Friday, October 3, 2008

"Titanicus" book review plus news...

I know the book review got top billing, but let's get the news out of the way first.

I've had a rough couple weeks recently. Seasonal allergies were really tearing me up, and when they weren't, the medicine to alleviate them was! So, I've really not got a lot done on the Reaver Titan project. This is not such a big deal as I'm patiently waiting for the new Imperial Armor book before getting too serious about the paint. There will be a quick update on the Reaver at the end of this blog, a bonus for folks who read it even when it doesn't have Reaver Titan Ptx in the title! Also, I am lucky enough to be part of a collaborative product test with Ron over at From The Warp. That's still a little ways off and will be featured on his blog, so keep an eye out for news from him on it!

On to the book review! I bought my copy of Dan Abnetts' Titanicus as soon as I could get my hands on it. I've been reading it like mad the last few days and have just finished it this evening. This is not my first Dan Abnett book, but it is my first titan related Dan Abnett read. I know he wrote some for a titan graphic novel, but I've not had a chance to read that yet, so I can not compare the two at all. Here is a shot of the book...

(look for it, buy it, read it)

All of Dan Abnetts books are great, and Titanicus is no exception. Dan has done a commendable job telling the story of a war from a whole new perspective and scale. As is often the case, he gives you characters to care about... and some will be taken away. There are a couple of minor side plots that don't contribute to the story directly, but do an amazing job of either making you understand the perils of a situation, or the mood of the story at that point. Then, there are side plots that are also pivotal to the story line.

The book also immerses you in the culture of the Cult Mechanicus as a whole, as well as that of a Titan Legion. Just as all of the Dan Abnett books introduce us to a future culture with their own slang words and vocabulary, this one does so with the Mechanicus. I'll give an example without giving anything away. When one character remarks that Macaroth will be "pissed", he is corrected for using the lingo of the "unmodified" as non Mechanicus refer to us. The correct phrase is "Macaroth will be very error shunt abort with us". It's little touches like this that make you feel like you are peeking in on a completely different culture. The Legios have verbage all their own too. I had no idea the word 'Princeps' could be used as a verb, as in "Biggus Titanus is Bubbas' Pricepture", or "Bubba is Princepting that engine".

The Titan Legions featured in the story are the Legio Tempestus and the Legio Invictus for the Imperials. The Chaos Titans allegiance is never made clear. Sorry Chaos fans. There are many descriptions of Chaos Titan names, paint schemes, and general attitudes though. Likewise, there is no shortage of interesting Titan names on the Imperial side.

There is, of course, a political tale within the book. Thankfully, it involves only the sci-fi world of 40k. Much to be learned about the politics of the Mechanicus can be found in these pages. I can't go much deeper on this subject without spoilers, and I'm trying to avoid those.

The book is not without humor. There is a bit of comic relief dotted throughout, but it is used sparingly. There is one interaction between a Legio agent and his three Skitarii body guards that is just hilarious as he tries to help them work out for themselves why violence is not, in this particular case, the means to their end. Not a ton of laughs, but that's not why you read a book like this.

And speaking of the Skitarii! This book makes them sound like an army you'll wish you could play in 40k. Bred for violent tendencies and then rebuilt to cause fear as well. You have to have some serious stones to chase down titans on foot and try to get grappling lines on them for immobilization and boarding! I don't think they're tougher than Marines per se, but I can tell you that the Mechanicus is definitely not sharing all their technology in regards to bionics and lethality.

Only one thing really bothered me about the book, and it may be something that I just didn't understand. But in one battle, one of the main Titans featured in the story is about to be attacked in melee so it charges its energy maul... shortly after (same scene), it's described as letting loose with both arm mounted weapons at a ranged enemy. So, one arm seems to have transformed to an energy maul and back. It's a questionable passage, but not enough to make me error shunt abort.

I hope I've not given too much away, but have piqued your curiosity. This is an excellent book, full of awesome fluff for fans of the Cult Mechanicus and the Titan Legions. I can truly say that I know fathoms more about these two entities than I did before. Good story, well written, I recommend it!

For the small Reaver update...

I've spent some time working on getting the large leg armor plates to fit as they should. There is some discrepancy between the UK right and left, and the US right and left I think. After some major thinking I figured out which armor plate should go where. I still stand by my original word that this model is cast very well. That said, some minor adjusting using a heat gun and boiling water was needed to make things fit to perfection. I also pinned the arms and head. They'll not be attached till after painting, but they are ready for assembly when the time comes. The arms connect at a rotator type joint, so they received two pins each, the head and neck also got the two pin treatment as it's a ball and socket type joint. More little pieces have been glued together where doing so is not inhibitory to later steps. Painting techniques are still being played with on scrap plasticard in preparation for the big paint. I've set a goal for myself to have this Reaver done by the first week of November, though I'd like to see it done sooner. I've also purchased some fine chain and will be experimenting with how I want to attach banners. The arm pins hold the arms on in a dry fit, so that will make banner shape and size design a lot easier. I know it's not a lot that you haven't seen before, but here is a shot of the Titan with the arms dry fit in place...

I appreciate you stopping by and checking out my book review on Titanicus. If you have any comments, queries, or ponderances, leave a comment by all means!

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