Titanicus Paperback – Nov 26 2009
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About the Author
Dan Abnett is a novelist and award-winning comic book writer. He has twenty-five novels for Black Library including the acclaimed Gaunt's Ghosts series and the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies, and with Mike Lee, the Hours cycle. His Black Library novel Horus Rising and his Torchwood novel Border Princes (for the BBC) were both bestsellers. He lives and works in Maidstone, Kent.
Dan's website can be found at www. DanAbnett.com
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I have three reservations about this novel that prevent me from giving it five stars. I've listed the reservations as least concerning to most concerning.
First, Dan Abnett's books always tend to get the action going pretty quickly (within first 30 or 40 pages) and the action stays at a high pace until literally the last page of the book. Unfortunately, this sometimes makes the end of his books feel rushed. I had that feeling in Titanicus as well. During the book there were many good and detailed descriptions of Titan versus Titan combat. However, near the end of the book, there is an epic battle against an enemy force of over sixty titans. This "historic" battle is described almost at a high summary level over the course of just two or three pages. I would have liked some more "blow by blow" coverages of this battle.
Second, Dan Abnett likes to juggle alot of characters in his books. This has worked well in the Gaunts Ghosts novels mainly because there were a few characters in the initial books and characters were slowly added over the series. The reader to a new Gaunts Ghosts novel is already familiar with most of the characters. In Titanicus, there are alot of characters, all of whom are new to the reader. It was alot of characters to try to keep track of in 400 pages and I sometimes found myself asking "Now who's this guy again???"
Third, and most annoying point: Dan Abnett will often use terms or phrases that he doens't define. He did this in "Legion" as well, but would often embed the definition later in the book. In many cases, he used terms that were never defined anywhere in the book. I found myself wondering "What is a noosphere?" "What is the manifold?" "Which one is bigger, a warhound or a warlord titan?" "What is a skitarri?" "What's the MRU?" Since Titanicus deals with the Mechanicum, there are alot of technical terms and processes, none of which are really described. I found this to be very distracting. Maybe someone with experience with the tabletop game or the background material might have a better understanding of these terms and this might not be such of an issue to them.
If someone were to ask me about this book, I would say to read Dan Abnett's other books first. I would not recommend this book as a first read for someone new to the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Titanicus was a robust and filling read with some interesting twists that ultimately satisfied, but it was not Mr. Abnett's most engaging or clever book.
It is not a bad book; it just is not the "must read" kind of book that I have come to expect from Mr. Abnett.
One of the things that has brought me back to the Black Library time and time again are the snippets of insights into the universe of Warhammer 40,000.
Titanicus reads more like a juvenille than most of Mr. Abnett's books. The plot is straight-forward, and the characters are largely flat compared to most of his books.
It might be a timing issue. Titanicus comes on the tail of the Horus heresy books in which many secrets of the WH 40K universe were revealed.
There is nothing new in Titanicus. It is about Titans, but Mechanicus covered that angle a few years back. It is about some interesting bits of mis-direction and plots within plots, but Eisenhorn covered that niche up nicely a few years back. And so on ...
I read the book from cover to cover, but it is not a book that I read in one sitting, nor would I read it again as I often have with other tomes from the BL.
In the end Titanicus is satisfying, but unspectacular.
The storyline fatlers slightly by trying to branch together two separate plotlines, involving a stray squad of auxillary PDF with the Titan Legion engagements. While I'm a fan of ground pounders, and Abnett can write that incredibly well, it was hard to hold the squad members in mind, and I kept losing track of who was doing what why, and who was augmeted and who wasn't. The Titan battles are incredibly well written, and the technology at the disposal of the Mechanicus was both impressive and disheartening, in that its knowledge lost that can't be regained.
The other sideplot, which ties nicely to the recently released HH novels was also a good side tag, that helped to round out the ending, and allowed the Mechanicus characters to display more than their normal level of humanity, although it came dangerously close to tossing GW's holy status quo out the window.
All told, the book is great, and only suffered from one very weak thread. I'd happily heard another installment of Titan warfare, but it would probably start to bleed to Mechwarrior at that point. The God Machines don't work well with others, either. Heres hoping the manage to work it into future HH novels as they did here.
