So... Descent of Angels

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So... Descent of Angels

Postby Therion » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:40 am

I recently finished reading it. I liked it a lot. The Caliban part that is. The space marine part felt rushed and I just liked it a bit.

For some reason it reminded me a lot about Rogue Trader.
Medieval world with knights in powered armour armed with bolters and chainswords, siege of a castle, Lovecraftian warp creatures.

I liked the look at Caliban culture and philosophy and the theme of tradition and changes. I think it made the book more mature than the others from the HH series that I've read so far.

I think it should be two books, because the space marine part wasn't fleshed out properly. It really needed a long part about the transformation into Space Marine and some scout/Space Marine missions and a look at the customs and traditions of the Dark Angels chapter and the changes brought by the reunification with the primarch.

I liked how military terminology was used during the space marine battle and a few real tactics. It made a nice contrast with the knights part.

Also, I liked how the warp was much more incomprehensible than in most of Wh40k novels. The great beasts, the entity that was worshipped on the planet from the end of the book. I have found them much more interesting than the rigidly classed daemon types from the Realms of Chaos.

For some reason Luther reminded me of general Maxson from Fallout.
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Re: So... Descent of Angels

Postby Xisor » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:25 pm

Therion wrote:Also, I liked how the warp was much more incomprehensible than in most of Wh40k novels. The great beasts, the entity that was worshipped on the planet from the end of the book. I have found them much more interesting than the rigidly classed daemon types from the Realms of Chaos.


I feel you're being drawn into the good ideas rather than the good executions, here. Caliban was depicted as a fairly rubbish death-world. The only deathly things about it? Its great big monsters. For me it read like cheap fantasy, except where in a nice worldscape like ASoIaF's Westeros they're just indigenous to wherever they were, everyone on Caliban was acutely aware of how remarkable Caliban was.

Seemed a bit dull, to me. The establishment of knightly orders and traditions was a bit one-note too. Some warrior orders. One order of scholars who Knew Too much. Well, blow me.

Certainly, it's nice to see manifestations of Chaos that aren't just one of our four flavours of daemon, but the monsters herein just weren't that interesting. I think that's rather more what I dislike than merely trotting out one of the four flavours: using Chaos as an excuse to trot out a monstrously powerful beast with N tails and M heads and O arms. Whilst mythology certainly does that with any old 'real world' mythos-beast, from the Hydra to Minotaurs to Krakens to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster... they're all a bit crap and without pathos. Even the modern Kaiju have never really struck any sort of chord with me, personally. King Kong, Godzilla, Cloverfield... it's all a bit rubbish.

Contrast that to the weirder, more unknowable monsters... now there's something to adore. Samus in Horus Rising, the daemons that tend to crop up amidst little flickers of the Gellar Field (was it Legacy? The Gothic War? One of those sorts?) or the unsettling madness overall that stems from the warp and dabbling in it. All that sort of thing, so much more interesting. (Hell, even the One of the Four Flavours daemon that crops up in Execution Hour is done really rather well.)

That said, I found the successor book, Fallen Angels, to be an altogether more solid delivery for the Dark Angels. A very different flavour to what has become predominant amongst the Heresy novels, but one which itself works quite well... it's just easy to see why other styles were more successful. A bit... bland, I suppose, a bit low-key and practical.

Well, anyway, despite thinking quite lowly of Descent of Angels, I also do see what you mean about the more thoughtful aspirations of the novel. The execution of them lets it down, but in principle the novel's not at all bad. Feudal-worlders on a Death World? I like. Conspiracies and intrigue? I like. A huge swathe of the novel without the Imperium? I like. Established characters only then becoming Space Marines? I like.

Best of all, in my esteem, we had the little 'domestic military' interaction of Zahariel and the White Scar towards the last third of the book. That was a somewhat moving and much more memorable piece as Scanlon just allow the characters to have a conversation about their own thoughts and place at their own pace. It was really rather decent.

The rest I could take or leave, all told, but that's fine by me. Not every book is a masterpiece.
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Re: So... Descent of Angels

Postby sam vimes » Thu Dec 19, 2013 7:41 pm

I enjoyed this novel a great deal as this was what I wanted at the start of the HH series books dedicated to the origins of each legion and how it became what it did over time, what really annoys me is when people whinge and moan about not being shown enough of a legions origins and not enough action and when the reverse happens they still moan, as well sometimes I think we get to much action in the books this heresey was not just armies fighting I wonder how many threw off the rule of Terra and embraced Horus and vice versa? we have to much action in my view.

