Book Review of “Titanicus”

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from Warhammer 40k novels recently. Mostly I’m waiting for the next outing in the Horus Heresy series, which is available for preorder now and coming out in November.However, I decided to dip my toes in the Warhammer 40k universe, just to keep my Waaargh juices flowing and so I picked up a copy of “Titanicus” by Dan Abnett, who I generally consider one of my favorite 40k writers.The book focuses on a war between the legendary Titans of the Warhammer 40k, which are gigantic two legged machines of uninhibited apocalyptic power.
A Titan is something that is incredibly rare in Warhammer 40k lore and every single one is considered a holy relic by the machine worshiping Mechanicus order.In Titanicus the reader is witness to the extremely rare event that is an Imperial Titan Legion coming up against a Chaos Titan Legion, and the resulting destruction is appropriately crazy, even if the whole experience does perhaps feel a bit flat.The plot sees the forge world of Orestes come under attack. Forge worlds are critical worlds for the Empire in the Warhammer 40k universe, as they serve the purpose of producing incredible amounts of military hardware that is needed to fuel the constant fight for survival that mankind finds itself in.Luckily the Titan Legion Invictus is stationed on the world and are ready to aid in the defense. It soon becomes apparent that the Chaos invaders have brought Titan war machines of their own, however, and so we are treated to many pages worth of description of tense god-machine on god-machine action.Besides the tale about the actual war and the many battles, Titanicus actually spends a large amount of time on trying to tell a story about political intrigue and attempts to build up characters that you will feel emotionally connected to.You will notice that I use the words “trying” and “attempts” and I sadly must say that they are very much apt.I do not feel that Abnett really nails at all the exotic culture that you would expect to find inside a Titan Legion or among the inner workings of the Mechanicus. Instead I was slightly riled to encounter several attempts at light humor that seemed pretty forced and uncharacteristic coming from the kind of people that it did.So at least the Titan battles are awesome, right? Well… I have to say, they did not really do it for me either. Maybe it is just me, but I feel that Titans have been built up in the Warhammer 40k mythology to a point where just having a couple of them together in the same place should be an incredibly epic experience and the battle between two of these kinds of machines should be city leveling stuff.But in Titanicus there are just so many Titans that it almost reduces combat between them to a mundane event.
Giant city block sized Warlord and Reaper class Titans get taken out several times over the course of the book and frankly it cheapens the feel of awe and wonder that I have for 40k Titans.I am sorry if this review ends up sounding very negative, but after finishing Titanicus I feel that massive battles between large groups of Titans is perhaps something that sounds cool on paper (or well, not on the paper of this book, but whatever) but doesn’t actually work out that great in practice.Furthermore I feel that the non-battle sequences in the book left a lot to be desired, so I couldn’t even just gloss over the battles and try to follow a gripping story of political maneuvering, which is actually something that I usually also enjoy in Warhammer 40k books.All in all I can’t really recommend Titanicus to you, unless you are absolutely incredibly stoked about the idea of Titan on Titan smackdowns.

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