Continuing in my Horus Heresy Reviews series, I recently finished Descent of Angels, which I had been looking forward to a bit during Fulgrim because Dark Angels have always been so shrouded in mystery (and they wear cool robes). As I mentioned in my Fulgrim review, I was looking forward to getting away from the Istvaan incident and the legions involved there, and so, I had high hopes for this novel.
I will start my review by admitting that reading this book was a struggle. Unlike previous books in the series where I would read way too late into the night, with this book at times I had to force myself to pick it back up. The exposition was rampant and a bit heavy-handed at times, explaining things that had already been explained or were fairly obvious. The pace was slowed nearly to a crawl because of the abundance of exposition.
That said, I am very glad I finished it. While not incredibly strong, and not giving me many answers, there were enough hints and mystery for me to accept this novel as a long introduction, leaving me actually wanting more.
When I finished, I flipped back to the beginning and re-read the Prologue, since I remembered it mentioning something along the lines of "I know why X was a traitor - don't judge him harshly," but I couldn't remember who it was. I was a little disappointed to find nearly the entire first half of the novel summarized in a few short pages there; that summary could have replaced 90% of the exposition and let the characters (as flat as they are) come to the fore and maybe actually get a bit more depth.
The best moments in the book where when there were nods and hints to some of the mysteries of the Dark Angels (the little Jawas that hold helmets, Cypher). Since I'm not that familiar with the chapter, it's quite possible that knowing more about them would make more light bulbs go on and have made the entire novel more interesting. In thinking back through the novel, it is interesting to realize one of the major conflicts in the plot was with the Knights Lupus on Caliban, setting an interesting foreshadowing of the rivalry between the Dark Angels and Space Wolves, as well as a possible hint at conflict with the Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus/Black Legion.
I really wish I could say more positive things about it - but the slow pace and flat characters made it difficult for me to really get into the novel and stick with it for more than a chapter or two. That said, I won't hesitate to read Fallen Angels when I get to it in the hopes of getting answers to some of the questions raised at the end of this novel.