After finishing Cadian Honour, I could not wait to dive into Traitor Rock by Justin D. Hill. However, as you may have noticed, we’ve had some BEEFY books lately that has kept me from devoting time to the book. But I have managed to squeeze in a few chapters at a time in between readingThe Rose in Darkness (to which I crammed in The Book of Martyrs before reading), Creed: Ashes of Cadia, and Genefather. And what a ride Traitor Rock ended up being.
Cue the Ending to Full Metal Jacket
Life in the Cadian regiments carries on. There’s always a war to fight, and it doesn’t matter if the Cadians are still grieving over their lost planet. All that matters now is continuing the fight against the enemies of the Imperium and keeping that Cadian honor strong. The 101st’s next mission is to take back a planet from a traitorous uprising within another Astra Militarum regiment.
Basically, a general has decided that how they’re doing things in the name of the Emperor is wrong, and he’s going to right that wrong. Since he has the nickname of “The Undefeated” and he’s holed up in an impregnable island fortress, he’s evidently confident that he can defeat whatever might the Imperium can throw his way. Or he can convince them all to join his side. I honestly wonder what his plan would have been if the Imperium decided to send in Space Marines.
All that said, however, we only see the general at the beginning and at the end. What he’s doing isn’t that important right now. What is important is Sargent Minka Lesk, how she’s handling command, how she and the other Cadians are handling combining squads as the Cadians die, and there’s this new Whiteshield program…
What Does it Mean to be Cadian?
One problem I really had with Steel Tread and, well, Cadians in general is their arrogance. I hated how the Cadians treat transplants, something Rob Young highlighted VERY WELL in Longshot. Traitor Rock touches on this quite a bit as these Cadians are still a bit raw after the 13th Black Crusade. They KNOW they’re a dying people. They know the days of distinguishing them by their eyes are numbered. This knowledge undoubtedly feeds into their anger and arrogance.
So when a new Whiteshield program pops up, Minka and many others meet the idea with outright hostility. These Whiteshields are what they call “baggage brats,” meaning they’re offspring of Cadians while away from Cadia. For most of their lives, their parents feel sad for them because even though they have Cadian blood, they’ll never be seen as Cadian because of their eyes. Because they didn’t grow up on Cadia, looking at the Eye of Terror. They’re Cadian by technicality.
Minka points out that being Cadian is more than your bloodline; it’s about growing up on Cadia. She doesn’t care that a decorated Cadian recruitment trainer personally trained them in the Cadian way. They didn’t live on Cadia and stare at the Eye of Sauron. To her that’s all that it means to be Cadian.
I have to admit, hearing her perspective on the matter changed a bit how I feel about the Cadians. Obviously, I can’t imagine what it is like to losing my home to war, much less my planet. If even my state was wiped off the map, would I feel the same way about people claiming to be Texan? Texas pride is real, y’all.
Cadia is a People, Not a Place
However, no matter how Minka felt about the Whiteshields, unlike the troopers in Steel Tread and Longshot, she never let her personal feelings affect how she led. She had a job to do, and she was going to treat them like soldiers, no matter how she felt about them. There were no plots to leave them for dead or ensure an accident.
In fact, because she stayed professional, she saw that the Whiteshields were in fact, true Cadians without the violet eyes. They had Cadian heart, and they knew how to fight like Cadians. Isn’t that all that truly matters in the end?
I’m excited that Minka Lesk’s story is continuing in the current state of WH40k. Hers is a story worth telling.
P.S. I’m never forgiving Justin D. Hill for killing Dido.