Two years had passed since the betrayal at Isstvan, the event that opened the way to Horus's insurrection against the Imperium and his father, the Emperor of Mankind. During that time Horus's forces had steadily crossed the galaxy and gathered momentum. His number of followers grew ever larger with every system that Horus passed. These systems either swore fealty to Horus or they burned.
Within the confines of the Emperor's Palace is a chamber in which the Officio Assassinorum convenes. Under the Assassinorum's orders, for the first time ever, all of the Clades will work together. An Execution Force made up of six assassins, one from each prime clade, is formed. Kell, of Clade Vindicare, is to locate and assemble those selected by the Officio Assassinorum. Iota, of Clade Culexus, is a psyker girl with a rare null-aura. From the Clade Eversor comes a rage-killer known as The Garantine. Soalm of Clade Venenum is the mistress of poisons. Koyne of Clade Callidus is a shade. Tariel of Clade Vans is an infocyte.
Once assembled, the Execution Force chooses the planet Dagonet on which to lay their trap. They will lure the Archtraitor Horus to Dagonet and either assassinate the war-god or die in the attempt. But what they cannot know is that Horus and his dark allies have already embarked on a sinister plan of their own.
***** FOUR AND A HALF STARS!Author James Swallow captured my interest quickly and then slowly began weaving a plot, and subplot, that steadily built until its climatic ending. At least once, a minor character is introduced and has a detailed background told only to be killed off within a few pages. However, this will not bother most readers. You do not have to read the previous books to fully enjoy this story either. It stands alone, yet still manages to add a bit more flavor to the Horus Heresy series. Excellent! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
Fans of the 40K universe really have embraced the Horus Heresy, the most important event in mankind's development. Here, in this offering you get a tale that is not only action packed but also one that really doesn't let up from the beginning, it's high octane, the characters gripping and above all it's the story arc that really carries this piece. Whilst fans already know how the tale will end, it's always interesting to see how the author will work their way to the conclusion alongside what they'd bring to the table. This title, to my mind, is perhaps the strongest of the 13 offerings so far and whilst they've all been great, I really do think that this has taken James' writing to a whole new level.
on 8 September 2010
Nemesis, by James Swallow, is the thirteenth novel in the Horus Heresy series published by the Black Library. This novel is a break from the norm in the series because its main focus is not on the Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines) but rather on the Officio Assassinorum and their operatives from the various Clades and their attempts to end the insurrection against The Emperor by the elimination of his renegade son, Horus.
The novel has two main story arcs that develop separately but as the novel progresses they become gradually closer until they finally intersect in a dramatic conclusion. In one story arc the hidden lords of Terra, the leaders if the Assassin Clades, decide to send an Execution Force made up of all the Clades after Horus without The Emperor's knowledge. In the other Erubus of the World Bearer's Legion sends a master assassin to kill The Emperor without Horus' approval.
This novel still manages to throw up many enjoyable suprises in its plot although any fan of the Warhammer 40K universe will generally know the ultimate end of this book. However, James Swallow has written such a good book with intriguing and interesting characters that are well developed that this does not matter.
Another positive aspect of this novel is that time has progressed in the Horus Heresy series and events are changing. This is positive because although the Black Library were publishing well written books there was always a danger of the series becoming bogged down due to the temptation to tell the tale of the Heresy from so many different perspectives that the series would never have moved forwards. This is not the case, and although the series has a long way to go before its conclusion you can definitely see that the Black Library are working towards one.
If the reader is a Warhammer 40K fan but has not read the Horus Heresy series i would still recommend this novel as it focuses on the Officio Assassinorum which although featured in many Black Library Warhammer 40K publications, have never been explored in as much detail as in this book. This can add to your enjoyment of many other Black Library novels and also to the Warhammer 40K tabletop game.
Overall, I would recommend this novel to any fan of the Horus Heresy series or of the Warhammer 40K universe. I would also recommend this to any science fiction fan in general although i would also recommend that they read the prior books in the series first because although Nemesis can be read as a stand alone book, having prior knowledge of the series adds to the enjoyment of this book considerably.
on 11 December 2010
Nemesis brings a new aspect to the Horus Heresy series, and despite what some have said in their reviews, this isn't really a side story to the "main event".
I won't go over the plot, its on the product description, but I will say that this book is essential to the series and brings together lots of strands that are being built up over time.
Most notable is the growing strenght of the Imperial Cult, or those worshipping the Emperor as a divine being despite this being outlawed. Nemesis, for the first time outside of the Crusade Fleets, shows how widespread this is. There is an amazing moment 3/4 into the book where it all falls into place and the reader realises how powerful this movement is, and how vital it will be to stopping the Heresy.
Nemesis also shows the mindset of the Emperor at this point, and his advisors - at this point the Heresy does not seem to be treated as a major incident, rather something that can be contained, the advisors believing it more a threat to the Imperium than the Emperor. Which begs the question, what else is going on? Given the hints in the Horus Heresy Art Book and elsewhere...
