REVIEW: Plague War By Guy Haley

Last Updated on March 8, 2024

In the follow up to Dark Imperium, Guy Haley’s Plague War tells the story of the Indomitus Crusade’s war to throw the the Traitor Primarch Mortarion and his Death Guard legions out of Ultramar’s five-hundred worlds. In my review of book one in this series, I was critical of what I saw as a rushed, missed opportunity to bring new readers into the 40k fold. I am really happy to say that with book two, Haley has steadied the ship and is driving us towards what should be a really fun trilogy.

Cover for Plague War By Guy HaleyThe most interesting aspect of the story is the fight to turn the god-like Primarch Roboute Guilliman into a believer of the Imperial Cult (which, in turn, believes he and his father to be gods). It’s one of the clearest juxtapositions between the Warhammer 30k and 40k storylines, and Haley delves into the topic with aplomb. I loved the way it shows the internal idealogical war within the crusade and how that represents that of the wider imperium.

The story focus on Guilliman’s traitor brother Mortarion and his Nurgle allies is much less in this book, and those sections that are included feel far more relevant than book one. Plague War is far better for it. Where in book one they tended to be superfluous, at times confusing, and seemed to lead nowhere between the front and back cover, this time they were on point and drove the story forward. Haley’s ability to write the Nurgle scenes with such filth and disgust, but such understanding of what Nurgle is (life, death, rebirth) is awesome to behold. To me, those scenes never got stale, though he did make me want to puke a few times!

Something else Haley absolutely knocked out of the park in Plague War was his nods to the awesome characters of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. There were plenty of mentions of epic champions and traitorous villains, including to those from the Horus Heresy era. Plague War focussed on using the right cast at the right time to tell the story, and it was a brilliant read for it.

Overall, Plague War is a drastic improvement on Dark Imperium. The people of the Indomitus Crusade are starting to be stretched thin both physically and ideologically, and the being they see as a god is becoming less and less happy about it. It’s a damned good book two and I can’t wait to get stuck into book three.

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.

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