Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

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Calmsword
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Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#1 » Sep 14 2016 07:31

Hey everyone,

I'm about 60% of the way through the new Deathwatch book "Storm of Damocles" and I wanted to take the time to recommend it to my fellow fluff enthusiasts on the Orbital.

To begin with, this is not strictly a Tau book. Much of the first half is dedicated to the Deathwatch as they are reacting to the growing conflict at Mu'Gulath Bay. The opening battles of that conflict have been concluded and, I believe, the 'Kauyon' battle is about to start as half of the White Scars are leaving the warzone.

But later our focus is moved to the target of the Deathwatch which is a training world for new Stormsurge pilots and a veteran of Mu'gulath Bay Ch'an. And it is fantastic.

I'm not sure, but I'm confident in the assumption that Justin Hill has been reading from ATT. There are a lot of issues our Tau have and he has either picked a side, definitively, or has avoided talking about them altogether. Some of these issues are as basic as "what color is Tau blood" where Mr. Hill has gone with blue/purple rather than GW's flip-flopping red. But he also addresses that the Tau have FTL which they use to 'skip' in and out of the warp.

Perhaps it's these elements that warmed me up to the story. I've gotten tired of the Worlddoom scenarios I keep being fed by GW and BL without any real, practical, military engagements. Mu'gulath Bay was pretty sloppy for the Tau, and they deserved the shallacking they got- but Mr. Hill addresses this and writes that the Empire is in a period of change, adapting to the new way of war, integrating it into his narrative that the Septs have begun blending together their training regimes and units with members from all over the Empire.

I will finish the book likely today and I'll post the cultural and vocabulary additions as I always do with my Archival posts whenever we get some new fluff.
~Good Hunting

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Val'Sitsor
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#2 » Sep 14 2016 11:19

I have this book for almost two weeks but still hesitate to start reading. This writer did pretty good job with his short stories (especially Deathwatch series, where he was seconded only to Fehervari), but I wasn't sure that he can do a novel properly. Also, from dramatic personae I found out that there are a loads and loads of space marine characters in this book: all from different chapters. It is a difficult task to show this right. Does he managed to succeed? Also, I heard that final of the book is just deathwatch product placement. But I would be glad to be wrong.

If he managed to depict tau without resent Kelly-like stupidity I think I will give it a try. But I will wait for your complete review first.

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Calmsword
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#3 » Sep 15 2016 12:46

The Dramatis Personae is kind of... Useless. There are two main characters in this story and there is not much spoken about any one else.

I will say this though- he does a good job of letting you be the 'fan' of the 40k universe. You know the chapters and if you don't you can look them up. Same with the Septs- but he doesn't take grand steps to unravelling the 40kverse, or for that matter, conjuring conspiracies every where you go. This is the story of what it takes to accomplish a Deathwatch mission and it doesn't stray further from that.

There are issues, mild and more threatening to the sensitive fluff enthusiast. He makes mistakes with rail gun mountings and the descriptions of different weapons seems to be at odds with other canonical source (especially the description of a Manta). But you can gloss over this in light of the 'epic' factor which most BL books insist on the reader.

I just finished the book- conclusion?

B+, this is a solid book and well worth the read, hopefully this grooms a new author into the small... puddle of a pool we have of reliable Tau story tellers amongst BL.
~Good Hunting

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TauMan
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#4 » Sep 15 2016 11:15

Thanks always Calmsword for you doing this.

Have a request (I'm always requesting stuff aren't I? :crafty: ) If its possible, when it comes to vocabulary could you give the words in a sentence like, "He turned to the Shas'la next to him and said, 'What the snae'ta?'" It always helps with word definition if we have the word/term used in context.

Thanks Much from the Expanded Tau Lexicon Team

TauMan out.
Viro’los gu brath!
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

R.D.
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#5 » Sep 15 2016 08:40

So any interesting specific fluff tidbits that can be shared?

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Calmsword
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#6 » Sep 16 2016 08:45

Culture/Biology

The Tau, as a culture, seem to write poetry.

The Earth Caste are rarely overcome by emotion but when they are it is both surprising and touching.

Au'taal: The main character in the book on the Tau side hails from Au'taal. He notes that he must never forget the culture, art and beauty that he, as a firewarrior, must remember. Based on Mr. Hill's descriptions these are very much 'warrior-poets' despite other canonical sources claiming it forbidden for Tau to practice activities deemed for other Castes.

Not all Tau are aware of every race the Tau employ. The Shas'Vre from Au'taal did not know what a Vespid was on-site.

Tau have a "peppery" scent in the opinion of a Space Marine.

N'dras: Have a leather-black skin color.

Vocabulary

Ch'ay: an honorific: Each caded wore the Ch'ay denoting them as elite graduates.

There seems to be a potential for Tau to remain in academies beyond the 'La' rank. The pilots in this book are being trained but don't seem to have very much combat experience as they are herded away from the conflict and protected by Line Warriors. So, potentially, this would mean that A Saal graduates to a La and if an instructor deems it appropriate they might stay on until they are a Shas'Ui and become a pilot.

Warfare

The 3rd Sphere is adapting to the hostile galaxy by combining Septs more integrally from mixed combat squadrons to planetary defense cadres. This was apparently either Aun'Va's decision or Aun'Ui Hoo'nan the Ethereal advising the overall forces on Sh'ansh.


Locations:

Sh'ansh: A Tau world home to one of possibly 3 or more programs training pilots for the war effort. They are constantly on the move and filter in combat veterans from the front to teach their students.

Yuun'chen: A Kroot world that is also an ice planet. The Kroot have eaten a predator of that world dubbed an 'ice bear' and have become resistant to cold.

