A Great War is coming, and it will engulf the Imperium of Man. The Space Marines of the Alpha Legion, the last and most secretive of all the Astartes brotherhoods, arrive on a heathen world to support the Imperial Army in a pacification campaign against strange and uncanny forces. But what drives the Alpha Legion? Can they be trusted, and what side will they choose when the Great War begins? Loyalties are put to the test, and the cunning schemes of an alien intelligence revealed, as the fate of mankind hangs in the balance.
A good read!
I really enjoyed this HH novel - it's the first one I've read in the series that tells the story from an entirely human viewpoint, keeping the Astartes at a distance. The protagonists are easier to relate to, but their colourful traits and weaknesses have the side effect of making the Alpha Legion appear like giant cardboard cutouts in contrast. What's more, the Space Marines came across as rather ridiculous in the contrived way that the eight-foot tall giants in massive power armour can sneak about undetected... Not to mention out-stealth the Lucifer Blacks! Still, it's a good read and I recommend it. I particularly liked John Grammaticus' character (who for some reason I pictured George Clooney in the role!), who for an 'immortal' came across to me as the most human of all.
A poor instalment to a great series.
First off, I am a fan of Dan Abnett. I like his books. I enjoy them. But this was a poor instalment to the Horus Heresy series. It's problem is simple, it doesn't fit the tone of the series.
You have the Alpha legion. Astartes, genetically engineered to be the finest warriors in the galaxy. Dwarfing normal humans and installing a mixture of awe and fear. That is a common theme in the series. Ships crew, remembrancers and soldiers alike all cowed by the sheer majesty of the Astartes. In this one however, you have men talk back to; and even argue with them. Including the Primarch of the Alpha Legion.
Primarchs are previously described as being more than human. Even veteran captains of their Legions are struck in awe by them. Oft unable to form coherent sentences as they are struck with awe. But in this book (spoiler alert) you have a normal man openly arguing with a Primarch and even threatening him! Just does not fit.
Not only that, but the author in his attempt to set the human regiments apart and make them special; has only succeeded in annoyance and confusion. Instead of simple to understand captains and sergeants. You have Hetmans and Bashaws and Uxors. None of which make any sense to me after the book. A bit of 'dumming down' would have been nice here so I didn't have to constantly rack my brains.
In the 41st Millenium, the Imperial Cult is the religion of the Imperium. Phrases like "Emperor protect" are commonplace. In the 31st Millenium however, the Emperor is spreading his Imperial Truth, that there are no Gods. So phrases like "Emperor protect" are entirely out of place. So are the prayers constantly offered by the Imperials of the book.
It's these glaring problems that ruined this book for me.