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.
Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeill
Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors, is featured in this story from the Heresy. How does he finally, fully break and become a Traitor along with his Legion?
The Iron Warriors are seen as the ultimate siege fighters, masters of fortification and busting bulwarks. I loved the scenes of these fights, even though they border on nonsensical–as does nearly everything in WH40K, to be fair. Like, why do you need siege busting space marines when you could, presumably, bombard whatever castle from space into ruin? Yes, I know there are lore-based explanations for this, but I’m just saying suspending disbelief is required here and everywhere. And that’s okay. Just enjoy the scenes of space marines fighting epic battles over strongholds while using weapons that could theoretically shred those same strongholds. It’s fun. I mean it.
Anyway, the main story isn’t about that. The main thrust of the plot follows Perturabo as he finds out about the Angel Exterminatus, an immensely powerful weapon to be used against enemies. Fulgrim, it turns out, has been deceptive, however. He seeks power only for his own gain. As Perturabo calculates his own depths of heresy, he also must contend with Eldar and Fulgrim.
The story is a well-woven yarn, but relies quite a bit on broader knowledge of the characters and storylines involved. Obviously, we’re over 20 books in to the Horus Heresy, so that is to be expected. However, it seems some of the characters and ideas come from even other series entirely, making me wonder if I should have delved into those to extract maximum enjoyment from this novel. As it stands, McNeill is a good writer of Warhammer, so it reads well despite this lingering fear.
Angel Exterminatus shows the Iron Warriors as fallen, and does so with broader links to the Warhammer universe. I think people who are well-versed in the lore will adore this one. But given there are literally hundreds of WH40K books, as someone who has read many of them, I still felt lost at times. A good read, but I’m hoping we get better explanation of some of the side ideas in future novels.
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