Science fiction is not as far removed from present day, tech or time wise, as we would like to believe. It is more of an extension of the human psych. That much is obvious not only for the behemoths of this literature genre but for less known releases like wh40k books. In a dark universe like that one full of monsters, daemons and hostile aliens, it is easy to forget about the endless masses of humanity, who with no special powers but their tenacity and will to live, keep on fighting against this hostile cosmos. “Honour Imperialis” is the third tome in a series of books that tells us how the Imperial Armies fight against each enemy, the sacrifices they make and how those sacrifices change us. It includes three books that were released separately: “Cadian Blood”, “Remempion Corps”, “Dead Men Walking” as well as a few short stories.

Cadia, a world under constant siege by the forces of Chaos and the primary target of Warmaster Abbadon, as the planet stands on the only reliable route to the Eye of Terror, a place where our universe comes into contact with the daemon world of the warp. People of Cadia are renowned warriors as they grow up in harsh conditions and they must learn from a young age how to defend their home world. The fact that they are considered to be among the best Imperium warriors, after the genetically engineered Space Marines, is not by chance, but by virtue. When a Shrine World, a planet dedicated to a saint of the God-Emperor, is under attack by the Plague of Unbelief (a sickness that turns humans into a kind of zombies, its origins of course from the Warp, Nurgle being the master of the disease), an army of Cadians shows up to fight the ancient enemy. Why the plague infested this specific world is something they will need to find out, spilling their blood to save this sacred planet. After all, Cadian blood is one of the currencies citizens of the Imperium spend to buy their safety from the countless enemies of humanity.

The Imperium of Man is vast. Atheocratic, fascist empire with a maze-like bureaucracy that basically creates independent sects, each with its own, extreme, beliefs. What would happen though, if one such sect decides that the destruction of whole planets is not too much because, those who survive, will be better warriors who will take the, surrounded by enemies, Imperium forward? Who watches the watchmen? What’s the point that sees blind loyalty and faith to the Imperium changing into heresy? In the midst of a planet uprising and with strange Orks invading, a group of Redemption Corps members must find the answers to those questions. In an unusual situation, with allies being becoming enemies fast, the quest for truth is not an easy one.

Krieg… A world devastated by a nuclear holocaust where people grow up, sharing the belief that they owe their lives to the Emperor, a moral duty that can only end when their lives end in His name. Growing up with a number instead of a name. Machines that know no mercy, no feelings and no remorse, just death. When Necrons wake up on a mineral rich planet a fleet carrying Death Korps of Krieg receive the call for help and responds immediately. Tremendous losses, refugee executions and conscription of all male young adolescents (and older) are, of course, the norm for Death Korps.Their generals, just like any other citizen from Krieg, see nothing but numbers and acceptable losses. And in this hell, we see a local, conscripted, man losing every aspect of his human nature and becoming like the Death Korps members. But when are our sacrifices logical and when do we go too far? When even a Commissar, stationed with them, starts wondering if in our devotion to a certain goal we lose all the elements that make that goal worthy of our sacrifices. Because, in the end, what’s the point of talking about an Imperium of Man, if every human characteristic is purged from its citizens’ psych?

“Honour Imperialis” is concluded with four short stories that discuss, each in each own way, the same patterns that I mentioned before, with human will and stubbornness tosurpassanyobstacle, being the main elements, with the bonus of how the planet of origin changes the way each Imperium warrior wages war.In “Regicide” we see the bravery that was so characteristic of humans during the Sabbat campaign. “Down Among the Dead Men” shows us what it means to be an outcast on Krieg but at the same time how such an outcast, a man deemed useless in the eyes of the Death Korps war machine, can still be loyal to the Emperor. Catachan commandos are famous. In “Hunters” we see how they use hit and run tactics against the Tau invasion army on the world of Cytheria. Finally, in “The Mouth of Chaos” we watch the Airborn Elysians making a drop in a city held by heretical rebels and their part to crashing that rebellion.

All in all, “Honour Imperialis” is a good omnibus. Of course, not all stories are equal, but that is only natural since they are written by different authors, but sometimes it’s not just about the literary value of a text, sometimes the story told and its symbolisms are equally important to the way it is written.

Title: Honour Imperialis
Writer: Various
Publisher: BlackLibrary
Year: 2014