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Horus Rising - Dan Abnett (Warhammer 40,000)

Horus Rising - Dan Abnett
Black Library, 2006

I just wrapped up the first book of the Horus Heresy series, Horus Rising. The Horus Heresy is an eminent period within the Warhammer 40,000 setting, a period of intense civil war, a schismatic period for the Imperium of Man in which several legions of space marines (Astartes), and entire worlds, fell to the influence of Chaos. It’s kind of basal stuff for 40k, material that’s been integrated into the narrative of the game/setting since about 1988, and the Horus Heresy series explores and expands upon material that was previously left rather vague.

Horus Rising takes place during the Great Crusade of the 31st millenium, a period of rebuilding within the Imperium of Man in which great fleets spread through the galaxy to find and reclaim/reunite with the scattered civilizations of man which had been cut off from the glory of Terra in the Age of Strife. Horus, the primarch of the Luna Wolves space marine legion, is named Warmaster of the Imperium, representing the Emperor and his will in the expansion. He is to find the lost remnants of mankind and bring them in to compliance with Imperial ethos, or to exterminate those for which compliance is impossible (along with any xenos scum they find). It sets the stage for the Horus Heresy to come, where Horus falls to the influence of Chaos, highlighting the primarch’s honour and strength, raising the man to emphasize the eventual fall.

Rather than tell the story of Horus directly, the story, instead, largely follows Garviel Loken, the Captain of the Luna Wolves’ 10th Company as he ascends to a position as an advisor to Horus, and his steadfast loyalty to Horus, the Emperor, and the Luna Wolves within that role. The book is a little slow to start; really, the entire first section, while rather important exposition of character and setting, is not particularly engaging. The section ends with revelations to the nature of space travel, and the foundations of the universe itself, but it’s not until we meet other Astartes legions that the pacing and sense of power and urgency pick up. The role of the Astartes as implements of the Imperium is highlighted here, along with the bonds of loyalty (though sometimes strained) and duty among them is accentuated. Encountering a lost human society, Horus attempts to approach them diplomatically, rather than trying to bring compliance by force. Ultimately, diplomacy fails, and the Warmaster is forced to begin a war he sought to avoid. The book ends with foreshadowing of events to come, and the origins of the formation of the Sons of Horus from the Luna Wolves legion. While the Warmaster, and the Sons of Horus, are still staunchly loyal to the Emperor, the seeds are sown for the future.

This was, more or less, my introduction to the Astartes, and Horus, outside of the Warhammer 40,000 game material. It’s helped me understand how the Astartes fit into the Imperium, and the corrupting nature of the Warp… I don’t think many readers would be introduced to the 40k setting through this book, it seems more like something someone who’s already somewhat involved in the setting would pick up, rather than a random encounter from the book shelf. That said, it seems like as good a spot to start as any if you want to start a new sci-fi series Wink
What I find very hard to read this until I came across a very good material here.
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