The Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons…

If you’re a fan of the Warhammer 40k universe then you don’t need an introduction for this book. Just the phrase “First War for Armageddon” is enough for you to buy this book. However this book is much more than just the war on Armageddon. It’s about the events leading to the Grey Knights deployment on the planet and the aftermath between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves.

This story simply put is just epic! Dembski-Bowden is really on top of his game right now. Just when you thought his stories couldn’t get any better, he would come up with something like this to surprise you. The description and mannerisms of the Astartes cannot be more apt. Dembski-Bowden has really captured that slightly autistic, can’t read human emotion thing that Space Marines do down to a tee.

I found both Hyperion and Inquisitor Annika Jarlsdottyr to be interesting characters. Hyperion is the newest member in his squad and also has the potential to be the strongest amongst them. However he is often over-confident in his abilities and reckless in his decisions which resulted in the death of a fellow brother. It is in Hyperion’s reflection on his guilt that we realise these genetically enhanced beings aren’t that different to us.

As for Annika Jarlsdottyr, a Ferisian born Inquisitor, she must decide between upholding her task as part of the Inquisition or siding with her homeworld when the Wolves decide to go against the orders of the Inquisition and harbour the survivors of Armageddon.

The last third of the book deals with the fallout of the war on Armageddon. The Inquisition wants to eliminate the entire population to stop any knowledge of Chaos from spreading, whereas the Space Wolves want them to live on so not to waste the lives of all the warriors that died protecting the civilians. Debmski-Bowden does a great job portraying all the different views involved and it makes you question what is a fair price to pay to save further lives?

If you are new to 40k lore or casual fan, you will appreciate the story for what it is. For the more avid fans, the appearance of Daemon Prince Angron, Logan Grimnar and even just the mere mention of Ravenor will make you squeal with excitement. In fact, after reading this book, the Ravenor trilogy will be the next Black Library book that I would read so I can see how Hyperion ties in with that story.

Simply put, you should read The Emperor’s Gift if you meet any of the following:

  • You’re already a follower of 40k lore or a Black Library reader
  • You’re looking for a Black Library novel that you can start with
  • You have never read anything by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • You want to support charities as a portion of the book’s proceeds go to Cancer Research UK and the SOS Children’s Villages charity.