Another slight moan from me people have been crying out for more night lords and dark angels from various postings across the net, they get what they are given in The Unremebered Empire and still they moan about how it was done?! simple don't whinge and moan so loudly that the writers bow to your wishes then complain about how it was done be patient and let the story unfold organically without asking for bits to be rushed or introduced do I want more from the Death Guard, Night Lords, Iron Hands and other legions that we've bareley seen a whisper of? yes do i want them but not rushed or shoehorned in just to appease a shouty part of the readership.
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Re: So... Descent of Angels

Postby Midgard » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:21 pm

Personally, I really enjoyed DoA. It is not my favorite novel in the Heresy series, but it is still a good one. Did it have flaws? Yes, but it still provided me with a solid amount of entertainment. I only wish that it was a bit longer, so that the Imperium part could be done justice instead of feeling like an afterthought - either that, or have the book end with the Legion's reunion with the Lion, and have the Imperium part replace "Fallen Angels".

In fact, while "Fallen Angels" was not a bad novel (considering that it seemed to have been written solely to placate the fanbase who wanted to see Dark Angels fighting in the Heresy), I think that from the plotline standpoint, it would have been better as a novella or a couple of short stories. Instead, the conflict that led to Luther's banishment should have been expanded to a full book instead of being essentially a footnote in "Descent of Angels".
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Re: So... Descent of Angels

Postby Therion » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:55 pm

Xisor wrote:
Therion wrote:Also, I liked how the warp was much more incomprehensible than in most of Wh40k novels. The great beasts, the entity that was worshipped on the planet from the end of the book. I have found them much more interesting than the rigidly classed daemon types from the Realms of Chaos.


I feel you're being drawn into the good ideas rather than the good executions, here. Caliban was depicted as a fairly rubbish death-world. The only deathly things about it? Its great big monsters. For me it read like cheap fantasy, except where in a nice worldscape like ASoIaF's Westeros they're just indigenous to wherever they were, everyone on Caliban was acutely aware of how remarkable Caliban was.

Ah, it reminds me that I forgot about one more thing that I didn't like.

Namely, the author mentions from time to time how deadly the world is and what kind of deadly animals, plants and mushrooms and stuff there are. Except that it isn't shown killing anyone in the book. Additionally poor medicine and deadliness of injuries is mentioned when the Imperium comes with its high tech but before that we have various characters surviving many wounds without them becoming infected.

Xisor wrote:Seemed a bit dull, to me. The establishment of knightly orders and traditions was a bit one-note too. Some warrior orders. One order of scholars who Knew Too much. Well, blow me.

It wasn't an order of scholars that Knew Too much. It was an order of conservatists fearing that the well intentioned cleansing of beasts will lead to knightly orders turning into despots and warmongers due to outliving their usefulness.
Which fits the general theme of tradition and change and attitudes of people's towards these two.

One thing that I was wondering about was:
What about the production capabilities? Where did they get these bolters, chainswords and powered armour from?

Xisor wrote:Certainly, it's nice to see manifestations of Chaos that aren't just one of our four flavours of daemon, but the monsters herein just weren't that interesting. I think that's rather more what I dislike than merely trotting out one of the four flavours: using Chaos as an excuse to trot out a monstrously powerful beast with N tails and M heads and O arms. Whilst mythology certainly does that with any old 'real world' mythos-beast, from the Hydra to Minotaurs to Krakens to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster... they're all a bit crap and without pathos. Even the modern Kaiju have never really struck any sort of chord with me, personally. King Kong, Godzilla, Cloverfield... it's all a bit rubbish.

Contrast that to the weirder, more unknowable monsters... now there's something to adore. Samus in Horus Rising, the daemons that tend to crop up amidst little flickers of the Gellar Field (was it Legacy? The Gothic War? One of those sorts?) or the unsettling madness overall that stems from the warp and dabbling in it. All that sort of thing, so much more interesting. (Hell, even the One of the Four Flavours daemon that crops up in Execution Hour is done really rather well.)

I liked them as creatures characteristic for a medieval world. I don't think intelligent beings like Samus would fit.
What about the thing from the end of the novel, though?
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