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Cadian Blood by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Posted by Luke Forney on January 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM

 

Warhammer 40,000 is a diverse setting. Beyond the obvious infinite possibilities of an Empire of millions of worlds, the built-in settings for series of books give a number of options. Like the space marines? Then there are series galore: Ultramarines, Blood Angels, Grey Knights, Soul Drinkers, Dawn of War (aka Blood Ravens), Space Wolf, Salamanders, Imperial Fist, etc. If that isn’t your cup of tea, you can focus on the Inquisition, as they fight heresy. Series include the Eisenhorn trilogy, the Ravenor trilogy, the Inquisition War trilogy, and the new Bastion Wars series. Luke Reviews has delved into both of those segments, but never before have I looked at the Imperial Guard novels, a series of stand-alone books that follow the men who aren’t enhanced war machines or religious fanatics. So it was about time to give the Imperial Guard a look.

 

On the planet Kathur, Chaos has overrun the populace, killing many and leaving the rest viciously ill. Those who die wracked with this disease don’t stay dead; they rise up again, and conquer the world in the name of Chaos. Reclaiming the planet seems like it should be a minor ordeal of blasting the planet from space, but things get complicated. Kathur is named after Saint Kathur, hero of the Great Crusade, and full of relics of his life. The Empire refuses to let these holy sites be destroyed, and instead send in a series of guardsmen to recover Kathur. Among them are the Cadian 88th Mechanized Infantry, in part led by Captain Thade. They must survive the onslaught of plague-ridden zombies if they hope to return home.

 

This book has been getting seemingly nothing but good reviews, so I was very excited to give it a look. This of course made me even more baffled than normal when the beginning just fell flat, due to excessive amounts of telling and not showing (“Don’t tell the reader, show them”). It was dry and not at all engaging for the first 20 or so pages. A recap of the history of the planet, and the onset of the Plague of Unbelief.

 

And then Cadian Blood took off. Once the story set into place, it was brilliant. Dembski-Bowden hits every part right, creating very memorable characters in Thade and his lieutenants, creating a flow of action that never let up, and making the story incredibly easy to find yourself drawn into. Almost unparalleled in Warhammer 40,000 fiction, Dembski-Bowden’s first novel brings the realities of war in this setting to life, and he doesn’t hold back.

 

One minor quibble that I had was his choice of announcing that certain characters would die before they actually did in the story, as well as a slight lull about two-thirds of the way through, but otherwise Cadian Blood was a brilliant work. I am very much excited about Dembski-Bowden’s next novel, Soul Hunter.

 

8/10

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4 Comments

Reply Dan
5:41 PM on January 23, 2010 
Hi Luke,
Awesome review as usual. I love the consistency with which you update your website, and the concise nature of your reviews. How do you get reviews out so quickly? It seems like you chewed through Cadian Blood in just over a day! Any tips on how to get through more books faster?

Thanks for the awesome reviews,

Dan
Reply Luke Forney
8:11 PM on January 23, 2010 
Thank you for the kind words, Dan. It is always nice to hear good things about your hard work. Answers to each of your questions:

"How do you get reviews out so quickly?" Well, the quick answer is, I read a lot. However, there is slightly more to it than that. I have a very heavy course-load, and work as well, so during the semester I don't have quite as much free time. Therefore, during breaks in my schedule, I "read ahead," so to speak. For example, I read Cadian Blood about two weeks ago. I then ration out my reviews, trying to post them once every 2-3 days. I don't love waiting like that (patience is far from my best quality), but in doing that I don't leave you and my other readers having to wait a long time between reviews. At the end of the semester, when I'm not ahead of schedule, you might notice that reviews slow to one every 4 days, or on the rare occasion longer. I try to intersperse other things I think you guys will like, such as interviews, announcements, free fiction, reviews of shorter things such as novellas or audio stories, and the like to keep the site updated at least every couple days. That way, Luke Reviews never suffers even lengthy dead periods. A site I am a fan of just recently went about ten days without any updates, and I found my interest starting to wane.

"It seems like you chewed through Cadian Blood in just over a day!" Not a question, but in explanation: I read it over winter break, when classes were not in session, and my job was not open. During breaks like that, I read 200-300+ pages a day. I don't watch much TV, and I had a lot of free time since there was no class or work to go to. I did indeed read Cadian Blood in a little over a day. That said, if it was a less enjoyable book, or one that was less fast-paced, but of the same length, it would likely have taken a little more time.

