Reading Reviews: Horus Rising, by Dan Abnett

I’m a gamer of many different shades but the type of gaming I have the least amount of experience with, and interest in, is miniature gaming. While I was growing up all of my friends were the pen-and-paper, table-top RPG type of gamer and we never got into games like Warhammer or WH 40K, Necromunda, Blood Bowl, or any of the other White Dwarf games. For a brief period toward the tail end of college I got into Warmachine because it required fewer pieces to play than Warhammer (and the rules seemed less complex and easier to pick up) but as lack of funds caused me to stop buying pieces I fell out of playing it.

So I have to admit that I didn’t have much interest in reading Dan Abnett’s Horus Rising (The Horus Heresy). I know very little about the Warhammer 40k universe except for the bare essentials, that everyone hates everyone else and wants to commit holy ultra-genocide on any race that doesn’t look like them. However, I have a number of friends who are very much into WH40k and these books as well and so I decided to read the first one after two separate friends and my brother suggested I read them. The fact that the books were loaned to me also helped.

Horus Rising is the story of the time before the period in which WH 40k takes place. The story follows Garivel Loken, a member of the elite fighting group the Luna Wolves, one of the many legions making up the Imperium of Man. The Imperium has been traveling through the galaxy under the banner of the Emperor, the ruler of mankind, as he sought to find all of the missing human worlds and re-unify them as one empire. The Emperor has recently retired from the field, leaving his Warmaster Horus to continue the crusade. Loken is promoted to join the Mournival, an advisory body that assists Horus. The book follows Loken’s role on the council, several conflicts the legion is involved in, and some challenges Loken encounters to both his view of how things are and his place in the Legion.

This was not a particularly challenging book. It’s a pretty straightforward story based on a game and if you’ve ever read any book based on a role-playing game then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about; it’s flavorful, entertaining popcorn but it’s still popcorn. While it might not be high literature, I did enjoy the book even if I wasn’t familiar with the details of the history. Abnett does a very good job of describing the scene and his characters, I was pleasantly surprised to find, do have a nice depth and fullness to them. It’s obvious to me a story has hit a chord when I find myself rooting for the characters.

Between my friends and my brother I have been loaned the entire Horus Heresy series, the books that detail Horus’ descent into madness and corruption and his betrayal of the Imperium. I think I’ll make my way through them year and read one a month.

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