Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Gorgon and the Poser - Fulgrim review

Iron Hands on the cover!


Spoilers abound in these posts, if you haven’t read the books and will get upset by finding out what happens just stop.

This is also not a recap, if you want a recap go to Lexicanium.

What The Black Library says about the book

Graham McNeill takes the reader to the 31st millennium, when humanity is at the peak of its powers. As the Great Crusade, led by Warmaster Horus, continues to conquer the galaxy, Fulgrim, the god-like Primarch of the Emperor’s Children Space Marine Legion, leads his warriors into battle against a vile alien foe.
From the blood of this campaign the seeds are sown that will lead this proud legion to treachery, taking them down the darkest of paths to corruption. Leading up to the carnage of the Dropsite Massacre on Isstvan V, this is the tale of Fulgrim’s tragic fall from grace.

What the book is really about?

Surprisingly, this book is about two Primarchs, not one. You can only really view it as the Story of Fulgrim if you think of Ferrus Mannus as purely a plot point in Fulgrims decline.

As someone who owns an Iron Hands successor chapter (Sons of Medusa represent!) I actually really enjoyed the segments focussed on the Iron Hands. Many consider the Iron Hands one of the most neglected, if not most neglected of the First Founding Legions.

I say “NO!” Not today. Today the Iron Hands get a fair shake.

But honestly, the book is mostly about the Emperor’s Children and their sharp horrid fall to chaos.

Oh, and Istvaan V. read it for just that really.  

Fulgrim vs Ferrus...... this is AMAZE

The Hero-Protagonist

Solomon Demeter…. I guess…….

He’s one of the three senior officers who get screen time in the book, but this book has the opposite problem to Eisenstein. In Eisenstein you only really got to see Garro’s perspective and everyone else is chaff.

In Fulgrim, every man and his dog has a perspective and it’s hard to figure out who the protagonist is, if there even is one. I did a quick count and no less than 10 characters get a perspective section, it all becomes a bit muddled.

Solomon, the character the best fits the “hero protagonist” from the previous four books is, well, a little bland. He also suffers a completely and utterly ignominious death at the hands of one of the worst shit box characters in the series….. More about that later.

I think though, in the end, this story is about Fulgrim. I know they don’t want to over expose the Primarchs in these books, but this really is his story. 

Another angle.... because AMAZE!

Why are their humans in my book about super-powered Space Marines?

The humans return in this story and their story arc is a pretty freaking tragic one. They focus in on three humans, a gifted but shy sculptor, a painter with low self-esteem and a bitchy prima donna.

This story is not one I want to spoil too much as it’s one of the highlights of the book. The painter in particular is a flawed tragic figure, and her slow but inevitable decline is done in a very graphic and horror provoking way. Props from me to the author for fitting a human story in the middle of a book about super-powered space marines.

MVP – The Humans

As mentioned above, the highlight of the book for me is the sad story of the Sculptor and the Painter. In the middle of a ham-fisted tale of the fall of a Primarch is this sad little tale. To me, this makes the story a lot better than it could have been.

Worst Character – Evil Sword dude/Lucius

This comic sums it up much better than I ever could.

Basically, the evil sword becomes Fulgrims conscience and leads him down a path of ruin….. a ham-fisted totally obvious path to ruin.

There is also a final scene where the sword claims to have fully possessed Fulgrim at the end and he speaks to Horus. It is a seriously painful scene and completely diminishes the weight of Fulgrims decisions and the horror he has at falling.

In short, if corrupting a Primarch is as simple as them picking up a Daemon blade once, why do the powers that be not mail all of the Primarchs one.

PS. Lucius still sucks.

Get to know your Legion – The Emperors Children

Old school Emperors Children.... see the old rhino :)

Five books in and we should really be getting to know the Emperors children quite well. They have had more screen time so far in the series than all Legions bar the Sons of Horus.

So what do we know about them?

First of all, they have a bent about perfection. Some might say that’s setting yourself up for failure….. and well that’s what this book is really about. They strive for perfection and that pretty much means they are destined for a life of feeling really shitty about themselves.

