Warhammer 40,000: Blood Angels – Second Omnibus by James Swallow. Book review

WARHAMMER 40,000: BLOOD ANGELS – SECOND OMNIBUS by James Swallow, Black Library, £10.99

Reviewed by Steve Dean

Contained within this thick tome we have the two novels ‘Red Fury’ and ‘Black Tide’, three short stories and an extended appendix. As is usual with these things, the short stories are just stocking fillers, take them or leave them kind of affair. The appendix will only appeal to die-hard fans. (that is, those who are keen, not the guy in the dirty vest.)

Which leaves the novels, and to my mind, as different as chalk and cheese.

In ‘Red Fury’, the Blood Angels have recently suffered great losses in battle, and their numbers are so low they are in danger of disappearing all together. The chapter master calls a meeting of the lesser chapters and asks for a tithe to be taken among them to restore the first chapter. While they are arguing, and boy do they argue, a traitor working for Fabius Bile sneaks in and nicks a relic. That’s pretty much it for the most part, too much speech and nowhere near enough action. To me this reads like a heavily padded short story, with the ending left open for the obvious sequel.

‘Black Tide’ is the complete opposite. Desperately trying to track down the stolen relic, a group of Blood Angels follow a clue to Dynikas V, a world overrun with mindless killer aliens.

The Angels manage to land an ancient submarine on the ocean world and mount an attack on the suspected hiding place of this Bile chap. It all goes from bad to worse pretty quickly, the Angels are soon fighting giant squid, killer sharks and Chaos freaks on every side.

This one is actually a very good read, the action and pacing are spot on, right to the end, building nicely and carrying on when you think it’s all done. It’s very well written, descriptive and a real page turner.

Two things made it stand out for me; the way the huge armoured space marines meet their match and are forced to think to stay alive, and the inventiveness of the situations, an originality missing in many of these books.

Overall, I’d give ‘Red Fury’ a miss, save yourself a few quid, and just get Black Tide, an almost perfect example of its kind.