Horus Heresy Gets a Fresh Look

The folks over at The Black Library have been awfully busy here lately, and it looks like that isn’t changing.  A new collector series version of Angel Exterminatus has just been released along with Horus Rising, False Gods and Galaxy in Flames.  These new hardback books have full image covers and “contain brand new artwork and an exclusive author afterword.”  If you haven’t read any of these books yet this would certainly be a grand way to get into the series, and Black Library is hoping that even those of us who have already read them will love these new bookshelf trophies enough to buy another copy.  Check out the video below and let us know what you think about these new editions.

source: blacklibrary.com

 

First Ever Black Library Weekender

Black Library, the company responsible for publishing all of those wonderful Warhammer 40k books we’ve been reviewing lately, is about to have their first ever ‘Weekender’ on November 3-4 in Nottingham.  Sadly this event probably isn’t an option for those of us that don’t either live in the UK or have the cash to drop on a quick flight across the pond.  It certainly sounds like an interesting affair with ” truly awesome and hilarious activities, seminars and game shows” planned for the weekend as well as a chance to meet a slew of authors and even get first crack at some new books.  If any of you get to go let us know how it turns out, and we wouldn’t say no to a couple of autographed books while you’re at it!

source: Black Library

Angels of Darkness

Angels of Darkness is a Horus Heresy related book from Black Library written by Gav Thorpe and originally published in 2003.  I say Heresy related because the main story of the book takes place in the 41st millennium and not in the time of Horus.  This book tells two stories in parallel much like the other two Warhammer 40,000 books I have recently reviewed.  The story follows Boreas, an Interrogator-Chaplain within the inner circle of the Dark Angles Space Marines.  Being an Interrogator-Chaplain means that Boreas has a secret duty to the Dark Angels to which all but the other members of the inner circle are ignorant: to hunt down and capture the Fallen.  The Fallen are former members of the Dark Angels who sided with Luther against Lion El’Jonson 10,000 years ago.

We follow Boreas first in the past as he interviews a former Chapter Commander, now a captured Fallen, in an attempt to make him repent so that he can be given a quick and painless death.  The story then jumps forward to the present where Boreas is posted on Piscina IV where he soon finds that a group of Fallen are behind all of the trouble in the area.  The story continues to transition between these two story lines as the mystery on Piscina IV unfolds and Boreas gains more information from his captive in the past.

Gav Thorpe does a good job making the Space Marines, obviously far beyond normal humans in so many ways, seem very human and at times almost vulnerable (blasphemy for a Space Marine I know) although these moments normally quickly pass and are followed by blowing things up and killing enemies in profusion.

I enjoyed this book and would like to read others by Mr. Thorpe in the future, the next of which will probably be Deliverance Lost when I get to that point in the Horus Heresy series.  I highly recommend this book to any fan of the Dark Angels and the Warhammer 40,000 setting.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Descent of Angels

Although Descent of Angels is the sixth book in the Horus Heresy series from The Black Library the story itself is really more of a prequel to the Heresy timeline.  Those looking forward to reading about what happens next with Horus and the Imperium of Man will possibly be frustrated by this fact but if you are willing to take this book for what it is, a stand-alone book that tells the origin story of the Dark Angels Space Marines, this is a very enjoyable read.

I decided to read this book directly after reading Horus Rising because I knew it was a prequel and because I wanted to know more about the Dark Angels in preparation for the Savage Worlds Campaign we here at the Goblin

Beat will soon be playing.  As such I went into reading this book with a clear understanding of what I was getting myself into and more than a little excited to read about the origins of one of my favorite Space Marine Chapters.  Like Horus Rising this book is told from the perspective of a relatively minor player in the overall story of the Dark Angels, this time a young man named Zahariel.

The majority of this book takes place on the world of Caliban, and is more post-apocalyptic fantasy than science fiction.  The book opens with the story of how Zahariel is accepted as an Aspirant to The Order, a knightly organization run by Lion El’Jonson and Luther.  The Lion is already a giant of a man and leads The Order in fighting the Great Beasts, creatures mutated by the Warp or some other power into man-killing beasts of mythical power.

