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View Full Version : The Horus Heresy Series.. Must reads and misses



mattieice
14-02-2014, 21:46
Hi there! I had an amazon gift card and on a whim I bought The First Heretic and loved it. I read up to Legion and am wondering which books are not great/can be skipped. Is it best to go by author? ADB is amazing and I always love Dan Abnett's work. So which books are worth reading do you guys think?

exsanguis
14-02-2014, 21:53
A Thousand Sons is awesome. Same with Legion.

Bellerophon
14-02-2014, 22:38
The original trilogy is great. Flight of the Eisenstein if you can handle the gaps in combat, it actually improves the story.

I don't recommend Fulgrim solely from an enjoyment standpoint. It just seemed to drag on and while it had it's shining moments, it wasn't enough to keep my interested. From understanding the HH standpoint, it's a must read.

And for non-astartes reading, Mechanicum was fantastic finish to end.

502
14-02-2014, 23:37
There hasn't been a single Aaron Dembski-Bowden book I didn't like (if you want to go by author). Since you've read First Heretic and liked it I'd recommend Betrayer and Aurelian.

Nazguire
16-02-2014, 11:13
Mechanicum is dull.

Fulgrim explains a lot about the Heresy and one of its pivotal players. It only seems like it's filling in the time when they meet Eldar, other than that it's pretty solid.

Know No Fear is epic, must read. Unremembered Empire...less so.

Prospero Burns is great! So is A Thousand Sons. They come in a pair: if you read one you need to read the other.

azhagmorglum
16-02-2014, 13:49
My favorites (no particular order) : the original trilogy, mechanicum, legion, thousand sons, prospero burns, outcast dead, nemesis, flight of the eiseinsten, deliverance lost

Less favorites : descent of angels, fight for the abyss

El_Machinae
16-02-2014, 18:02
A Thousand Sons is awesome. Same with Legion.

I really liked Thousand Sons. Did NOT enjoy Legion.
I liked Mechanicum, but also liked Titanicus and Priest of Mars, so it might just be something I like.

totgeboren
17-02-2014, 09:35
Battle for the Abyss was pretty bad, and I personally felt Legion took the AL manipulation a bit too far, kinda like the SW having a a character named Wolfy McWolfborn the Space Wolf riding a Wolf in Space wielding Wolf Claws etc etc... there is a limit to how far you can push a concept before it just becomes stupid.

Outcast Dead was pretty good, but it should be placed in some sort of alternate HH-setting like the Dornian Heresy and similar fanfic, since it doesn't mesh with the timeline in the rest of the books at all.

I really liked Fear to Tread, and Know no Fear was pretty good too. Thousand Sons was really good, definitely recommend it.

jakejackjake
17-02-2014, 16:05
Horus Rising is essential and awesome, False Gods is okay not great, but important. Fulgrim not so good, but kind of important. All ADB books are great. Angel Exterminatus is good. Know No Fear is amazing. Fear to Tread could have been better.

El_Machinae
17-02-2014, 17:00
I've only read Thousand Sons, but my impression is that you should not read both it and Outcast Dead.

MajorWesJanson
18-02-2014, 00:47
Battle for the Abyss was pretty bad, and I personally felt Legion took the AL manipulation a bit too far, kinda like the SW having a a character named Wolfy McWolfborn the Space Wolf riding a Wolf in Space wielding Wolf Claws etc etc... there is a limit to how far you can push a concept before it just becomes stupid.

Outcast Dead was pretty good, but it should be placed in some sort of alternate HH-setting like the Dornian Heresy and similar fanfic, since it doesn't mesh with the timeline in the rest of the books at all.

I really liked Fear to Tread, and Know no Fear was pretty good too. Thousand Sons was really good, definitely recommend it.

The timeline in the Outcast Dead does kind of mess up thing as far as Magnus's warning vs Isstvan, but at least the retcon seems to work well- Magnus's warning happened earlier, but was contained by the remaining wards in the Palace until they failed, and the rest of Terra felt the effects.

Death Specter
19-02-2014, 03:20
I enjoyed Nemesis, mostly because I have been fascinated by Imperial Assassins for many editions of WH40K

m1acca1551
19-02-2014, 04:27
Anything by ADB is good, he saved the Lion story arc but putting the breaks on what became a run away train of horror.

Fulgrim was... Bad the only thing I enjoyed from that book was seeing Saul Tarvitz being fleshed out a bit,

Know no Fear... Amazing same as betrayer, first heretic and thousand sons.

