Monday, February 7, 2011

Blood Pact: A Book Review

In the 12th and most current Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Gaunt and the Tanith are coming off a two year rest and recovery period from line service on the Liberated world of Balhaut. But things are not as they seem, and a commisariat prisoner is about to make Gaunt's garrison posting a lot more interesting.

Pros:
  • Smaller scale. Like Traitor General, Blood Pact uses a much smaller roster of characters than the typical Ghosts novel, simply by dint of the fact that the base is on lockdown for the duration of the story, and only the Ghosts outside the cordon contribute to the show.
  • Cloak and Dagger. This is a 'spy hunter' flavor of story. It sort of reminds me of a Craig Thomas novel I once read about an infiltrator into Soviet Russia being hunted by the KGB.
  • The Names Of Death. There's a Blood Pact soldier that has taken as his 'rite' the task of speaking aloud all of the names of death. There are a few interesting interludes with him through the story, and one hilarious moment that makes bearing with it all worthwhile.
Cons:
  • The Blood Witch. Yeah, I'm not crazy about all of the magic and occultism in this series sometimes. There's a lot of that in this one. If it's been bugging you, heads up.
  • Section. There are a lot of new Commisars to keep track of, and a few old friends too. Some of them seem like they might be important later, and I'm not crazy about the task of keeping straight a whole bunch of new characters who are essentially the  same guy. With characters like Hark or Ludd, who have different mannerisms, it's not a problem, but the majority of Imperial Commisars are largely identical.
  • Current. Yeah, this is the last novel in the line at the moment, and is not available in an omnibus. So if you have been reading this series on the cheap, like me, you are sad to see the last page. Now I have to wait until more are written. Drat.
It was a good read, in essence. For a change, Abnett puts a new spin on the old adversary, and the Blood Pacters are actually interesting. They had sort of become the 40k versions of Stormtroopers from the Star Wars series, just generic bad guys that can be inserted into any situation, and with no more motivation for what they do than that they are 'bad guys.'

5 comments:

Dawfydd said...

Good to see you've enjoyed the adventures of the Ghosts to date :)
Blood pact is quite interesting on several levels, not the least that it's a mirror to Traitor General.

If you want more though, in lieu of a book last year (due to Dan's poor health) there was instead an anthology, Sabbat Worlds, featuring a variety of the Black Library's authors tackling the crusade from some interesting perspectives.
Before that though, I would HIGHLY reccomend tracking down a copy of Double Eagle, starring the Phantine & Pardus regiments (of Guns Of Tanith & Honour Guard respectively), and Titanicus as titan-class warfare hits a world on the fringes of the Crusade....

CounterFett said...

I've read Titanicus, but I have not found a copy of Double Eagle yet.

Sabbat Worlds I am staying away from due to my undying hatred of anthologies. I didn't even like Ghostmaker, which was technically not an anthology, because the flashbacks seemed like short stories.

Dawfydd said...

Double Eagle can be a tad tricky to find, although BL have put it up on their print on demand service.

And I fully take your point about anthologies, they can be a pain sometimes (hell, the number I've brought just for one or two specific stories..), but Sabbat Worlds is worth a shot, as it does flesh out some elements only ever refered to in passing in the 'core' books. The death of Slaydo for example...
Plus you get a pretty good crop of authors contributing :)

CounterFett said...

I'll probably end up getting it, since I am nearing the end of the things on my 'list' to read, and will have to branch out.

Bix said...

I finished Blood Pact this morning and had been holding off on your review until then. Although you're very good at not dropping any spoilers.I enjoyed the book but found the conclusion a tad speedy after all that build up.

I'll second Dawfydd in saying Double Eagle is well worth hunting down.Reading a 40k book devoted to war in the air was very refreshing and Dan did it so well. Writing about aerial combat and keeping it gripping is quite a feat.

I'm just starting on the Sabbat Worlds although I did read the included story, The Iron Star which is a short story that slots in between the events of Only in Death and Blood Pact. I'd rate it only for Ghost completionists.

Keep up the great work.