Some reviews are terribly difficult to write, it’s like pulling out my own incisors trying to come up with the right words that most effectively portray how I feel about the book. Writing the review for Mephiston: Lord of Death was easier than tossing a dry leaf into a roaring fire and watching it incinerate. After I finished the book, my head couldn’t stop thinking about everything I wanted to cover. I had so many ideas and hopefully I don’t forget any.
Mephiston is told from first person which that in itself is a unique thing; I found it truly serves to enhance the enjoyment of the story. You can form a real connection with his character, he isn’t some mindless Space Marine more robot than human, who charges around waving a chainsword and grunting “For the Emperor”. I also found the inner conflict of Mephiston intriguing. I wouldn’t say he truly doubts what he is, but more or less questions everything, including the reason for his existence. He does know, however, what he is not and that is the former vessel Calistarius.
I was amazed at how some of the individual paragraphs build up into precise descriptions and then are beautifully closed out into an almost poetic-like prose. The battle field on the planet Pallevon is a near hive level city that has turned ghost town, the only ravagement it has seen is that of nature and time. Some of the wonderment and mystery that builds up as the 4th Company descends deeper towards their goal is excellent. I won’t spoil it too much, but I was reminded of a quest in the game Diablo 2 about fighting the ancients.
The short chapbook, Eclipse of Hope, that accompanied Mephiston: Lord of Death added a significant layer of depth and setup for the novella. I loved its addition to this package Black Library put together and the value it added really enticed me to buy this collector’s edition all together. The ending revealed in Mephiston: Lord of Death envelopes what began in the Eclipse of Hope quite nicely.
Since this is a collector’s edition, you pay a high price, but I found it more than worth it. A spectacular story, beautiful production from even the tiniest embossed Space Marine helmet beside every page number, the addition of Eclipse of Hope, the added artwork, and finally the most surprising of all, the slipcase is wonderful. Out of everything that Black Library put together for this product, I was least concerned with the slipcase and once I really had it in my hands, I was shocked. It isn’t some flimsy piece of material; it is a solid protector for your novella that looks stunning on a bookshelf. I really wasn’t expecting that from the slipcase at all, and I hope to have a whole row of them proudly lined up next to each other.(If I don’t have to file bankruptcy due to the pricey cost; anyone who tries to repossess my books will be eviscerated)
Back to the story, without giving too much away, Mephiston and the 4th Company have been pulled to Pallevon since the discovery of the Eclipse of Hope. Along the way, Mephiston and company meet something they didn’t expect – a relic from Calistarius’s past that threatens everything. Upon this reunion Mephiston and the 4th company are tugged even quicker on the strings to which they are attached and plunge headfirst towards the unknown. What they find on Pallevon could be a monumental discovery for their Chapter or it could bring about their own personalized damnation.
With Mephiston: Lord of Death I felt a few whispers from previous great Black Library novels, Angel of Darkness – Gav Thorpe, Eisenhorn – Dan Abnett, and even a little bit of the character Uriel Ventris – Graham McNeill, whether intentional or not. Mephiston carried with it a sense of something epic that these other books have grasped hold of. There was very little downside to contrast with everything that the Mephiston package so positively offered. The only thing I can even think of that might irk some is that the story is a novella and not true novel length which none of the A5’s are as of yet that I am aware of and in this case it didn’t bother me at all. With the conclusion of Mephiston, I’ve decided that I will definitely be purchasing the next book in the Lords of Space Marines series. I’ll also be looking into Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha whenever I scrounge together some more pennies and quarters from beneath my couch cushions.
Verdict: Buy this story as soon as you can if it ever goes digital or prints in another format; you won’t regret it in the least. 10 out of 10 Liams for Mephiston: Lord of Death. David Annandale is the Lord of Death, just as Dan Abnett is each and every individual trooper in Gaunt’s Ghost.