Horus Rising by Dan Abnett
The seeds of heresy are sown
I’ve been aware of the Warhammer 40000 sci-fi novels for a while now and if I’m being honest, I’ve always been a bit wary. They have such a huge back catalogue of titles I have been a little intimidated and unsure where to start. Fortunately, through the power of Twitter, I was able to ask a friend of a friend, who works at Games Workshop, where would be a good place to begin. The near immediate response – Horus Rising by Dan Abnett.
Set in the far future of the 31st century the Imperium of Man has left Terra (Earth) and taken to the stars. At their head, is the near immortal Emperor who has chosen his favourite son, Horus, to be his Warmaster and lead the empire’s troops into battle. Mankind is no longer burdened by petty internal squabbles based on religion or ethnicity. The humans of the future are positive in their belief that the entire universe is rightfully theirs and set about making all other planets comply.
The novel follows the Imperial Legions as they move through the galaxy imposing their iron will on all that come before them. It pays particular attention to one group of legionnaires known as the Luna Wolves
The members of the Legion are intriguing characters. Horus is painted as a demi-god by his subordinates. He is the shining light of perfection that the members of the Legion aspire to. He has a group of military advisors, collectively known as the Mournival, who are chosen from the rank and file to speak plainly and keep the Warmaster grounded. The reader gets to learn the secrets of the Mournival by following a character Garviel Loken as he is initiated into the group.
As an introduction to the Warhammer 40000 universe this book is great place to start. The book details a number of encounters between the Terran legions and various non-Imperium worlds. Abnett builds vivid descriptions of humanity’s on-going crusade. There is gritty action aplenty and I was easily caught up in the viciousness of the battles. I think it is safe to say that some of the violence is not for the faint of heart.
“The Jubal-thing leaned forward, opened its mouth to hitherto unimaginable width, revealing an unguessable number of needle teeth, and bit off Borodin Flora’s head and upper body. The remainder of his form crumpled to the floor, ejecting blood like a pressure hose.”
It would, however, be wrong to label this as just a straight sci-fi action novel as there is so much more going on. Horus is not only a master warrior but also an adept politician and some of his schemes are downright Machiavellian in nature. He manipulates others around him like all the best statesmen do. The scenes between the various battles were as thrilling as the battles themselves.
I enjoyed reading Horus Rising and will definitely not take so long to pick up my next Warhammer 40000 novel. The only question I have is which book should I read next?