The fifth story in Black Library’s Summer of Reading is that rare beast, a 40k story where the Space Marines actually lose. In the case of Ray Harrison’s Dishonoured it’s High Marshal Helbrecht and the Black Templars on the receiving end of some serious punishment handed out by the soulless Necrons as they try, and fail, to recapture the outpost of Blight’s Edge. Outfought and outmanoeuvred at every turn, Helbrecht’s fury is directed at himself as much as the Necrons, as he and his men attempt to avert disaster and at least retain their honour.
Harrison does a good job of highlighting the determination and zeal which is at once the Black Templars’ greatest strength and biggest weakness, as Helbrecht drives himself and his men forward through sheer anger and bloody-mindedness. It’s an unusual story, but a really good one, mixing satisfyingly visceral action with dry, engaging dialogue, across a clever plot that sees the Templars increasingly out of their comfort zone. It has its problems, not least a tight focus that results in more than one plot thread simply abandoned as the story progresses, but somehow they don’t detract from what is a clear, simple, well paced and well executed story.