So, I’m half way through the grind that is Christmas shopping season and am currently laid up with the flu, giving me an unexpected day off….if being bed ridden can be considered a “day off.”
If I was playing hookie today, I would have been all over getting some painting done–or anything else hobby related; God knows my painting desk has been getting none of my attention as of late. But the only thing I’ve had energy for today has been reading; so I’ve decided to get caught up on the Horus Heresy series.
One of my co-workers lent me the Horus Heresy novel, Flight of the Eisenstein–a novel I’ve been keen to read, seeing as how I’ve only managed my way through the first three books of the vaunted series.
And yet I’m not reading it.
The most recent Horus Heresy release, The First Heretic, showed up at the store the other day; with the buzz surrounding its author, Aaron Dembski-Bowden (link), I picked up the book almost instantly. I can’t even remember where I heard that Dembski-Bowden was Black Library’s newest writer to pay attention to; there’s been enough dud writers producing books for GW that I’ve been left skeptical about any name that isn’t Dan Abnett. And as proven with Horus Rising, even Abnett is fallible.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the novels he’s written for GW, the first book in the Horus Heresy series, Horus Rising, found me wanting. The book starts with an arguably genius beginning (and for 40k fans it is an amazing beginning! link). However, apart from its incredible start, the rest of the book left me with nothing more than the impression that Horus was this super-upbeat guy, perfect in every way–best general, best friend, best dad…EVAR–who had all the time in the world to high-five those in his inner council and be just…awesome.
Those that know about the Horus Heresy will know that Horus initiated it, through giving in to his inner shortcomings to become an avatar for the gods of Chaos. When reading Horus Rising, there is no hint of the Warmaster’s fundamental flaws that were to prove his downfall and launch a bloody civil war evident to the reader….or at least evident to me. The two succeeding novels, False Gods and Galaxy in Flames, only perpetuated that flaw from the first book–I mean really, Horus, perfect-in-every-way Horus, suddenly falls ill with an untreatable malady and when presented with some bizarre logic accepts Chaos into his heart as his lord and saviour? Really? All three books are , considering the genre, well written–apart from that one fatal flaw: that I have believe that Horus, perfect Horus, who has been shown to me as having no imperfections is actually flawed enough to turn to Chaos. For a 40k fan, the rest of the books are generally pretty awesome reading; the quality of the stories does a lot to compensate for the flawed way they handle the downfall of Horus, the Emperor’s Warmaster, second in command and favoured son.
So anyways, with Dembski-Bowden being the alleged new “it” writer on Black Library’s roster, I decided to skip over Flight of the Eisenstein–book four of the Horus Heresy, the first book following the three that had failed to convince me Horus was capable of turning to Chaos–in favour of reading The First Heretic.
So, what can I say about the book? Well, I’m one-fifth my way into the book (I’m a slow reader, and being sick has done nothing to increase my reading speed; so this is not me reviewing a novel that I’ve already read and re-read). So far it’s pretty good. Others might argue that the book starts off slow, but considering how integral this book ties into the first three books (which show the Word Bearers as being somewhere between pretty responsible to solely responsible for the downfall of Horus), I’m perfectly fine with some ground work being laid. And in the first hundred pages, while there’s not much for pulpy action, I do get the sense that foundations are being laid. Which is good. In one hundred pages of this novel, I am more convinced now about how it’s possible that the Adeptus Astartes came to worship Chaos than I was after fully reading the first three novels of the Horus Heresy series.
I’m really looking forward to the rest of the book!