Eye of Terror by Barrington J. Bayley

This is the oldest Warhammer 40K book I’ve thus far read and the tonal differences between the Black Library of the late 90s and the Black Library of today are palpable. This book was a thrift store find and honestly after reading it I’m not surprised it ended up there.

Eye of Terror includes (to its credit and detriment):

  • The old brand of Warhammer 40K that feels like original Warhammer (but in space!)
  • Visible, fully realized depictions of Chaos instead of subtlety and vague allusions
  • Characters that would easily feel at home in an actual tabletop RPG

If you like the above, you’re in for treat. This story is far less bogged-down in bureaucracy than a lot of the later 40K stuff.

The main plot follows a down-on-his luck rogue trader and a misfit psyker through some bad but ultimately fairly inconsequential misadventure. I mean inconsequential in the grander scope of the 40K universe, of course.  Pretty much everyone in the novel still ends up dead. Speaking of scope, though, it’s necessarily a lot smaller in Eye of Terror than in most of the Horus Heresy tomes and whatever Dan Abnett’s been up to for the last few years. 

And I think it works — in such a vast fictional universe, it feels refreshing to see something a little more focused on individual experience. And the aforementioned overtness of the supernatural aspects is pleasing, especially if you’re more interested in the mythology of 40K than the bureaucracy.

This book is also riddled with spelling errors, which I find speaks to an interesting era in the franchise, one of extremely bad sourcebook art and character classes that have long since died out for being too ridiculous to fit into the whole grimdark aesthetic. 

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