I think everyone that is a power armor and fluff nut like me (I am hoping that there are others out there like me) knows about the Legion of the Damned. The fluff says that one of the 21st cursed-founding chapters, The Fire Hawk was sent to fight Eldar pirate. The entire chapter made a warp jump to Crowe's World, but none of them arrive (I personally blame those dirty Eldar!).
After that, from time to time, when Imperial forces were facing insurmountable odds, the silent Black and Flame armored Astartes would joint the fight and leave without a word. These were the Legion of the Damned.
When I saw that this book was coming out I got very excited. I like any of the "mysteries" in 40k, and this is one. "Too bad the book was coming out in April", I thought to myself.
Then, on Christmas Eve, I received an email from the Black Library saying, "we'll be giving you a gift tomorrow, check your email." And then, on Christmas morning, after I had finished opening all of my gifts, I checked my email and found that the Black Library was putting Legion of the Damned up for sale early as a Christmas gift. I snatched it up.
No here is the thing. This isn't a Legion of the Damned book. It is an Excouriators book. The Excoruriators are Imperial Fists decended chapter and the 5th company is sent to investigate the cemetary world of (), where they find a chaos shrine, and learn that pretty much every daemon in the galaxy is heading right towards them (not exactly but I hope you can see how they are setting up the LotD).
Newly promoted Captain () is both an honor and a discrse to the Excouriators, and does not have the loyalty his troops. We first find him as an Apothicary drills into his brain to try to cure him from "the darkness" something that effects Excouriators and it is essentially a malfunction of the Catalepsean Node and essentially puts the afflicted into a coma.
While the apothicary is successful in reviving () the captain is haunted by visions. He sees an Astartes in black watching him wherever he goes. Upon further inspection he can see that the armor is damaged, and where he can see into the armor, he sees not flesh, but bone, as if the armor was worn by an animated skeleton! Duh-dun-duuuuuuuuun!
So Chaos comes and all hell (no pun intended) breaks loose.
While the author did a good job of character development, there were some parts of the book I didn't really like. One of the things the Excouriators are into is Flagellation. Some how they see this as penance for the fact that Rogal Dorn was unable to protect the Imperial Palace, and the Emperor himself. Now that by itself isn't too bad, but in my opinion there were just a few too many times were we went into the detail of the whipping and how with space marines, they could flay the skin from their back, but they heal so fast they are ready to go again the next day.
But my largest complaint about the book has got to be the LACK of Legion of the Damned. I mean for a book with THAT as the title you would expect some face time. I was really interested in how the author would deal with these guys that are, well who know what the Legion of the Damned have become after being trapped in the warp, but I was really looking forward to finding out! Instead the author deals with it by not dealing with it. What we see are snippets here and there of the lone watcher, and then a bit of fighting here and there, but that is it. If this book had been named, as other Space Marine Battles books, by the name of the battle itself, this would have been just fine, but when you name the book Legion of the Damned, I for one have some expectations.
This wasn't a bad book, but I think it was probably the weakest of the Space Marine Battles books. I give this one three silent watchers in black out of five.