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on 15 October 2012
Like probably most readers I've followed the Horus Heresy series from the start and I have my favourite authors and until this book James Swallow wasn't amongs them. I felt flight of the Eisentstein was the weakest of the first five books and whilst Nemesis was a big improvement it still wasn't up there with the McNeil or Abnett offerings.

All that has changed with Fear to Tread.

James Swallow has done an excellent job in conjuring a picture of the Blood Angels as an elite unstoppable force and builds an initial picture of this legion and its vast starships as an incredibly effective, disciplined and powerful force with the ability to shatter worlds and defeat any enemy.

He then proceeds to introduce a real element of ominous disquiet and as with the best horror stories the supernatural element builds creating a sense of unease even for the superhuman space marines of this elite legion and yes, even for their primarch.

Perhaps one of the best achievements of all is to show how fragile this superhuman force is when compared to the truly awesome power of chaos and perhaps in all the Horus Heresy books so far this best demonstrates the sheer scale of the chaos powers. This is best shown when (SPOILER WARNING) the Blood Angels fleet sees the stars begin to dissappear throughout a quadrant of space as something impossibly vast and dense begins to blot out the stars. It's a great sequence and gives the impression that for possibly the first time the Blood Angels and their primarch are feeling a frisson of fear as they begin to appreciate the scale of their enemies power.

The book isn't perfect and the first half and the build are probably more effective and powerful than the last part of the book. As has also been pointed out by some other reviews the physics of some aspects of the action are questionable, but to my mind that's irrelevant. We all read these books because they are sheer escapism and who is to say what physics in the 41st Millenium will look like and where Daemons are concerned the laws of physics simply don't apply anyway, so my inclination is to forget about the science and enjoy the ride.

Putting the core story to one side the book also perhaps more than any other in the series so far demonstrates the vulnerability of the seemingly unstoppable and all conquering space marines and imperial navy when confronted with the powers of the warp. It also gives an interesting insight into the the way that Sanguinius is perceived by Horus and others and the different agendas of Horus and the different chaos powers.

Fear to Tread is the 21st Book in the Horus Heresy series and in my view it deserves to be in the top third in terms of quality together with a couple each from Abnett and McNeill and the First Heretic by Aaron Dembski Bowden.

It's a must read if you are following the Heresy storyline anyway, and if you are a fan of Space Marines it's also a good addition to the canon and it even stands up pretty well as a stand alone novel.
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on 27 December 2012
In my judgement, this book suffers from weak characteristation (the space marines weren't hugely distinctive, or interesting), and for most of the book I didn't much care about the characters. As a result, several times I'd stopped reading the book altogether, only to resume a few weeks later.

I'm glad I finished the book, however, as the last 100 pages were epic, and very memorable. And the epilogue was very cool.

Still, cant help but feel this was a wasted opportunity. Great story but with cardboard cutout characters.

(I'd actually give this 3 1/2 stars, but that option isnt available.)
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on 14 September 2013
Another good Horus Heresy book. I sometimes struggle with James Swallow as he can be a bit graphic for my tastes but generally this was a good addition to the series and added interesting Blood Angels information. I struggle with planets that attack you and the extreme ends of the Chaos possession stuff.
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on 27 August 2012
This isn't a bad book, but I didn't feel that it had much depth, just 'bolter-porn' with a bit of a Horus Heresy backdrop. I look back at Horus Rising, a book which was 100 pages shorter, and wonder how it managed to convey so much story and feeling. Here we follow a familiar path to several other books in the series - a bit of backstory (which is important and works very well); a bit of build up then the betrayal; the aftermath; the promise of more to come. A few books have broken this mould in a good way (Fulgrim, Legion, Thousand Sons) but most haven't.

Chraracterisation is rather weak: The story is told (mainly) from the perspective of three Blood Angels: two of them, Meros and Raldoron are fairly standard space marine characters; the third, Kano, could have been interesting but didn't quite get there. Some of the secondary characters (Amit, Redknife, Stiel, DuCade, Niobe) have more going for them, but this wasn't explored in much depth - which is a shame because I think the author could have done this relatively easily by cutting out some of the lurid depictions of Chaos related characters/phenomena/actions. Even at the best of times I find this difficult to take seriously, and this book is full of such weirdness.

Sanguinius is portrayed a little better than in other HH novels, but that's not saying much. His action scenes are good though - I particularly liked it when he casually threw his sword at a nearby enemy. We get a feel for how he feels betrayed by his friend and brother, although I feel it could have been made more emotive since we know how his story tragically comes to an end.

Also, like "Know No Fear" it has rather irritating physics-related flaws: giant spacecraft crash landing with nary a scratch to the occupants; planets rotating upside down/backward at high speed and... yeah those wings aren't big enough to allow a fully armoured space marine to fly, but hey.

