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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best HH books, but release it earlier please!
First the bad. Black Library, please stop delaying the mass market paperback for so long. People who have followed and collected the series since the beginning are the ones missing out because of this. I'm close to giving up completely. I'm not going to start paying double and having the wrong sized book on my shelf just because you want to milk the fans even more...
Published 9 months ago by I. Waugh

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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oversize format!???
I won't add anything to the reviews of the book but be aware this paperback is OVERSIZE format - what is the point!??? it doesn't match my other 22 books and its the same for "Angel Exterminatus"

Oversize hardbacks are one thing - but paperbacks are meant to be convenient.. i think the oversize format is just to justify the oversize price.. GW are becoming more...
Published 15 months ago by Sideshow Bob


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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oversize format!???, 9 April 2013
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I won't add anything to the reviews of the book but be aware this paperback is OVERSIZE format - what is the point!??? it doesn't match my other 22 books and its the same for "Angel Exterminatus"

Oversize hardbacks are one thing - but paperbacks are meant to be convenient.. i think the oversize format is just to justify the oversize price.. GW are becoming more and more expert in fleecing their loyal customers with selective releases, limited editions and a lack of kindle formats.

Its annoying. Come one GW - just let us fans have the stories we want as soon as they are ready.. My shelf collection is messed up unless i buy the book again.. Also the paperback editions should have the e-book editions bundled together. Again GW wants to make you pay twice for the same book in different formats. They are damaging the goodwill i have for GW after 25 years of being a fan!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best HH books, but release it earlier please!, 17 Oct 2013
By 
I. Waugh (Gateshead, Tyne and Wear) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
First the bad. Black Library, please stop delaying the mass market paperback for so long. People who have followed and collected the series since the beginning are the ones missing out because of this. I'm close to giving up completely. I'm not going to start paying double and having the wrong sized book on my shelf just because you want to milk the fans even more.

Also, stop releasing short story collections and stories that don't move the story forward, just to make an extra few quid. Thanks!

That said, this is an excellent HH novel. One of the best, by in my opinion the best writer to work on the series. Lorgar and Angron are maybe two of the more interesting primarchs, and Angron in particular is characterised brilliantly in this book. You will be confused when you being to sypathise with a psychopathic beserker who is massacring everyone in sight.

The book also contains some of the most human and emotional writing to be found in the entire GW canon, and it really works.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing can't cover over plot flaws, 30 Mar 2013
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I'm a fan of the Horus Heresy series and a big fan of Dembski-Bowden who is one of the outstanding writers in the Black Library stable. His writing here is of his usual high calibre with punchy, immersive battle scenes and some excellent characterisation but the problems with the novel are too big to ignore. Some minor spoilers below -

One of the highlights is his sympathetic portrayal of rebellious primarchs Angron and Lorgar. They are shown to be warm, thoughtful, intelligent beings, neither of whom believes they are evil but rather are victims of desecration of their honour by the emperor and the Butcher's nails (Angron) or doing what is necessary to lay bare the emperor's lies and reveal an, albeit unpalatable, truth (Lorgar). Their monstrousness is more subtly revealed by the barely mentioned but obvious fact that the background to their actions is the destruction of civilizations and the ending of billions of ordinary human lives, which they seem barely to notice in pursuit of their personal desires. The background to why Lorgar and Angron are as they are is explored and draws the chain of events leading to the heresy past Horus' vanity and Erebus' machinations back to the Emperor's own actions more potently in this book than in most of the others in the series.

Battle highlights are the titan battles and void combat. There are also great non-combat plotlines such as the continuation of Argal Tal's storyline in an unexpected but satisfying direction and the development of Kharn. There are great new characters such as Lotara Sarrin the world eaters flag-captain and other human and mechanicum characters. In the great non-astartes characters he creates the author tackles the question of how the World Eater's legion could be kept running if all Angron and his space marines want to do is charge the enemy head on at every opportunity. Its a well done reversal of the usual 'even though they were created to be warrior-servants of the teeming human multitudes the god like space marines do everything brilliantly and just allow the humans to tag along'. How Angron's insistance on his marines having the Butcher's nails is destroying the legion and how they cling to brotherhood as everything else that usually defines a space marine is stripped away is movingly explored.

Unfortunately there are also such big holes in the novel's plausibility that they can't be covered over by the quality of the description and characters.

