Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Battle for the abysmal – A Horus Heresy Review

 a.k.a. Battle for the Abscess. 

Warning, the following blog post contains much more swearing than normal. Thank you for your indulgence. 


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

Horus sends the World Bearer space marines to the planet Calth, where they are to ambush the loyalist Ultramarines. In addition to the main fleet, Horus sends a new doomsday battleship for use againsy the Ultramarines home world of Ultramar. A small strike force travels space and the warp to delay or destroy the doomsday ship to save the Ultramarines.

Subtle, Like a knife for a nazi

What the book is really about?

Um….. well it’s not a book as such, that’s to say, it looks like a novel when you pick it up, but really, it’s a full length commando comic but with more two dimensional characters.

Another way to describe the book is that the sailors from Gi Joe, The Dinobots, that dude from mummies alive and Rambo team up to defeat Skeletor on his super star destroyer.

Come to think of it, I’d rather read that horrible mishmash of fandoms in a bad work of fan fiction than this. At least that has the potential to be so bad that its good.

Put in simple terms, this is a bad book and Ben Counter should feel bad for writing it.

It adds NOTHING to the mythos of the 30k universe, and it takes a lot away from it.

The characters are flat, the villains are shockingly cliché, and the events in the book are pretty irrelevant to the whole heresy. The sole plot point from this book is that the massive evil ship of doom (The Furious Abyss) blows up before it can smash the Ultramarines. It essence, this book is about a master plan that was foiled and therefore had no impact on the story later on.

Worst of all, it reads like bad fan fiction written by a teen. I had issues with his first book (Galaxy in Flames) but they pale compared to this pile of shit.

My proposed alternative cover art

Introducing the Hero-Protagonist – um…. Cestus?

Ok, so you know how I have said that the Hero Protagonists of these books have a tendency towards being honest, humble, dedicated soldiers. Cestus dials this up to 11.

He is an Ultramarine, in the most boring horribly clichéd way. I’ll mention a later book, the Mark of Calth now because it made me like the ultramarines, it gave them character.

Cestus is bland and so are his mates. I can only see you rooting for these guys if you are the most ardent 40k and Ultramarines fan out there….. and you’re a bit thick…. And you don’t know good writing if you fall over it while dancing around the house in your ultramarine undies. 

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

I seem to recall a fleet captain…. But if that character did anything worthwhile I can’t honestly remember. 

MVP – none, well, Skraal perhaps

I’ve seen a few people say that the highlight of this book is the portrayal of the World Eater and the Thousand Son marine.

They are correct, they are the best parts of a terrible book.

But, there characters are only interesting because we haven’t been exposed to those chapters before, for the most part. Mhotep, (not to be confused with the guy from the mummy with a bloody similar name) is kind of interesting, but only because we hadn’t seen a thousand son before. He is still an archetype rather than a character.

The same holds true for Skraal, he’s just a world eater, nothing more. It’s just that World eaters are cool when they go feral and Rambo and stuff. 

Worst Character – The Space Wolves

Holy shit, are these guys cliché. WE first encounter them in a bar room brawl, where the noble ultramarine and the feral Space Wolf have a fight and then a man-love moment. It was painful.





Oh…. The Space wolves vs the Thousand sons. Fuck me.

It’s like the author got a note to play up the friction between the two legions as foreshadowing to “A Thousand Sons” and “Prospero Burns” (Both quite good books). He took that to mean, HAVE THE SPACE WOLVES BE FUCKING IDIOTS ALL THE TIME.

Moustache twirling evil-bastard award - Zadkiel

Wow, Zadkiel.

Holy cow, what a ham. I don’t even think Jeremy Irons could act as hammy as Zadkiel does in the book. I can see Tim Curry also looking at the role and going “look, no one can obtain this level of ham without turning into a giant pork sausage”.

You have to wonder at the Word Bearers chain of command when someone this hammy gets promoted. I can see it now.

Word bearers promotion board meeting

“So, who is up for promotion this time Erebus”

“My lord Lorgar, Zadkiel is due a promotion, I highly recommend his work, see, here is his record”

“Right, let’s see….. oh yes, ranting…. Good good, paranoia, nice touch, oh…… he makes terrible command decisions and has delusions of grandeur! Fantastic, GIVE THAT MAN A DEATH STAR”

Get to know your Legion – The Ultramarines, Thousand Sons, World Eaters, Space Wolves, Word Bearers.

The legions are presented as caricatures. So, I’m gonna have fun with how I think they were presented in the book.

After reading this book I know that, when encountering a vending machine:

An Ultramarine will observe the machine, report in to command and wait for orders, then put a dollar in the machine, press the buttons in the correct sequence, wait for the can to deploy, then store the can for later use as drinking carbonated beverages sounds like too much fun

A Space Wolf will look at the vending machine, sniff it, watch someone else use the machine, accuse them of witchcraft, get into a fight, and chew that persons arm off so that the can rolls away to where the blood claws can fight over it.

A Thousand son will walk up to a vending machine, invoke the sacred runes of thoth to magically force the machine to dispense cola (despite being ordered not to). They will then store the cola in a secret fridge and not answer any questions about the mysterious origins of carbonated beverages.

A World Eater will stalk the vending machine for days and then put an axe into the vending machine and anyone using it.

A Word Bearer, upon encountering the machine will worship it, building a shrine in its name and carving the instructions for using the machine into his skin. He will encourage others to worship the machine, right up to the point he thinks the machine loves someone else more than him. In which case he will nuke the city the machine is in and cry about it for 10000 years.

By n924 from Deviant art (http://n924.deviantart.com/)

Why the Emperor is a giant douche

A giant, planet killing space ship was built right under his nose, and given to an ego maniac that one of his sons appointed to leadership. No direct doucheness, but another example of the Emperor being an oblivious douche.

The writing – technical review and evaluation

I hope Ben Counter never does another Horus Heresy book ever again. I really struggle to see how this one got published, I have no idea what it was attempting to do, but it really undermined the series.

In fact, I got into this series and read the first 7 books in quick fashion. I stopped reading the Heresy series for nearly two years after Battle for the Abyss. If the Megapope hadn’t lent me “Know no Fear” and highly endorsed it, I would never have continued with the series.

This is the worst book so far, and it will take considerable effort to get it off the bottom of the heap.

This book gets a “No, just no” rating. 

Boo this man.... BOO HIM

Book Rankings

1 comment:

  1. *giggle/snort*

    I grew up around grown men who recreated epic old battles with metal figurines on sand tables, the sort of guys who can calculate, in their head, the turning radius of The Furious Abyss.

    still boring watching the bad guys not win one.


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