Episode 1: Horus Heresy | Grim Dark Book Club

May 14, 2021 23:00 · 4408 words · 21 minute read

hi there my name is ivo lettercast and welcome to my podcast grimdark book club this podcast is for anyone passionate about the grim dark fiction genre from the horus heresy to the winds of war when it does finally come out we are going to dissect all of it expect a new post each month that dissects and reviews a new book and my current project is actually to read every book in the horus heresy series it’s over 50 books but don’t worry for those of you who don’t like 40k i promise i will be sprinkling in plenty of books from other fandoms and i also won’t be reviewing every single book in the horse hersey series only the ones that i thought were like absolutely fantastic and worth spending the time to really break down and talk about um of course i really want to review stories that we all enjoy so please if you have any suggestions make them subscribers are automatically entered in a drawing to win a free book every month so yeah that is everything let’s get started today we are reviewing the first three books in the horus heresy which are horus rising false gods and galaxy in flames and i’m doing all three together because i think they actually work better as a single book than us three separate ones and the reasoning for that is because if you ask me this is my personal opinion the first book in particular is ridiculously slow and very dense and kind of dry it’s like a scone it’s like if you’re eating a scone and you don’t have anything like jelly or jam or lemon curd to put on it so you’re just kind of like sitting there chewing and chewing and chewing and your mouth is really dry um but it’s all super important and it’s basically the exposition that sets up the rest of everything it’s a very important book i didn’t want to skip that book and i wanted to review the second and third books so i figured let’s go ahead and mush them into one so each of these books was actually written by a different author we have in order dan abner graham mcneill and ben counter and their writing styles are actually pretty distinctive when you like read them one after the other but each of these guys end up returning to write more stories in the horus heresy so their voices end up carrying through pretty far um into the whole book series and honestly my favorite out of the three was ben counter i’m not sure if it’s just that he got the better storyline or the um more exciting part of these three books or if it was his actual writing style um but i will say i didn’t always appreciate the way in particular uh dan abnett wrote female characters um and again this is all just me talking basically about the books right and my feelings everybody has their own opinions and i would love to hear them um but let’s get further into the breakdown kind of of what these books are what are they about so the genre the entire horus heresy series is classified as grimdark surprise surprise welcome to the grim dark book club even though um in my opinion you wouldn’t exactly know that you are reading a grim dark story until the second or third book in um unless you already knew about warhammer um but that brings me to their intended audience so we all know that black library only really started taking off in the past 15 years or so so it could be assumed that the audience for the stories were initially meant um to be people who already knew about warhammer and who really just wanted to get deeper into the lore obviously that’s changed especially within the past 15 years or so maybe even less but for those of you who are subscribed to the warhammer newsletter they’re pushing the books a lot more and i like that that makes me excited because that’s the type of stuff that i’m into games workshop they really want to get more people excited about the universe excited about playing and painting and building and really being a community and black library is an excellent means to reach people like me who are less interested in actually playing the game and more interested in reading the stories of the people who exist within the 40k and age of sigmar universes and watching the games be played and of course with all of that in mind like all the information i just gave you these first three books really were geared toward um the adults who enjoy reading science fiction and grim dark fiction with a militaristic theme like that kind of boils down every just about every book in the horse heresy series is it is grim dark it is science fiction it has um a militaristic theme some of them could technically be like breach into the horror genre and we’ll get into those obviously i’m going to be touching on them because i love horror i would say flight of the eisenstein fits into that actually pretty well but the books are also especially geared toward people who want to find out exactly what happened in pre-40k times that led to things being the way they were or are now in the 41st millennium so let’s go on to my rating of these books so overall i actually give these first three books a collective 6.