Sept Uan'Voss: Mentioned in passing.

Picket's Watch: A terrestrial fortress built before the Age of Strife and then built upon by the Imperial Fists before being inherited by the Deathwatch.

Aliens

Darrellian Dog Soldiers: I'm sure it's a misspelling of Tarrelian but I thought I'd put it down just in case.

Nicassar: Surprisingly, this book spends a lot of time talking about these guys. First of all, they are BLIND and they have 'bird-like' heads and have psychic organs in place of where the eyes would be. The Deathwatch hold one of these alien's head at the bottom of their keep as a place of honor- which is interesting that they might have once gone to war against the Nicassar.

Even the Nicassar's corpse is able to have a lingering psychic effect which makes a Space Marine remember his mother! Even though he doesn't have an actual memory of her, it is explained that the Nicassar's last thought was of home and "Home" is then put into nearby creature's minds, even if they don't possess the original thought (as with human psykers abilities).

Technology

A NG-4 Terrestrial defence platform has a railgun capable of hitting orbital targets and can move (as can all Tau defenses in this book). It has 2 drone defenders and a crew of 3+.

The Tau in this book utilize 'hopping' through the warp which is how the Space Marines are able to track.

History

The name of the Mechanicum fleet to T'au was Beaconfire.
~Good Hunting

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TauMan
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#7 » Oct 06 2016 07:26

Calmsword wrote:The Tau, as a culture, seem to write poetry.

Calmsword wrote:Au'taal: The main character in the book on the Tau side hails from Au'taal. He notes that he must never forget the culture, art and beauty that he, as a firewarrior, must remember. Based on Mr. Hill's descriptions these are very much 'warrior-poets' despite other canonical sources claiming it forbidden for Tau to practice activities deemed for other Castes.

But of course mon ami, they are from Au'taal! ;)

"A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!"
— From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám

Sound like Mr. Khayyám was from Au'taal no?

Thanks for the words and definition, and with other words and definitions from other newly published works, it looks like I've got some updating to do.

The TauMan is busy
Viro’los gu brath!
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

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Tael
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#8 » Oct 07 2016 12:26

I for one, appreciate warrior poets; main plot point of a short peice I wrote awhile back "See Me As Free"

Certainly admirable when authors go off canon, do it well and show up how certain canoical distinctions can appear flawed.

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El ZorDacK
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#9 » Oct 07 2016 12:41

Calmsword wrote:
N'dras: Have a leather-black skin color.
.


So they are "black"!?, I mean, everybody can paint the Tau skin the way we want, but in official fluff, black Taus?
I hope no offense, myself being a color person, but are not our Tau grey-blueish?, that's new to me...the same goes for the color of the eyes being red in the acient codex, and now these images shows the tau with more human eyes...

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Harlequin2
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#10 » Oct 07 2016 01:15

El ZorDacK wrote:So they are "black"!?


I'm pretty sure that there's been a previous mention in fluff of Tau actually having incredibly varied skin tones, more so than humans. Take it with a pinch of salt since I have no idea where I read it, but personally, I'm more surprised of an entire Sept having the same skin tone, since Tau are star-spanning and would be subject to a lot of population movement. I'm sure it's just a majority.

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Calmsword
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#11 » Oct 07 2016 05:34

Farsight has charcoal black skin for one example- there was an article in WD about other planets and Septs having general skin tones. I believe in the old fluff N'dras skin was discolored strangely because of that Sept's green star- don't quote me.

The N'drasi skin color in Storm of Damocles is described as leather-black.
~Good Hunting

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El ZorDacK
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#12 » Oct 07 2016 06:08

Really!?...black skin, red eyes...man! We are Salamander's best buddies!

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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#13 » Oct 19 2016 02:44

I recently finished this book on a plane and thought I'd chime in...

First off, it's infinitely better than Blades of Damocles (but that's not hard). Others have mentioned those particular issues elsewhere so that saves me from remembering. Storm of Damocles is easily readable and full of action, but it plays out like a Michael Bay movie with no substance behind it. This is the author's first book, and it seems he had trouble remembering details of of the background and the many, many characters. Seriously it seems like every character given a name is listed in the front of the book, even ones who are only mentioned as having died.

I started noting inconsistencies with details early on and once you start you just can't stop. Some fun ones (edited to be BBCode list format):
  • Fireblade M'au is a Shas'el and pilots a battlesuit (which looks like O'Rymr's suit)
  • Multiple Riptides have railguns
  • Stormsurge has a raingun, then a blastcannon, then a railgun again
  • Deathwatch terminator has a heavy flamer then an assault cannon
  • Leonas has a combi-plasma, then a storm bolter
  • Deathwatch marine about fight the manta changes chapter several times in a few paragraphs. (Howling Griffon, Lamenter, back to Howling Griffon)
And the Manta scene... I don't think the author got the sense of scale right, sounded more like a tigershark size to be honest. There were the usual typos and missingspaces between words common to GW books, but not too terrible.

On the plus side, he included a fire raptor in the White Scar forces. I love everything about the fire raptor except building one (I'm currently raising my electric bill through excessive heat gun use)

In the end I'd give the book a middling review. For all the times I complained to my wife about the details (and she didn't care in the slightest), I still enjoyed reading the book and I would definitely read his next novel... eventually.

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Calmsword
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Re: Storm of Damocles: by Justin D Hill

Post#14 » Oct 19 2016 04:51

TYRAEL: Yes, there are many inconsistencies and the largest problem is the use of rail guns on everything- if we could be so lucky.
~Good Hunting

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