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Audiobook Review: Horus Rising by Dan Abnett – Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Book 1

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Nephrite’s Month of Heresies

“Myths grow like crystals according to their own recurrent pattern. But there must be a suitable core to start their growth.” – Attributed to the Remembrancer Koestler, M 2

I trust your journey wasn’t too unpleasant? But here we are. The time of the Imperium’s Great Crusade, the reunification of man. Behold as our tale opens with the greatest champions of man striking down this false Emperor…

…Ah! That hurts! Why are there so many skulls over here!?

Yeah…Khorne worshippers went through here recently. Skulls are kind of their as you would say…thing. They don’t shut up about the Skull Throne

So now we are here in the 31st millennium. The beginning of the end for the Emperor’s Great Crusade. An attempt by the Imperium of Man to reunite all the dispersed humanoid groups across the galaxy under one banner once again and to destroy any alien xenos races they encountered in the mean time. The men are a band of brothers much like any well led military group is supposed to be. And they are led by a great man. One of the Emperor’s many sons or Primarchs. The Warmaster. Warmaster Horus the favourite son is in the ascendant.

Horus Rising 1Horus Rising is still one of my favourite Warhammer books I own and I’ve bought quite a few since I listened to the first three books in The Horus Heresy series. Horus Rising focuses on the main character of Garviel Loken, Captain of the 10th Company of Horus’s personal legion The Lunar Wolves. The Lunar Wolves are the 16thLegion of the 63rd Expedition. One of the most highly regarded legions in the entire Imperium! But things are beginning to change. Loken and the rest of the men are having to get used to continuing the Expedition without the Emperor’s involvement. He has begun the long process of returning home to Terra for unexplained reasons

And that isn’t the only change. Rememberancers are being added to the legions. Rememberancers are an odd concept to explain. The closest comparison is a mix of photographers, poets, painters, writers and journalists all in one. They can focus on any ‘discipline’ they wish but the end results of their work are being sent to Terra to act as Imperial propaganda. Rememberancers are among the most important and memorable characters in the book. Partly because more than a few become close to Captain Loken.

Captain Loken is unusual among the men in that he doesn’t completely hate the concept of Rememberancers from their inception. Be it Euphrati Keeler, Ignace Karkasy or Mersadie Oliton, they all become close to Loken or are in someway important to his character development. Despite being an incredible warrior and member of the Adeptus Astartes – think super powerful warriors in Fallout style power armour and you are about half way there – Loken starts to question. And he might not like the answers he finds. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but it is very engrossing.

Lots of bad stuff is about to happen. The first dominoes are due to fall.

Loken is surprisingly likeable as a character as you spend most of the book inside his head and every decision he makes or small comment here and there seems to follow in character terms from his actions or thought process. His relationship with his mentor Kyril Sindermann and the Mournivale is particularly endearing. But he has plenty more to learn.

And that’s not even mentioning Horus! Horus has only just been given the title of Warmaster but he has adapted well. He is a powerful leader and a good ‘father figure’ of sorts to his legion but there is a lot more to him than there seems to be. A good comparison might be Charlemagne…

The amazing characterisation across the entire book and across every character – SEVERAL of which I have avoided mentioning to avoid overloading or confusing the reader – comes from the brilliant Dan Abnett. Dan’s writing is perfect for the setting. Uplifting at moments of great achievement, sorrowful at moments of abominable horror and during battle? During battle he lets loose even more than usual! You can easily imagine the visceral detail that he puts into every kill or every strike of a blade. The vivid descriptions of the armour or the combatant’s movements make it easy to close your eyes and imagine every moment. I may have a soft spot for Dan due to his Doctor Who audio work in the past but there’s a reason I praise him so heavily here. When I think of Horus? Of 40K? Of Warhammer ITSELF? I think of Dan Abnett. And I mean every word of that. It is thanks to Horus Rising and Dan Abnett that I’m writing this column now. That I entered the realm of the Black Library. That I enjoy Warhammer. Thank you Dan.

The audio adaptation is narrated superbly by Toby Longworth. He takes the already excellent work of Dan and puts even more life into it. He does a wonderful job imbuing every moment and scene with the appropriate gravitas and emotion required. It is thanks to this excellent work that I care for Loken as much as I do. Between the two of them they create truly believable characters in the sci-fi fantasy setting. Even with minor characters who only appear once or twice in the book you get a sense of their life in that moment.

I couldn’t recommend this book any more highly. It takes a lot for me to actually go out of my way to buy a book physically these days. Personally I find audio versions or Kindle copies easier. But when I saw earlier this year that Horus Rising and the sequel False Gods were being republished as part of the Black Library Celebration? I had to get them. It is 13 years this month since the first publication of Horus Rising and the beginning of The Horus Heresy. And I hope I can persuade some others to join me.

NephriteThank you Black Library. Thank you Dan. Thank you Toby. Thank you Everyone. For The Warmaster!

Sayonara!

Nephrite

Yes Horus truly was the Imperium’s favourite son, a great warrior and leader of men. It is no wonder he managed to turn half the Imperium to his side…

 

Horus Rising by Dan Abnett – Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Book 1 At Black Library 

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