Pandorax by C Z Dunn (Book Review)

The original review can be found at The Founding Fields, here.

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Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia by Guy Haley (Book Review)

Of all the new Primarchs novels I’ve read from the Horus Heresy series, I must say that in many ways they’ve all challenged my viewpoints regarding these demi-god figures of Warhammer 40,000 legend. Whether it be Roboute Guilliman or Fulgrim or Lorgar, the experience has been rather instructional and has satisfied some really old cravings to learn more about these sires of their respective Astartes Legions. The juxtaposition of the old with the new has been a good way to present multiple stories and themes at once and with this next, that certainly continues as a proud tradition.

Guy Haley’s Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia is perhaps the one novel from the series that I’ve read that presents the most terrifying duality of any of the Primarchs so far. The Perturabo who conquered Olympia is a different beast to the Primarch Perturabo and the difference is startling. Part tale of the conquest of Perturabo’s homeworld and part tale of the disastrous Iron Warriors campaign against the alien Hrud, Perturabo is a story about the self-destructive nature of its titular character and how the prodigal son returns once he receives soul-crushing news about Olympia.

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Ghost Warrior by Gav Thorpe (Book Review)

There have been so many changes to the Warhammer 40,000 with the release of the Eighth Edition of the tabletop rules that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of them all. One of the more major changes has been the fact that the Eldar have been renamed to be the Aeldari, in order to give Games Workshop a better copyright on their space-faring Elves. And their evil counterparts, the Dark Eldar, are now the Drukhari. And with the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum, the two broken halves of their society, those of the space-faring craftworlds and those of the Hidden City of Commoragh, have in many ways come together to safeguard the future of their species as followers of the God of Death, Ynnead.

in Gav Thorpe’s first novel for the new “Dark Imperium” era, we find that the Ynnari have learned of a long-lost craftworld that has returned to the galaxy. Spiritseer Iyanna and Yvraine set out with their army of fanatical Ynnari to bring back Zaisuthra in the larger fold of the Aeldari, and their journey is certainly fraught with dangers of all kinds. In Ghost Warrior, Gav does what he did with his previous Eldar novels, show off in detail the bickering and politicking of the Aeldari. It makes for one hell of a read and it left me wanting more for the Ynnari are a fascinating faction, steeped deep in the old lore of Warhammer 40,000.

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Roboute Guilliman: Lord of Ultramar by David Annandale (Book Review)

One of the most fascinating appeals of the Horus Heresy series from Black Library is that we get to learn so much of the backstories of the various Primarchs who led the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and the destructive civil war that followed. Horus, Corax, Guilliman, Angron, Lorgar and Sanguinius have had some of the most intriguing lore-reveals and now Black Library has taken all of that a step further with the Primarchs sub-series that focuses on some of the definitive moments in their lives during the Great Crusade.

Roboute Guilliman: Lord of Macragge is a thought-provoking read that takes place after the Ultramarines humbled the Word Bearers on the world of Monarchia, an event we first saw in Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s The First Heretic many years ago. The Primarch is leading a detachment of his Legion on a campaign against an Ork-held system and his ruminations during the campaign, as well as the personal stories of his officers, do much to add substantial character to an army once thought of as boring and uninteresting. While there’s no compelling villain here, we do get a character study of the XIIIth Primarch and his officers, which I found to be superb.

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Lorgar: Bearer of The Word by Gav Thorpe (Book Review)

One of the most important differences between the M41 and M31 eras is the existence of the Primarchs, genetically-engineered unique super-beings who are destined to lead one of the twenty Astartes Legions. Of them all, the most tragic story is that of Lorgar Aurelian, who was punished for his faith and found comfort in outlawed religions. He eventually became the greatest instrument of the Chaos Gods as their plans to bring destruction and ruination to the nascent Imperium of Man were fulfilled through him and his legion, the Word Bearers. We’ve seen much of Lorgar since the end of the Great Crusade and onwards to the Heresy, but we know precious little of the Golden One before he joined his Legion.

