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Death World (Novel)

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Death World
Author Steve Lyons
Publisher Black Library
Series Imperial Guard
Preceded by Fifteen Hours
Followed by Rebel Winter
Released December 2006
Pages 256
Collected in Shield of the Emperor
Editions 2006 softcover:
ISBN 9781844163984

Death World is the second volume in the Imperial Guard novel series, written by Steve Lyons. It was first published in 2006.

Book Description

The Catachan Jungle Fighters of the Imperial Guard are an elite regiment, that specializes in destroying the Emperor’s foes on the most dangerous worlds of the Imperium. Their training is put to the test when a squad is sent to the death world of Rogar III in response to an ork incursion. But they must also do battle with the planet itself and the mysterious figures that stalk them across the deadly terrain.


This page contains spoilers for: Death World (Novel)

Imperial Guard forces on the planet Rogar III are urgently calling for reinforcements, against an Orkish incursion. That is par for the course for the elite Catachan II regiment, but the strange thing is, Rogar III has been settled for several generations, but was only recently classified as a Death World.

Sergeant "Hardhead" Greiss's squad is given a mission to approach the Orks' camp by stealth and take our their Warboss. Guardsman Lorenzo, in particular, is eager for a chance to prove himself to his squadmates and earn his Catachan name. Much to their dismay, the Guard contingent's senior Commissar, McKenzie, insists on leading their squad into the jungle.

But their most dangerous foe is the planet itself. As they are making their way to the ork camp — shadowed by the legendary Guardsman Marbo — they encounter semi-sentient poisonous plants and all manner of predatory beasts, from insects to jumping lizards to birds. Gradually they realise that Rogar III's ecology is evolving to drive them out, and developing its flora and fauna into stronger and better-armed killing machines. Some of the troopers are driven insane by plant venoms and turn on their squadmates, before they can be killed; others are led into the jungle by hypnotic "blue lights" and are never seen again, until they appear as re-animated "zombies," to attack the Jungle Fighters.

Reaching the Orks' camp, they see the greenskins tunneling aggressively into the planet's surface, apparently believing that the planet's lethality is a weapon that can be somehow harvested and removed. Lorenzo guesses that this is what caused the planet to evolve so rapidly. With only Greiss and five Jungle Fighters, including Lorenzo, left, they must enter the Orks' ramshackle mine to find the Warboss. Just as Lorenzo finds him, the planet springs its final trap: a volcanic eruption that floods the caverns with lava.

In a desperate struggle, the Guardsmen slay the Warboss, but when they run back to the surface, a cave-in has blocked the exit. Greiss sacrifices himself against a fresh wave of Orkish zombies, while Lorenzo and the only other survivor — ironically, the Commissar's non-Catachan adjutant, Braxton — dig their way out.

Emerging into the now-deserted Ork camp, Lorenzo and Braxton collapse and enjoy a moment of relative safety. Grimly, Lorenzo concludes that there are still Orks on the planet, and so the Imperium will never abandon it, even if doing so would be the most sensible thing. As long as the Orks are there, the Guard will continue fighting them, and Rogar III will be doing its best to wipe out both. Then, Lorenzo shrugs - he is a Jungle Fighter, and he goes where the Emperor points him.

Lorenzo's only disappointment is that Greiss never gave him his Catachan name before he died. But Braxton, who Lorenzo has declared an "honorary" Catachan, decides on an appropriate one: "Long Run" Lorenzo. Lorenzo likes the sound of it, and the two survivors make their way back to base.