The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow

Having witnessed the terrible massacre of Imperial forces on Isstvan III, Death Guard Captain Garro seizes a ship and sets a course for Terra to warn the Emperor of Horus’s treachery. But when the fleeing Eisenstein is damaged by enemy fire, it becomes stranded in the warp – the realm of the Dark Powers. Can Garro and his men survive the depredations of Chaos and get his warning to the Emperor before Horus’s plans reach fruition?

The Flight of the Eisenstein is the fourth book in the Horus Heresy series by the Black Library. This book takes place around the time of the tragic events on Isstvan III and tells the story of a group of loyal Death Guards and their journey back to Terra to deliver message of Horus’s treachery.

Swallow does a marvelous job expanding on the character of Nathaniel Garro, who had a small role in Ben Counter’s “Galaxy in Flames”. For the past three books, the lead Garviel Loken seemed a little wooden, a little too guarded whereas Garro is honest about himself and not afraid to break rules to make a stand for his believes. He has a strong sense of tradition and honour and is one of the few remaining Astartes that originated from Terra. To me, Garro displays all the best qualities of a loyal Astartes. Even when Decius was on the verges of death, Garro never thought of abadoning him and despite all the resentment from his legion, Garro treated his housecarl with care and respect.

In this book we are constantly reminded of the brutalness during mankind’s darkest hour. The loyalists on the Eisenstein could do nothing but watch while their closest friends perish before their eyes and brothers that once fought side-by-side now turn on each other. Garro is repeatedly tested throughout the book and the only thing salvation in his ordeal is his belief and faith in the Emperor.

What works particularly well for me are the interactions between people in this book. There is a great scene where Mortarion explains to Garro why worthy men must be awarded so others can have a goal to strive to. The relationships that Garro has with his housecarl, Kaleb and his other men are also touching.

It’s also great to see the Primarchs getting more action in this book. Primarchs have always been referred as gods but Swallow brings a humanness to the Primarch of the Imperial Fists and excellently captures the conflicted feelings that went through Rogal Dorn as he learns of his brother’s betrayal.

This is a solid entry to the Horus Heresy series with great action scenes and never a dull moment. A very satisfying read indeed.