The Emperor’s Finest (WH40K: Ciaphas Cain #7) ★★★✬☆

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Title: The Emperor’s Finest
Series: WH40K: Ciaphas Cain #7
Authors: Sandy Mitchell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 288
Words: 102K

From &

Part One

After his harrowing escape from the Necron Tomb on Inheritus Prime, Ciaphas Cain regains consciousness in the Apothecarion of the Reclaimers’ Strike Cruiser Revenant, and makes the acquaintance of the battle force’s commander, Captain Gries, and Apothecary Sholer and Techmarine Drumon, who have collaborated on the augmetic fingers grafted onto Cain’s hand in place of the two lost to the Necrons. Since Cain was originally assigned as the Commissariat’s liaison to the Reclaimers, there is no reason why he shouldn’t accompany them on their mission to suppress a rebellion on Viridia.

According to a short excerpt from Jerval Sekara’s often-used travelogue, Viridia is a productive Agri World that is the hub of several important mining stations on the surrounding moons and asteroids. The whole system is a vital source of raw materials for the subsector, which explains why a minor civil insurrection on what would otherwise be considered a rustic backwater merited the intervention of the Emperor’s own Astartes…

Unfortunately, by the time the Revenant translates into the system, the conflict has escalated into a full-blown civil war. Several elements of the PDF have defected to the rebels, including a small SDF flotilla that attacks the Revenant upon its arrival. These small ships are no match for the Strike Cruiser, and Gries prepares to embark for the surface immediately. Despite the manifest danger, Cain always feels safer on the ground than in the void, and accompanies them in their Thunderhawk.

The rebels are already besieging the capital city when Gries and Cain land inside the Palace and introduce themselves to Governor DuPanya.

The loyalist PDF commander explains that the rebels are divided into several feuding groups, and the Imperials’ only advantage is that they are fighting each other as much as the loyalists. But Gries and Cain look closer at the tactical display and notice something wrong: the feuding between the rebel factions is a charade, and they have in fact organized a superbly coordinated cordon around the city – more coordinated, Cain notices, than he would expect from a Guard unit of the same size. Any counter-attack the Imperials launch will have to conceal the fact that they are on to the rebels’ trick, or they will close the trap even more quickly.

Gries outlines a three-pronged assault; one detachment of the Reclaimers will secure strategic points inside the city, while another attacks the rebels’ armour contingent. A third force is needed to neutralize the rebels’ mobile artillery batteries; since the approach will need to be secret, their best option is through the sewer tunnels – a job unsuitable for Space Marines in Power Armour. Cain is unwise enough to point this out, inadvertently making it seem like he’s volunteering to lead the mission.

Enter Mira DuPanya, the Governor’s daughter and honourary Colonel-in-Chief of the household guard unit of the PDF, who volunteers a squad of her troops, but insists on accompanying them. Cain urges her in the strongest terms to stay behind and let the real soldiers get on with the job, but she refuses to listen. She points out that, as a Commissar, Cain has no direct command authority, and Cain is forced to concede the point (ruefully deciding that shooting her is not an option, if he wants to maintain a good relationship with the Governor).

As they make their way towards the rebels’ position, Cain is forced to admit that Mira knows her way around the tunnels, and the anti-intrusion traps. When they are under the rebels’ artillery park, Cain reluctantly says he will go up first (not out of bravery, but because he doesn’t trust the others’ stealth skills).

True to form, Mira insists on following him. Cain manages to mine the rebels’ artillery, but another member of their party attracts the attention of an enemy patrol. Cain and Mira are separated from them and forced to flee down a sewer tunnel, alone. There they come across a horde of mutants, led by Cain’s worst fear: a Purestrain genestealer. Cain manages to hold off the beast with his chainsword, but the two of them have no where to go as the pack of hybrids closes around them. Just as they are preparing for a semi-heroic last stand, the Purestrain and the rest of the genestealers are scattered by storm bolter fire, as a squad of Terminators from the Reclaimers teleport to their position, guided by Cain’s vox set.

With their lives unexpectedly spared, Cain and Mira make a mutual decision to forget their earlier friction and engage in a more “productive” working relationship…

Part Two

As the Reclaimers and the PDF are mopping up the remains of the insurrection and the genestealers, Cain is able to watch the drama from his suite at the Governor’s palace, Mira having persuaded her father that his abilities are most needed away from the front lines. Cain is cheered when Guard reinforcements arrive, accompanied by Jurgen, who is still piqued that Cain decided to go off to Inheritus Prime without him.

Captain Gries announces that the genestealers likely came to the planet on a Space Hulk, and their next mission is to track it down. At first, Cain wants no part of the job, but changes his mind quickly when Mira, fearing that he is about to leave the planet, insists that they need to have a serious talk about “us.”

