- Narrated by David Seddon
- A Standalone Novel (but serves as a precursor to the Minka Lesk series)
- First published 2019
- This edition published by Black Library
- 7hrs 39 minutes runtime
For thousands of years, the Cadians have held the line against chaos. But now Abaddon the Despoiler has launched an assault of unprecedented scale. In the face of these apocalyptic forces, Cadia calls its heroes home for the most important battle of the forty-first millennium . . .
With the 2021 release of Traitor Rock, Justin D Hill’s Cadian novels skyrocketed to the top of the list of my favourite Warhammer 40,000 stories. Since I haven’t talked about the first two on the blog before, I decided to re-experience them in audio form. First up is Cadia Stands, which I remember very much enjoying the first time around.
Cadia Stands chronicles the final battle for Cadia as an overwhelming army of Chaos worshippers assault the planet. It was a tie-in to a major event in the narrative of the game, and so it’s no spoiler to say that, in the end, the planet breaks and the stalwart Cadians are handed a humiliating defeat. With that in mind, there’s an ever-present sense of futility to the various military engagements. This doesn’t ruin the book at all, but rather lends it an atmosphere of tragedy as the valiant heroes are swept aside by the forces of evil. It turns out that knowing how a story ends isn’t always as interesting as how we get there.
I will confess that David Seddon’s narration is not my favourite. It is never actively distracting, but it is a voice I listen to because I am enjoying the story, not because I am captured by the narrator himself. There are a few occasions when it is not clear who is speaking, as many of the military men have the same gruff and growling tones. In Seddon’s defence, however, it makes a certain amount of sense that people with the same upbringing and life experiences would end up with similar accents and vocabularies.
With the fall of Cadia being such a pivotal events, an awful lot of characters muscle their way into the story. Perhaps too many for such a short book. Future protagonist Minka Lesk features prominently, alongside a handful of other characters who will resurface in the Minka Lesk novels. It is when focused on these characters that the novel has the strongest narrative. But then there are appearances from Chaos worshippers, Militarum officers, and Space Wolves, all of whom will not be seen again. Every time these new perspectives dominate for a chapter, never to return, the story wanes a little. But only a little. It’s somewhat like having a series of short stories interspersed throughout the main narrative. Sometimes, this expansive take actually works to the book’s benefit. Some of Hill’s best writing occurs when he pans the camera out to take a broader look at the battlefield. These sections feel like non-fiction accounts of the war for Cadia, and that is a book I would happily read in full.
In spite of a few misgivings, Cadia Stands is almost as good the second time around, and an excellent place to start with the Cadian novels, assuming the reader is familiar with the basics of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
More by Justin D Hill
Minka Lesk #2: Traitor Rock
The Bookkeeper’s Skull
Deeper Dive: Longevity in the Grim Dark Future
Not only is the Imperium large enough to accommodate four General Creeds, it has two General Ursarkar Creeds. The younger of the two is forty, said to be young for a general, while the elder is three hundred and twenty, and now retired. With these figures, it is easy to imagine a military career of two hundred and fifty years being possible. That is a very long time to be at war.
A lot of grimdark media portrays death at a young age to be inevitable. or if the elderly do persist, it is through cowardice or deals with dark powers. In Warhammer 40,000, the wealthy and successful may purchase extra years through the use of rejuvenat treatment. In a real-world context, this allows fan-favourite characters to transcend editions of the game, and face more varied foes. But within the context of the game universe, it also makes clear one terrifying fact. A man might live for centuries, and still he will not see the end of war.
The average guardsman may last for fifteen hours, but if the examples of the Generals Creed are anything to go buy, even an artificially-lengthened lifespan is no guarantee of living to see victory.
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