There is pulp fiction, which we read to be entertained and sometimes become the stuff of our day dreams. It’s just for fun.
Then there’s the intelligently written pieces, which we read and we walk away feeling as though we have learned something. As if we have made some discovery.
And then there are the philosophical pieces. And in my opinion, these are the deepest and most powerful pieces. The books we read that may offer a coalition of ideas, views and perspectives that threaten to permanently change one’s frame of mind.
When I first learned that the Horus Heresy was going to become a new book series, I knew that it had to be something special. The worlds of Warhammer 40,000 have been devised and built around this one colossal event, that brought the Great Crusade to an end and started a darker age of decay.
Anyone with any knowledge of the lore knows that this is a horrendously tall order. Warhammer 40k has been around for decades, and the hype surrounding this cannot be easily understanding among the fans.
Horus Rising is nothing like the usual fare we get from the Black Library for many reasons. First, it’s a stage setter. Nothing major happens in the book, with the exception of a few tiny details that effect things to come. The entire purpose of the book is to set the stage for the rest of the Horus Heresy itself through the events of the Great Crusade and the politics and thinking of the time.
Another great aspect, and the reason Horus Rising is a great tale, is the philosophies behind it. Throughout the Legions, Remembrancers (artistically minded historians) begin to try and captivate the the memories of the Great Crusade in their work, while Iterators pushed to spread the Imperial truth throughout the universe. Their stories add a missing human element that makes the book great, while at the same time shedding light on the world of differences between an Astartes and a human.
Speaking of Iterators, Kyrill Sindermann almost instantly became my favorite character in the Horus Heresy. In the introductory conversation Sindermann has with the protagonist Garviel Loken, my mind almost immediately puts the face of Alfred Molina on the Iterator. The conversation reveals not only the character but the underlying thoughts and philosophies of the Imperial truth, which are not without wisdom. The phrase that has remained with me was Mol- I mean Sindermann’s statement to the effect of, “It is right that makes might, and let us hope it is never the other way around!”
Sindermann and thinkers like him separate this book as an intelligent, thought stirring piece from the rest of the pulp fiction out there.
One might worry that my next phrase may give away plot spoilers, but like episodes I through III of the Star Wars trilogy, we all kind of know what’s going to happen eventually. But the book ends on an innocent seeming note when Loken casually admits that they are going to the moon of Davin. In my mind, I hear that mischievous oboe play three notes, a low, then high, then the same low one. Someone out there is up to no good.