The rest of series has been a roller coaster ride in terms of quality, I've really lost interest in the series as there is such a divide between arcs and one moment your over here and then the nect book on the subject is released 1 year later whilst you've been taken around the universe on that damn roller coaster ride haha.

just_jay
20-02-2014, 12:13
I'm with everyone else that tells you that nothing ADB has done to date has failed to be worth reading. Even his work outside the HH seiries is really well done. But the original trilogy was terrific, as was Mechanicum, Thousand Sons, First Heretic, Angel Exterminatus and Betrayer. Those are the books I would recommend to anyone. I really liked Fulgrim, I thought it did really well to portray the character of Fulgirm in a tragic light. Outcast Dead was an enjoyable read for me even though it wasn't as action packed as other books. Nemisis was another book I really enjoyed, if you like the Assassinorum stuff you should enjoy it. Know No Fear I'd recommend if you can tolerate a certain level of Ultra Marine cheese. The anthologies aren't TOO bad, but I haven't found a single HH anthology that I've liked every story, which isn't the case for other Black Library anthologies.Books to stay away from? Battle for the Abyss is easily the worst HH book I've read, I didn't even have the stomach to finish it honestly. Flight of the Eisenstein wasn't really my cup of tea but I really don't like James Swallow, I might be biased. Fear to Tread was another book I found to be a poor read, I think that's also another Swallow book, terrible. But the rest are really hit or miss, you'll find the Primarchs you like and the ones you don't too much care for. Ferrus Manus happens to be the most boring MFer on Terra to me while anytime Curze gets mentioned I feel like a kid again. Can't wait for a dedicated, ADB written, Night Lords HH book, that's going to be total tits. Good luck finding goos ones though, I'm a fan of the series overall, hope Scars will be another one of series's good reads.

The Red Pilgrim
20-02-2014, 21:16
Must Haves

Horus Rising
False Gods
Galaxy in Flames
The Flight of the Eisenstein
Fulgrim
Mechanicum
A Thousand Sons
The First Heretic
Fear to Tread
Know No Fear
Mark of Calth
Betrayer




Avoid These

The Unremembered Empire (Meh..)
Legion (Campy, focuses on their Legion specialty to the point of absurdity.)
Battle for the Abyss (Just.. no. Don't ask.)
Prospero Burns (Looping flash-backs, lazy, "wet-leopard growl".)

tuo
21-02-2014, 16:56
Wow, different tastes here...
I loved Legion! To me, it's one of the best books.

I liked some parts of Battle for the Abyss, especially the space battle, but the second half of the book is unbearable.

I am just now reading Prospero Burns, and up til now (around 50%), I like it.

Maybe I have very bad taste, but I agree with all of the Must Haves from "The Red Pilgrim", allthough "Fulgrim" had it's weak moments.

regards

Ulrik

AceRimmer
23-02-2014, 11:01
Read them all. Some of the books are quite old now you should be able to pick them up cheep. Everyone will give you a diffrent answer on what you should read. Im on Mark of Calth just now and its not great but The Red Pilgrim has it as a must read. Stick to paperback and read the lot its the only way to be sure.

Nazguire
24-02-2014, 19:19
Must Haves

Horus Rising
False Gods
Galaxy in Flames
The Flight of the Eisenstein
Fulgrim
Mechanicum
A Thousand Sons
The First Heretic
Fear to Tread
Know No Fear
Mark of Calth
Betrayer




Avoid These

The Unremembered Empire (Meh..)
Legion (Campy, focuses on their Legion specialty to the point of absurdity.)
Battle for the Abyss (Just.. no. Don't ask.)
Prospero Burns (Looping flash-backs, lazy, "wet-leopard growl".)




Avoid Prospero Burns? Avoid Legion? If you like avoiding two of the best HH Novels, then yeah sure.

Mark of Calth was a bona fide average novel with perhaps two stories worth reading. Yet you place Legion below it? Lucky it's all subjective I suppose.

ViolentDrunk
24-02-2014, 19:54
Prospero Burns was amazing!
Leman Russ was so awesome in that, how could you not like it?
That said, it's probably not that interesting unless you're a Space Wolves player.

shadowhawk2008
25-02-2014, 02:07
PB is not interesting period. Its a self indulgent novel that showcases one of Dan's biggest weaknesses: not knowing how to properly pace his story and rushing his endings.

DarkChaplain
25-02-2014, 05:07
PB is not interesting period. Its a self indulgent novel that showcases one of Dan's biggest weaknesses: not knowing how to properly pace his story and rushing his endings.

While I enjoyed PB, I agree with that assessment. A rushed ending, a synopsis that did not fit the content that was released a good year later than it was supposed to be (due to health problems, if I remember that correctly) and a lot of Abnett-typical referencing of his own 40k novels without ever really giving good reasons or explanations why those things existed 10k years earlier already.

I liked the book for fleshing out the Wolves' character, but it left a lot of holes to be filled - by different authors, of course, as is often the case with Dan's HH contributions. He tries to introduce new things with every novel, but those often fall flat for the foreseeable future, until some other author picks them up and expands on them and gives them context within the wider scheme of things.