Running at the enemy whilst shouting wins everytime:
The problem is that in highlighting the problem with the Butcher's nails and the importance of the non-marine characters, Dembski-Bowden repeatedly points out that the World Eaters are like rabid animals with poor tactics, poor unit cohesion, poor communications, little battlefield command (what tactical direction there is comes from the human flag-captain), friendly fire incidents, little use of combined arms (eg their titan legion bemoans its loss rate as higher than other legions because the world eater marines just don't work in concert with them), poor battlefield discipline, a high casualty rate etc. Despite this we have to believe they slaughter their way through vast numbers of Ultramarines, the most tactically sophisticated, numerous, disciplined, brilliantly led etc legion, on their own territory. And the reason they can do this? Well, its repeatedly explained that its because they are aggressive. Snarling and waving your chainaxe around whilst charging at the enemy slightly more often than you charge your own battle brothers pretty much trumps any fancy tactical, superior firepower, or other nonsense the enemy might try and will always win the day. And even if your casualty rate is stupidly high your legion will somehow never get worn down by attrition. Its so daft that it seriously undermines the whole book.

Nobody minds being a traitor:
The World Eater human and mechanicum characters in the story are all well described and easy to relate to. They are described as normal people doing their various military jobs. In fact, if you weren't told they were working with the World Eaters you'd probably assume they were loyal imperial citizens. There is absolutely nothing to indicate why any of these characters has turned against the Emperor. One of the major mechanicum characters even keeps a scroll message sent to him from the Emperor because it is precious to him and seems to still consider the Emperor as the Omnissiah he worships.
Even odder than this is the reaction of a squad of World Eater dreadnoughts who are woken up having, with one exception, been asleep since not just before the heresy but before Angron was even found. The exception is the former legion master, appointed by the Emperor himself to run the legion until the primarch was found and who ended up in a dreadnought sarcophagus because his mad primarch nearly killed him just after his discovery. On being woken they are given a data upload which explains that their new Primarch - whom some had never met -is part of a rebellion to overthrow the Emperor - whom they were all loyally serving when they went to sleep - and they now need to go kill some loyalist space marines. They all just go off and do it without any indication of being troubled. 'Hey wake up. Listen, I know you loved and served the Emperor and were willing to give your lives for his vision of a galaxy wide imperium where humans would be safe and prosperous when you were last awake but we want to destroy the imperium you nearly died to forge, slaughter billions of the innocent then kill him and anyone who serves him, is that OK?' 'Uh, yeah, sure, count me in.'

Legion fighting legion? That's unthinkable before the heresy..oh, no, wait, no it isn't:
One of the tropes that has kept recurring throughout the Horus Heresy series, especially in the early books, is how unthinkable marine fighting marine was before the heresy. Most major characters have agonized over it at some point, the news of it happening has been greeted with shock and disbelief, an ultramine character in Know no Fear was punished for having even contemplated the possibility of it. In Betrayer, the author casually drops in that the Space Wolves and the World Eaters had a full on pitched battle well before the heresy, used by Leman Russ to try to teach Angron a lesson. Which rather makes a mockery of the 'battle brother against battle brother has turned our whole perception of reality upside down its so impossible to even comprehend' lament that characters in the earlier books keep spouting.

Finally there is a personal annoyance - In the 40k universe humanity has spread across the galaxy to every imaginable ecosphere over tens of millenia but, with the exception of the Salamanders chapter who are all black, everyone seems to be white (or sometimes 'dusky' (ie meditteranean)). Not only in the novels but the artwork on model box covers, books, posters or the painted models in White Dwarf every month. Dembski-Bowden tackles this by pointing out in his novel that, unlike other chapters, the World Eaters are drawn from a vast mixture of ethnic types. He points this out immediately before having the only obviously black character, Delvarus, (who comes from a jungle, of course), being taught a much needed lesson in honour and brotherhood by a number of his more noble comrades who, where their ethnicity is described, are white. As one scene in one novel it doesn't really matter but, rather depressingly, it just seems part of the same unspoken and pervasive leaning in GW products.

So, the great writing we have come to expect from one of Black library's best writers, marred most particularly by the impossible need to make the utterly tactically inept World Eaters conquer everything in their path and for important characters to be traitors without any obvious reason. Buy it second hand on ebay, don't spend a tenner on it new.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 July 2014
This review is from: Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
WELL PLEAESED NO PROBS
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1.0 out of 5 stars Pass, 30 May 2014
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This review is from: Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
Note: I'm not the previous Alpharius. Seems we share more than a name. Warning, some SPOILERS below.

