Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. Book reviewComments Off
Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, this is the very start of the Horus Heresy that marks a turning point in the Emperor’s reign. After the immortal emperor has led his armies and created a golden age of discovery, he leaves his son, Horus in charge of his greatest crusade, and his promotion to Warmaster should have made him proud of his favourite, yet Horus steers from the righteous path and this is where the story gets interesting.
For those who have read his other novels, Dan Abnett has the ability to create an atmosphere in an instant, and draws the reader into the situation with the greatest of ease. He has the story told by an unlikely person, leading readers to believe that Company Captain Garviel Loken will relate it, but even that is a bluff. The story became one of the most unexpected events in the history of the Luna Wolves, and will never, ever be forgotten. As one of a staggering twenty-five novels in the Horus Heresy series, Horus Rising is the beginning of discord within the ranks.
Dan is also the writer of New York Times bestselling novels Prospero Burns and Know No Fear and has more than a keen grasp of the Warhammer novel series. In the book, Horus is appointed to the role of Warmaster yet he desires to fight. He is prevented from doing so as he is considered too precious to lose being one of the Emperor’s sons. He loathes not being a part of the war and sees the Emperor keeping him out of the action as a question of his abilities as a warrior. Horus is a proud and cocky type who expects the respect he gets, and Dan creates the interest in that character.
The hardback comes as a collector’s edition complete with four commissioned black and white illustrations, an author afterward and details of new novel, Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeill. Dan’s afterward is an intriguing look behind the scenes of his novel, for both the making of it and the hope that the fans enjoyed it. Even though he is a professional writer, he still wonders whether the fans will take to his books, and whether he portrayed the characters correctly. There is a gradual development of the story that drip feeds information to the reader in a clever way. He has penned three other novels in the series, and it is understandable as he has a real feel for the characters and atmosphere. Characters such as Loken, Ekaddon and Horus are brought to life along with other Warhammer novels, Dan can convey a lot, and continues to be one of the most prolific writers of the series, and I for one can’t wait to read another.
Know No Fear; The Battle of Calth by Dan Abnett. Book reviewComments Off
Reviewed by Steve Dean
This one is by Dan Abnett, so it’s obviously very good.
What? Okay, I’ll make it a bit longer.
Roboute Gulliman, primarch of the Ultramarines, goes to Calth to meet up with his brother Lorgar, big cheese of the Word Bearers legion. The planet and its surroundings are crammed with military personnel and hardware, ready for a fight against a swarm of orksies.
Unknown to the Ultramarines, the Horus Heresy is in full swing, and Lorgar is actually there to settle an old score with Gulliman. The Ultramarines are taken completely by surprise in every field as the Word Bearers begin their process of total annihilation.
It’s the descriptions of the opening few hours, the unrelenting one sided battle, that show Mr Abnett’s genius for this sort of work. The scene where a kilometres long space ship falls slowly backwards through the atmosphere and crashes into the planet is particularly superb. The rest of the novel keeps up this high standard. Plotting, characterisation and pacing are all perfect. Regular readers will know my opinion of the Horus Heresy thread, but this novel is not to be missed.
If there wasn’t such snobbery and prejudice against genre novels, this one would be a candidate for a major award. This is literary entertainment at its very best. If you have to sell some other books to buy this one, do it.
Warhammer 40,000: Thorn and Talon by Dan Abnett. Audio Book reviewComments Off
Reviewed by Steve Dean
A two CD set this time around, with a running time of 132 minutes, consisting of three dramatised short stories. There are five voice actors; Gareth Armstrong, Jonathan Keeble, Rupert Degas, Jane Collingwood and Lisa Coleman. There’s dramatic music of course and some relevant sound effects. Overall, it’s performed pretty well.
‘Master Imus’s Transgression’ is the story of the eponymous accountant giving himself up to Inquisitor Eisenhorn, confessing he has found the Number of Chaos. Most of the action takes place off camera, and the story is about as exiting as you would expect from an accountancy tale.
‘Regia Occulta’ is the story of gruesome murders committed in a backwater town on an out of the way planet. The titular doorway opens up at a certain time to allow the murderer through, and then disappears. Again, about as exciting as it sounds.
‘Thorn Wishes Talon’ is the final tale, a sort of short story link between the ‘Eisenhorn’ trilogy and the ‘Ravenor’ books. Strangely, I found this to be the weakest of the three, sounding more like an advert for the other material than an actual story.
I’m normally a huge fan of Mr Abnett’s work, his ‘Gaunt’s Ghosts’ series and the aforementioned trilogies are all top quality stuff. This is not bad, but it’s definitely below average.
Titanicus, Dan AbnettComments Off
When the vital forge world of Orestes is invaded by Chaos titans, the Imperials send their own titan legion in to counter-attack. For those who don’t know, Titans are skyscraper sized war robots, usually bi-pedal but sometimes four legged. These killing machines play havoc with the local masonry of course, flattening entire districts in their savage battles.
Meanwhile, a researcher finds a document that seems to suggest that the gods worshipped by the Imperials and the Mechanicum are two different things. The Mechanicum withdraw their support and suddenly the Titans are struggling to beat the Chaos robots. Throw some lost cadets and some dispossessed into the mix and we have a cracking story.
Despite the material, this novel is about people. You want killer robots? You got them aplenty. But inside those metal structures, and around them, under them, everything they had destroyed by them, are the people. Not just military types, but innocents caught up in a war that must be fought, but one that might wipe them all out anyway.
How much did I like this book? Well, I bought it, with my own money, in hardback! I can’t give it greater critical acclaim than that.
Titanicus, Dan Abnett, The Black Library, £7.99.