"Any tips on how to get through more books faster?" It all comes back to reading a lot. For me, finding large chunks of time to read, instead of a lot of little bits, helps me to get going. I find I'm slower as I'm first starting a reading period, but get much faster as I get into the story again. Also, and this sounds obvious, most likely, but the more you read, the faster you get. I thought this sounded rather dumb at first, true but obvious, yet I have found that, after getting into the habit of reading a lot every day, I do so much faster. The other big thing, and one that I struggle with, is eliminating needless distractions. It is very easy for me to spend hours online and find that I have accomplished nothing, and creating a site where I share what I read with people and need to keep up a steady flow has really helped on that front. It kept me focused, and in a way "forced" me to do what I wanted. A little bump telling me that I really want to read, and will regret it when, hours later, I see that I haven't.

The other big thing is just reading books that I like. There is nothing worse than reading a book you don't like (as a literature major, I know from experience). That is why you occasionally see a review from me where I say I didn't finish the book. Life is too short to force yourself through something you don't want to read, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that you didn't get through it. I hope my honesty in this lets you guys know that there is no reason to beat yourself up over a book that, despite being popular, just isn't fun for you.

I also work with a number of publishers. They send me copies of books to review for them. The excitement of getting books before they are released, and wanting to repay them with a review (positive or negative; I have ripped some books sent to me by Black Library, Fairwood Press, Angry Robot Books, Apex Publications, the list goes on) for trusting me to give honest reviews for them, gives me impetus to get to it and read.

The biggest thing is just having fun. I love to read, and that makes it all easier. Even with classes in session at the university, I still make free time for myself, and try to read 100 pages a day. If I can keep that up, and I can't always, that gets me through an average novel in 4 days. If you can make that promise to yourself, to get through 100 pages a day, and stick to it, it is a great step in getting to far more books than you thought you could, and helping you experience a lot more of the fun that they hold inside.

I hope I didn't bore you with my a-little-too-long answers, but I wanted to give you the full story, or something along those lines. If you have any other questions, let me know. Feel free to post them here, or over at the forum, or in an email. I hope you enjoy the books I've got coming up; there are some neat ones on the way.
Reply Dan
8:44 PM on January 23, 2010 
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, especially with such speed, thoroughness, and elegance. Your response completely answered my questions. The internet is truly the greatest bank of information, but can be the worst enemy of that stack of books on my shelf that I've been meaning to read but keep putting off in favor of new releases or online shenanigans. Hopefully, with your advice I'll actually have the discipline to finally pick up the books in that pile.

Dan

Note: I sent you a small donation; its nothing major, but you should get yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Thanks again!
Reply Luke Forney
11:55 PM on January 23, 2010 
I've found that the single greatest attacker of my free time is Wikipedia. It has the ability to be so absorbing.

One other thing that I found helps me a lot, and that I thought of after I left my comment, was that I actually tend to make a list of the next few books I plan to read. through trial and error, I have set the number of books for these lists to be somewhere between five and ten, much larger and it is hard to stick to. The benefit is two-fold: first, you don't spend time (hours, as it used to be in my case) laboring over what to read next, second, I can combine the exciting new releases that I "know" I can't live without reading immediately with those books I have been meaning to read for years. In a ten book list, you have a lot of options, including an even 50/50 split, of new books to the ever growing "To Read" pile. I've found that helps me a lot. There is also a sense of accomplishment in getting through the list of books I made. In a nice coincidence, I planned on posting my newest list of books on here in the next few days (right after Kree/Skrull War, to be exact), with the intent of giving you all a look at what is to come. Hopefully it will be an okay example of what I am talking about.

I really appreciate the donation. It was a wonderful surprise to log on and see it. The local Borders has a "Happy Hour" 50% discount on coffee, so with that donation I'll be able to get a cup of coffee AND a book to read while I drink it. Thank you again; I'll be sure to let you know when the review goes up!

Please stop back by and let me know how the reading is going. I wish you all the best luck in getting after that stack of books!

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10: One of the best books of the year. A must read. Worth reading again.

 

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1: Couldn’t get halfway.