Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Flesh and Iron

Flesh and Iron is the second book from Henry Zou and the second book of the Bastion Wars series.  This is the story of the 88th Battalion of the 31st Riverine Regiment. They are on the world of Solo-Bastón to fight a Chaos uprising/incursion.

I have to give it to Mr. Zou, he writes a hell of a fight scene. He did it in Emperor's Mercy and he does it here. The are, however, many problems with this book as with the previous.

For one thing there were some overt anti-Vietnam war tones to this book. The vast strength of the Imperium against the indigenous fighters with covert help from Chaos. Add to that the terrible way that the indigenous peoples are treated by the Imperium and it looks a lot like southeast Asia to me. Add to that the fact that we have pretty much the oldest plot line in 40k, and probably fiction itself. Corrupt bureaucrats that are sending the noble warriors on an apparent suicide mission.

Beyond all of that the book was pretty easy too read even though it felt a bit like a 40k version of Apocalypse Now. I was really waiting for someone to shout, "never get out of the boat, never get out of the boat!"

But what I really didn't like was the ending. If the book had skipped from page 330 to 400, it would have been a much better book in my opinion. Those 70 pages were pretty much a series of, "WTF?!" moments for me.

All-in-all this was a pretty poor book, I give it one pseudo-Catachan Regiment out of five.


  1. I read a rant recently about real-life campaigns getting borrowed wholesale in fictional settings, and it was linked with GW; the people responsible imagining youngsters today are not knowledgeable enough to notice. If that's right, you've possibly given an education here!

    Never getting out of the boat unless you're going all the way is the idea of course, and 'all the way' could be taken to mean doing things properly - maybe it's time for tie-in fic writers to be let out of the boat, and for us to be more challenged by it?

  2. For me, I view the Black Library as pulp fiction. I'm not a very high-brow guy when it comes to reading. I miss a lot of imagery and allusion in most works of literature. I like to read 40k for the fights and maybe a little plot. Maybe a little intrigue. I don't mind the Horus Heresy novels, but a lot of the times I will see people post about how what this dude did ties in with this piece of fluff and I think, "oh yeah, I guess so."

    I don't really mind it so long as it isn't jammed down my throat. With this book it it felt a bit that way.

    Thanks for the comment btw.

  3. Robbing stuff from history is fine IMO - it helps give you (the writer, and therefore the reader) a fairly plausible framework to build from. But do build on it, don't just change names and slop on message. Throw on some additions and twists.

    From a straight wargame scenario perspective, historical theft is great, makes the situation understandable to participants familiar with the original. Doing a 40K version of "A Bridge Too Far" with Space Marines dropping in to secure strategic points with IG pushing up the road? Classic. Do it as a book? Shake it up.

    Thanks for the review - from the first paragraph and a half I was fired up to go get the series...but with the rest of the review I'll probably pass and save the money!

  4. I've just started Blood Gorgon's and that one is pretty good. I'll probably have a review for that one next week.