Think about it. How self-defeating is perfection as a goal. Consequently, the legion falls into two archetypes. The first are the serious professionals who learn from their mistakes and aim to be better and better, seeing perfecting as an ideal, but an unattainable one.


The second are arrogant condescending twats who think they are perfect and tell everyone this. They also lie about how awesome they are to cover up that they are not perfect.


Now that is clearer up we can talk about a few high-points and low-points of the legion.

Stop.... just stop
On the good side, they know how to fight in a coordinated and disciplined fashion. I actually find the idea of coordinated strikes and layered fields of fire reassuring, especially compared to the Abaddon school of military thinking….. that bein UGH ABADDON SMASH!

It makes them come across as a smart group of soldiers and not just a bunch of deformed meat axes who beat everyone because….. AWESOME!

I also like that the bent on perfection drives the use of combat drugs and augmentations. I do kind of wish this started before the possession though.

The downside…. And it’s a big one….. is that this book shows the origins of the freaking noise marines.

They were never cool, they were a freaking joke, so why are they still in canon after all these years?

Get to know your Legion – The Iron Hands


The Iron Hands get less of a look, but it’s still nice to see some mention of them, even if it’s mostly done to contrast the Emperors Children.

First of all, they don’t bother painting stuff or doing much decoration, which gives them a nice rustic “I MADE THIS WITH MY HAMMER” ascetic.

The links to the Mechanicum are clearly demonstrated in the book with references to Forge Fathers and the fact Fulgrim tries to lure Manus over to Horus by mentioning the defection of the Mechanicum.

A good bit is mentioned about the Iron Hands love for bionics, right down to a senior officer getting cut in half in one scene, only to return as a cyborg later on.

Mostly though, they fight and die like baddasses, stubborn stupid baddasses.

Get to know your Primarch – Fulgrim, girly man of all girlydom.

Fulgrim is meant to be a tragic figure, one who strives for lofty goals and falls hard.

Unfortunately this book starts too late for us to see what the real Fulgrim was like. I mean, even before he finds THE EVIL SWORD OF EVIL, he’s a bit of a douche. I do wish that more of his pre-possesion personality was shown, as the conflict he fights in his internal monologues is pretty one sided.

I also think that Fulgrim, the Emperors Children and Slanneesh in general get dissed by a fair few people out there. Is it the pink armour? Is it the fact they worship a pleasure god? Or is it just the male wargamer tendency to recoil in horror at anything that isn’t super macho?

Fulgrim gets the full “feminisation” treatment in this book. He likes art, he does painting, he listens to music….. no wonder he falls to chaos because he’s soft.

Khorne sells far more than Slaneesh, the only conclusion one can draw is the red/black manly kill psychos appeal far more than pink hedonists to the average adolescent wargaming mind.  

Girly man is girly

PS. I imagine if Japan did 40k, then Fulgrim would be insanely popular. Just check out this fan art.

PPS. Fulgrim kills other Primarchs, as far as Primarchs go he’s actually a complete baddass, don’t let the hair fool you.

Get to know your Primarch – Manfriend von Manstein….. the manly mans Ferrus Manus

Ferrus Manus on the other hand (LOL!) is the perfect macho man ideal. He’s covered in scars, doesn’t like art, and HAS METAL HANDS!

He couldn’t be more masculine if you tried really, and of course he is the good guy in the story. To recap, Feminine = bad, Masculine = good.

Got it? Ok!

Anyway, I like the portrayal of Ferrus. They made him gruff and sombre without making him a wall of granite. He teases Fulgrim like a brother and takes a few jibes with good humour. I was worried they would make him yet another “rigid and inflexible” martinet of a Primarch (Dorn….. anyone?).

I also like that he gets really angry, and that his anger, combined with his fondness for his brother is his undoing.

Manly man is manly!

PS. I love that he’s dead. Like proper dead. No coming back dead. Not enough characters in this setting stay dead.

