Rarely do stories with so many separate viewpoints or two-main timeline events running parallel to one another make my list of top books, simply because I always find myself favoring one viewpoint or event so much more than the other. With Deathwatch, that was not the case. In fact, I enjoyed this book so much, afterwards I had to go find my Space Marine anthologies and refresh myself on some of the other previous adventures, “Exhumed and Headhunter”, with this all-star cast.
On one side runs the Inquisitor’s agents; first Ordimas the Puppeteer, a man who is plagued with deformities but also, so much more, just like everything else in this novel. Ordimas is living on the mining planet of Chairo when he is tasked with a risky reconnaissance mission into the mines. I actually found myself getting very attached to his character in the book. Later, we get our first glimpse of White Phoenix, and I have a deep queasy feeling she might be playing a rather large part in future Parker novels.
Sandwiched in between is this cloak-and-dagger Blackseed operation and an individual who we assume is Inquisitor Lord Sigma along with another unknown voice communicating across the warp. These are the big players pulling all the strings and they are hidden behind layers of secrecy. I’d love to know much more about these Chess masters and I’m hoping once again that a future Deathwatch novel will shed us with a little more insight on this aspect.
On the other side is the Deathwatch cast: our main viewpoint here comes from Squad Talon’s Alpha or Karras, a Codicier of the Death Spectres Chapter and everything seems to be revolved around him. There might or might not be a prophecy involved here, but one thing is certain, his psyker combat abilities are especially nifty. As Karras is selected into the Deathwatch, everyone else is slowly pieced together from the “Best of the Best” and Squad Talon is formed.
The members of Squad Talon: Maximmion Voss, an unusually short, but stout Imperial First whose physically gifted talents are nothing short of astonishing, everything about him is extreme. Next up is Siefer Zeed of the Raven Guard, squad comedian and Voss’s best friend. Zeed is shadow fast and possibly one of the deadliest close-combat fighters of all time. The two other members consist of Ultramarine Ignacio Solarion or “Preacher” a sniper of unequalled marksmanship who also covets the Alpha position, and Darrion Rauth or “Watcher” of the Exocist Chapter. Little is known about the latter and he is definitely the most mysterious individual of the group.
Oh yea, I almost forgot one last tiny member, Chyron, a dreadnought from the Lamenters Chapter. Nothing more to say, except did you notice the part about him being a “Dreadnought”?
The novel winds its way between the Inquisitor’s agents and the Talon squad individuals as the group coalesces together, all the way from the beginning of their initiation into the Deathwatch and through their first mission from Inquisitor Lord Sigma, Night Harvest, on Chairo.
Layers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what makes Black Library authors so special is their ability to manipulate the layers of the Warhammer Universe and Steve Parker has shown that he can peel them back with the best of them. Depth, texture, storyline, and action, Deathwatch has it all and tops my list of reads so far for 2013.