After tracking down the space hulk, it is revealed that all the flipping nutjob Emperor people want to invade it to find old tech. So they do. And it is swarming with gene stealers and orks. A massive battle ensues, Astartes die left and right, Cain and Jurgen survive and Mira ends up marrying the planetary governor. The End.

First off, this book typifies why I don’t like the Astartes or to read about them. Arrogant, powerful but then completely overwhelmed and destroyed by creatures that regular humans take care of on a regular basis. I guess I expect a lot more from my “super soldiers” than the WH40K universe does. Plus, with them getting wiped out all the time, how are there any left to actually fight the forces of chaos and stuff? I’ve known this ever since I tried to read the first book or two of the Horus Heresy and is why I almost gave up on the whole Warhammer 40,000 universe altogether.

Thankfully, the Astartes and the Cog Boyz are simply side players and Cain and Jurgen take front and center and dazzle us, well ok, dazzle me anyway. But since I’m the most important here, that’s a Royal Us. Get used to it peasants. Cain gets to fight both orks and gene stealers all at the same time and it’s great. I kept waiting for a Tau contingent to pop in as well, but I was able to overcome my disappointment at that particular lack.

This also goes to show just how inhumane the Imperium of Man actually is. Humanity is a resource that the Emperor uses like straw. For that matter, who is running things anyway? The Emperor is a rotting corpse at the moment, so who runs things, a committee? I never really thought about that until this book, but who makes the Astartes do things? And why haven’t they completely fallen apart trying to take the Emperor’s place? And even if they don’t want to take over, who is running things? People, whether regular or genetically modified supermen, do not do well taking care of their own lives. They need someone to tell them what to do. And a whole space empire would fracture under it’s own weight if there wasn’t a hand on the helm.

I am sure all of those questions have been answered in the other 1000’s of WH40K books, because if I can think of those questions after reading under 50 of them, somebody else must have thought those same questions years and years ago. But I’m not going to go wading through the drek of the Astartes to find the answers. Call me Muhammad. And snap to it bringing that mountain to me, I haven’t got all day you know.

I like books that make me think weird little things like this. It’s fun and easy and if I don’t get my answers, my peace of mind isn’t disturbed.


28 thoughts on “The Emperor’s Finest (WH40K: Ciaphas Cain #7) ★★★✬☆

  1. The Lexicanum site has a big bit of how things run, I could copy a bit here for you or send you a ling via Whatsapp. I try not to think too much on who calls the shots. There is always a “higher up” connected to either a batallion, a Space Marine Chapter or whatever. In most cases they all defer to the Emperor first and foremost, while apperntly dead, Empy also happens to be the biggest psyker there is, kinda funny how He Himself decided the ban on psykers… He gives out orders to a right hand man and those orders go to the respective leaders of wherevere you find yourself in the Imperium. That is if you are a loyalist. If you are a cultist, you get your orders from a leader or entity chained to the specific Chaos order you follow.

    The Imperial Gaurd, the human loyal factions of the Imperium definately gets the draw of the short straw when it comes to battle as they are seen as cannon fodder. You are completely right in that regard.

    Having more questions at the end of a 40K novel than when you started it is very true too, I have that a lot with some Horus Heresy novels. Man I hope I get to Cain soon. But I still need to start on my Gaunt’s series first.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. I cant tell you for sure as i think youve read more Tau than i up until this point🙂. Funnily enough theres a new tau novel that just dropped on the GW site. But it is part of a loosely tied in Seige of terra novel as far as i can tell

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always chuffed to read the details and that you tell us the end instead of ‘no spoilers’! I feel like I’ve read the book without reading the book. This comment was brought to you by the Queen of no comment comments and no reading reading. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t tell if chuffed is good or bad from the context 😀
      While I try not to denigrate those who don’t do spoilers, I know that most of what I read is never going to be read by anybody else, so why bother getting bent all out of shape about it? 😀


      Liked by 1 person

          1. Hm. Well they sterilise their human auxiliaries, and you’d be very much a meat shield for the true Tau, but otherwise I don’t think it’s much worse than being treated like thinking cattle. Which is an improvement on the Imperium, where you aren’t treated much like you can (or should) think for yourself…

            Liked by 1 person

  3. The more I read about WH40K the more I have the impression it’s just like another DC title – neverending, and when you are reaching some kind of resolution, surprise – there’s a major twist or a reboot 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering the books are based on the game lore, and they number in the thousands (guestimate), it shouldn’t come as any surprise. As the saying goes, in the future, there is only grim war 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I started them way back when because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Now that I know the Astartes (super duper eunuch space marines) aren’t for me, I have to find other aspects of WH40K to enjoy. So far, the fully human ground pounder side of things has worked out well for me. But once I run out of that kind of thing, I’ll probably just let it go. Kind of like I did with the Forgotten Realms books. I don’t have the expectation to dig deep into the lore like Dave or others have.

      and I don’t think I “could” read all of them at this point. There’s simply too much.

      Liked by 1 person

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