Book Review: For the Emperor - Sandy Mitchell - Ciaphas Cain I

Title For the Emperor - First book from Ciaphas Cain
Author  Sandy Mitchell

Commissar Ciaphas Cain - hero of the Imperium and renowned across the sector for his bravery and valour - is sent to help maintain order on an outpost world on the borders of Tau space. But when the alien ambassador is murdered and the situation quickly spirals out of control. cain and his regiment of Valhallans find themselves in the middle of war. As the Imperial Guard struggle to contain worldwide civil insusrrectino can the wily Commissar Cain identify the real villain before the planet is lost to the Imperium forever?

For the Emperor by Sandy Mitchell is the first novel in the new Warhammer 40K series starring the (somewhat)amusing, irreverent and, ultimately, heroic Commissar Ciaphas Cain of the Imperial Guard. This new series recounts the adventures and exploits of Ciaphas Cain as he tries to fake and smooth talk his way out of what he thinks are dangerous and life-threatening situations. This sort of behavior is very unusual for a man of his rank and resposibility since as a Commissar of the Imperial Guard he's suppose to be represent a symbol of bravery in the face of danger, especially insurmountable ones. Cain does so through all his adventures, but usually due to his actions of self-preservation actually putting him in danger. And when he gets out of it he's hailed a hero of the Imperium.
The reluctant hero is sent to a Valhallan regiment. Problems occur from the instant he sets foot on the hangar bay of the Righteous Wrath. Two Valhallan regiments have been consolidated from the survivors of 301st and 296th. One is a female regiment, one is a male regiment, and each believe themselves better than the other. Cain has his hands full keeping them from each other's throats and eventually welding them into a single cooperating regiment (597th Valhallan). This is barely accomplished before they are sent to help maintain order on an outpost world on the borders of Tau space. But when the alien ambassador is murdered and the situation quickly spirals out of control, Cain and his new regiment find themselves in the middle of a war. Accompanying him is his ever-present and ever-loyal aide Jurgen whose personal appearance and hygiene doesn't conform to the most minimum of standards of what a soldier is suppose to look. But Jurgen's administrative talent makes him a valuable sidekick to Cain, and whose more secret talent Cain later finds out through another companion makes him even more invaluable in keeping him alive.

Jurgen has a skin disease, a disease that remembered me my girlfriend.
As Cain works to make the newly formed 597th Valhallan become a well-drilled and proper Imperial Guard force he and his men soon become part of a diplomatic delegation between Imperium diplomats negotiating with Tau counterparts in the Damocles Gulf sector. One thing leads to another and soon Cain and his men must solve the mystery that is putting the Imperium and the Tau Empire in the path to war. It is through his investigation that Cain first meets Amberley Vail. A woman who seems to be nothing more than a political hanger-on and courtesan, but whose outward appearance hides a much more dangerous personality. It is actually through Vail's recollection and annotations throughout the novel that Cain's exploits are told. From the get go there's a mutual respect and attraction between Cain and Vail. This is a new one in the series of novels released about the Warhammer 40K universe. Though the romance is minimal it is hinted at early on and given mention as something that both pursue as they get to know each other throughout their lives. The whole novel is a very good start to a new character for the Warhammer 40K and at times the pacing of the story shows this. There's less of the intense battle scenes that makes another series about a Commissar very good and intense. But the unveiling of Cain, Jurgen, Vail and the 597th more than makes up for the smaller amount of action. The foundation laid down in For the Emperor by Sandy Mitchell shows that bigger and better things await those who have the patience to stick with Ciaphas Cain. Here's to hoping that Amberley Vail picks the right volume from Cain's memoirs for us readers to read through.

As I said before this is the first of a series reporting the archived memories of Commissar Cain. Each is told as written by Cain, after his retirement. It also describes the first time Cain meets Amberley Vail, an agent of the Ordo Xenos, and the Valhallan regiment he spends most of his career with. Vail is the one putting Cain's archives together for her fellow inquisitors to read if they so wish. She has annotated several sections to fill in Cain's gaps. As the reader, I found many of these footnotes interesting, as they made Cain's campaign seem more realistic; however, some of these footnotes are pointless. This novel covers the Gravalax campaign and will be referred to often in the upcoming books of the series. All-in-all, I believe this novel to have succeeded in creating a solid foundation for the Cain series to build upon. 7/10

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