After finishing Cadia Stands, I was hyped to see what happened next to its world’s defenders. Cadian Honour picks up with the 101st after the fall of Cadia. We get to explore the fall out of those events in terms of their psychological impact on the soldiers, structural impact within the Imperial Guard and its wider effect on the Imperium at large. Cadian Honour is a completely different type of story to Cadia Stands and while I thoroughly enjoyed both, Honour is a far more complete story. Let’s take a look at why I think you should pick this up even if you didn’t get on with Cadia Stands.
One of the major marketing ploys for this book is to frame it around Minka Lesk. Minka is a survivor of Cadia and played a part in Cadia Stands. While I don’t think her parts of Stands were particularly stand out, we get to spend a lot more time with her here and delve deep into her character. However, while this is meant to be her book she doesn’t play a particularly important role in the overall narrative. This is especially true for the latter third of the story. This makes the initial set up for her story arc a bit confusing and means we don’t get a satisfying payoff. For me, this seems like subtitling this as a Minka Lesk story was a marketing decision rather than one made by the author, Justin D. Hill. So temper your expectations on that account.
Now that we’ve reset your expectations for this book, what’s it actually about? We follow the Cadian 101st as they are sent to the world of Potence in the Gallow’s Cluster. It’s a seemingly stable area but the tide of chaos is slowly encroaching. We think it’s going to be a straightforward posting for the Cadians and a place where they can take stock of what has happened but it doesn’t turn out that way. And to prevent any spoilers to the plot, I’ll stop there. It’s a decent hook and thanks seeing these characters in Cadia Stands we’re familiar with their backstory. This allows Hill to focus on the fall out of those events and their impact on the regiment. And he takes that and runs with it. There’s a throughline throughout this book about psychological trauma, coping with disaster and each person’s breaking point. This is shown in all of the characters, especially those in the 101st and The Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood are religious zealots who have been formed into a militia made up of refugees from worlds devastated by chaos. The themes of desperation and what you would do to survive are played against the Cadian 101st loyalty and duty to make an interesting duality to their conflict. And while that is resolved in bloody violence, the underlying despair is still there even at the end. While you can probably predict where the story is going, you feel each character’s internal war and keeps you invested all the way through.
While the story is straightforward, the characters are fully realised and human. Hills ability to draw you into characters and make you care about their fate is impressive and as I said in my review of Cadia Stands, he’s one to watch. While I think that the overarching narrative is something we’ve seen done before and better, the way he weaves existing and new characters into without wasting time is fantastic. On top of that, the audiobook narration by Colleen Prendergast is brilliant and I will always love the idea that the Cadian’s are Geordies. And importantly for the 40k book, there are some awesome battles with big explosions to boot.
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