Why the Emperor is a giant douche

Fulgrim “But father, why did my legion suffer so early in their existence, what happened?
Emperor… “Um…. Stuff…. Don’t worry about it”
Fulgrim “Ok…. Well…. I guess we won’t have any more errors, I will strive to be perfect”
Emperor “good luck with that *snicker*”
Fulgrim “What? Um? OH GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??????!?!?!?!?!”

Moustache twirling evil-bastard award - Lucius

He still sucks as a character. But the final scene he has with Solomon Demeter is hilarious, as are his antics when he rejoins the legion. This guy really can’t be a chaos worshipper, he’s too being worshipping himself.

The writing – technical review and evaluation

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but Graham McNeill is the journeyman of the writing team. You have your star players, your rookies, and your busts, but McNeill is simply solid.

Like his first book in the series (False Gods) the book is solid.

Some of the characters are paper thin, but this is made up by the human characters and the epic developments.

This book must be read, if only to see the Istvaan V massacre unfold.

This book gets a “must read if reading the series” rating. 

 *disclaimer, borrowed art is borrowed. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Flight of the Eisenstein - Review


Spoilers abound in these posts, if you haven’t read the books and will get upset by finding out what happens just stop.

This is also not a recap, if you want a recap go to Lexicanium.

What The Black Library says about the book

Having witnessed the terrible massacre of Imperial forces on Isstvan III, Death Guard Captain Garro seizes a ship and sets a course for Terra to warn the Emperor of Horus’s treachery. But when the fleeing Eisenstein is damaged by enemy fire, it becomes stranded in the warp – the realm of the Dark Powers. Can Garro and his men survive the depredations of Chaos and get his warning to the Emperor before Horus’s plans reach fruition?

What the book is really about?


That’s pretty much it, this is one dudes personal story but I don’t really have many issues with that.

In a way it’s the story of the apostle Peter. He spends the book denying Jesus Keeler and not accepting the Emperor into his heart. Once he does however, you can tell he’s gonna be the guy who builds up the faith of the Emperor in the Astartes, the rock on which the church would be built.

Asides from that the book provides some background fluff on the Death Guard, which I was very appreciative of, as well as the escape of the Eisenstein (a frigate) from the blockade surrounding Istvaan III.

It also deals with the inevitable fall of the death guard to Nurgle.

The Hero-Protagonist

Nathaniel Garro is more Loken than Loken.

Seriously, if he was anymore square jawed and honour bound to his duty he would be a caricature. I mentioned this is review one, and I’ll keep reiterating it. The Hero-Protagonists in the first few books are exceedingly interchangeable. The big difference is the legion they belong to.

That said, the thing that sets Garro apart from the other two is the question of faith. The author does a pretty good job of slowly introducing miraculous stuff that makes Garro question the secular world he has been fighting to create. Did he really hear the Emperor in his coma, or was it just his servant muttering to him? Does that even matter?

The miracles are small and revolve around Keeler, who we already know can melt demons with her brain. What I like is the gradual acceptance of conversion and the continued denials of it. To change ones core beliefs shouldn't be an easy thing and I think Swallow conveys that nicely.

Also, his final epiphany on the moon, framed from behind by Terra in the sky, was pretty cinematic.

Garro.... in one of his many spin offs. 

Why are their humans in my book about super-powered Space Marines?

Keeler as a character is now a plot device and it’s a bit sad that her story in this book is told almost entirely from Garro’s perspective. Even Sinderman and Mersadie are relatively drab in the story. I feel this group was underutilized in this story, but it is understandable as the story is about one dude, Garro.

One cool things introduced in this book are the “Sisters of silence”, a group of female psyker hunters. They are sort of an amalgam of the sisters of battle and the culexus assassins, a group of women sworn to silence (like nuns) who can cancel out psyker powers. I quite like the concept and I thought they introduced them well and portrayed them as very competent warriors in their own right, not a match 1 on 1 with a Marine, but expert in their own field of witch hunting.

MVP – Um…. Garro, I guess?

A failing of the book is the lack of development of the other characters.