Heck, one of my biggest Horus Heresy disappointments in recent history must have been Know No Fear's ending, falling into the ever-same trap of feeling rushed and unfinished. Of course, Mark of Calth arrived not too much later, but at the time it left a really sour taste in my mouth. It wasn't even a good cliffhanger, in my opinion, only a "pagecount reached, wrap up" situation. And that's the norm with Dan's work - he's probably the one author who could get away the easiest with adding another hundred pages to his work and still get a green light from BL, yet he strictly adheres to the 400 pages format. Heck, The Unremembered Empire could have damn well used an additional few pages in the end, but did not get it. Chris Wraight's Scars was longer before even the final serialized episode was out.

In general, I feel Abnett has trouble connecting with other authors' concepts and characters. Instead he tries to focus on his (new) additions to the series. Especially in TUE I felt he did not quite... understand the characters created or fleshed out by other authors, which led to a rather big feeling of disappointment for me. He's good at sketching out concepts for blank slate Legions or characters (I liked his rendition of Guilliman for the most part, and as overblown as the Alpha Legion seems right now, the initial concept felt good to me), but usually it is up to other authors to pick up the pieces and refine the themes (Chris Wraight with Space Wolves, Rob Sanders with Alpha Legion). As a result, his follow-ups to other people's works fall short.

Scribe of Khorne
25-02-2014, 15:38
PB was terrible. It introduced a terrible concept, was painful to read, and was generally unfun.
Legion I enjoyed.
Unremembered Empire I enjoyed.

All 3 however played with power levels (Human -> Enhanced -> Marine -> Primarch) too much and inconsistently with the rest of the setting.

I dont know, I've totally jumped off the HH wagon in terms of books, not enough releases to keep me interested.

Must Reads - Any ADB, Mechanicum, some of the Shorts.
Miss - PB.

Anything else is fine entertainment imo.

shadowhawk2008
25-02-2014, 18:08
PB was terrible. It introduced a terrible concept, was painful to read, and was generally unfun.
Legion I enjoyed.
Unremembered Empire I enjoyed.

All 3 however played with power levels (Human -> Enhanced -> Marine -> Primarch) too much and inconsistently with the rest of the setting.

I dont know, I've totally jumped off the HH wagon in terms of books, not enough releases to keep me interested.

Must Reads - Any ADB, Mechanicum, some of the Shorts.
Miss - PB.

Anything else is fine entertainment imo.

My opinion on PB is quite in the minority, which is why I don't often mention it. Draws out the worst responses. I've tried reading the novel like 3 or 4 times. Could never get past like the 80 pages or something. Don't even remember properly. I did listen to the audiobook in full but that was quite a painful experience too.

Scribe of Khorne
25-02-2014, 23:49
I dont think its that much in the minority. There are a lot of rabid Abnett fans, and even worse Space Wolf fans, but I'll take those slings and arrows for what was in execution, theme, and intent, a simple miss.

Look at the simply brutal executioner crap we have had to endure because of this book, through the whole rest of the series! Simply stand it up to ATS, TFH, or Betrayer, its not even comparable, in fact, it doesnt even do bolter porn properly.

I have nothing to redeem this book at this point, other than it allowed for Battle of the Fang to be written, which I enjoyed, and Bjorn I suppose.

shadowhawk2008
26-02-2014, 02:01
Agreed. There are some really good things here, but far, far too many bad things. I would definitely consider it to be a miss. Read A Thousand Sons instead. A far superior book in every single respect. I am a pretty big Space Wolves fan, thanks to the Bill King novels. Grey Hunter was my first BL book ever. I've loved the Space Wolves for like... ever. And I was really hyped up for Prospero Burns. And then I began reading it, and I was extremely frustrated at what I had in my hands. Its a novel that could have worked out really well, but Abnett made everything far too sophisticated. It reads like this: "To hell with everything that's been written about them before, whether 30k or 40k or all the lore over the years. I am going to do my own thing and no one can do anything about it".

DarkChaplain
26-02-2014, 02:20
Its a novel that could have worked out really well, but Abnett made everything far too sophisticated. It reads like this: "To hell with everything that's been written about them before, whether 30k or 40k or all the lore over the years. I am going to do my own thing and no one can do anything about it".

This. I had the same feeling reading Know No Fear - while his Ultramarines had a few nice ideas thrown into the pot, they felt a bit disconnected from what else we had. Heck, Graham himself wrote a story for Age of Darkness, which I feel doesn't match up with KNF. His Lion / Guilliman interaction also felt off, mainly because of how... open his Lion appears, especially next to Gav's and Aaron's recent renditions. And don't even get me started on the other Primarchs in The Unremembered Empire...
Again, he's good with his original work, but the moment he steps onto territory others have tread on before, disappointments start to pile up.

shadowhawk2008
26-02-2014, 04:57
Hence the term Abnettverse :D

I haven't read The Unremembered Empire so I can't comment. But with Know No Fear, I think it was a pretty good book. Yeah, the rushed ending was there, AGAIN, but it was a cool story largely because of his particular experimentation with the narrative style. And he did give the Ultramarines some unique flavour there. It didn't mesh so well with what we have/had seen before, but that's fine because I didn't expect it to be full-on consistent.

