Background: Okay so as usual the codex has a nice history section detailing the actions of the Dark Angels Legion during the heresy and of course the fall. The majority of the background sections (not the unit entries) remains largely unchanged lore wise except for a few changes, with one being very drastic, and the addition of some materials from the Black Library books. The old Lion and Russ rivalry is still here but with no mention of a possible mending of fences between the two in subsequent years. Luther is still imprisoned in the Rock, but he no longer is in the deepest part. In perhaps one of the biggest changes to current 40k cannon in a while it is confirmed in no uncertain terms that the Primarch Lion El Johnson is indeed alive and well inside the Rock. Gone is the speculation that he disappeared into the warp/ the Eye of Terror. Johnson is now asleep in the deepest part of the Rock, and with this revelation he is the first confirmed living loyalist Primarch to be in the 41st millennium (no Guilliman does not count as being alive). To move into the more modern realm the question of why the Dark Angels are often passed over for new chapter founding is explored a bit more. Accusations of "legion building" towards the Dark Angels and their subsequent foundings is an interesting point. Yet another level of mistrust the hunt for the fallen has caused.
Units: So moving on from the new background section I turn now to the unit section of the book. Like the Chaos Marines before them and like the last books of 5th edition the unit entries have much more fleshed out background information. The stand outs are of course the newest editions to the codex (ie the Deathwing Knights, Ravenwing Black Knights, the new speeders and flyers). I will just say that I find the addition of the two knight units a very cool new entry to the army.
It seems to be the trend with the different Marine codices that they each have some sort of specialist infantry unit like the Knights (Sanguinary Guard, Wolf Guard, Paladins). I like this concept of adding unique formations to each chapter. I believe that the Black Knights come from the Ravenwing novel (which is on my reading list) so I am also glad to see elements from the novels making its way into the armies (or vice versa . While I am enthusiastic about most of the additions I have to say that the new flyers, while looking much better than the flying fist that is the Stormraven and whatever the hell the Space Marine attack helicopter analog is, I still have the same feeling of ambivalence towards them as I do to all flyers. Out of the two I decided to purchase the kit and build it as the Dark Talon as synergies with the way I am expanding my army to include more Deathwing and Ravenwing.
Rules: Well I will start off by saying that I will not be delving all that deeply into this section. Other sites have provided much more intricate breakdowns of all the new rules so I will not belabor the point that much. That being said I will highlight the new rules that I find to be the best changes.
Deathwing Assault and Vengeful Strike- thank god this got a bit of a boost. I love the addition of Vengeful Strike to the Deathwing terminators.
Inner Circle- A good rule addition that complements the lore
Deathwing Knights- sweet merciful crap are these guys nice. One use strength boost, Fortress of Shields, and You Cannot Hide make for a damn hard unit. Expect them to draw all teh agro on the table.
Some other things I will mention rules wise are the addition of Flakk missiles to Tac and Dev squads as an upgrade. I love the addition of the plasma cannon to terminators. I also can't do a rules section without mentioning the big screw the whirlwind got by not adding an option to make it a dedicated anti air platform.