The turning point in the story comes when the Imperium arrives on Caliban and the Lion finds out that he is in fact not a normal man but a Primarch, created by the Emperor of Mankind to lead his Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines) and from who’s very genetic code new Space Marines would be modeled.  Here Zahariel is brought fully into the world of Warhammer 40k and the world of Caliban is forever changed from a world covered in trees and home to knights to the home-world of the Dark Angels.

The author does a good job showing the relationship between Luther and El’Jonson and mirroring that relationship with Zahariel and his cousin Nemiel.  Both relationships are a blend of brotherhood with an undercurrent of jealousy that slowly erodes.

There is a genuine sense of loss at the end of the story as Luther is sent away in what amounts to exile on Caliban where he and a selected group of Dark Angels are to oversee the training of new Space Marines.  This schism sets the stage for the eventual destruction of Caliban and the loss of the Lion.

I truly enjoyed the depictions of Caliban and the humanity given to all of the main characters.  It was interesting to see a Primarch trying to live life as a normal man with no understanding of his true origins or destiny and then to see him lifted up to the purpose for which he was created.

As with the first book I read in this series I found myself excited to read more.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the Space Marines, especially the Dark Angels.  This novel does more to give background and depth to the overall Horus story than it does moving the actual story forward, so for those only interested in the core Horus Heresy story-line it would be okay to skip this novel but I would urge you to at least give it a chance.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Horus Rising

Way back in the golden days of my youth there was a time when I commanded squads of the Emperor’s chosen warriors as they fought their way through various fields of battle, killing Orks, Tyranids, Eldar and the dreaded forces of Chaos.  Then I graduated from college and no longer had the necessary time to spend constructing and painting Warhammer 40k miniatures, much less actually playing the game.  I never lost my love of the game or the setting though, and recently I discovered that not long after I stopped playing a series of books started being published about one of the most pivotal moments in the future/history of 40k: The Horus Heresy.

Horus Rising is the first book in this series and focuses on Horus and his legion of Space Marines soon after the Emperor has declared Horus Warmaster and placed him in charge of finishing the job of bringing the rest of the galaxy into compliance with the Empire’s ideals.  The story is told mostly from the perspective of Garviel Loken, Captain of the 10th company of the Luna Wolves Space Marines.  Loken is an up and coming officer at the beginning of the book and finds himself embroiled in the middle of most of the fighting and intrigue as the story progresses.

As the first book in what was going to be a fairly large series by Black Library (the company that publishes all Warhammer 40k books) this book also bears the burden of setting up the state of the universe for the reader.  This is done amazingly well and I am confident any reader coming fresh into the 40k world would be able to follow the story line with little or no difficulty.  Great levels of detail are given about the state of the Imperium of Man, the location of troops, the relationship between Horus and the other Primarchs (the god-like super humans upon whom all space marines are based), and the make-up of Horus’s battle fleet.  What is more, all of this context is given in a way that continues to drive the story forward, keeping the action from stalling while the author gives pages of detail.

Speaking of action this book is full of it, which is exactly what a fan of the Warhammer 40k video games or table-top games would expect.  The Space Marines are every bit as powerful and impressive within Horus Rising as they are in these other settings.  Almost unstoppable, the marines are the supreme fighting force we all know and love.  Lose a hand in the middle of a fight?  Put it in a bag and use the other one!  You can always get it put back on later.  In battle after battle the marines march forward with equal parts indomitable will and awe-inspiring weaponry no matter when or where they must fight.

Horus Rising takes place in on three separate planets as well as the space ships used to transport the fleet from one location to another.  Each planet is a unique and interesting back-drop to the story being told and has unique challenges for Loken and the rest of the Luna Wolves to overcome.  My favorite planet from the book was probably Murder, but with a name like that how could you not like it?

I really enjoyed this book and will most likely be reviewing several more in the series in the coming weeks.  The only real issue I had was that there seemed to be two completely separate stories within this book with no real overarching cohesion between the two other than the main characters.  Both stories were interesting but it felt a bit confusing having the two completely different stories juxtaposed within one novel.  Perhaps this is just a product of being the first book in a larger series and will make more sense as the overall story of the Horus Heresy unfolds.

Rating: ★★★½☆