Legions, Marines and Orks REVIEWING Astra Militarum

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Today we're talking about an anthology of stories for a very popular franchise that I don't have a lot of experience with: Warhammer 40,000. 

Astra Militarum

Author: David Annandale, Toby Frost, Braden Campbell, and Justin D. Hill
Year: 2015
Genre: Science Fiction Anthology


For ten thousand years, the massed armies of the Astra Militarum have defended the Imperium from the multitudinous horrors that seek to overwhelm it. With guns and tanks, determination and courage, these human soldiers fight across a thousand battle zones, in a war that has no ending. This anthology showcases some of the most famous regiments of the Astra Militarum along with their charismatic commanders, heroes such as Commissar Yarrick and Colonel 'Iron Hand' Straken. 


Warhammer 40,000, or Warhammer 40K, is one of the most popular miniature wargames and it has a ton of lore that makes up its world. I've never played any of the games and don't have any experience with it beyond the 2021 Marvel Comic series, Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar. A friend lent me this book and I've finally gotten around to reading it. 

The book includes eight stories of varying lengths. These include: 
  • "Chains of Golgotha" by David Annandale
  • "Evil Eye" by David Annandale
  • "Sarcophagus" by David Annandale
  • "Straken: A Hero's Death" by Toby Frost
  • "Bloodlord" by Braden Campbell
  • "Last Step Backwards" by Justin D. Hill
  • "Lost Hope" by Justin D. Hill
  • "The Battle of Tyrok Fields" by Justin D. Hill
The first three stories make-up a longer narrative centered on Commissar Sebastian Yarrick as he fights against Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, the leader of the Orks. The fourth is a story involving Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken.The fifth is about a man named Captain Kervis whose role in battle changes when he is forced to aid a unit of Space Marines take on a Chaos Space Marine. The next three are also a longer narrative, focused on Ursarkar E. Creed. Many of these men are legendary figures within the Imperium's army, who fight against a variety of foes who threaten their homes, their ways of life, and their actual lives. 

This is one of several anthologies that take place in the world of Warhammer 40k, with this one falling under the heading of "Legends of the Dark Millennium". I am not well-versed in this franchise and I cannot speak to the accuracy of the world, the characters, or the lore overall. I'm not going to pretend to either. I was interested in this book because I'm curious about what Warhammer 40k is about and what stories it has to offer. After all, everyone starts somewhere. This book is very interesting and even with just a tiny bit of knowledge, I was able to enjoy it a lot. 

I've read a fair bit of science fiction and I'm familiar with some elements of war units, as well as weaponry in general. A couple times I had to look up a couple specific tank models and machinery, but as a whole I found this to be rather accessible to me. Coming into this book I know that the Imperium exists and I know a little about the space marines. That was enough for me to be able to largely feel like I understood what was happening. Each story does a good job of painting a picture of the location and the scale of the battles. If someone has the least bit of familiarity with sci-fi military stories, this will be an accessible, and likely enjoyable, read. I haven't read a TON, but I was definitely able to enjoy it. 

The lead characters are all strong leaders or are capable of rising to meet the challenges thrown their way. They all exude senses of pride, are discernible from one another, and the situations they find themselves in are interesting and well-described. They are also rather fast-paced, since these are short stories instead of one large narrative. The conflicts are intense, the themes are dark and fitting when needed (as well as hopeful and strong when necessary), and the collection as a whole is very fun to read. I would definitely read another Warhammer 40k anthology and I wouldn't mind reading other books involving its world. I'm not going to immediately run out to start playing the game (I don't really know anyone who plays it or have friends that could play it with me anyway), but I'm definitely interested in reading more of the lore. 

The main characters and their foes all feel larger than life, while also feeling like legitimate warriors. They each have their motivations, their duties, and their strengths - as well as their weaknesses. I enjoyed reading about each of them and don't really have anything negative to say about this story collection. Perhaps fans of the series may find something that doesn't fit, but from an outsider's point of view this is a good book. It had me hooked enough to keep progressing through it rather quickly. It also made me want to read more books in the franchise. All in all, I'd give Astra Militarum a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯ stars and recommend it to anyone who may want to jump into Warhammer 40k while having only a LITTLE bit of knowledge about it. A ton isn't necessary, but I'm sure it would add to the enjoyment. 

Thanks for joining me for today's review here at The Real World According to Sam, where I bring the books to your computer screen and even put in my two cents about them! See you at the next review!