Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

I read. A lot. So far, this year, I've read (with the help of audio books for some): The Wheel of Time series, the Harry Potter series, Starship Troopers, Ender's Game, Dune books 1 and 2, World War Z, Lucifer's Hammer, One Second After, New Spring, Hannibal: One Man Against Rome, Wizard's First Rule, Duma Key, the Final Empire: Mistborn, and a few others I don't remember. I also just finished Horus Rising, the first book in the Horus Heresy. I'll say this: it is an excellent book, much better then I expected. I had expected it to be good for a book based on a game considering the reviews it's gotten, but it's just a great book. You don't need to mention the game part. I was curious how someone was going to write a book based on Space Marines. Was it going to be filled with lots of combat? A part of me was prepared for a lot of chapters that read more like battle reports.

Hardly. The book is a far cry from what I expected, and a pleasure to read. It's filled with a lot of character building, a lot of good dialog, and a great story. It's a setup for what we all know is coming, and I think knowing what is coming makes what I read even better. To read the subtle changes in Horus and company, to see how the Luna Wolves were and see their slow decline. Even that is done well. The start of their decline is apparent only because we know what's going to happen, and to read about it, I can't help but feel sorry for them, to emphasize with them. In fact, I can't help but feel like so far, they are in the right.

Horus Rising does an excellent job at setting up the fall. I'm going to start False Gods tonight by Graham McNeil. He has big shoes to fill. I hope he delivers. The Luna Wolves have come alive under Mr. Abnett and in a way, I want to see them succeed. Another surprise was the books main character wasn't Horus. It was the Luna Wolves Captain of the 10th company, Garviel Loken. Loken is an interesting character. I see his setup as well, and of course, I know what happens with him, which makes everything so much more tragic.

This book has made me so excited to learn more about the space marine chapters, the chaos space marines, the history of the Imperium, and, well, the background of the 40k universe.


Dverning said...

That's all you've read this year? Amateur. :-p (I read voraciously too... I was participating in a "Read 50 books in 2009" thing for a bit... I stopped tracking when I'd already hit 50 in May.)

My only beef with Horus Rising was the sudden left turn in the final section of the book. It was like Abnett had this great idea of where he was going... and then had to mesh it up with how McNeil wanted to start. It didn't jive.

Hopefully it won't bias you too much, but the next several books aren't that great. The worst is how many times authors insist on jumping back in time so that they can write about their characters view of events. Not to say this is a bad thing, but it doesn't need to be 2/3's of a "new" book. It's also fine if they're mostly by-line scenes you haven't seen, but it gets old when it is the SAME scene over and over.

I'd suggest just jumping to Legion and going on from there. Then again, you also read Goodkind and Jordan, so maybe you aren't expecting much. :-p (I've read and own most of the books you mentioned.)

Jason said...

Goodkind didn't do much for me. I finished Wizard's First Rule simply because I had started it. It's a book that for me ends and everyone lives happily ever after. I found it lacking.

Jordan I fell in love with. Mistborn is written by Brandon Sanderson who happens to be the author who has taken on the challenge of finishing up the Wheel of Time books.

As for reading so much, I actually didn't start until March. See, I've always enjoy reading, but I didn't go out of my way to find new things to read. It was around March that I decided that there was far too much stuff I haven't read that I kept getting told I should read that I decided to do something about it, and I'm glad I did. =) I haven't enjoyed every book. Ender's Game was a let down. I wasn't really all that impressed. It was a good read, but very much on the light side.

I was pleasantly surprised by Harry Potter. While obviously written for a younger audience, it was a fun read, which is important. I read it after finishing Wheel of Time, so it was a big shift.

As for Horus Rising's end, I agree. I was let down some by the ending, if only because it was so sudden and so abrupt, a complete departure from everything else that had been building.

Dverning said...

Jordan I fell in love with. Mistborn is written by Brandon Sanderson who happens to be the author who has taken on the challenge of finishing up the Wheel of Time books.
Oh really?
I'd picked up Jordan back when book 1 came out and loved it. I followed the series fairly closely up until around 6 or 6, whereupon I realized that the plot hadn't progressed in several books. It was all side-quest junk that really didn't add anything to the greater storyline. I can forgive a bit of this, but multiple large books worth was too much. So I put Jordan down and never went back.
But I do enjoy Sanderson and the Mistborn trilogy was a recent read. His writing can be a bit juvenile (such as the Mistborn pseudo secondary love interest in book two) and the "plot twists" are more gentle curves, but at least there's not that many "WTF, where did that come from" or heavy handed deus ex machina you'll see in something like most Black Library stuff.
I'd heard Jordan's wife was taking over the finishing of the series, but didn't know it was in conjunction with Sanderson. I may actually go read them...

You may have already heard/read them, but given your reading proclivities I can suggest a few other authors worth looking up: Ian MacDonald, Neil Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold, Steven Brust, David Weber, David Drake, and Jim Butcher.

And to pretend to staying somewhat on topic... from Black Library, the Abnett books are usually decent reads. King and Thorpe aren't bad either, though they have their moments.

Jason said...

Yeah. Jordan's wife took over in that she went in search of an author. Mistborn was me checking out Sanderson's work to see if his style will mesh with Jordan's, and I think it will do just fine. As for the WoT series, I enjoyed all those side quest things. Yeah, there was a few times I felt like things were dragging on, but it didn't last for long. Oh well. Goodkind is popular but I didn't enjoy First Rule.

As for your Author's list, I've heard of some, and just haven't gotten around to them yet. Others I haven't heard of, but will check them out. I've mostly been looking for the epic series. I enjoy reading long stories over a number of books with the same characters, or close to the same, so that's what I've been hunting for. Also with the luxury of audio books, I've been using that to read books I otherwise wouldn't normally. Hannibal is a good example of this. An excellent audio book about the historical Hannibal.

Thanks for the list of authors. I'll definitely look them up. =)


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