Horus Rising

"Onward! Rock for the rock god!" -Warcry of the Facemelters Legion

"Onward! Rock for the rock god!" -Warcry of the Facemelters Legion

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.

So which of these three is Horus Rising by Dan Abnett?

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.




Nemesis has been brewing on my book shelf for a long time. Staring at me with evil eyes. I can’t really explain why I was reluctant to read it. It may be the lack of huge names in the Dramatis Personae listing. Oh, you got Rogal Dorn, Malcador the Sigillite, Erebus and Valdor. But as you look at the huge cast of people you’ve never heard of, you just know that this story isn’t really about the big names. It also slows my roll that we all know that Horus didn’t meet his end with a bullet ventilating his skull. So part of me wondered, what’s the point of this book?

The first half of the book dives into Imperial politics, highlighting the Officio Assassinorium’s bickering and the usual mission to take the best and brightest from each of the six major houses to go after Horus. All of this is changes back and forth between the growing roster of the Execution Force and a murder investigation that is occurring on a distant planet. The book was getting boring around page 200 as Swallow took his time, giving each assassin a long introduction that allowed the reader to find out a little bit about each of the Execution and what their powers were.

On one hand, this really slowed down the pace of the book, even if it these scenes were laced with action. But on the other hand, I suddenly realized that there really hasn’t been that much writing on the various assassins of the Imperium. Execution forces are extremely, extremely rare occurrences. Daemonic incursions seem to happen more often. This was a prime chance to write about the Officio Assassinorium as a whole.

Although the book’s pace slowed, it suddenly redeemed itself half way through, just out of the blue. And began to move towards the overall purpose, building itself towards a climax laced with the theme that needed to be told in order to put some elements of the overall Horus Heresy in perspective. Much like the first three books, Horus Rising, False Gods and Galaxy in Flames, it turned out that there was an underlying theme within the Nemesis. It just waited until towards the end to really address it.

Nemesis proved to be a rewarding piece despite how open and closed it is. Sure, we all know that the mission posed is a failure, but it does reveal some crucial insights into the thinking within the Imperium and Horus. You could skip it, but you may miss something. If you haven’t already, check it out.

And now for the unofficial theme song to Nemesis. Complete with puppies.