So, in between the various series I’m reading I picked Straken by toby frost up with some birthday money whilst at Cribbs Causeway (not a birthday trip believe me).
The catachans are an interesting imperial guard force, manned entirely from their jungle death world and working far outside the standard template of an imperial guard army, yet stunningly effective at what they do. Straken himself is the pinnacle of this, the best of the best.
In the book Strakens force the catachan 2nd is pulled from a victorious battleground and thrown straight into another, tasked with infiltrating an ork infested underground city and open the gates for the main imperial guard force. Typically it all goes wrong and when the gates are opened the armoured force rolls in manned by orks not guardsmen, leaving Straken and his men alone against a planet full of orks.
The stories well written, and Tony Frost has an interesting style of shifting perspectives from individuals within the same area without breaking up the flow, which is something I try (unsuccessfully) to do in my writing.
Cameo appearances from fan favourites Sly Marbo and Snikrot also provide enjoyable moments, as well as preventing the story being about just another ork warlord.
My only issue with the book is that it’s another (yet another) criticism of Commissars. Yes they are arseholes – for the most part- but every book involving imperial guard at the moment seems to be heavy on the anti commissariat agenda. I’d wonder if perhaps a commissar codex or similar might be in the works in the future.