I got quite angry at the Black Library when reading Black Tide, as why when James Swallow can write novels as fantastic as this do they not get him to write for them more often!
Black Tide takes up the story from Red fury in a most unexpected way. A brutally traumatised and experimented upon Tau moving through the wreckage of a Tau colony finds himself face to face with the Blood Angels on the trail of Fabius Bile, but after being assaulted by hordes of experimented and mutated Tau and Vespid all they find is a taunting note from their quarry. Can they find him in time before Bile uses the blood of their primarch to carry out his evil plans?
I wasn't overly fond of Red Fury as i felt there was far too much talk and the least said about the " scooby doo villian" reveal of Bile the better, however I loved Black Tide and read it cover to cover in only two sittings.
James Swallows depiction of Fabius Bile is fantastic. The reveal of 'his evil plot' in the hands of a lesser writer could have turned into a parody of Dr evil style plan, but it doesn't. Yes the plan of tracking the genetic lineage of every space marine chapter back to the primarchs and from them to their "father" so Bile can create his own clone of the Emperor is a outlandious one but you get the horrified feeling that Bile could really pull it off. Plus the scene between Rafen and Bile where Rafen dismisses his words as the ravings of a traitor is downright chilling as we know something Rafen doesn't. Bile isn't lying.
The character of Rafen is also advanced nicely and if the Blood Angels series is to continue I hope at some point we may get to see him appear in a codex. You can really feel his anger and drive as he struggles to complete his quest and you can also feel his frustation as he 'kills' Bile for the third time only to face off against him yet again moments later learning the hardway that there's a reason this evil fiend has plagued the galaxy for so long.
The Flesh tearers also make a reappearence helping the Blood Angels on their quest with vital information allowing them to locate Biles base of operations which leads to a whole host of tantalisingly unanswered questions. How did the Flesh tearers know this information? And how do they know what the Blood Angels are up to?
Black Tide is also chock full of great visuals. Space Marine Strike cruisers fighting againist a space station which literally 'harpoons' them with giant harpoons and massive chairs, a orbital drop as a space station breaks apart around them and a underwater battle againist giant Tyranids creatures trying to eat the Marines! And lets not forget Fabius Biles lab in the middle of a Tyranid over run planet, a Dr moreau for the 41st Millenium.
There are a couple of small negative points. The discovery of a submarine which can make a orbital drop is a big case of Deux Ex , the Blood Angels 'technical' fulfilment of the quest and the epilogue which just screams set up for the next novel.
However this minus points don't detract from the novel overall. The Blood Angels series has certainly hit it's stride. The only thing which worries me with this novel is with the high quality of releases from the Black Library it seems to have gotten lost as I can't remember seeing any marketing push for it like Rynns World or Sons of Dorn at all which is a shame as this book doesn't deserve to become a lost gem.
A five out of five. Go read it now!