So I recently read the fluff in these books. I was expecting some cool battles, character development and epic scenes. I was sorely mistaken.
What I got was complete garbage. I won't even critique the overused clichés and repetitive writing. My biggest point is this: the story is like the fan fiction of the most biased fanboy in the history of fanboyism.
For the first book (and parts of the second): 1. Space marines stage quick strike on Tau forces. 2. Initial tau are overrun because space marines. 3. Surprise, it's a trap, now the Tau beat your ass. Sound familiar? It should, because this is what happens every battle involving the two. Pretty much every time the two chapters with the most skill in mobile, stealth and asymmetrical warfare get outpositioned, outmanoeuvred and outthought by shadowsun. Not only that, but they brought the (supposedly) biggest badasses in the galaxy: shrike, korsarro and the RG chapter master. Yet apparently not one of them can at any point ask themselves: "maybe this is a trap. Maybe, after the HUNDRETH *BAD WORD DELETED* TRAP WE'VE WALKED INTO, THIS COULD BE A TRAP". But no, hundreds of the chapter's elite space marines, who have no lack of experience fighting high-tech and tricky enemies (such as the Eldar/Dark Eldar), apparently can not compete with the supposed tactical genius of a relatively inexperienced shadowsun.
For the second book: The IG and admech, after the first 5 pages or so, is completely incapable of the most basic tactic or strategy other than 'send in the first wave. Then the next. Etc. Etc.'. For the admech, sure, that kinda fits their fluff. If these were krieg, valhallan or penal regiments, ok. But no, these are cadian regiments. Famed for their excellent officers, discipline and marksmanship. Not once, in the entire book, do they get the better end of an engagement. Not once does anyone other than Pask, the most legendary tank ace in the entire galaxy, do anything well. They are outthought and outfought at every single turn.
On the subject of Pask, his fight against longstrike sums this book up nicely: longstrike takes a hit from pask because he completely underestimates his opponent. Of course taking a direct and excellently aimed hit from a vanquisher battlecannon does negligable damage to his hammerhead and somehow he gets away. Then he returns and 1shots Pask's tank because tau technology and stuff. Ok. Another example: farsight handily beats an imperial assassin in close combat. Apparently all shadowsun needed was a helping hand from some passing tau. Let me repeat that: I2 and I4 characters are somehow as quick as an I7 character. The only succesful assassin of course then killed off the character no one gives a single *BAD WORD DELETED* about. There was at absolutely no point that I though farsight or shadowsun were in danger.
It's the way the imperial forces are portrayed, as completely incompetent for the better of two whole books, which makes them painful to read. There is almost no back-and-forth. Not once are the Tau outplayed. Every victory the Tau achieve feels so completely hollow because there was no real resistence, no obstacle to overcome. The Tau were 2 steps ahead of the imperium in almost every battle. If it was a hard fought victory, at least I would feel like they earned it. Instead they are the ultimate army, tactically perfect and incapable of defeat and able to overcome anything at any time with mimimal losses.
I understand that this is a Tau themed book, and they were meant to win, but for god's sake make it somewhat intense and interesting.
Sorry for this long rant, I just feel kinda frustrated that it's such a *BAD WORD DELETED!* product, especially at its price point.