3 out of 10 and that doesn’t sound big but i took an average of my ratings for each individual book so for the first book horus rising i actually gave it a three out of ten it took me literal months to get through that book and i don’t take months to read books um especially if i’m listening to them on audible like the only other book that i’ve read so far through audible that has taken me literal months to read was helter skelter and that’s just because that’s a hefty hefty book with a lot of information so yeah the second book though false gods is where it starts to pick up i gave it a five out of ten um and the third galaxy in flames to me was a nine out of ten and i’m only giving it a 9 out of 10 instead of a 10 out of 10 because there are books that come later that are even better than galaxy and flames but to me the peak part of galaxy and flames was actually really the final scenes of it that just made it stick in my mind so vibrantly now me giving a 3 out of 10 and a 5 out of 10 of the first two books does not reflect whether or not i think you should read them i think you should read them period end of discussion if you are into warhammer you should read the horus heresy like that is my feeling on it all of them every single book even the ones that are a little bit of a drag to get through because they build they build a foundation for the later books that are like explosion like all of my favorite books in the horus heresy wouldn’t make sense without the context of the other books that kind of happened in between them so um let’s give a summary and this is going to be long i’m actually chopping this podcast into two episodes because it’s gonna be a long summary and then i’m gonna go into more detail on talking about like my thoughts and opinions on on everything so it’s going to be long i will be using uh information gathered obviously from reading the books but some of these the information that i’m including here uh was stuff that i didn’t pluck out of my head i actually used the internet the website i used the most which was https://wh40k.

lexicanicum. com there are also going to be spoilers just so if you don’t want spoilers turn the podcast off now you have 10 seconds before it gets started um come back at another time uh so ten seconds starting now nine eight seven six five four three two one all right here we go so in book one we are introduced to several characters we meet three primarchs horus rogal dorn and sanginius we actually also meet several luna wolves including garviel loken the other three characters who are in the mournival long term and malaghhurst and then there are some emperor’s children and people from a few other legions and some remembrances the remembrances end up having a really big part to play but they don’t really start to become a major part of the story until later they’re more like accessories up until probably halfway through the second book the main character of these books is technically garviel loken but by the end of this trilogy the starting three books um the focus includes remembrancers kyril sindermann euphrati keeler and mersadi oliton it also focuses on some character development from some other characters that are either introduced in the first book or the second book um and a lot happens in this first book but it boils down to loken getting accepted into horus’s inner circle discovering the existence of lodges and the astartes ranks learning about the warp through a freak accident and then attempting to come to terms with the nuances of all of those things while still maintaining his humanity and his humanity is kind of what everybody seems to be like lauding and praising him for uh as the reason why he’s a good addition to the mournival which is horus inner circle of astartes in addition to that we also meet the mega arachnids which is the xenos species as well as the interex humans um which the astartes inevitably wipe out both of those and we also get the first two hints of the cult forming based around the lectio divinitatis um and the luna wolves changed their names to the son of sons of horus in this book um also a galaxy shaking semi-sentient weapon called the anathame is stolen from the interex museum of like violent weapons and the vengeful spirit which is horus’s ship moves on toward the moon davin so that’s you know kind of just a very very vague recap of the first book um and the main purpose of this book is actually to set the stage for the next two books it took me like i mentioned actual months to read through this whole book because let’s face it it’s really really dry it’s all exposition with a very little bit of action and the smallest dose of intrigue that said it’s still very much worth the read because you end up meeting most of the key players throughout the first three books of this 50-plus book series and many of the events you read later on in other books that are not directly like after this trilogy actually link back to the events that happen in this very first book right here um and if you’re wondering you know why the 41st millennium is the way that it is this book is the start of the explanation you need to have this beginning piece in order to understand the rest um it really gives us a feel for the culture within the luna wolves uh which later become known as the sons of horus and while i agree the writers were still finding their footing during the first three books they did a really decent at least at least a decent job of illustrating what brotherhood looks like to astartes um that said this first book it really felt to me like uh i believe dan abner worked on the first book um horus rising it felt like to me he wasn’t really sure how to write camaraderie and brotherhood in the sense of astartes because they were almost it almost gave the vibe of being romantically involved that did not take away from the story for me and i’ll go into that a little bit later so book two false gods is actually broken into four parts and this book is much easier to enjoy right off the bat compared to horus rising um we actually are briefly