Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Guns Of Tanith: A Book Review

Following hard on the heels of Honour Guard, The Guns of Tanith tells the story of an airborne assault on the dome cities of the gas world Phantine. It is a terrific mix of World War II movie style tension as the assaults prepare, with Abnett style gritty action as the battles themselves take place. This is followed by a more special-operations style insertion of Killteams preparatory to a larger invasion in the same style as the first.

This might take Honour Guard's spot as my number one choice so far, since it had me grabbed from the beginning, rather than the off-and-on it took me to get through the earlier novel. Also, there were a lot of neat firsts which took place in this book, which I will allude to in my trademarked pros & cons.



Pros:
  1. Story 'cuts to the chase' better than a lot of Abnett's other work. The beginning had a short buildup, which while not super exciting, kept me engaged enough to go to the next page again and again.
  2. Believable pan. The good guys actually have a sensible attack plan. I suppose this sources to the fact that Abnett wants General Van Voytz to be a more sympathetic superior officer rather than a combative one as the last few have been. 
  3. Interesting first appearances. The Loxatl mercenaries show up for the first time, as well as a great way to combat them in the drum-fed U90 Assault Cannon. My favorite thing about that is that it sounds like the Fallout 3 Combat Shotgun. Also, the Phantine Skyborne show up for the first (and hopefully not the last) time. They are kind of a neat mix of Space Commandos and Airborne paratroopers. Pretty cool, really.
Cons:
  1. Not Stand Alone. This book really cannot be made sense of if you have not read the others in the series. This can be said to some extent of all of the books in the series, but is particularly true of The Guns of Tanith, as many of the plot threads start before, or end after this one. Many of the characters fates are unknown until the beginning of the next book, Straight Silver.
  2. They Come And Go. There are some big name characters who don't walk away from this one. This might not really be a con in some ways, but I know there are people who may not like it.
  3. Two Books In One. On the flip side of the coin from #1, the first and last halves of this story seem like they should almost be two different books. The tempo and style of them are vastly different, and especially in a multi-title omnibus setting, I had a hard time remembering they were one and the same.

1 comment:

Dawfydd said...

Guns is definitely the wrong book to pick if you're just starting in with the Ghosts, but when you've been reading for five books it's good to see characters die, fresh faces to appear, and for the setting to evolve. It's also nice for Gaunt to have a commander who isn't a complete fethwit for a change :)
And I agree, it is very much a book of two halves, but that can be put down to the fact that we go from a straight up assault, as is usual for Ibram and his poor footsloggers, to the sort of stealth insertion for which the Ghost's are trained. In a way this is the first time we see them operating behind enemy lines this way. It's also a superb throwback to that to the 'men on a mission' films, oddly enough (or not) typified by 'The Guns Of Navarone', where a crack unit gets sent in under a time limit and then everything that could go wrong, does.
Anyway, good to see you're still enjoying the series, and prepare for the grim trench warfare of Straight Silver....