Book Review: “Death of Integrity” by Guy Haley

Death of Integrity, by Guy Haley.

Death of Integrity, by Guy Haley.

Today we bring you a review of Death of Integrity, by Guy Haley.

It had been a long time since I’ve heard a good Space Hulk tale. Stories of claustrophobic space ship horror immediately hook me. Just like Dead Space or Alien, it is a weakness of mine. Every Space Hulk is a collection of dozens of horror stories, congealing into a ripe treasuring hunting tale buried in the terror.

And it never gets old. There’s always some new abomination, some new surprise you couldn’t foresee coming, be it alien or Imperial, heretical or daemonic. Or even simply the physical aspects of the hulk itself. There’s no finer way to extend the vast 40k universe then with the derelict and sometimes xeno-technologies present in these behemoths, as they lug their morbid and terrifying cargo across the galaxy.

“The novel moves to its own rhythm, properly paced to slow down and let the sinister feeling of the hulk ebb in, before rushing head first into battle.”

 

The genestealer filled Death of Integrity has thwarted the efforts of the Blood Drinkers for far too long. A second founding chapter descended from the Blood Angels, they have pursued the hulk for ages, destroying the infections but never getting at the source.

Novamarine Terminator, click to check out the painting notes from the blog "From The Warp".

Novamarine Terminator, click to check out the painting notes from the blog “From The Warp”.

But after realizing a pattern in the hulk’s warp trips, the Blood Drinkers close in for the kill. A call for aid summons the Novamarines, who arrive to assist their cousins in destroying the hulk once and for all through bombardment.

But just as they engage the hulk, Magos Explorator Plosk arrives in system and stops them. In the resulting diplomacy, it is revealed that there is some lost technology of great value in the heart of the Death of Integrity.

The deal making sets up the three to rid the genestealer threat the hard way. But Novamarine Captain Galt discovers that every side has their own secrets, hiding facts that threaten the outcome of the operation.

Each mission that happens thereafter has its own twists and surprises. The novel moves to its own rhythm, properly paced to slow down and let the sinister feeling of the hulk ebb in, before rushing head first into battle.

And there are collisions between the two Space Marine chapters, as they discover the impetus of the Blood Drinkers does not mesh well with the stoic and disciplined approach of the Novamarines. Haley introduces ideas details to Space Hulk missions that add intrigue and dimension to the classic.

An example of a Space Hulk, image taken from Dawn of War 2.

An example of a Space Hulk, ‘Judgment of Carrion’ from Dawn of War 2.

Between the fighting, there is more story to tell. The only mentionable weakness of the novel lies in the prayers of the Novamarines, a slower affair observed out of respectful necessity. But the following ritual of the Blood Drinkers is far more interesting, drawing upon the history of the chapter and tying into the plot well. I highly suggest you avoid Lexicanum if you don’t want spoilers.

Haley finds a few new ways to challenge one’s perceptions of Space Marines. While there are plenty of the existing preconceptions and stereotypes, he isn’t afraid to reach for the lingering, primitive cultural identities they possessed before becoming Space Marines, giving them some depth where other authors might stagger.

One talking point has to be Captain Galt. It’s interesting to watch a Space Marine charged with keeping a secret from a fellow brother. During a meditation while receiving a chapter tattoo, Galt sees Veteran Sergeant Voldo in a mystic place revered by the Novamarines.

Death of Integrity continues the Black Library’s fine efforts to up the quality of the Space Marine Battle novels.”

 

In this, the chaplain forewarns Galt that this means Voldo will die soon. Galt is senior to Voldo only in rank, for in truth the veteran sergeant trained Galt since he was a neophyte, and Galt sees the man as a father figure. It’s intriguing to watch this stoic affection unfold as Galt tries to protect Voldo from his fate.

Another character worth mentioning must be Chapter Master Caedis of the Blood Drinkers. Despite his rank, Caedis at first proves quite honourable, handing command of the overall mission and all his forces to Captain Galt.

But as it turns out, this too includes self-serving reasons, as Caedis feels the cry of the Black Rage finally taking him. Caedis adds a very personal, spiritual side to the Blood Drinkers, the impact of his final quest having profound effects on the plot to both the aid and detriment of the mission and his chapter.

Space Hulk, the classic board game available at Games Workshop.

Space Hulk, the classic board game available at Games Workshop.

But Death of Integrity isn’t over until it’s over, as the ending unveils the truth of several secrets all at once. These twist together in such a way that satisfies and shocks the reader. Even the jaded will walk away with something a little new.

The overall tale concludes with two unfinished threads, but Haley seems to sympathize with his audience, adding a historically minded epilogue that acknowledges these loose ends. And hints at more to come.

Death of Integrity continues the Black Library’s fine efforts to up the quality of the Space Marine Battle novels. And with Haley’s latest as proof, no true 40k fan can excuse themselves of ducking this quality work.

Follow the Bolthole at @BLBolthole. Guy Haley can be followed @GuyHaley.