Dark Creed by Anthony Reynolds
Black Library Publishing
Dark Creed is the thrilling conclusion to the Word Bearers trilogy, and sees epic conflicts fought and old scores settled in the world of Warhammer 40,000.
Dark Apostle is the third in the Word Bearers series and the culmination of a massive plot. Of course when you consider that the Word Bearers and other Traitor Legions are over 10,000 years old and their schemes stretch over millennia it's hard to grasp the scope of such a "plot". Wheels within wheels and the Word Bearers are plotters in the extreme.
The story of Dark Apostle Marduk continues and his goal of using the ancient Necron technology to essentially propel himself higher up the food chain and bring as much chaos to the Imperium as possible is fought with peril from within and without.
As any reader vaguely familiar with the material can surmise, Chaos Space Marines, while disciplined are still suffering from some serious testosterone poisoning. They're all plotting and scheming to be the Alpha Male. That mush is established. Unlike say the World Eaters, the Word Bearer Legion has their own way of pursuing personal goals (vendettas?) and Anthony Reynolds does a great job of breaking it all down so we as readers can follow these spider-web plots (without dumbing it down too much).
Seriously...I have to commend Mr. Reynolds for his deft handling of the story. He gives good insight to the inner workings of the Word Bearers as well as the White Consuls Space Marines (and many others) who are working in opposition to Marduk's plans. Without spoiling anything let it suffice to say that the scale of the novel is pretty ginormous. Epic. Sector fleets, multiple hosts of the Word Bearers, several chapters of Astartes as well as innumerable Imperial Guardsmen and the various Titan Legions. (Most of this is inferred or happens "off-camera")
This is a novel with a lot of moving parts. Tons going on. Anthony Reynolds does a really good job of keeping it manageable for the reader. The battles range from naval engagements to gritty melee.
I've always found it difficult to get in to reading the Chaos-side of Warhammer novels. They seem so unbelievably over the top that I have a hard time suspending disbelief. Often with Space Marines as well...they seem too perfect. Chaos Space Marines in contrast become the most heinous thing ever. It's too...black and white.
Anthony Reynolds does an admirable job in keeping things believable. Granted, there are still moments where the Astartes are perfectly heroic and the Chaos Marines are perfectly heinous. Still...my spidey-sense wasn't going off and telling me to glaze over pages due to *yawn* more nail a baby to your forehead moments.
I think Mr. Reynolds does however have an excellent grasp on the dark, hopelessness of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It's a messed up place where a human is one among untold bajillions and nobody will miss your passing. The author definitely has this DOWN.
One think I do appreciate in this novel is that there appears to be very real peril around all the characters, including Marduk. Nobody is safe. Any of them can be crushed by falling beams, have their head blown off or simply die an ignoble death (which is SUCH an appropriate 40k thing).
My only complaint would be that due to the massive scope of the plot, there's a lot of interesting things going on, and it's easy to get lost. Granted Mr. Reynolds does a great job in showing us one scene, then shifting the camera elsewhere to see a scene...sometimes it's easy to start wondering "Hey, what happened to Brother Bob?" Largely the author does a great job in keeping the suspense going. Still, there are some parts that I personally would have loved to see more of...but that's really just a personal quibble. I think in reading we gravitate towards some characters more than others...and sometimes those characters aren't really the focus of the story. Meh, it happens. Still a damn good book!
Overall it's a fitting ending (?) to the Word Bearer series.
A very good read whether a part of the series or as a stand-alone novel.