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Know No Fear discussion
, Teasers and SPOILERS
Member No.: 137
Joined: 28-February 08
First off *enthuse*
Downloaded this at midnight, and find myself halfway through; having managed to put it down at 2. What a book!
The book fits in well with the material we've already seen on the Word Bearers and Ultramarines, and expands on these two Legions in an organic, natural way. There's a surprising amount of logistical detail in the first half of the book, and I for one will be digesting and compiling info for quite some time. That said, this information is written naturally; and the tone and content of the text suggests the organisation and discipline of the Ultramarines in particular, without becoming jarring.
Dan has totally 'got' the Ultramarines. They've got a great balance of being focussed, military and yet interesting; and there's loads of info on the personnel: just check out the extensive Dramatis Personae section. The contrast between the clean operation of preparing to fight the Orks and the betrayal is startling, and the book sets a real pace, which prevents the information becoming a morass. In fact, the book is more immediately violent and for a more sustained time than I can remember in another Heresy novel. Abnett gives real 'shock and awe' with a short-burning fuse, and that perfectly captures the point of the teaser Black Library gave us (the death of Honorius Luciel at the hands of Sorot Tchure) Tchure's words about betrayal creating that infinitesimal advantage are writ large across the events of the first half of the book.
If I breathed a sigh of relief as the character of the legion was revealed, it was doubly true of Guilliman. In my view, Dan was always going to be a safe pair of hands for any Primarch his Horus was with invested with majesty, humanity and charisma, his Alpharius was suitably evasive and yet inspiring; and his Guilliman is portrayed in a fantastic light: you get a sense of veneration from his men then edges towards majesty rather than pomposity (except in Lorgar's view, of course!). He's not as immediately charming as Abnett's Horus: instead, you instinctively feel he is trustworthy.
Best of all? You get the feeling that the modus operandi Guilliman espouses and the Ultramarines practise would work; there's a sense of professionalism and adaptive self-reliance.
The book is very interestingly written: like Eisenhorn, the text is mainly written in the present tense, which gives a fantastic urgency to the tone and helps create an atmosphere that supports the surprise and shock of the events. Unlike Eisenhorn, it's third person. That's a very different beast, and it definitely helps to construct the scale and breadth of the campaign.
I found 'my' reference in there the very first Ultramarine you meet is:
|Tall as one big man on another big mans shoulders, broad as any three muscle-heavy athletes, his bulk augmented by the massive ceramite plate of gleaming Praetor-pattern armour, Luciel opens the airgate hatch.|
I don't really have anything to say about that beyond it put the biggest grin on my face. It's a throwaway line, in many ways; but it's lovely to think that the enthusiasm of the fanbase feeds back into the growing shared world of the Horus Heresy. Hugs for everyone
The Word Bearers come across suitably bad-ass as well Lorgar has grown some nuts: for very good reason. There's a sense of having left his self-doubt behind; which expands beautifully on Dembski-Bowden's groundwork and character development. Of course, that hasn't come with complete balance, and while he's not a frothing caricature of himself, he's a perfect contrast to Guilliman's deep-seated balance.*
The subtle changes in the Word Bearers are good: I loved the mention that they're using daemoncraft in lieu of a voxnet, and the basic plan of attack is one that seems eminently sensible and achievable one worthy of a Primarch and Astartes. They aren't berserkers: they're coldly clinical murderers coming at a hated enemy, and that sense of purpose and ambition
comes across even where it isn't explicitly mentioned. Masterful handling of a well-loved Legion. I imagine Dembski-Bowden is very happy with how the Word Bearers are portrayed, as it feels like an organic development of his groundwork in The First Heretic
I think the cultists have been well thought-out rather than faceless screaming nutjobs that get mention elsewhere in the 40k background, you get an explanation as to why they're okay with dieing (well, if you believe the promises...), and they're a believable enemy for the Imperial Army. I was hoping for good things from Abnett on this, as he realised the Blood pact and Sons of Sek so well. He doesn't disappoint.Spoilers
[spoiler] tags don't work, so I've used
text to make things harder to skim read. I hope that works for people.
Either way, be warned beyond this point be spoilers
Setpieces galore a sky massacre that ends with spaceships crashing to earth; super-heavy tanks raining from the sky. Lots of short-term foreshadowing of the perfect defences being breached. I continued reading on the way to work and startled some poor sod when I realised I was reading about the Catheric Oll Ollanius freaking Pius! stepping on to Horus' throne. What a startling piece of foreshadowing, and beautifully executed. It's great to see Horus back in Abnett's hands despite him being a tiny cameo, you got this dripping sense of power; of betrayal... Abnett is truly a first-class writer, and this book cements his reputation in my mind. *That said, the scene where Guilliman loses his rag on the flagship as Lorgar taunts him is perfectly pitched: you get Guilliman revealing his passion without losing complete control, and there's a reserve even here that contrasts brilliantly with the teaser scene where Lorgar rages at Guilliman's 'confrontation', as he sees it.Spoilerish queries The Raptorus Rex is mentioned. This is the Fire Hawks' cruiser, right? Coincidence?