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Horus Rising Fiction Review

Posted on July 12, 2006 by Flames

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The fictional universe represented by Warhammer 40,000 is intricate and full of no small amount of intrigue. There are hundreds of factions at work and in motion, set against one another. Plans within plans, mechanizations and motivations that prop up the grim darkness of the war without end in the 41st Century of the Imperium of Mankind. Within the pages of the Horus Heresy, a trilogy-in-progress, what can be described as the single most important chain of events in the history of humanity are brought to light and out into the open in colored detail rather than objective narration from the Imperial point of view; the civil war that befell the Imperium after the spiritual corruption of the Warmaster Horus, mightiest of the Primarchs.

The first book in the trilogy, penned by Dan Abnett (the Eisenhorn Trilogy, Gaunt’s Ghosts novels), starts off with Horus only recently being appointed the Emperor’s sole proxy and Warmaster of the Great Crusade. The Emperor has returned to Terra to see to the governance of the rapidly expanding Imperium. In his place on the battlefront, he has left his most beloved and capable son to prosecute a crusade to embrace the lost civilizations of humanity into the bosom of the Imperium. Primarch Horus of the XVI Legion Luna Wolves has become the Warmaster of the Imperium, and speaks with the authority of the Emperor himself. The book follows not only Horus’ ascension to Warmaster, but also the rise of a gifted Space Marine captain, Garviel Loken, who will eventually become one of Horus’ most trusted advisers and confidants.

People who have traveled to the universe of Warhammer 40,000 will recognize some of the cast members that Abnett uses in supporting roles for Horus and Loken; Chaplain Erebus of the Word Bearers Legion, Primarch Sanguinus of the Blood Angels Legion, Ezekyl Abbadon (aka, Abbadon the Despoiler), Primarch Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists Legion, and Captain Lucius of the Emperor’s Children (aka, Lucius the Eternal). This is a different time and place – a full ten thousand years before the 41st Century – and these characters are drastically different from the pictures that have been painted of them in our minds’ eyes over the years. The lore and the legend surrounding the Horus Heresy has been very dry and matter-of-fact as presented in the Codices and other materials that have come before this trilogy. One of the things that is easy to forget when reading about Horus and those close to him during the Horus Heresy is that, at one time, they were the greatest champions of humanity that the galaxy had ever known. Their courage and their skill in battle protected the Imperium from enemies both foreign and domestic, and the Emperor was beloved by them more than any other.

That all changed at Istvaan III. The entire universe contained within the specialized mythology of Warhammer 40,000 changed at Istvaan III.

Horus Rising sets up the initial phases of the very roots of the Horus Heresy, the rise and fall of Warmaster Horus, the first contact of the Imperium with the Tyranids, and the tragedy of humanity tearing itself apart from the inside during the height of the golden age of the Imperium.

And excellent book from start to finish, Abnett’s ability to describe scenes and set moods with his prose, as well as his ability to create a character out of the legend of Warmaster Horus that is more than a little likable make Horus Rising an exceptional kickoff to one of the most anticipated chapters of Warhammer 40,000 lore.

Whether you happen to be an old hand at the lore of the Warhammer 40,000 universe or a complete stranger to the story surrounding the game, this book is an important milestone. For readers of science-fiction who just want a good read, Abnett’s command of setting, pace and mood make Horus Rising a joy. For veterans of the many wars that rage across the universe of Warhammer 40,000, Horus Rising is a chance to gain a much different perspective on the greatest of all of the Space Marine Primarchs and the most feared legion of Astartes ever organized.

Reviewer: Shannon W. Hennessy

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