Review: Hero of the Imperium

I just recently finished reading the Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium. This is one of the Black Library‘s Omnibus books that collects the first three novels in the Ciaphas Cain series as well as three short stories that help to fill in some of the blanks from this ‘autobiography’. The three novels collected here are For The Emperor, Caves of Ice and The Traitor’s Hand which if bought separately cost quite a bit more than getting all three and the bonus shorts all in this one book. Yeah, it’s a bit bulky but it’s worth it.

The stories are the autobiographical accounts of a Commissar in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. For those of you not familiar with 40K, a Commissar’s job is to keep the morale and courage of the Imperial troops up and to deal with trouble-makers and insubordination. They are modeled after the stereotypical Russian officer of the real World Wars that are shown shooting deserters in the back and executing troops until everyone falls in line. Understandably, the Commissar is generally not well liked.

In these stories though, Commissar Cain is the opposite of what he should be and the result is pretty damn funny. Instead of being the typical shoot first and ask no questions ever type, he is a self-proclaimed coward and lives to get away with as little as possible in life. He prefers to not shoot his troopers to make examples of them because if they don’t hate him, they may not “accidentally” shoot him in the heat of battle or leave him to be eaten. Of course the irony is that whenever he does what he thinks will be the easiest assignment it always turns out to be the most important and tide-turning events which makes him look like a hero to everyone else.

These books won’t be for everyone and you really have to have a basic understanding of the Warhammer 40K universe to get a lot of the subtle references and jokes. But if you are familiar with this great game and genre, you will love these books. Instead of the cold hard grittiness you usually get in a 40K book, this one goes completely against the grain.

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2 Responses to “Review: Hero of the Imperium”

  1. yoshi says:

    Hmm. I might have to check this out.

    Oh btw, Book of Jhereg. You should check it out if you haven’t already. I love it. Very good stuff.

  2. jason says:

    I might have to check it out.

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