introduced to magnus the red in this book there’s a character development for maloghurst abaddon torgaddon little horus aximand and loken and as well as the remembrancers actually and i enjoyed that this is also the book where we begin to see horus start to kind of come unraveled so the battle that takes place on davin where horus faces down the warp monstrosity that was once his friend and loken and torgaddon and their men fight off god-awful warp-zombie-astartes is some spectacular imagery i will not soon forget during this fight horus is actually badly wounded by the anathame wielded by his warp-ridden friend and the astartes end up trampling a bunch of common folk on their way to take horus to the apothecary so right out the gate it is just drama drama drama and because the primarchs have special unknowable anatomy the apothecaries actually can’t really help horus so he gives his valedictions to a remembrancer that they recently picked up off of davin um and that that actually sets the stage for some drama later but basically he reveals like a bunch of secrets to this chick like a lot of them and it’s not good um now obviously horus survives but only because of the magic wielded by warrior lodge on davin um i believe they’re like the serpents or the snakes or something and all of these events seem to have been orchestrated to happen like like almost everything happened too smooth in my opinion because the ritual that takes place of a horus is what inevitably leads him to betray the emperor so as he’s being healed he ends up being transported to the warp basically and has this whole encounter where the gods show him this like potential future and he’s not being worshipped as a god but everybody else is and basically just tell him like daddy abandoned you and you know it’s it’s not great it is not great for him but it’s some really powerful imagery very well written um but also while he’s being healed some of the remembrancers accidentally summoned a demon while translating the book of lorgar and euphrati keeler she’s one of the remembrancers so she ends up accidentally channeling the emperor’s power to save them all before she collapses into a coma that’s pretty pretty exciting right there and actually that was the most mind-blowing part of the entire book um i’ve reread it actually a few times just to get as much details as i can from it into my brain because it was really work of art the way it was written um and then the horse leads his 63rd expedition to a new goal after he’s recovered and they meet the uh auretian… technocracy goodness… say that ten times fast um and basically just kill them outright uh under the pretense of some kind of assassination attempt in order to seize a tool that they have called an stc um which they’re basically they’re highly valuable and they store like all of this like really important knowledge and he promises them uh the stcs to adept regulus of the mechanicum in exchange for their support for his plan to overthrow the emperor and during this time the anathame also ends up with fulgrim who has his own book later on and that sword plays a really important part in that book as well um and then angron and his world eaters actually help horus and his sons violently dispatch the euratians without prejudice i was shocked i was not ready i was not i was not ready for that whole thing to happen and it was it was awesome um that said anything with angron in it man i really am not angron’s biggest fan i don’t think anyone is and whoever is like good on you you found a primarch you like he reminds me of my bio dad a little bit so… again not the biggest fan of him anyway so then at the end of the book ignace karkasy who is one of the key remembrancers in this story he’s actually murdered um and it’s painted to look like suicide um and the remembrancer who took horus’s valediction is also murdered um and loken and torgaddon team up and and the mournival is officially split down the middle um as the 63rd heads toward the east vans system so book three galaxy in flames is kind of the book you it’s really it is it is of these three it is the book you cannot put down in less than a week i devoured it i would have given this book a 10 out of 10 if i hadn’t read more black library books that i thought were even better than this one um so let’s get into it so in this book we finally actually made my favorite primark morty uh mortarion and my favorite death guard character nathaniel garro and the remembrancers euphrati keeler kyril sindermann and mersadi oliton actually play really big roles in this book instead of just being quasi-secondary characters and i like that i like that they shifted the focus a little bit more um so horus has four primarchs on his side at this point and they need to clean house in their legions so they arrive at the east van system and they’re supposedly there to crush a rebellion that’s occurring on the planet um but yeah that’s not what’s gonna happen so the book starts off with some really epic scenes taking place on the vengeful spirit one of which involves euphrati keeler now hailed as a prophet waking up from her coma as sindermann and two of his allies trying to transport her to a safer place and she cast some sort of spell on their pursuer the person chasing them and about to kill them um and the spell makes it so that he can barely move and his bullets fire in slow motion i was not expecting any of this stuff to be like as mystical and exciting as it was i should put in at some point i had no information about warhammer before i started reading these books none so all of these things as i’m experiencing them are like brand new and exciting and unexpected and so that’s that is the lens through which i have like been reading all of the books um i think that colors my perspective on some things um right but so they’ve arrived at iistvan extremis and captain garro is badly wounded by something called a war singer but another astarte lord commander eidolon is actually able to kill the war singer with a sonic screech AAAAAAAA um thanks to a curious member of