Temeter is introduced as Garro’s friend and ally Captain in the Death Guard. It’s his lads that get virus bombed in the trenches outside coral city. I was expecting him to survive and a story be told about how the Death Guard fought for every inch of ground…… but no. He bites it in the first salvo.

Same holds true for most of the rest of Garro’s command squad. Decius, a young warrior full of bravado has a few great scenes I’ll talk about later, but that’s less about the character and more about what is happening to him. Voyen, the apothecary has an arc, but it’s a bit of a predictable one and his resolution scene is a bit naff. To sum it up, he becomes a hippy.

But, most disappointing of all is how Kaleb, Garro’s human butler/housemaid has this really cool orign story and a good bit of development early on. Unfortunately he doesn't survive the second act and his death is basically a learning exercise for Garro.

Worst Character – Grulgor

Oh ffs…. Not another dude like this.

You can tell Grulgor is a baddy because

  • He outranks Garro and reminds him of the fact
  • He spends every scene intimidating everyone who comes near him
  • He loves talking about how awesome he is
  • He twirls his mustache while plotting to kill Garro
  • He loves virus bombs  

Yep, hes basically a terrible caricature, he might as well have worn a shirt saying “HATE ME NOW PLEASE”
Typhon isn't much better…..

Get to know your Legion – The Death Guard

Pre Heresy - White and Green
I have a soft spot for all things Nurgle. He’s my second favourite chaos god and I’ve always liked the idea of the death guard in 40k. They aren’t flashy, they don’t have loads of tricks, but they are tough sons of bitches who win battles using solid infantry based tactics.

The portrayal of the Death Guard is actually pretty cool in the books, especially as they choose to contrast them with the Imperial fists later in the book.

Grim, curmudgeonly, gallows humour, toughness, these are traits to describe the Death Guard. I particularly like how they differentiate them from the Imperial Fist, another legendarily dour group by showing that Death Guard are more outspoken and less beholden to hierarchy. They seem to have an attitude that if your tough enough to be Death Guard, then you can speak your mind when you need to.

Kaleb’s story about failing to initiate is well told. Basically, to be Death Guard you have to complete a super marathon, in poison gas, running across barbed wire while having people blow their noses on you. Only the toughest, orneriest bastards make it out the other end.

A bunch of staunch dudes, love em.

Get to know your Primarch – Mortarion

Ok, ok….. so this dude is giant and gaunt, carries a scythe and sniffs his own farts.

There is basically a scene where he does that………… ANYWAY

I think the Author missed a trick here by not letting us see more of Mortarion than this. He gets a few scenes at the start of the book, but it’s pretty shallow stuff. He’s immune to poison, so he likes to drink it for fun with his friends, he’s a badass warrior and he’s scary.

None of that is deep or particularly interesting. However, there are two things I did note about Mortarion from the text that I found fascinating.

First, the reaction his men have when they find he’s returned. Mortarion does not seem to be loved by his legion, they are all pretty apprehensive about him when he arrives. He’s a bit scary, and while they admire him deeply, I didn't sense that Mortarion evokes the same passionate loyalty that Horus or Gulliman inspire in their men.

The second point is that Garro is left alive by Mortarion and Typhon seems to be the one to order his death. The scene between Mortarion and Garro shows the Primarch has a fondness for him, and from Typhon's language he even doesn't have him killed in the hopes he will come over. Strangely sentimental for a dude that models himself on the classical depiction of death.

Why the Emperor is a giant douche

Not a huge amount of direct douchiness in this one, but I will say one thing.

Hey Emperor, your son drinks poison and walks around calling himself the Lord of Death. PERHAPS HE NEEDS A HUG?

Mustache twirling evil-bastard award – The demon Decius

One of the most compelling stories in the book is that of Decius, the young warrior succumbing to a virulent Nurgle plague. The vivid descriptions of Decius agony and the mental anguish he goes through in order to surrender to possession are quite well told.

The foreshadowing, that this is the fate of the whole legion, is played out nicely as well.

