Flight of the Eisenstein

They keep sucking me back in!

I still have no interest in playing Warhammer 40k.  Every time I dip my toes back in to the scene the corporate drones remind me of why I prefer the small-house hobby side of what passes for the wargame industry.  From a distance it looks like the Brand Managers have learned from past mistakes and have taken to hiring rule-writers willing to work for peanuts and street cred.  They won’t risk building the rule writers into Names – like Chambers and Johnson – who will cut the corporate umbilical and go off to build their own sandboxes.  It’s the process we see at other SameSame corporations like Marvel and DC.  The only company I see still pushing a character out to act as spokesman is WotC, and he looks like a paid scapegoat at this point.

Anyway, the driving point of this post has more to do with the IP than the game.  A friend mentioned his re-read of the Horus Heresy books, which number in the thousands by now, and that reminded me that of the first ten books, I skipped the fourth, Flight of the Eisenstein.  The other nine were good reads, but this one never crossed the shelves of the library used-book sale and so never crossed my collection.

One yo-ho-ho raid on the Black Library’s coffers later and I gotta tell ya, I’m really impressed.  This could have been a raw cash-grab popcorn thriller.  Instead, James Swallow elevates the story from a pure space-navy chase scene to a deeply touching tale of duty, honor, and brotherhood.  Our hero, the member of a legion turned traitor is conservative and hidebound, and utterly refuses to go along with his brothers when they betray the (not yet God) Emperor.  The thought never even enters his mind.

It enters the minds of plenty of his friends and rivals, though, and through them we explore the limits of loyalty and the challenges of discerning the righteous path when torn between conflicting allegiances.  This then, serves as the meat of the book – the titular chase only occupies about a quarter of the book – and elevates Flight of the Eisenstein well above its gamebook roots.

Now I understand why this book never hit the used-book store shelves.  Whoever had the first ten books of the Horus Heresy knew good and well what he had, and wasn’t dumb enough to part with it.