And now for the Pros & Cons:
- Separating the men from the boys. While I do not like the short story/flashback composition of this book, it does let you know which characters are going to be important, survivable, and worth remembering. Furthermore, it let me know that Mkoll, the scout sergeant was still alive. I thought he got killed at the end of First and Only. Which scout died then?
- Interesting Antagonists. This is something I forgot to mention in my last review, which a commenter brought to my attention. Instead of the stereotypical "hordes of chaos cultists" vs. Cadians, Catachans, or Vostroyans, Abnett has both the enemy and ally units be interesting with their own uniforms, traditions, and manners of address. Additionally, the bad guys usually have a reason for doing what they are doing, rather than just pulling the wings off of butterflies because it's EVIL.
- Short Stories. Two-thirds of this novel is devoted to short stories about the different members of Gaunt's inner circle. Some of it is needed backstory, but it seems disjointed sometimes, and leaves me something at a loss at whether I am reading things in the 'present' or 'past.'
- Prequel. Some significant portion of this book takes place before the events of the first. I hate that. I went to the trouble of reading these in order, let's keep it that way, shall we?