Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

The seeds of heresy are sown.

Two hundred years ago the immortal Emperor of Mankind founded the Imperium of Man and led his powerful warriors on a crusade to reunite all the scattered factions of mankind that have been lost for tens of thousands of years. Now, without explanation he has returned to Terra leaving Horus, Primarch of the Luna Wolves and his favored son as Warmaster of all his forces, tasked with reuniting the galaxy.

Garviel Loken, one of Horus’ captains will follow him anywhere, even into the pits of doom if necessary. However, something dark is brewing in the outer reaches of space. Something that plots the downfall of the Emperor and the Imperium and all that they stand for.

Horus and his soldiers wade through moral dilemmas and ethical questions alike, secure in their faith that the Emperor was right, their cause is just. Their belief is so strong it is part of who they are, Sons of the Emperor, every one. Then things start to happen that threaten to shatter their belief like a piece of thin glass.

Thus is heresy born.

Dan Abnett, a longtime veteran of comics, weaves a story with such atmosphere and strength that he instantly transports the reader into his universe. A story about men who live in powered armor and are created with the sole purpose of bringing the entirety of the galaxy under the control of The Imperium of Man should be filled with a lot of battles, and it is. But each battle has it’s place and serves a greater purpose – to show the steps that are taken to plant the seeds of heresy in the hearts of a people who are bred for their loyalty and strength.

Dan Abnett pulls this off beautifully. The turmoil of the characters takes place in the midst of war and battle and continues when the fighting is done. I can’t help but imagine how different Star Wars would be if Dan Abnett had masterminded Anakin’s fall instead of George Lucas. It very well might have broken people’s hearts. Such is the power of his writing. When the book ended I saw the obvious conclusion that these characters were headed for – it’s not finished for several more books but it’s obvious where it’s headed – I wanted to unread the last twenty pages so I wouldn’t know, so there would still be some hope.

Dan Abnett has done something that is very nearly unique in a licensed universe like this. He’s superseded the medium and written, not just a good Warhammer novel or even a good science fiction novel (though it is both of those things) but a great novel – no descriptors. This book will tear you apart and put you back together, and hopefully you come through it a different person than you were before.

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2 thoughts on “Horus Rising by Dan Abnett”

  1. Great review of a great book, Abnett has always been an amazing, subtle, powerful storyteller. The shame of the Horus Heresy series is that he had to hand off to clumsier writers to continue the story, all the carefully constructed tragedy of Horus’ fall get’s spaffed away in favour of more typical bolter-porn.
    Regarding the parallels with Anakin Skywalker, it’s true that poor scripting, pacing and acting limited the impact of his story in the prequel movies, but over the 3 series of The Clone Wars (the fourth is about to start) it’s handled in a much more convincing and satisfying manner. I can’t recommend that show highly enough.

    1. I was a little disappointed to find out that the other books in the opening trilogy of the series were written by other authors. I’m dubious about the prospects of other authors handling this particular story so delicately. This is a series that would be really easy to turn into violence for violence sake. Which is much like what the Star Wars books became after awhile. It’s hard to find good authors who are willing to do licensed novels well.

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