The thing though is that he puts in all this grand work that only he can pull off. It leaves very little for other writers to pick up on with any success.

Immortal Avatar
22-06-2014, 07:58
I've read up to and including The First Heretic. (I'm temporarily taking a break to read Gaunt's Ghosts before getting back to it.) I've enjoyed each book so far but for different reasons and I can see why certain people would like certain books and not others. Hopefully this helps.

Horus Rising / False Gods / Galaxy In Flames: These are must reads for sure! Very well written they provide the backdrop to the entire series and if you loved to hate Erebus from The First Heretic, you haven't seen anything yet. This is the Great Crusade in earnest, what they are doing and why they are all doing it. They spend a bit of time as well on the whole re-education to the imperial truth and the beginnings of the belief in the Emperor as a God beyond that of the Word Bearers which I found especially interesting without breaking too much from the combat.

The Flight of the Eisenstein: A lot of people see this as separate from the trilogy, but I think it is the culmination. The fate of the Eisenstein is what everyone in the first three books has pinned their hopes on and if you enjoyed them, you should read this for the resolution alone. It also gets into how (thought not explicitly stated as of what Iv'e read) the Deathwatch gets founded. Also, some of the first real gritty combat with deamons by space marines.

Fulgrim: This was a bit of a slower read because it did re-hash a lot of the things that were already done in the previous four books just from a different perspective. This wasn't all for me because my person favorite character Saul Tarvitz got a lot more spotlight. It really gets into the details about how a chapter is slowly corrupted without really being pushed towards it.

Descent of Angels: From what I've heard not a lot of people were fans of this because it read like more of a fantasy novel. This is true, the style is very different but it gives an interesting story detailing the rise of a Primarch and how a being like that effects a planet from the moment they arrive.

Legion: I really enjoyed this one. It was a bit slow and can be hard to follow at times, but the ending (which I won't spoil) of why the Alpha Legion turned to Chaos was really cool.

Battle for the Abyss: I didn't dislike this as much as a lots of people in the comments it seems. Though it did have it's issues, I enjoyed the coming together of a small team four different chapters to board and combat a massive Word Bearers ship. You get to see a bit into how the different chapters but heads and still manage to work together.

Mechanicum: I was told by a few people to skip this one, but it turned out to be one of my favorites. The characters chosen to follow are all interesting and suit the story and the conflict well Graham McNeill really outdid himself with several of the scenes that stand out above the rest of the series even now.

Tales of Heresy: A short story compilation, some really good, some not so much. Blood Games I found interesting, getting into what the custodes spend their tome doing when not policing Word Bearers :D. Wolf at the Door was okay with an ending that I saw coming a mile away. Scions of the Storm was pretty good, if you liked The First Heretic you should like this one. The Voice was meh, it was a neat concept but I don't think it was put together that well. Call of the Lion was forgettable. The Last Church was great and I recommend getting the book just for that story alone, it is pre-great crusade (As far as I know the earliest ever set 40k story) about the last man in the last church on Tera. After Dash'ea was also okay, it didn't seem like there was too much point to it other than Angron knows only rage.

Fallen Angels: Sequel to Descent of Angels. It was well written and all but didn't really resolve a lot of what happened in the first one, it seemed like it was building up to a bigger third finale which has yet to be release. The whole book feels like a second act; a good second act, but still only a second act.

Thousand Sons: An absolute must read, I couldn't put this books down. Get's you right in the heart knowing all the while what the Legions ultimate fate would be. It made me for the first time really think about if the Emperor could have prevented much of the Heresy by just teaching the Primarchs the truth about Chaos.

Nemesis: This one was really good too. Two separate plots, one about a group of assassins assigned to kill Horus and another about a rash of chaos related murders on a fringe(ish) world that come together in a clever and interesting way. It takes a while or the assassination team to be assembled but it really shows off what they are all capable of.

Hope that helps, I haven't gotten to the other books yet.

Tymell
22-06-2014, 10:41
There's an old reviews thread here (and I'm still updating my post on page 3 at least :p ) that might give some further help on general opinions.

http://www.warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?339710-Horus-Heresy-Review-by-you-the-fans

One thing it is worth noting is that as the series moves on, the novels rely more and more on previous stories. Not that I'm stating that as a criticism, just that there have been several novels lately that have drawn together a lot of plot threads, and to appreciate them fully you really need to have read a lot of what's gone before.