Fifth book of the Ultramarines, once again Uriel Ventris will fight foes, but this time new ones. After being restored as an Ultramarine and captain of the fourth chapter, the misterous Tau race seem to be attacking Pavonis, an old known of Uriel (they saved the planet in the past, in the first book of the series).
The planet is also suffering severe imperial monitoring of all areas and activities, there is still civil unrest and povertry, and the balance of the planet seems still too fragile.
As in previous books, the pacing is nice, switching between multiple sub-plots that slowly progress towards a common junction and conclussion.
The Tau are portaited ok, but as it is a race I don't fancy much (aliens with Japanese looking mechs, meh) the book was not as engaging as others.
One problem in this book is an excess of humanization for some characters. We're talking a bout a millennium of war, death and destruction, an era where only the strong or the evil persist. Military forces are either almost brainwashed or fear-driven (Imperial guard + Comissars).
And then some characters are too human and think too much, when they should just do it "for the Emperor". If you read the book you will understand what I mean. It smells to much to be credible.
The battles are well narrated, has the usual plot changes, deceipts and surprises, but here Uriel acts just like a clever Space Marine captain instead of someone who went through a lot of "uncommon experiences" and terrible foes. You could change the names of characters or the SM chapter and nobody would notice.
It feels like the second Matrix movie. Not much plot, no story advancement... almost nothing except some spectacle with known characters (and not so much, as there are lots of secondary characters).