Thursday, August 1, 2013

Horus Rising (Horus Heresy Book 1) Review

I know I am way behind the times, but the Horus Heresy books were first released in my time away from the hobby. I am an avid reader, but always found Black Library novels fairly hit or miss in terms of enjoyment, some being absolutely atrocious while others being fun. My interest in the Horus Heresy series was piqued when +Chandler D lent me a copy of the audio Prospero Burns to listen to at work. I was thoroughly impressed by scope and quality of the writing, pleasantly surprised to find that the novel not only went far beyond an action, hack and slash story, but that I enjoyed a Warhammer novel that couldn't be recreated on the table top. As I read through, I plan on doing short little reviews for anyone who is interested. I will do my best to avoid spoilers, which means the review may have to be fairly generic.

I was sucked in, from the very first line, preceding even the first chapter: "I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor..."
Now, I knew the basic premise of the Heresy, and I knew from skimming various summaries that the series didn't start with the storming of Terra, so I was intrigued. And then, when I saw the name Loken, I knew from seeing numerous dioramas that Loken fought Abbadon, and I presumed remained loyal. So why was Loken joking and telling the story of the day Horus slew the Emperor?

The opening is deliciously unclear - are we starting at the end - it's a common enough device. The diversions are well crafted and flow well, with exposition integrated without becoming obvious or overbearing. That said, the trip to Murder becomes a bit long and unrelated, with no clear tie to the main story. That's not to say the section isn't interesting, it is, but it seems divergent to the purpose except to introduce Saul Tarvitz and the Emperor's Children. 

That said, it's only really looking back on the novel that I feel that it meandered from the point. I was completely absorbed in the novel, staying up far too late finishing it on a weeknight. In fact, any real hint at the burgeoning Heresy isn't shown until the very end, and not from where you expected going in. That said, the foreshadowing is prevalent, and almost stressful, which I consider the mark of good Tragedy; it's only powerful if you know it will end badly but root for the hero anyway. The novel also does a great job of making Horus likable and human. He's not quite, but he is not a god, and he is not an alien, he has a human basis with human concerns and feelings, which we are allowed to see. 

As I mentioned before, I stayed up far too late reading this, and immediately went online and purchased Book 2: False Gods around 3:00am (I get up at 6:00am most days, so that's how reckless about my sleep these books have made me). I've already finished that and am half way through Book 3, so I hope to catch up to the series relatively quickly. 

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