the planet (and himself) from destruction.

What I Liked: This book has fresh enemies that are at first glance simple, but reveal a more developed identity as the story progresses. I like how it slowly dawns on Cain and his peers what is really going on. 

What I Didn't Like: It has become clear to me that some of the events in this book and previous books reference short stories (The Beguiling, Fight or Flight, and Echoes of the Tomb) I have not yet read. I found them now and will read them before moving onto the 4th book.

Rating: Love it! I am still reading the series.

Also Read by this Author: Scourge The Heritic, Innocence Proves Nothing, For the Emperor, Caves of Ice.

A side note, Sandy Mitchell is a pseudonym for Alex Stewart.

Reviewed by: Nick

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