For some reason I had assumed that the Cadians were the lowest common denominator. I mean it isn't like they were Catachans, those guys grew up on a jungle death world! The trap a fell into is that although Cadia isn't technically a death world, the Cadians treat it as if it is.
It says in the fluff that Cadians learn to strip a lasgun before they learn to walk. They are inducted into the guard at age 14. The thing I forget about the Cadians is that they are all badasses! These guys are like the Green Berets, Navy SEALs and the SAS all rolled into one.
I think the best part about the book Cadian Blood by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is that he disabused me of the notion that Cadians average soldiers. They are extraordinary soldiers.
This book tells the tale of the Shrine World of Kathur. A plague has gripped the planet, and chaos cults are springing up all over the world. And as the plague consumes the population, those that have fallen to the plague, rise again to attack those that haven't yet succum.
It has been decided that the world is a lost cause, but too important to lose. This is where Captain Thade and the rest of the Cadian 88th Mechanized comes in. They are ordered onto the world as part of the vanguard of the Reclamation forces. Along with the 88th comes other Guard regiments, and also Space Marines of the Raven Guard Chapter.
This book does a good job, in my opinion, of filling in some of the gaps from the IG codex. We get to see Karskins air dropped from a Valkarie. We also get to meet a sanctioned psyker and an engineseer, both as main characters. We see these characters as loyal sons of Cadia, and the author does a good job of building these two individuals into people you care about.
The book does fall into some of the overused plot devices that we've seen too many times in Black Library books. We have the pompous, Lord General that has little tactical sense, and believes that any problem can be solved by throwing more bodies at it.
Dembski-Bowden does a good job, of keeping the reader guessing. The Cadians are assigned a new Commissar, and it is unclear whether or not he is going to be the standard hard-assed Commissar, or more of an soldier-oriented Commissar. I think the author does a good job here of carving out his own style of Commissar. This guy does not seem like a stereotype, and he did end up surprising me in the end.
When all is said and done, this book reminds me of a Gaunt's Ghosts novel in that the author introduces us to quite a few interesting characters and then kills off most of them. I think that this is a must for a 40k novel, especially one about the Guard. Remember, to be a man in this time is to be one amongst untold billions.
If I were to rate this book on a scale of one to five stars, one being the Black Library book I enjoyed the least, and five the one I enjoyed the most, I would give this book a four. A very good read.