Hmmmmm, Plaguey

The writing – technical review and evaluation

James Swallow writes an average book well.

That’s a strange statement and I’ll have to explain it. James writes well, his use of prose is among the best of the Horus heresy writing team. He describes events very well and has a natural flare for imagery.

The problem is that “Flight of the Eisenstein” was always going to be a filler story. We know the beginning and the end before we begin. It is a bridge between Istavaan III and the drop site massacre. Considering the brief, and the story he had to tell, I reckon he does a fine job.

This book gets a “You should probably read this if you are reading the series” rating. 

 *disclaimer, borrowed art is borrowed. 

PS, check out wibblethefish on deviant art.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Galaxy in flames - review and comments


Spoilers abound in these posts, if you haven’t read the books and will get upset by finding out what happens just stop.

This is also not a recap, if you want a recap go to Lexicanium.

What The Black Library says about the book

Having recovered from his grievous injuries, Warmaster Horus leads the triumphant Imperial forces against the rebel world of Isstvan III. Though the rebels are swiftly crushed, Horus's treachery is finally revealed when the planet is razed by virus bombs and Space Marines turn on their battle-brothers in the most bitter struggle imaginable.

What the book is really about?

Well….. first of all I’d like to point out that the text in this book is considerably larger than the previous two: That should be an indicator of what is to come.

This should be the climatic reveal of Horus’s treachery, culminating in the battle on Isstvan III between loyalist and traitors. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver any major emotional impacts when it really counts.

Horus murdering all the remembrancers after gathering them together to watch the virus bombing was…. Moustache twirling evil for the sake of evil. It lacked any emotional impact and was just a box ticking exercise.

The virus bombing itself was well described and the battle within the Dies Irae was one of the few times there is pathos in the book. But in general, it just pussies out at the wrong times.

There is a lot of fighting in this book, and a lot of “action sequences”. Sadly, it just feels like someone reading a Michael bey script

“Booom, dakka dakka, explode, booom!”

Loken vs Abaddon

The Hero-Protagonist?

Loken needed to die, on-screen, heroically clinging to his honour and spitting blood in Abaddon’s face. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN. Sure it looks like it’s about to happen but then the building collapses and Horus bombards the site from orbit. I can only assume this was to deliberately leave it open for Loken to return.


This being said, Loken loses his spot as hero-protagonist in this book. This book is more about Saul Tarvitz than it is Garviel Loken. Tarvitz discovers the virus bombing, Tarvitz warns everyone and then leads the final battle while Loken is off on a personal mission.

Tarvitz is also alive and kicking when the bombardment “that wont leave any survivors…. Honest” falls.

I have no idea why you would have Abbaddon and Lucius triumph over Loken and Tarvitz on-screen. The good guys don’t get beaten, they get bombed, and ultimately that is a lame way to end the book.

Why are there humans in my book about super-powered Space Marines?

Sinderman and Keeler again have a great story arc, showing off the first “saintly” powers in the 30k setting and teaming up with Iacton Kruze, a refreshingly portrayed Space Marine Officer (for one, he doesn’t spend every scene telling you how good he is at fighting)

However, the fight on the Dies Irae is one of the redeeming moments in the book. Cassar was a bit of a smug, sanctimonious git, but the personal betrayal he suffers manages to have 10 tiems the gravitas of Horus’s betrayal. A fried stabbing another in the back while weeping about it has a lot more emotion than pressing the “BOMB ALL THE THINGS” button.

I’m also glad the human characters get to go on more wacky adventures.

MVP – Saul Tarvitz

This should have been the defining end to Lokens arc, but Loken just bumbles through this book. Saul thinks, Saul acts, Saul beats Lucius and generally bloodies Horus’s nose while Loken gets all emo about it.

Saul is also about the only Space Marin captain who stops and thinks “Should I run head first at the enemy with my sword screaming…. Or come up with a plan first?”

For being the only Space Marin officer in this book to act as though he has a basic understanding of how to fight a war, he gets my MVP

Worst Character – Kharn

Abaddon finally gets beaten out by someone even crapper than he is. Kharn, as depicted in this book, is a joke.

