Recently I took a detour from my normal reading fare to delve into some insane paranormal romance. After successfully making it through two novellas, I was ready to get back into the wondrous future of science fiction. Nothing against paranormal romance as a genre, it’s just I sometimes crave worlds were people are doing something else besides falling in love with one another.
Over the past year or so, I have been casually reading through the Horus Heresy series within the Warhammer 40K universe. Warhammer 40K began as a humble table-top strategy game that quickly grew a tremendous collection of lore to back the plastic armies crawling across tables everywhere. Somewhere along the way, Games Workshop , the company behind 40K, finally realized that it could make even more money by getting people to write books for them.
Whatever your opinion of licensed fiction, the Black Library, literary arm of Games Workshop, has been cranking out some great works of fiction that deserve to stand on their own merits outside the overwhelming lore that makes up Warhammer 40K. Several talented authors have lent their minds to the Black Library and crafted mind blowing stories within the 40K-verse.
Out of all the Horus Heresy authors I have read, Graham McNeill is still my personal favorite and his latest book, A Thousand Sons , shines brightly in the series. It is also the Black Library’s very first novel to make the New York Times best-selling list.
The twelfth book in the Horus Heresy series and following the Thousand Sons Space Marine legion, A Thousand Sons tells the tragic story of how they fall from the guiding light of the Emperor. Mangus, Primarch of the legion, searches too deeply for power to unlock hidden secrets of the galaxy and as a result, the Emperor bans everyone from wielding these powers. In his search, Mangus witnessed the betrayal of Horus and sets out to warn the Emperor with the very power he was forbidden to use. The Emperor retaliates by unleashing Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, on their homeworld, Prospero, to bring Mangus to justice.
McNeill paints this legion vastly different from any of the others he has previously worked with, giving them a truly unique flavour. As with all doomed legions in the Horus Heresy timeframe, they possess redeeming qualities that he captures and brings to life with such force that they will live directly inside your grey matter long after the story has concluded.
The interactions between the Thousand Sons and Space Wolves are simply amazing as both legions revolve around each other in a fatal dance. The mounting tension builds until it becomes palpable and you accompany Mangus to the Council of Nikea, a major milestone within 40K lore. McNeill demonstrates his knowledge and love for 40K lore as he meticulously builds to this crucial moment. His treatment of the legion is worthy of praise from fanboys everywhere.
The plot has a few problems in the beginning as it starts off seemingly going nowhere until the Space Wolves show up. Then the real plot arises and consumes the characters in its wake. Once things began to pick up, I literally could not stop reading. McNeill’s talent for weaving characters into his plot has certainly reached its pinnacle with this Horus Heresy entry and I felt he more than made up for the slow start.
The ending was a bit mysterious as it hinted at related 40K lore that readers will not pick up on unless they are fully entrenched with the table-top game. The journey to the end is well worth the read, though, as this is definitely one of the better entries in the series and deserves its well-earned New York Times slot. McNeill has written a superb story that anyone mildly interested in 40K should take a look at.
I give A Thousand Sons a 90%