the book ends with some Deus Ex Machina in the form of...Tyranids. Apparently the book is set in the recent past, before the "first" appearance of the Tyranids in the form of Hive Fleet Behemoth and the epic clash on Macragge that broke the fleet, but also dealt a serious blow to the Ultramarines. After poking around a bit on the interwebs just now I see that if I had a deeper knowledge of all the extant fluff, that is if I'd read other 40k novels before this one, then I would have had a bit of forewarning, but nothing that would have spoiled the surprise. Black Library loves to do this, sly little references here and there for the folks who have devoured everything GW has ever released. While I have a long history in the game, being immersed in the universe for something like 20 years now to varying degrees, I'm making my first forays into the novels, so when books cross-reference each other like this I don't always get it. I suppose that's half the fun though. My second, even less pleasant surprise, was the reason I moved the book to the top of my reading queue in the first place. I like the idea of a biker army and have contemplated a White Scars (or Ravenwing for that matter) army on many occasions. You can imagine my surprise when I turned the last page and did a quick mental count of the number of bikes in Savage Scars: zero. I didn't expect the whole book to be in the saddle, but I thought a decent part of it would be, perhaps even the majority, considering how the White Scars fight. To be fair the White Scars squad that was the focal point of the book was mounted in a Rhino, but when a White Scars book has more heavy weapons (1) than bikes (0) then I think there's a problem. Maybe this book suffered from following Fulgrim in my reading list, which is the best Black Library book I've read thus far, but even in a vacuum the complete lack of bikers would be a disappointment.
Mage Hunter variant that I liked so much, but no dice there either. It wasn't all doom and gloom though, as I found both the Mercs book and the Menoth book. The final decision was between those books, the Old Witch, Winter Guard Rifle Corps, a Death Company box, and a Sanguinary Guard box. I went with the Old Witch and the Mercs book, reasoning that I could do a slow grow, build with the cards approach to Menoth while I can use the Mercs book now as a sort of reference for what solos I'd like to add. Plus I can finally find out exactly what Kell Bailoch does, and perhaps make a ghetto card for him until I finally put in that order for a mortar spotter spyglass and tack on cards for Kell and Reinholdt. On the way out I spotted the first two books in the Empire army series, Reiksguard and Iron Company, that would complete the series I've been collecting from the fire sale at Borders. Had I looked for these on the way in I probably would have gotten those and the Mercs book, as I have yet to dig into the Old Witch to stir up a burning urge to play her right now, but that isn't how things worked out. Considering how little the GW novels move at the FLGS I don't think I have to worry, and I can always get them (cheaper) through the Warstore. The end result here is that I finally got some gaming goodness for my birthday, even if it took a circuitous route to get there. Plus I'll get to see what having an arc node is like.