Reading the Horus Heresy, Book 21: “Fear to Tread” by James Swallow

I know I’m late to the party, but I finally decided to start reading the “Horus Heresy,” a huge series of novels set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000 (though it is set much earlier than the year 40,000). I thought it would be awesome to blog the series as I go. With more than 50 novels and many, many short stories, there will be a lot of posts in this series (I doubt I’ll get to all the short stories). I’m reading the series in publication order unless otherwise noted. There will be SPOILERS from the books discussed as well as previous books in the series. Please DO NOT SPOIL later books in the series.

Fear to Tread by James Swallow

I’ll admit it, I thought the previous books in this series about the any “Angels” were boring slogs. Descent of Angels is about the Dark Angels and was too long to carry its miniscule plot thread. Fallen Angels didn’t have enough action to sustain its political machinations. Fear to Tread, about the Blood Angels, is, instead, totally compelling front-to-back.

The story reveals quite a bit of background about the Blood Angels, including their apparent nature where they fall into a kind of raging bloodlust that cannot be quenched and leads to atrocities. Sanguinius has been keeping the nature of his Legion secret, ultimately (and fatefully) revealing it to Horus. This, of course, sets up a major movement in the Heresy as Horus sends the Blood Angels on a quest to allegedly find the cure. Instead, they find forces of Chaos and Xenos in zounds.

The action here is pretty awesome. I’ve said multiple times in my reviews of this series that I’m not only about action. However, the point of having space marines is, presumably, to have them fight stuff. So the political machinations behind the scenes should set up some big battles, and Swallow certainly delivers here. The xenos are interesting, too, which doesn’t always happen. The book also reads like it has bigger events going on beneath the surface, and that the events that take place herein are important in the grander scheme of things. It genuinely feels like its advancing the story in a meaningful way.

Fear to Tread is another great entry in a series that continues to be compelling despite its epic length. I recommend it.

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Horus Heresy and Warhammer/40K Hub– Links to all of my Warhammer-related reviews and writings, including those on the Horus Heresy, 40K, and Warhammer Fantasy (pending) can be found here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

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