Books 7-9 of the Horus Heresy are mainly standalone stories but each tie in to the overarching arc. All three are enjoyable, particularly the excellent Legion by Dab Abnett which is one of the most interesting and enjoyable stories in the entire series.
#7 – Legion by Dan Abnett
As mentioned above, Legion is quite possibly the best book in the Horus Heresy series – it is certainly the best of the ‘early’ novels. It is also great as a stand-alone book, even if your Horus Heresy or even 40k knowledge is very light.
As with most Abnett novels, part of what makes Legion so good is the characters. Those in the Imperial Army and the elusive John Grammaticus are characters you can understand and empathise with, making the story more immersive. I particularly enjoyed understanding the different regiments of the army and the political motives behind officers actions.
Most importantly, we get to see the elusive Alpha Legion for the first time. As their first real introduction to the series they had to be done right and they have been beyond all expectations. Their subterfuge and motives leave you guessing at all times and you are never quite sure what they will do next; a theme that will continue throughout the series when the Alpha Legion are involved.
I mentioned John Grammaticus above and he is the first ‘perpetual’ that appears in the series, as well as the mysterious Cabal. I thought they were a great addition to the novel and I’m pleased to see they continue to play a part in the wider series. One way to look a them would be the grey in-between the Imperium’s light and Horus’ darkness.
As for the enemies in the book, you are never quite sure who the enemy is! The population the imperials are trying to force compliance on are almost entirely incidental and play a background role to the subterfuge.
In conclusion, whether you enjoy the Horus Heresy, 40k or even general sci-fi, then this is a must-read book
- Best character – John Grammaticus
- Best battle sequence – The Nurthene all-out assault on the Imperials
- Best non-battle part – The Alpha Legion meeting the Conclave
- Primarch Count – 2…
#8 – Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter
This is Ben Counter’s final Horus Heresy book and one, against a lot of popular opinion, that I really enjoyed. The criticism I have seen for the book mainly centres around what the point of it is. The story appears unconnected to most of the wider arc, although it does link to Calth it is a rather tenuous link. This mistake shouldn’t detract from what is a rather enjoyable read though.
The story is about a rag-tag group of astartes from different legions hunting down a ship called the Furious Abyss, a huge Word Bearers warship. The Abyss’ target is Ultramar and to link in with the wider Word Bearer’s assault on Calth. The story becomes a chase through space, with the rag-tag group trying to slow down and then destroy the Abyss.
I did enjoy the composition of the rag-tag group with Ultramarines, Space Wolves, a Thousand Son and a World Eater. Horus’ rebellion isn’t common knowledge yet so all of the group are able to work together. Their interactions are one of the main highlights in the book. We also get to see the Word Bearers properly for the first time in the series and as expected, they come across as zealots.
Overall I enjoyed the book; although it isn’t the best black library or Horus Heresy novel I’ve read it definitely isn’t the worst either. I would read it for completeness’ sake for the HH series but also if you fancy something a little bit different and simpler to some of the far more complicated HH books.
- Best character – Cestus
- Best battle sequence – Mhotep vs Wsoric
- Best non-battle part – Gathering members of very different legions for the mission
- Primarch Count – 0
#9 – Mechanicum by Graham McNeill
Mechanicum tells the story of the beginnings of Mars’ rebellion against the Imperium and the origins of the Dark Mechanicum. If nothing else, the main interest in the book is one of the first novels that has focused on the mechanicum in any significant detail. Understanding how the organisation worked and the geography of Mars was a big plus with this book.
The story focuses mainly on Dalia Cythera, who has been taken to Mrs to help the mistress of the Magma City, Koriel Zeth, on an important project. She works together with a group of others with particular skills and their struggles with the project provide a good background to other events happening on Mars.
As well as Dalia, there are sub-plots with the simmering tensions between the Titan Legions Tempestus (loyal to the Imperium) and Morits (who serve with Horus). The promise of titans duelling it out is always a plus for me! Another sub-plot follow the Knights of Taranis who try to mediate between the Legios but also follows the hunt of two knights for an AI war-robot (better than I’ve made it sound). The final sub-plot is around the higher political machinications of the Mechanicum, all the way to the Fabricator General and his thirst for knowledge.
Despite the myriad of sub-plots, many of which that intertwine, the book does come together very well and is a really good read. As with Legion it is one I struggled to put down. It also works well as a stand-alone novel but many of the threads are explored in further HH novels and also tie back to some of the previous ones.
- Best character – Probably just me but I had a soft spot for Fabricator Locum Kane
- Best battle sequence – The battle for Magma City
- Best non-battle part – Revelations at the end
- Primarch Count – 1 – Rogal Dorn