For a while now I’ve been praising Warhammer books saying that they are far more than you’d expect. While they will never be high literature, the prose and characters pull you into this Universe and get you to care about the events of this wartorn galaxy. There are characters like Dante, Khayon and Fulgrim that are surprisingly deep and nuanced, and their stories mean something. Throughout the horrific events, you even see how it affects an individual soldier or planet inhabitant, and feel the impact and scale of the horrors that are unfolding. So it is with severe disappointment that I suggest you avoid Indomitus, the flagship book for Warhammer 40,000 9th Edition.
I understand that the books that launch and edition have a certain requirement to hype up the new models and set some of the scenes for new and returning players. This was me when I read Dark Imperium and Dark Imperium: Plague War, and I found some of the over describing of the Primaris cumbersome and unnecessary. However, it didn’t detract otherwise engaging stories and conflicts. Unfortunately, Indomitus is little more than descriptions of the new models and this is something it repeats frequently to hammer home the ‘awesome-ness’ of units like the Outriders or Bladeguard. If behind the constant descriptions there were interesting characters or a story worth my time, then I could easily forgive this issue but there isn’t.
The set up for Indomitus that a ship of Ultramarines gets lost in the warp and stumbles upon some Necrons invading a system. What follows is a series of small skirmishes leading to a slightly larger fight at the end. We mostly follow two Ultramarines who can be reduced to the thinky one and the fighty one. They are so plainly two dimensional and generic that they are barely characters. The Ultramarines squabble and argue of minor details in what appears to be an attempt to show a rivalry but it only comes off as childish. I’ve mentioned before that I find Ultramarines overly generic in the first place, but this book takes that to a whole new level.
The Necron’s aren’t much better. While they are a noticeable improvement (which isn’t saying much), they also constantly squabble and fight against each other. This makes them seem less like a threat to the galaxy than a toaster and kettle arguing which gets prominence on the kitchen worktop. The Necrons feel like cardboard villains made for the new Primaris to knockdown. There are casualties on both sides to show how devastating each new model is but at no point do you doubt that the Ultramarines will win. It was somewhat interesting to learn more about the Necrons but Indomitus never made them feel like they could re-conquer the galaxy or that they were this powerful ancient culture. Hopefully, I find some better Necron books in the future.
To give this a direct comparison to another book that set up an edition, Dark Imperium felt epic. We had the start of the book with Guilliman chasing Fulgrim and then the continuing conflict with Nurgle and Death Guard that felt dangerous and like it was a fight the Imperium was losing ground on an important system. In Indomitus, the Ultramarines stumble upon a fight they didn’t know was happening in a world that is seemingly meaningless on a scale that is minute in the grand scheme of the galaxy. None of the events in Indomitus feels like anything more than a footnote in the history of the Imperium, where the Dark Imperium is a major conflict that meant something. I know not every book can be on that scale but to launch an edition of such a weak title is a bad move by Games Workshop.
I hope that future books set as part of the Indomitus campaign are more interesting but after finishing this book I don’t hold too much hope. It has also made me question Gav Thorpe’s ability as this is the only book I’ve finished by him and I hated it. This has been by far the worst experience I’ve had with a Warhammer novel and what I thought they were going to be like before I started reading them. If this is your first book (or early in your reading), don’t lose hope. There are plenty of excellent 40k books out there. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst.
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