The Horus Heresy series continues with the story of the Eisenstein, the loyalist Death Guard spaceship carrying Nathaniel Garro and Euphrati Keeler that escapes Horus' ambush, though the hazards of the Warp lie between them and the sanctuary of Terra. Flight begins a bit further back in time than Galaxy in Flames, with the Death Guard taking action against the Jorgall alien empire. We are introduced to Nathaniel Garro, the book's protagonist, a stalwart Space Marine captain. Through glances into his thoughts, we find that Garro is a veteran, whose service to the Death Guard goes back to the era before the recovery of Primarch Mortarion, who was given command of the legion after his return. As such, Garro's loyalty to his dire Primarch is suspect.
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Quickly finishing with their alien foe, the Guard travels to Isstvan to meet up with their fellow legions. In a preliminary action against rebels on Isstvan III, Garro is wounded by the bizarre powers of the enemy; though his injuries are not mortal, they prevent him from taking part in the main action on the planet. Since his loyalty to his traitor Primarch is questionable, the Death Guard high command assigns him to the cruiser Eisenstein, with another Death Guard Marine, one more loyal to Mortarion, assigned to kill the captain during the battle.
As the main of the Crusade's forces land on Isstvan III, Saul Tarvitz contacts Garro with news of Horus' treachery. Although Garro is initially skeptical, he observes the fleet preparing their Virus Bombs to obliterate the forces on the surface. Garro and his soldiers overcome the traitors onboard, and escape, with Emperor cult prophet Euphrati. As it leaves realspace, however, the Eisenstein takes damage from the guns of one of Horus' ships.
As the Eisenstein flees through the Warp, the ship's Geller field, which protects it from the Chaotic energies of the otherworld, fails, as does its engine. The Chaos god Nurgle extends its power over the inhabitants of the vessel, transforming the dead traitors into undead Plague Marines. There is a viscous battle; although Garro and his men once again defeat the traitors, one of their number is seriously wounded by the knife of one of the abominations. The becalmed Eisenstein is saved by a ship belonging to another Space Marine legion, the great fortress-ship Phalanx, headquarters of the Imperial Fists.
Garro and his men are taken aboard the Imperial Fist ship. There, Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Fists, interrogates them. Garro's claims of Horus' treason are at first dismissed by Dorn, who refuses to believe his brother could fall so low. However, with the aid of Keeler and physical evidence, Garro convinces Dorn of his honesty. Garro and his compatriots are placed in holding cells on Luna, the moon of Terra.
While on the moon, Garro's wounded commander succumbs to the dire nature of his Nurgle-inflicted wound, transforming into an avatar of the vile god. Garro fights with his former friend and eventually destroys him. As the book draws to a close, Garro is approached by Malcador the Sigillite, First Lord of Terra. The powerful human offers Garro and those who fought alongside him a chance to become a servant of the Emperor as a part of a new service dedicated to fighting the encroachment of Chaos.
Best part of story, including ending:
The premise is interesting, but Swallow is, at most, a slightly above-average writer.
Best scene in story:
The glances of 30th millennium Terra at the end of the book are interesting to longtime fans of the 40K universe.
Opinion about the main character:
Garro is an okay protagonist; his doubts about his commander and flexibility make him interesting enough to sustain the novel, though not much more than that.