by Andrew Charlton
I went into Flight of the Eisenstein, by James Swallow, with a sense of cynicism. I’d only heard bad things about the novel and had not read anything by Swallow in the past.
All other Horus Heresy books to this point had been written by acclaimed authors from Black Library such as Dan Abnett and Scott McNeil, household names to any 40k fan. Not James Swallow though, I’d never even heard of his previous work and had been warned his writing style might not be to my liking.
Boy were they wrong.
Flight of the Eisenstein is perhaps my favorite Horus Heresy novel to date, and takes high ranks in terms of my favorite Warhammer novels overall. The story is unexpectedly emotional for one following the journey of Death Guard, men famed for their stoic unemotional nature.
The story follows Death Guard Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro, who we saw in the last novel from Saul Tarvitv’s point of view, leaving the system to warn the emperor of Horus’s betrayal. Much of the book is retreading old ground, seeing events in the previous book through Garro’s eyes.
This could have been boring, done poorly, as we know everything that’s going to happen already until he decides to aid Tarvitz, but I feel this was masterfully done.
It adds an amazing layer of tension to the plot, as we wait to see how he will arrive at where he was now. letting us learn so much more about this character than we would have if we just jumped in at ground zero.
Not to go into too much detail, but I’m glad that Swallow started back for another reason. The journey out of the system, and Garro and co.’s journey to Terra is so emotionally and action charged, to go into it without any preamble would have been exhausting.
This part of the story was entrancing, and gave me a real sense of how scary interstellar travel can be.
This story proved a very emotional one, showing a lot more personal turmoil than any of the books before, and shows a lot of pain and loss in an endearingly human way. The plot took turns I did not expect, and despite the warning, I hugely loved Swallows’ style. I look forward to seeing more from him in the future.