On the eleventh day of Christmas Black Library gave to us…an Imperial Guard short story by Justin D. Hill. Set on the barren desert world of Besana, Last Step Backwards is a story of the Cadian Shock Troops, and the iconic Ursarkar E. Creed. With their armies retreating against the forces of the Archenemy, a vital route to the heart of the Imperial defences is defended by Cadian Whiteshields, cadet soldiers ill-suited to such a task. The situation looks bleak until the arrival of Creed.
An established author in his own right, this is Hill’s fourth short story for Black Library and a clear sign that there are good things to come from him. There’s everything a Guard story should have, from the drudgery of life in the trenches to the machinations of the hierarchy and the heroics of well-loved officers, not to mention tanks, Valkyries and lots of guns. From Creed and Colour Sergeant Kell to the individual Whiteshields, the characters are vivid and relatable, and as a whole this feels like a classic war story, with the stoic Cadians holding out against the odds. Excellent fun, despite the constantly changing spelling of Ursarkar Creed’s name.