I would give this 3.5 if I could. It's above average for the series, but doesn't rise above the other novels.
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on 3 December 2012
Enjoyable, one of the better 4 or five HH books, well written, well paced, original for a HH book. Technical stuff not perfect but its a small quibble.
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on 13 January 2016
An interesting book due to the fact the horus heresy rarely eludes to the Blood Angels. It is interesting in the fact that we see the origins of the birth defect that plagues the legion. However this soon defects into a berserk battle with chaos and I feel that this comes too soon. The very idea of chaos in this stage of the galaxy is new, and incomprehensible to the imperium. The Daemons Ka-Banda and the Slaanesh Daemon seem more for readers of past Warhammer fiction and require a degree of understanding.
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on 19 November 2012
A stunning return to the glory days of the Horus Heresy series, this book has everything that made this series so popular. The dangerous niavity of the Legions, the dark machinations of horus and the pain of a brother betrayed, the action is pretty cool too. One negative is the physics are a bit unrealistic but the sheer thrill it describes means you just dont care. The best bit is the depiction of Sanguinius who practically shines from the page and makes you realise why he was always described as angelic.
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on 27 May 2013
I found Fear to Tread an easy going read that brought to life the struggles that Sanguinius and his Blood Angels have to face as the Horus Heresy strikes them hard. The final chapters raced along to their conclusion satisfactorily.

The book starts by sharing with the reader the fault at the heart of the Blood Angels Legion which the enemy use to full advantage in the closing stages of the book to try and bring the Primarch to his knees and turn traitor.
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on 8 September 2012
For the most part I enjoyed reading this book, it generally rattles along nicely, effectively building up a nice sense of impending doom for the first half or so, then switching to all out action for the final half.

Swallow doesn't particularly shine on invention unfortunately, so the Blood Angels don't get a new lick of paint here, or much new detail if you prefer. That's not to say I think they were badly described, just that they could have been done better. The portrayal of Sanguinius himself on the other hand, I quite liked. Swallow seems to set out to show Sanguinius as being truly 'angelic' in the traditional sense of the word. He is shown to be perhaps the best of the Primarchs. The noblest, the Primarch most in touch with and in sympathy with humanity - without, imo, diminishing Sanguinius as a warrior Primarch. Also, without going into spoilers, I liked the new insights into Horus's relationship with Sanguinius and his feelings toward the Angel after turning traitor.

It is a long book for a 40K novel, and I do think things begin to slow for some of the final fifth, with somewhat repetitive action scenes following upon each other. The repetition in the battle scenes isn't helped by the fact the enemy being fought are largely faceless Chaos hordes, which don't make for the most interesting opponents. These are probably the bits that earn the bolter-porn tab some have given it. I do agree the pace does slow a bit as I say, but only for a short while and what went before was interesting and enjoyable for the most part.

The Red Angel storyine, and the Space Wolf storyline, while not bad, both felt a little pointless and unnecessary, and could probably have been dropped.

Could the story have been told better, and the Blood Angels detailed further? Yes, no question. But it is nevertheless a basically sound and interesting story, told adequately, but not brilliantly. Swallow has yet to reach the top table of 40K authors imo, and the writing here is ... again, the word adequate, springs to mind. There are some editorial glitches, and as one of the other reviewers notes the word 'divots' annoyingly comes up again and again and again, in descriptions of bolt shells hitting armour. All in all, I'd probably give it two and a half stars, but as we can't do half stars I don't think it deserves a mere two stars and will opt for three.
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on 30 August 2012
This is the latest novel in the long running Horus Heresy series focuses on Sanguinius and the Blood Angels Chapter. With all the books that have gone before I was wondering how much story was left to tell and for the most part Fear to Tread adds a bit more to and a slightly different spin on the typical betrayal of the previous Space Marine Chapters.

The downside is the typical formula that a lot of the Heresy books seems to follow, a bit of back story before betrayal, some narfarious plotting from the bad guys to destroy or bring Chapter to their side, some plot as the Chapter finds out they have been betrayed, lots of bolters and fighting followed by a bit of resolution at the end and the overall plot advances a tiny amount. This is starting to feel a bit tired and only a gripping plot and a good narrative can pull it off.

Fear to Tread is certainly the best book that James Swallow has written in this series so far. Using the formula above he weeves a tale of tragedy, as the Blood Angels fight for not only their survival but the soul of their Chapter. The charcters he has chosen to move the story forward are for the most part an interesting bunch. Sanguinus, I feel is potrayed in quite a good light and you feel a sympathy for him as he tries to do his best to save the Chapter. There are other Blood Angels who take part in the main narrative and these are a bit hit and miss. One has quite an interesting back story and he forms an integral part of the story the others do not quite match the gripping narative.

I found this novel to be an enjoyable read and has a plot that grips and keeps you reading. It is just a shame that it follows the formula of all the other Heresy novels that feature the Space Marines. I hope that these books break away from that formula to keep things fresh and exciting as the current one is starting to get a bit stale.
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