the legion taul tarvitz and uh now so when i first read that i was really perplexed because i was like wait they’re not supposed to be altering anything anatomy wise but as i continued to read there was actually a character called saul tarvitz who got curious about that and he ended up like basically the story takes us to a laboratory where an apothecary is making surgical enhancements on legion members and this seems strange to include at this point in time to me but it does get touched on again as a key point in another book so i’m glad they planted that seed there because we come back to it later um but it’s not really touched on too much further in this book uh so then horus sends an assault force to iistvan and that force includes loken and torgaddon but not the other two uh members of the mournival so that guy tarvitz i talked about earlier he actually is the one who finds out horus plan to kill his own astartes on his fan surface and um the cooperation of the other primarchs the same end like he kind of just becomes aware of all of it at the same time by following a hunch and he manages to find an ally in nathaniel garro of the death guard who was chilling on the eisenstein due to his injuries they had been friends from a previous battle or something they knew each other and garro listens and believes targets that like all of this stuff is about to happen so he actually helps cover for targets as tarvitz takes a drop pod and descends to the surface without any kind of permission to warn the astartes there of the impending danger um and then garro actually jumps into the warp we don’t see him jump into the warp in this book we see him prepare to and then you have flight of the eisenstein which tacks onto this book that is possibly my favorite book of all time flight of the eisenstein and that’s saying something because i’ve read a lot of books um right so then… tarvitz he lands uh on the surface and there’s the sons of horus the world leaders emperor’s children death guard all of these parts of these legions who are deemed by their own primarchs to be too loyal to the emperor to live and then euphrati keeler receives a vision of what is about to unfold on isstvan and tells oliton and cinderman and then most of the uh forces on iistvan like basically almost in the same instant they die by virus bombs and then the following… orbital strike that ignites the gas in the atmosphere and burns the entire planet kind of takes care of almost the rest of everybody else um so recordings of that are broadcast uh to all the remembers on the vengeful spirit who have been gathered into a single room basically to be massacred and thankfully sindermann oliton and keeler managed to escape alongside a sympathetic and elderly third captain named iacton qruz and we see the four of these get away like these four people just poof gone and we don’t really hear much about them for a really long time but i anticipate that they end up having i haven’t finished reading the series but i anticipate that they end up having more uh we’ll call it screen time uh later on in later books and if not then that’s an absolute waste of some some excellent characters but at this point horus loses control over what’s going on on iistvan because angron oh i don’t like him he drops down with his world leaders to basically attack anyone who survived the two death blows there and the two sides of the mornival end up facing out facing off to the death and basically it is just a bloody mess and it seems like every loyalist dies obviously we find out much later that there were survivors um but i’m not going to go into that right now i want to kind of leave y’all in suspense a little bit um and the final scenes show abaddon full-fledged like angry that loken and um torgaddon didn’t side with horus and then we’ve got aximand who is like super depressed from having to kill like his best friend forgotten who i kind of shipped with like i kind of shipped them i’m not gonna lie um and then loken actually kind of gets buried beneath the rubble of a building that happened to still be standing after this bombardment um where he was facing off to the death against his brothers um and that’s kind of it like that is the end of that book and uh my description obviously is very lackluster and doesn’t do it nearly any justice because that book i’m telling you i ate it up i i read that book in like three days my one sentence summation would be okay so that was a lot and i really regret having to make it one sentence but basically i would submit it as it was the three books right were really well written um a very layered tale of horus’s misguided descent into pure chaos um but i like that they focus not just on horse but on these smaller but key characters because that’s what makes the story more than just a retelling of lore right it makes it intriguing and relatable it helps you experience it alongside those characters right so that was part one of this podcast episode i’m gonna do part two next we’re gonna talk about um my character commentary my plot commentary the tl dr version of this entire thing um and that’s that’s gonna be the conclusion of this episode so thank you for listening to part one i’m gonna go ahead and insert my usual podcast show ending here at the end of this but just keep in mind we’ve got a part two coming up uh very very soon so thank you and uh peace out i’ll be posting a new episode on the second friday or saturday of every month and you can find me on whatever platform you use to listen to your podcasts each episode will also be available in video format on youtube as well as text format on my blog at ilettercast.

com if you want the links to all of those as well as each new podcast just subscribe to my weekly newsletter at ilettercast. com under the link titled get free books you can also subscribe to my instagram account at @i_lettercast my twitter account at @ilettercast and my facebook page at facebook. com/ilettercast i really look forward to sharing this and other exciting podcasts with you every single month and i’ll see you real soon.