First off e is all jovial, then he’s a frothing loon, then LOKEN PINS HIM TO A TANK THAT DRIVES OFF WITH HIM AS A HOOD ORNAMENT??!!?!?!

Dishonourable mentions to Horus Aximand (yes I get it he has doubts…… you don’t have to say that everytime he is on screen) and Eidolon (How is this guy in charge of anything?)

Why the Emperor is a giant douche

Short one this time, but it’s a big one.

Virus bombs

Dude invented a planet killer, a really horrible one, what an asshat.

Moustache twirling evil-bastard award - Lucius

This guy betrayed us? REALLY?

Lucius’s betrayal is about the least surprising thing to happen in the history of fiction.

  1. Hes known to the audience as a chaos character from the 40k setting.
  2. He clearly represents all that is wrong with the Emperors children and why they are falling to evil
  3. He acts like a spoiled 12 year old

I found the whole Lucius plot torturous.

Then again, almost all of the characters from the 40k setting (Abaddon, Lucius, Kharn) have been portrayed terrible so far. 

The writing – technical review and evaluation

Ben Cunter is a mediocre storyteller and this is the best book he has written.

The action scenes are passable, but the dialogue and exposition is godawful.

I have to give this book a 4 on my scale though because the subject matter is important for the holistic view of the story. I just wish it was better written.

This book gets a “Must read if reading the series” rating, despite being an average book. The content is too important to skip.

Closing note – Over to the Megapope

And now, how to convince a fellow Space Marine that the Warmaster has turned on the Emperor, by Ben Counter! 

(Paraphrased ever so slightly from Galaxy In Flames)

SCENE: The chill void of space above ISSTVAN III. An occasional orbiting SKULL floats past because grimdark. TARVITZ has just been saved from certain death by GARRO who shot down several fighter jets intent on his destruction. He now must convince his battle brother that they have been betrayed. 

TARVITZ: So you remember the stories of Terra you told me, right?

GARRO: Indeed, it is hugely old, brother. Like old as balls. But feel free to get to the fucking point about why I just shot down several Imperial fighter jets who were chasing you down. Brother. 

TARVITZ: But Terra was well fucked up and the Emperor took that apocalyptic wasteland and he built an empire from the ashes, right? 

GARRO: Indeed he did, brother. The glorious shiny Emperor founded the Imperium there and this is why I fight, brother. To stand against the darkness and rediscover ancient glories like soft toilet paper and daytime television. Now about those Imperial fighter jets that I just murdered on your say so…

TARVITZ: Well basically that is what is being betrayed here. That whole thing you said.


TARVITZ: Yes! So what will you do now?

GARRO: Well if I were a sane man I'd verify your massively outlandish statement in some way for starters, but instead I'll just assume that the only person who could possibly be behind this is Horus our beloved Warmaster because frankly he's a petulant highly strung manchild imbued with the powers of a demigod and also any kind of serious investigation would seriously eat into our pagecount. I guess my next step will be going to get Rogal Dorn or Magnus involved who will surely not rip me a new arsehole for presenting them with a laughably insane tale based on pretty much no evidence whatsoever.

TARVITZ: Don't worry, you'll get your own book rights based on the chase scene. I mean I'm sure you'll get away just fine.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

False gods - a review


Spoilers abound in these posts, if you haven’t read the books and will get upset by finding out what happens just stop.

This is also not a recap, if you want a recap go to Lexicanium.

What The Black Library says about the book

The Great Crusade that has taken humanity into the stars continues. The Emperor of mankind has handed the reins of command to his favoured son, the Warmaster Horus. Yet all is not well in the armies of the Imperium. Horus is still battling against the jealousy and resentment of his brother primarchs and, when he is injured in combat on the planet Davin, he must also battle his inner daemon. With all the temptations that Chaos has to offer, can the weakened Horus resist?

What the book is really about?

Now with more Nurgle
Will Horus resist?

