Brothers of the Snake is a novel by Dan Abnett composed of seven short stories featuring the Damocles Squad of the Iron Snakes Space Marine Chapter. Iron Snakes . in Know No Fear by Dan Abnett; the insignia of Damocles’ company, the 6th, is a white figure-eight serpent, similar to the Iron. Brothers of the Snake Type Novel Series Iron Snakes Author Dan Abnett Publisher The Black Library Binding Hardcover Released June 26 Pages
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One of a multitude of units dispatched by the chapter to secure and patrol their territories, the squad is tasked with intercepting threats and answering calls for help.
When Praid is forced into the role of Sergeant, he must rise to the occasion and adapt to his new role within the chapter. Yet, life is rarely simple for members of the Adeptus Astartes, and Praid finds that the Reef Stars hold many secrets which banett be confronted if they are to survive. Read any past review, commentary or opinion piece, and you will find one thing praised above all others: The depiction of the Astartes, and the chapter itself.
A common criticism of other books was that the marines shown there were often all too human, and lacked the more noted mental reshaping the lore stressed.
While this is often leveled against books which didn’t deserve such complaints, Brothers of the Snake took this as far as it could be taken. It is evident at many points that the members of Damocles Squad are a world apart from humanity, and their constant training, rituals and focus on combat dominate their lives.
Diligent and focused to the point of being almost robotic, the book manages to depict them as Knights Templar taken to an extreme without crossing over into outright camp. Some of the best moments with the marines which depict their superhuman nature are around more commonplace people. Everything from Inquisitors to Imperial nobility displays a distance through a number of narrative means. Brothdrs marines show completely lack a sense of human social niceties, style of humour or even basic subtleties brpthers both to their long lives and internal programming.
Many are even surprised at how rapidly unenhanced humans age, or cannot pick out things like puns. The areas of their minds given to that sort of subject matter have been replaced by sleep taught combat doctrines and weapons training.
In the hands of a lesser writer this would have turned them into the edgelord legion, or made them unlikable, but Abnett manages to avert this issue. The Iron Snakes chapter itself also notably diverts from many expected tropes.
While they have descended directly from Guilliman and largely follow the Codex Astartes, they differ in a number of ways. A major one stems from their increased emphasis upon the use of infantry and deploying their units more as kill teams than full companies.
Brotyers proportionate responses over a multitude of units at a time, we see brotthers from a single marine to the entire chapter responding to threats. This would be enough on its own, but the book also works in a number of additional factors to further flesh out their culture.
While largely Greek inspired, it retains hints of New Zealand and Indonisia in its nature, and you can easily see just how their world has shaped them over time. While the likes of the Excoriators are much more distinct and emphasise this point, Brothers of the Snake more subtly works it into the narrative. The core story itself is divided up into a multitude of short stories spanning decades, and features Damocles Squad doing everything from training recruits snske engaging Chaos warbands.
This allows it to do more than focus on a single battlefield, and gives more of a general impression of the overall duties of a space marine chapter. While it’s not quite Training Day 40,it is somewhat along those lines and the story has less of an epic saga feel than most.
That’s not to its detriment either, as some of the book’s best moments stem from its ability to create an engaging plot without some ancient crisis arising. Better yet, when it does add in a large scale battle or three, it feels natural to the work and remains just as engaging as the skirmish battles. The world building also extends beyond the chapter itself.
This is easily one of the best novels in the setting to explore the futuristic feudalism which dominates large chunks of the Imperium, and the stark contrasts there. This is very evident within the first story, which is largely told through the eyes of an administrator on a semi-feudal world, and the surprising contrasts in technology there. While this bizzaro contrast could have easily thrown nsake off, the presentation and use of atmosphere help to make the reader more easily accept them.
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It also helps that, especially in this opening part, it’s used to create a further disconnect between the Iron Snakes and those they defend.
This said, however, the rituals and internal culture of the chapter still feels like something from another age. Something which, at least, gives them a sense of being ancient heroes without overstepping such boundaries. Many of the later turns within the book also work to better build upon the hierarchy of the chapter. There is a much closer link between the upper echelons and standard marines than you might expect, but Abnett manages to make this work.
It creates more of a stark contrast, especially with the Chief Librarian, and it’s only further enhanced by the presence of Dreadnoughts in the final story. Plus that bit introduces one of the best characters of the entire saga, even if we only see an extremely small amount of him, unfortunately. The experimental style of writing the book was something which would be better refined with later tales, and as such at least some of this can be put down to adjusting to writing superhuman Knights Templar.
Rather than the massive crisis or grand campaigns of other tales, it can seem too unimportant or even unworthy of the supposedly grand scale of events.
Iron Snakes – Warhammer 40k – Lexicanum
While this is intended to carry out the strengths cited above, the nature of it undermines this somewhat. Using fill-in exposition for many stories and an outsider’s viewpoint for the opening arc, combined with the time-skip, makes it feel far too divided in places.
Whereas the likes of the first Last Chancers book, for all its flaws, managed to string together a coherent narrative of multiple events and a final strong arc, the same cannot quite be said here.
A particular problem is how the final crisis in question is very, very loosely linked to the initial story, but there is no narrative thread or suggested connection between the start and finish. You can argue that this is the brotgers, given the long lives of the enemy that devised this act, but as it only comes into play at the start and end, it’s more a sudden reminder. This is also further hindered by the fact that most of the characters in question are relatively flat.
He adjusts to the role of leader a little too easily, and learns his lessons as just part of the overall events rather than having any brothegs turning point. There needed to be more to him than just the honourable strategic leader type, and that same criticism can be leveled at the others.
Only Khiron seemed to truly stand out, and that was as much thanks to his unique role as his introduction. They are intentionally robotic and intentionally removed from humanity, but it lacks the additional elements which would benefit later sagas.
More than a few moments in the story suffer from narrative convenience to the point where a few break the xbnett of disbelief. A big one in the third story surrounded bdothers easily a group of glorified cultists could remove the armour plating of a marine without any indication of sorcery or technical know-how. Others, such as the surprising ease in which a daemonic infestation enters a highly secure location without the detection of multiple highly trained psykers, never quite seem to work.
As well told as they are, there is more than one occasion where you have to seriously stretch your suspense of disbelief, even in a setting with chainswords. Moreso than anything else, however, a great flaw lies in the book’s enemies of choice. Abnett typically uses Chaos as a major enemy above all others, and the same criticism can be leveled at more than a few writers.
Iron Snakes (Novel Series)
You can almost be certain that Chaos will be the ultimate villain of the work, forsaking Xenos threats or even civil wars. As such, the more watchman-esque nature of the Iron Snakes seemed as if it would be a chance to focus on more commonplace threats. Certainly, have the odd ancient conspiracy or Chaos possession to keep things interesting, but this was a chance to focus more on Eldar Corsairs, pirate threats or the like.
We don’t really get that, and outside of two short stories. Even then, the tales themselves largely work around direct combat or even depicting the fights in one way or another. This ends up making the galaxy, even the Reef Stars, seem unfortunately small. Brothers of the Snake is still a classic with good reason, but there’s no denying that the lessons it laid down have become so commonplace abnety can easily be taken for granted.
It’s akin to introducing someone to Babylon 5 today, hyping it up and telling them of all it pioneered, only for it to seem like nothing special at first.
You need to be patient with it to see what makes it special and accept some of its limitations were just a product of the time; each one setting the stage for later greats. We couldn’t have had The Exorcist without Nosferatu snae those first few steps, after all.
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