Horus Rising by Dan Abnett – Book Review

Horus Rising by Dan Abnett - Book cover

Have you always been a fan of epic series? Especially when it comes to sci-fi? Well, the flood of books based on the Warhammer 40,000 strategic board game is already around its 50th installment. The big question is just how seriously the whole thing can be taken as literature. Um, somewhat. Maybe. Especially if you’re male, a teenager, and sci-fi, especially the military aspect, gets you excited.

The superhuman, genetically modified space marines, led by Warlord Horus (who’s even more genetically modified), traverse the galaxy with its thousands of worlds, seen and unseen by humans, and if any of the strange new life forms don’t meet certain minimum requirements, like having more heads or tentacles than necessary, they get a good smack in the face. Which is fine so far; the fighting parts are quite, um, interesting, although even as a layman, you might notice that the Horus-led war machine UNNECESSARILY neglects the use of artillery. And the principled, rock-solid, straight-shooting Captain Loken does quite well as a protagonist.

But still, all the space marines are men. You’ve got these genetically turbocharged, tall, jaw-chiseled muscle men towering over you (Big chief Horus is four heads taller than you), and there isn’t a woman among them. You’re not the only one finding it hard to shake off (no pun intended) the horrifying image that this pumped-up herd chases each other around the crew quarters every morning with veiny victory flag, fully aroused to the EXTREME… There are only two meager references to help you understand, if you want, that this whole distinguished company, as it stands, is entirely asexual.

From here on, the story-forming forces of romantic threads and sexual tension are shot into space for the ENTIRE BOOK SERIES.

Something else you won’t find: even a spark of humor. Although in one or two cases, they almost point out to you, bro, hey, listen, humor is coming next… You can guess what the result will be when it needs to be announced specifically… not much at all.

So what’s left? Hm? The ideal of camaraderie. The pursuit of military feats. Honing military skills to the extreme. The belief in the semi-divine Horus, who is entirely like a charismatic and wise Macedonian Alexander the Great – (of course, before his brain completely rotted from paranoia and his own greatness.) If he were to glance at you, doubtless, you’d instinctively salute him.

And of course, the ultimate principle driving fleets into space, the Emperor’s justice, which boils down to if you’re not with us, you’re against us – so we smash you. The essence of the whole plot; sometimes, like in the last chapter, executed quite tastelessly and clumsily.

6,5/10 (65%)

Horus Rising (The Horus Heresy #1) by Dan Abnett
416 pages, Paperback
Published in 2014 by Games Workshop