Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mechanicum By Graham McNeill

Mechanicum is book nine of the Horus Heresy series of books by the Black Library. Before we get into it, I must explain that although the Horus Heresy books are ideally read in sequence. Mechanicum can be read as a standalone. As long as the reader has some knowledge of the Heresy and its timeline, it can be enjoyed without reading the previous eight books. However, to maximise your reading experience. I recommend reading them in sequence. Now, let us begin.

I initially found this book very hard to get into, in retrospect I suppose this came from a distinct link I had made with space marines and the inner workings of the Astartes over the course of the last nine or so Horus Heresy novels. Mechanicum is a vastly different book, it throws you head first into the inner workings and politics of the Mechanicum of Mars, with little regard for your unfamiliarity with them. One of the hard things I found to pick up was the terminology used by the Mechanicum, from the name and ranks of members (adepts, forge masters, magos and so on) to the very locations within the story area, I found myself referring back to the map page at the front of the book quite often throughout the book, not to mention the cast list until I got the hang of the main characters and where they fit into the Mechanicum hierarchy. A great way to ease yourself into this book is to not only read the Heresy books in sequence as i mentioned earlier. But also read the short story The Kaban Project by Graham McNeill from The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions Artbook. Not only was this McNeill's first venture into the Mechanicum of Mars, the story also overlaps this book with some characters even making the cross over to Mechanicum.

The start of the book introduces and develops characters quickly, it’s just they are somewhat... ‘unfamiliar’ and hard to digest compared to what we are all used to with the space marines. But if you stick with it through the first few chapters (you could even say the first Act) the story really begins to develop and characters being to jump off the page more. The turning point for me was the first time the titan legion ‘Legio Tempestus’ walk the surface of Mars. Once the Titan Legion’s enter the storyline it all starts getting exciting and the story really begins to accelerate. McNeil does a great job of describing the world through the eyes of a titan princeps (something i was again unfamiliar with), and his description of the ensuring battles are even better. Without wreaking the story for you, the politics and ensuring civil war between the Mechanicum and newly formed ‘Dark Mechanicum’ really suck you in as you watch the lines get drawn in the red sands of Mars, and Forge Masters and Titan Legion’s take their sides for the upcoming climax that would change the surface of Mars forever.

The climax I have to say left me a bit wanting, well not the final confrontation, more the lack of a rounded off ending after it. I checked my book several time to make sure the final chapter had not fallen out on to the floor. But alas, it was never there. Yes, there could have been that last chapter to really finish out the book and answer you last dying questions (such as what happened after pretty much everyone gets pwnd). But if someone asked me to write it, I wouldn’t even attempt to, as I don’t really know how I would want it to end myself... that’s why I guess McNeil left it there as well. The Mechanicum are a mysterious bunch, so I suppose so should be the ending to their book. well, that and i guess there would be no perspective to write it from seeing 90% of the characters are dead. Thats right, when i said pretty much everyone gets pwnd... i meant it!

Overall, I loved it. The beginning was a bit of a slog, but once you get into it it’s quite hard to put down. And it was a nice change of pace to the space marine story we've had so far.

High point: Legio Tempestus Vs Legio Mortis Deathmatch
Low point: The Emperor's grand secret... kind a lame


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