The story centers around an attack on a forge world. The plant has been pumping out weapons for some crusade that is being waged by the Imperium. However, the general in charge of that war has pushed too far ahead and taken too many of the forge's Titans for his war, leaving the forge world a relatively small defense force, ripe for the forces of Chaos to attack. Fortunately, a battle group of Titans en route to the front lines is able to divert and render assistance. I'd go into more detail, but it would introduce spoilers. I can tell you that this is the only book I've read so far that shows the friction that underlies the relationship between the Mechanus (Mars) and the Imperium (Earth). It was fascinating to get a picture of what actually holds the empire together and how fragile the relationship actually is.
One of the strengths and weaknesses of the story is that it covers multiple fronts of this war. You are dealing with the namesake of the book, the Titans obviously, but you've also got side plots running involving the support forces for the Titans, the Mechanus working to provide intelligence on the enemy Titans, the survivors of a destroyed tank squad, the remnants of essentially a National Guard deployment, and to lesser extents a brain damaged gardener, a toy maker, the husband of one of those National Guard members, and the Imperial Governor's office. It jumps around a fair amount, making it all a lot to keep track of as you're reading.
I wasn't familiar with the author before this book, but looking around Dan Abnett comes extremely well recommended by reviewers on Amazon. I can see why. While the story wasn't the best I've ever read, the writing was just superb. There are details to print a vivid picture, a bit of levity here and there, characters you can actually care about, and enough suspense to keep you reading. I loved the last Warhammer book I read (Cadian Blood), but I'd read maybe 20 minutes, do something else, come back and read some more. With this book, I started reading and when I stopped it was over an hour later. I was so taken with the writing style that before I'd even finished this one, I ordered one of the Warhammer Omnibus books he's written.
The ending is pretty weak, just sort of trailing off like the author ran out of room, but the book is satisfyingly long, weighing in at a little over 600 pages and well worth the price. It's almost required to include this, so here goes. If you don't know at all what Warhammer 40k is, if you've never read any other books, or if you hate everything about the BattleTech style mech fighting with a vengeance, then this book will probably not be what you're looking for. Even if you're like me and you've read a few of the other books and kind of like it, you'll be searching online a lot for what certain terms mean or for more background on things, though you really can figure out just enough of what things are by context to still follow and enjoy the story. I'd strongly suggest giving the Warhammer Dawn Of War real-time strategy game for PC a try. It's probably the best crash course in the story that you can get without getting into playing the miniatures game.
Titanicus is the only Warhammer/40K/Online book I've read that has the three things I'm interested in: 1) good plot, 2) enriched characters (well shoot, let's be honest, in these books, I'm just looking for any characterization beyond 1-dimensional), 3) doesn't need another book (or several) to read to understand what's going on. Hopefully, I'll run across more like this in the future--maybe shorter though. This book is 400 pages long!
Plot: This book takes us into the worlds of Orestes (good guys) and Mechanicum (bad guys) and develops the story around the Titans of these worlds. Titans are gigantor-sized mechs, crewed by human/alien crews, that walk the battlefield raining destruction around them. Abnett goes into great detail with the two cultures from how they view and interact with technology to politics to language (although, to me the language got a bit old because at several times there wasn't enough context to figure out the slang). The Titans are further developed by their status in either the Imperial Legions': Legio Tempestus and Legio Invictus, along with their respective Chaos counterparts, who oddly enough never had a banner to which all of them fought. Ultimately though, this is a WAR story--Abnett does a remarkable job involving everyone (both combatant and non, veteran and rookie, etc) during the war and the aftermath.
Characterization: Abnett does a great job introducing and developing characters in the first third of the book. There are a lot of them, and very few are relatively undeveloped (except for those in the two or three subplots). It is interesting to me that some of the characters who aren't the Titan drivers are developed in such detail (dignitary and a military newbie to name a couple, and then the bad-ass Skitarii in general).
Overall: This is the only Warhammer/40K/Online book to receive four stars from me. I didn't give it five, because some of the parts still seemed lacking (see subplots). It is well defined, as are the characters, and although a bit tedious in the beginning due to the 1/3 of the book setting the stage, the remainder of the book is an absolute rush to read (even if it is 400 pages long). Go out and get it today!