Black Library Book Review: Horus Rising (2006)

Horus Rising is the first book in the expansive Horus Heresy series, which covers the events of the Great Crusade and the corruption of Warmaster Horus during the Horus Heresy, some ten thousand standard years before the usual Warhammer setting of the 41st Millenium. The novels in this series are written by many well known Black Library names, but all fit into the same narrative arc. Dan Abnett, who you might know from First and Only, Ghostmaker and the rest of the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, has penned the first book. The series doesn’t try to tell the story of Horus’s treachery chronologically, more to provide us with different tales from this period of the Imperium of Man’s history. That said, the first three books are meant to be a trilogy that covers Horus’s fall to the foul influence of Chaos.

In Horus Rising we’re taken back to the 31st millennium where under the direct command of the Emperor humanities Great Crusade has, over the course of slightly more than two centuries, has spread the Imperium’s control across the galaxy. We join the frontlines a year after Horus, the first primarch, has been named Warmaster and given command of the Emperor’s forces whilst he returns to Terra to complete other objectives. The book takes us through three battles with xenos and human exclaves, following the Luna Wolves and their attached remeberancers mostly through the perspective of Captain Garviel Loken as he watches the start of Horus’s corruption from his position as one of his inner circle.

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Dan Abnett once again does a brilliant job of laying the foundation to a strong series of books. He introduces a cast of characters that contains some very recognisable names. He does a very good job pulling existing characters backstories together seamlessly and, though the book drops you in the middle of a huge Imperial Crusade, you don’t feel like you’re joining the narrative part way through. Instead you jump right into the action of the crusade and Abnett gets you quickly invested in the characters.

I came into the novel with a cursory knowledge of the Horus Heresy and some of the characters involved. I was a bit concerned that I’d find the book a bit hard to access, but that’s not the case at all, and I spent a decent chunk of the time thinking ‘I recognise that name as a Big Bad™’, which immediately had me intrigued by the development of that character and how they became corrupted.

Overall the book is a great introduction to the 31st millennium and once again a triumphant read from Abnett which I’d highly recommend – my only warning would be that it’s the start of a long series and your wallet may not thank you!

We rate Horus Rising:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Let us know what you thought of the book down in the comments!

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