June 7, 2013

Horus Heresy Book Reviews: Know no Fear & Betrayer

Finished some great reading this week in the shape of my two latest purchases from the Black Libary Horus Heresy series and like the earlier novels in that series these were a great read.  I got them because they offer more stories about the Word Bearers my Legion of choice...

Know No Fear
By Dan Abnett

Dan Abnett also wrote Horus Rising, Prospero Burns and Legion all of which I've read but of which I only enjoyed the first one.  I was hoping that this one would be as good as Horus Rising even more so as it focused on the Word Bearers assault on Calth and the first major phase of the Heresy after the battles on Istavaan III and V.  Told from the perspective of a number Ultramarines, various humans and members of the Mechanicum its a great read that covers the full gambit of the battle for the planet.  It starts with events leading up to the battle counting down using the Ultramarines standard format and then works its way through various key events.  

The descriptions it provides of individual battles in space and on the ground are great and run the gambit from small individual encounters right up to large scale clashes.  For a Word Bearers fan it offers a whole swathe of information on how they operate, the use and tactics of Cultists and really ramps up the XVII Legions descent into blood thirsty worshipping of the Chaos Gods.  Descriptions of Cultists chanting as they marched into battle and Word Bearers cutting out the hearts of Ultramarines all help paint a vivid picture of the Legion.  Overall the books a great read my only issue comes with a couple of the Mechanicum and Human characters where the narrative becomes side tracked slightly.  But as I've already strated reading it again I can't complain that much.

By Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Not strictly a Word Bearers novel as its primary focus is on Angron and the World Eaters.  But it takes up the story when they, Lorgar and elements of the XVII Legion are travelling together.  I was really looking forward to this novel as Aaron Dembski-Bowden also wrote the First Heretic which is THE novel for Word Bearers fans and an outstanding read. 

While Angron and his eventual descent into madness and transformation into a true servant of Khorne, part of his path to asscension to Daemon Prince, are the central focus of the story the two key characters are Argel Tal (leader of the Gal Vorbek and Captain of the first Word Bearers Company to enter the Maelstrom and become possessed) and Kharn a World Eaters captain (Argel Tal is perhaps the most complex character in the books I've read and my favourite).  The friendship between these two Astartes, their battle with the nature of the Heresy, the role of the Chaos Gods and the differences between their respective Primachs are what make this story so strong. *** Spoiler Alert *** The book also marks the return of Cyrene when Argel Tel has her resurrected hoping perhaps that the return of the confessor will help alleviate his pain, but she returns with her sight something that completely alters her perception of the Heresy and the Bearers of the Word.  

The book is also pivotal in that it shows just how deep the Heresy goes. how far back the planning of it went and for Word Bearers fans it adds even more information to their lexicon/fluff.  It describes in particular how the XVII Legion has only a short time after the massacre on Istavaan V completely changed its persona.  The Chaos Gods are openly worshipped, the armour of individual Astartes is already becoming warped, and the role of the possessed is now central to its ethos.  Descriptions of Word Bearers shocking even the World Eaters by stopping mid-battle to crucify and torture Ultramarines and to conduct prayer rituals to the Chaos Gods really add to the depth of their narrative.  *** Spoiler Alert *** More shocking for me to was the admission that those Word Bearers who attacked Calth and were abandoned there were left as part of the Legions culling of its ranks in a similar fashion to the events of Istavaan III - although I think this was alluded to in other books (but I missed it somehow).

All in all another fantastic book - the artwork in the large semi-hard cover version is just fantastic (see below) that has already given me some solid ideas for the direction to take my Word Bearers force including a much larger contingent of Assault Marines than originally planned.

And on a final note suck eggs Queensland roll on Origin 2 and a NSW series win...
And bring back the Biff!!!


Itchy said...

Both excellent books.

I'm about 50 pages away from finishing Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeill. All about Perturabo and the Iron Warriors. Another good one, if you're interested.

Bazinga said...

Oh, I still need to start reading this series ^^ It just sounds so absolutely wonderful!