Well the series is called the Horus Heresy so how about no…. no he doesn’t. Seriously, your audience knows what is happening so why try and sell this as a mystery. How about “Hey, read this and find out what made Horus snap and go crazy ape bonkers!”

I’d read that.

Well, I did, and that’s basically what this books is.

Abnett did a fine job building the world and setting the scene for this, THE AMAZING BOOK OF EXPOSITION! Inside you find out how Horus fell, and it’s not a bad story. It’s not a great story either as you really have to bang your head on the table at how thick some of the characters have to be to allow events to unfold as they do. Anyway....

Oh yeah, gotta love some action scenes vs Nurgle zombies. 

The returning Hero-Protagonist

Garviel is back as the hero-protagonist of this story and hes starting to get more of a clue. He’s still rigid and inflexible about most things, and his general reluctance to stop and scream “WAIT A MINUTE, THIS IS F***ED UP” to everyone he can find pretty much damns all of humanity.

Loken looking pretty baddass

He does have some brilliant moments though. The scene where he decides Erebus is a completely untrustworthy toolbox and gets the poet Karkasy (MVP from book 1) to observe him during a meeting is pretty gold.

He ahas good intentions, starts asking all the right questions and then falls short on execution. Honestly, I would have preferred if he knew a lot less than he does, as he knows enough to go. ERBUS DID IT; IT’S HIM, HES EVIL.

Not that anyone else would listen, because apparently the Lunar Wolves are a bit thick.

Why are there humans in my book about super-powered Space Marines?

The human characters return and provide an integral part of the story. I really like this aspect of the books and will continue to blather on about it.

Karkasy is again awesome, this time printing subversive poetry inspired by a massacre of civilians by the Marines. He really reminds me of a favourite character of mine from comics, the mad journalist Spider Jerusalem…. only with less use of a bowl disrupting ray gun.

Sindermann, the head of the remembracers serves an important role (again, mostly exposition) of pointing out to garviel that this magic, hocus pocus guff might actually have real power. The writer does a good show of showing a man of reason slowly giving ground to the idea that witchcraft is real. It’s nicely done.

And Keeler continues her story arc of doom. Her run in with the chaos beasty in book one break her, and she rebuilds herself with faith in the Emperor. This really comes to a head later in the book when Keeler takes her first step along the path to sainthood. Now in 40k they have saints for this and that, but the 30k world is a very secular one. She is the first character to manifest “the Emperor’s divine light” and her arc is an interesting one. Not just because of what happens to her, but because of the reactions of others when they actually see proof of the emperor’s divinity. 

I nearly made Karkasy the MVP of the book, but this time it goes to an 8 foot tall killing machine….. the wolverine of the Lunar Wolves

MVP – Tarik Torgaddon

As mentioned earlier, the Mournival represent the four humours. Tarik is sanguine, full of life and vigour. Basically, he’s a cigar chewing, wise cracking, axe wielding maniac, who would probably be at home in a Viking long hall, drinking mead, singing songs about Valhalla and generally being a drunken yahoo.

He’s the funny man to Garviel’s straight man, but that’s not why he is MVP of this book.

He is MVP because he figures out what happened to Horus and that Erebus was probably behind it. Instead of sitting on his hands he walks up to Abaddon and calls him a dick to his face.

That was enough for me to say “Well done Tarik”

Worst Character – Horus/ Abaddon/

I would cast this dude as Abaddon in a film
Hes the only one hammy enough
Seriously, Horus makes so many bad decisions that he deserves the nod here. Not bad as in “oh the humanity” but bad as in “How bad is your concussion?”

But the loser has to be Abaddon again…. For damning the galaxy through his own stupidity. He swallows everything that Erebus says and then rants at everyone else until they obey, at least Hastur Sejanus has his moment of doubt. Abaddon is quite honestly a caricature. A completely unbelievable character that no one bothered to invest time into as as everyone knew he was going to be evil.  

Again, I can only say that the 40k world is safe from Abaddon’s Black Crusades because he’s a moron

“My lord, it is time for another crusade into the Imperium, what are your plans”

New uniform..... much better

Get to know your Legion – The Sons of Horus

Still don’t get the chapter but at least they have a decent name now and a cool logo.