Yes, everyone knows this book isn't going to end with Horus being taken out, but even then you see how Horus turns the situation to his advantage...
on 8 September 2010
Once again, I find myself at odds with the majority view of the other reviewers, and cannot begin to understand their admiration of this book. A weak storyline, one dimensional characters and so many plot holes it resembles an intergalactic swiss cheese, Nemesis is another weak link in this series comparable to Descent of Angels and Battle for the Abyss.
This book is another side-step from the marines in the same vein as Mechanicum, which worked very well, and the dreaded Officio Assassinorum finally gets their place in the spotlight. It's early in the Heresy, and the powers that be decide to crush the rebellion before it's really got started, by dispatching a team of assassins to take down the ultimate target, and thereby crush the rebellion in one swift stroke (thanks Moff). Unbeknown to the Imperium, however, the traitors have much the same idea, and send their own daemon uber-assassin to off the Emperor, thereby not only taking out the man in charge but destroying the astronomican and rendering the loyalists powerless (although this isn't actually mentioned). The story brings the two sets of protagonists into direct contact, with explosive results. Sounds good, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it fails dramatically.
To begin with, the novel stretches the division between far-future sci-fi and contemporary war fiction to breaking point - take out all the 40k references and this could have been written about a modern-day kill team in Iraq or Afghanistan, which is a predictable and lazy way to approach a yarn about a group of assassins. Because of this, even with the inclusion of laser guns, advanced technology and inter-planetary travel, it doesn't feel particularly sci-fi and certainly doesn't doesn't feel like an HH novel - this could have been set anywhere, and at anytime, and would only take some minor tweaks and name changes to make it fit into any generic setting (demons aside maybe).
For me, there are a number of glaring plot-holes in this book, some of which I admit are subject to opinion, but some of which are nigh on unforgivable, right from the get-go. The Imperium is a brutal, fascist regime with the dictatorial Emperor at its head, who will stop at nothing to subjugate the entire galaxy. They quite happily destroy entire races and star systems if someone as much as spills their pint. I find it hard to believe, therefore, that the Emperor would find it hard to stomach his errant son being offed by a single bullet and therefore avoiding a galaxy-wide conflict that would destroy everything that he had worked for. The Officio Assassinorum is, after all, one of his government's departments and is headed up by his right-hand man, and so the idea that the man in charge wouldn't want to go down this route really doesn't wash with me - why have assassins if it's 'dishonourable' to use them.
I also found it hard to believe the way that the Officio Assassinorum worked. Exactly how clandestine and secretive is it to refer to a group of assassins as the Execution Force? Are we really expected to believe that to be able to assemble a team, it needs one of the operatives to go out and find the others, in some sort of pseudo-Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven recruitment drive? Preposterous - surely they have ways and means of communicating with their operatives beyond this, or how else could they give them orders? What are they all doing running around on their own in the first place? I also find it very hard to believe that a team could be assembled for a mission as important as this with their lords and masters having no idea that they are about put together an estranged and hostile brother and sister, destablising the whole venture from the get-go, with the latter apparently being an Assassin but seemingly not having a single offensive bone in her body. These people are killers, and they don't even do it for money, they do it because that's what they do, yet there is more angst and anxiety here than the front row of an Evanescence gig. Do Assassins not have to undergo psychiatric evaluations before being committed to the field? Have some sort of selection process that weeds out little character traits that might make them unsuitable for the job - traits like pacifism? Not that any of this really matters of course, because perhaps the most ridiculous thing about this particular story arc is the sniper of the team basically does the job on his own anyway; there was no need for a team, or the first half of the book, because the others simply don't really do anything. Sure, they muck in here and there. The Clade Vanus Assassin, which is a rare nice touch, is specifically brought along because of his peerless ability to access information. Perhaps he might have used his time to actually research what their target looked like. Which nicely brings me onto....
Anyone who knows anything about the 40k universe, and the Horus Heresy in particular, knows the outcome of this book - Horus is killed at the battle of Terra by the Emperor, and not by an Assassin on some little backwater planet. This was the one thing that kept me reading though until the end, despite my many misgivings; how is the author going to tackle an ending that we already know about? I was intrigued. Then furious. Then laughed.
(Be warned - here be spoilers)
The Imperium of Man dispatches an elite team of Assassins to the other side of the galaxy to kill a super-human Primarch and the most beloved son of the Emperor, and end up killing the wrong bloke, because he is wearing the target's coat. Horus, the Warmaster, who stands as tall to a Marine as a Marine does to a normal human. A being so magnificent that it's difficult to function in his presence, even when you are already a 7-ft tall killing machine yourself. The Arch-Traitor of Humanity. A being whose statue and portrait litter thousands of planets, his likeness known to millions. Pretty hard to mistake for someone else you would think. But Horus lends his coat to someone else and defeats the greatest team of assassins in the galaxy. Brilliant. I think I actually threw the book across the room at this point.
I could go on, but I wont. I was greatly looking forward to Nemesis and was left sorely disappointed. A missed opportunity.