Here it begins. Horus Rising in the Horus Heresy series isn’t exactly in the genre I usually read in. However, I have been quite curious about this world, and the amazing background that makes up Warhammer 40k. (And my Dan has got me pretty interested as well) 😉
So, let’s delve into the futuristic 31st millennium and see if human kind will survive.
I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor.”
Dan Abnett draws you in immediately into a complex and brutal world of warriors that have been fighting for centuries, only to be forced to declare fealty to the Emperor, ruler of mankind.
Within the first few pages you get a taste of the various races that inhibit these worlds.
Giant war machines, built to destroy. An age where mass military achievement leaves worlds scattered and obliterated.
It would appear that Garviel Loken is the main character that things are focused around. His glory and success in battle, overcoming the fake emperor, and finally being bestowed a great honour that brings him close to the infamous god-like character Horus.
Loken is an Astartes warrior, full of principles and morals even though he was created as a war machine to never question, just fight and eventually die for the emperor .
However, he is different. He begins to question. Begins to examine why they destroy so many.
At first it would seem that this was one of the reasons he was chosen. However, how far will his questions take him..?
Next, we get introduced to Karkasy, a poet remembrancer sent to yet another conquered planet to record the significant events that occur.
Horus Rises draws the reader in to explore the worlds and races that people now live in as a result of the destruction of earth, what they call as The Age of Terra.
Now, these worlds are ruled by the age of so-called enlightenment, without reliance on religion. Yet, ironically the emperor seems worshiped by his followers and soldiers, willing to die for him. And any that do not agree with him are cut down.
Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?
The more I read about the characters, the more immersive the world is. Throughout the book, we learn about the Astartes warriors, Iterators resembling professors, and remembrancers similar to journalists wanting to see more, report the truth on the wars.
As the crusades wage on, some conquered people try to fight back against the emperor’s forces. Loken, along with the other three Mournivals and their warriors must crush the rebellion, yet this battle brings them closer to a force they do not understand.
Warring in another world brings the Mournival and remembrancers closer to ancient superstitions that linger everywhere. Targeting the theory just because you do not believe it, it does not mean it does not exist.
Just because you do not believe it, it does not mean it does not exist.
The story is thrown into turmoil, horror and brutality as the Astartes travel to a planet to overcome the rebel stronghold, only to face an enemy far greater than anything they could imagine.
Truth was their look to life. Divinity, spirits and the like looked upon as old fables to be discarded, yet Loken and his men face a foe they cannot explain.
There is something about the way this author writes. A mix of humour, the mundane parts of their life just as important as the many battles they face. The vast mix of unique characters all seem created to mislead, to redirect your attention away from something lurking, feeling as if something vital is about to be revealed. Yet once again shrivels away.
A malevolent presence lurks behind each character, each location. Reaching spindly fingers to grasp and pull you in.
The Warp is one of the key aspects behind WarHammer, yet very little is understood about this complex structure. It provides the ability to travel between planets, yet is uncontrollable, unpredictable. Holding unimaginable power that can mangle and destroy.
To use something so freely, yet little is understood opens up a dark void that continuously wreaks havoc on the systems.
What is the warp capable of? What hides within its corrupt sphere?
Once one planet is conquered, another challenge is set before them. A planet with life forms of weaponized metal, alien forms known as megarachnid warriors. A formidable enemy that controls their atmosphere.
The length the Astartes go to in order to conquer the planets just leaves one wondering, is it worth it?
When Loken and the Astartes encounter another planet with human forms it challenges what they think they know.
Some wanting to fight the people on this planet, others wanting to show tolerance. Horus eager to learn more about this race of mankind.
Once again, Loken is faced with a force only spoken about in whispers. Kaos.
‘Kaos is the damnation of all mankind, Loken. Kaos will outlive us and dance on our ashes. All we can do, all we can strive for, is to recognise its menace and keep it at bay, for as long as we persist.”Dan Abnett, author of Horus Rises
An evil presence in the warp that corrupts everything in its path.
Who is affected? How far will it go?
The ending is left open, leading into the next book; eluding to certain things that are going to occur, characters playing larger roles in a bigger picture.
So, my overall impressions?
I was half expecting a very ‘serious’ tone, and yet there is some sarcastic humour that belies how the author might interweave a lighter note while still extolling the harsh reality the characters face.
Characters are richly described, each being set up to play some influential role in the fate of them all.
Each scene has a purpose to set up the character’s personality, while setting the despondent lives of those conquered. Submit or die to the Emperor.
One could think the start is a bit slow. I was expecting more battle scenes. There seems to be quite a large focus on building the development of the characters and their place in the plot, to gradually expand on the role they play, and eventually reveal their importance. Both the plot and the characters drive the story forward; however, I feel this story is more character driven, the characters encapsulating the world lived in.
It may appear tedious, yet I feel this is necessary to the overall arch. It is important to understand the depths of these characters, what drives them. It is a world you cannot skim over.
The different cultures, races, and worlds all are required to submit to the Emperor. Yet at the same time, it is eluded that the Emperor may be hiding something. The undivided loyalty that does not want to be worshiped, yet also expects blind obedience.
I am rather curious to see where this story leads…
4 ½ out of 5.