Black Library Book Review: Steel Tread (2021)

The Imperial Guard may be built on the backbone of countless ranks of infantry, but it’s hard to argue that a lot of the glory (and fun) come from the roar of advancing tanks, and the big guns that never tire. Steel Tread puts you firmly at the centre of all of the armoured action. The book follows Hadeya Etsul, a Tsegohian tanker who finds herself promoted to command a Leeman Russ demolisher – the Steel Tread – when her broken unit is consolidated with the Cadian Forty-Ninth Armoured.

Etsul finds herself in command of a challenging crew. Drawn together from Cadian and consolidated troopers there’s tensions and friendships already formed before Etsul arrives, and she’ll need to navigate these to gain their respect and loyalty. However, the forty-ninth are stationed on Croatoas and engaged against the forces of Chaos on the planet. Forced into the maelstrom of war in an all out offensive designed to deal a mortal blow to the Arch Enemy Etsul has her work cut out. She must master Steel Tread, a crew she can’t trust and haunted by the experiences she’s survived in order to complete her mission, and keep her crew alive.

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Andy Clark has done an excellent job with Steel Tread. We think a lot of Black Library fans would agree with us when we say it’s up there with the best of the books and more or less essential reading for guard (or tank) fans. Obviously the fluff of the 40k setting is firmly there, but the book doesn’t get rail-roaded by it like some novels can. The setting is generic Warhammer enough that it’s recognisable and fits into the universe, but that gives the cast of characters, and the creation of their familial bond, the real chance to shine. That said, there’s plenty of grimdark battle descriptions, heroics and chaos fuelled horror to keep everyone happy.

We aren’t saying there’s not parts that come off a bit heavy on the cheese, but actually the whole book is really well balanced and really engaging. We’d recommend it to any Warhammer fan, and defy you to not want to hop in a tank and charge the enemy line with your crew when you’re done.

The cover artwork of the Steel Tread novel - a battle worn Leeman Russ Demolisher in front of a war torn background with it's dismounted crew in the foreground

We rate Steel Tread:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Let us know what you thought of the book down in the comments!

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