Gav Thorpe’s Lorgar: Bearer of the Word takes us back to an uncertain era on the lost world of Colchis when Lorgar first meets with his eventual mentor and confidant Kor Phaeron, and a cosmic scheme hundreds of years if not thousands progresses into an important stage. Gav captures well the gravitas of that historic meeting and what follows after makes for a very gripping read. We do get some scenes of “present-day” Lorgar, but the bulk is all about his early years on Colchis and the events and circumstances that made him who he eventually became.

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Pharos by Guy Haley (Book Review)

In many ways, we are in what could possibly be called the middle-phase of the Horus Heresy, with novels such as Deathfire and War Without End and, of course, Pharos. The Dropsite Massacre has happened, Rogal Dorn is busy fortifying Terra, Horus and his allies have spread their web throughout the Imperium, and Guilliman has holed himself up in Ultramar, cut off from the rest of the galaxy by the Ruinstorm. Doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture for the Imperial war effort. But all the same, the more I read of the years preceding the climactic Battle of Terra, the more wide-eyed and amazed I feel, such are the many countless mysteries and concepts being unveiled.

Pharos marks Guy Haley’s first full-length entry into the Horus Heresy, having already contributed some great short stories to the humongous series. He’s  written some short stories and stuff prior to this, but this is definitely the big score and he proves yet again why he is one of the best authors in this far-flung age of never-ending war. Pharos is everything I wanted to see in a Horus Heresy novel, whether that be great characters, great plot, great action, great concepts, or anything else really. Pharos is easily one of my best reads of 2017 and is a runaway hit as far as I’m concerned.

Note: Some minor spoilers about the novel follow.

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Deathfire by Nick Kyme (Book Review)

The Horus Heresy series, ever since its inception more than a decade ago, has redefined much of what we knew about that era of Imperial history. We have learned some incredible secrets and seen some amazing events take place. Not the least of this is the truth behind the fate of the Shattered Legions and their Primarchs. The Iron Hands, Salamanders and the Raven Guard have been relative absentees in the old lore from the time of the Dropsite Massacre onwards and learning more about them has certainly been a highlight. None more so than the fate of the Salamanders’ Primarch, Vulkan.

We learned previously that Vulkan did not perish during the Dropsite Massacre but instead that he was taken prisoner by his brother Konrad Curze and mercilessly tortured without respite. He eventually he found his way to Ultramar and to his brother Guilliman, albeit as a corpse. Nick Kyme’s Deathfire charts the story of how a band of Salamanders arrive on Macragge to claim their father’s body and return him to Mount Deathfire on their homeworld of Nocturne. Their trials and tribulations to bring this about are at the core of the story here and make for a stirring read, although the pacing can be arduous at times and the prose dense.

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The Emperor’s Legion by Chris Wraight (Book Review)

Over the last several months, we’ve seen some major changes in the lore for Warhammer 40,000 as Games Workshop and Black Library moved the clock forward to move the setting from the death-knell of the the M41 millennium and beyond into M42. It hasn’t been without its challenges but in that progression we’ve seen some really great stories such as Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium and The Devastation of Baal, and Gav Thorpe’s Ghost Warrior, not to mention a host of assorted short stories and novellas. It has been an exciting time for Warhammer 40,000 lore and I’ve been enjoying the ride through all the ups and downs.

The Emperor’s Legion by Chris Wraight is another home-run novel in the new reality of the end of the “ten minutes to midnight” theme of M41 that has been a hallmark of the setting since its inception. Whereas with the other novels we’ve seen what has been happening out and about in the Imperium at large, and even beyond it, with Chris’ new entry we see what’s been happening on the Throneworld itself. We see what the Adeptus Custodes have been up to in the years of their isolation on Terra, and how the they react to the massive events of the new millennium. Filled with some incredible characters and great action scenes and emotional touches, The Emperor’s Legion is one of the best new releases of Black Library in 2017.

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