After being presented as a gung-ho, go for the throat, assault type force in the first book, they are presented more like ultramarines in this book.

When the World Eaters are assaulting a fortress late in the book, the Sons of Horus act with proper combat discipline and boltguns behind the mad swarm of blood crazed Wolrd Eaters. I guess Angrons boys are feral enough to make any legion look disciplined, but I still don’t get what makes the Sons of Horus tick…. What their “thing” is.

Each Legion has a thing, and well, someone please tell me what the Sons of Horus is, asides from being “the Best one by far”. Seriously…. Are the Sons of Horus the Mary Sue Space Marine Chapter?

Get to know your Primarch – Warmaster Horus

Horus is a biting disappointment in this book, because frankly, he makes such bad decisions…. and obviously bad decisions….. that you have a hard time suspending disbelief.

In particular, is the Erebus baiting Horus scene.

In short, this is how it goes down

Horus : Hey everyone I am freaking awesome I am not!
Erebus: No sir, you are a dick
Horus: Did you call me a dick in front of all these people?
Erebus: No, of course not, another guy called you a dick, I was merely saying what was said
Horus: Who is this person, I want to punch him
Erebus: Oh, that guy, yeah, he’s on the moon, but you’re too much of a pussy to go fight him
Horus: AM NOT! I am awesome! I’ll go smash this guy because you told me to
Erebus: You are wise my lord,
Horus: Right, let’s get to smashing this guy before I can think over how easily I was goaded into this blatantly obvious trap
Garviel: (to self) Perhaps I should mention that Horus is being manipulated and running into a trap….. nah.

At other times Horus is a short sighted petulant child, and I’m talking pre-fall.

For someone who is super-powered he really is a neurotic teenager.
I love the Eye of Horus symbol. 

Why the Emperor is a giant douche

Remember when you found out that Santa wasn’t real?

Or when you first clicked that your parents, on occasion, would lie to you, you know, FOR YOUR OWN GOOD (Or for their own good).

The Emperor is a liar, and he lies about really important things. In this case, he basically lies to the Primarch about their origins. It’s like saying to a child “you are my special son/daughter and you’re mother and I love you” and then finding out that they kidnapped you from the maternity ward.

The Emperor created 20 of the most super awesome baddasses in history, and then flat out lied to them about their origin, and how they came to be.

The final thing that pushes Horus over the edge is when, after the Emperor has told him that the warp should not be touched, Horus discovers that warp powers were used to make them.

If the Emperor has sat his lads down and said… “ok sons, the warp is full of evil shit that will lie to you, mess you up and drive you mad, don’t delve to deep in to it, I tried and boy…. Lucky to make it out in one piece”.  Perhaps they may have pulled through.

Jesus.... if he was the Emperor.
Perhaps the emperor believed in abstinence only education as well?

Almost certainly, beause as we all know, the Emperor is a Giant Douche!

Moustache twirling evil-bastard award - Erebus

This has to be Erebus for the most convoluted, time consuming, easy to mess up plan to turn the Emperor to Chaos.

Seriously, if any steps in his 4088 stage plan had stuffed up he would have been murdered. The fact that his actions are SO transparent and he gets away with it is proof that Space Marines, our hero included, are not that smart…. Unless they become evil.
This is a book that Erebus had read, but Horus had not. 

The writing – technical review and evaluation

Graham McNeill is the journeyman of the writing team. You have your star players, your rookies, and your busts, but McNeill is simply solid.

He rarely has an amazing turn of phrase or great characters, but the writing is solid. The story builds nicely from book one, and asides from some of the characterisations (Horus and Abaddon) the book is a good enough read.

It also features the fall of Horus and for that reason it’s a must read. It’s not good enough to be a great standalone book in it’s own right, but it is a solid addition to the series.

This book gets a “must read if reading the series” rating. 

 *disclaimer, borrowed art is borrowed. 

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