What a far cry from The First Heretic, which showcased some of the best writing in the Horus Heresy and is proof that ADB can be a great writer. Why then one star for Betrayer? Because the actions it describes just do not hang together with what we know of the W30K universe.

1) Bigged up, can't fail characters such as Lotara, the human ship captain. Not happy about a World Eater captain going off on a jaunt? Shoot him in the face. Bolter return fire would have pulped her except, what da y'know, there's a librarian handy who deflects the shots.

2) Overimportance of human characters (in the W30K universe) such as the Syrgalah crew. They're so feted that Kharn directs Argel Tal to save them ... so the Angron's equerry values a Warhound crew so much, he gets an elite Word Bearer captain to leave the battlefield for them? Really?

3) Unconventional take on Astartes discipline. Argel Tal becomes Kharn's tag team buddy, abandoning his fellow Word Bearers to watch his bro's back for long stretches of time. Can believe this of the Emperor's Children but the Word Bearers? Also, everyone seemed to be operating solo with little in the way of squad discipline

4) Lack of direction and the Lucius treatment. Cyrene gets resurrected (this is turning into the Marvel universe) and promptly falls off the map again?

5) Main character's lack of appeal. Ok, I get it. Kharn and the World Eaters are not the easiest to write about but there wasn't much in the way of character development going on. Both Argel Tal and Kharn felt same-y. Kharn was supposed to be this unstable and crazed warrior with a love of bloodshed but this did not show through (yes he goes nuts when the Nails bite but appears to be Everyman in the quieter moments).

6) Too much fanboy mine's better than yours. In the arena with Delvarius and Sigismund, Kharn and Argel Tal, etc. Primarch-wise with Guilliman vs. Angron and Lorgar.

7) Treatment of Erebus. Guy who fought Lucius to a standstill gets one-shotted (or three-shotted really but the battle's over way before then) by Kharn only to whisk himself away at the last moment?

8) Too much primarch first person perspective. Sometimes it's good to have a little mystery and ambiguity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 3 May 2014
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This review is from: Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
Aaron Dembski-Bowden once again shows why he is currently the best writer (in my opinion) with the Black Library. If youlike hs previous work, you will love this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous, 1 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
I could write a lot about this novel but I'll keep it brief. I found this an extremely compelling, imaginative, well written and re-readable account of the strange pairing of a World Eaters and Word Bearers joint campaign to destroy as much of Ultramar as they can before the inevitable counter attack can be organised. But it's so much more than that. When reading a novel with Imperial characters, seeing the horror of the Chaos madness, you often wonder "what are they thinking?" Well this is it, page after page of insight into their motivations which I don't want to spoil but it's fascinating and appalling food for thought. Lorgar is well on his way to becoming lost in 10,000 years of contemplating the warp and the portrayal of Angron and the world eaters is a revelation. I'll never look at them in the stereotypical berserker-madman way again. The last few Heresy novels I read were "okay" but this is one of the standouts that's made excited about the series all over again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Liked this book, love the Heresy series, 3 Nov 2013
This review is from: Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
I really liked this book and am never failed to be amazed by scale, detail, variety and consistency of the Horus Heresy as a series of books. Can anyone think of a fiction series that follows such unpalatable characters committing such awful atrocities from so many angles, where there is no right but a whole lot of wrong? Always keeps you guessing and gripped. In Betrayer you find yourself rooting for the Ultramarine 'enemy' rather than the books primary characters. I cannot think of another situation where you follow lead characters willing for them to fail, its unique and fascinating.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heresy comes full-swing!, 28 Oct 2013
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Mr. T. E. Rochester (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
Betrayer is great!

Before saying anything more, Please PLEASE double check which format you are buying this in - Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback! It'll really look different on your shelf (people often want a matching collection), and the price is different too.

Onto the book:
Betrayer serves as a sequel to a few previous Horus Heresy novels: The First Heretic, Aurelian, Know No Fear, and even Battle for the Abyss.

The plot revolves around Lorgar and his Word Bearers on a crusade against the Ultramarines alongside Angron and his crazed World Eaters. The crusade has been raging for a while and Ultramar is getting destroyed from within, but the effects are taking their toll - Angron is slowly dying as the "Butcher's Nails" take over control, and Lorgar is seeking to save him.

The reason this book is great is because of its POV characters, namely: Kharn, Argel Tal, Lhorke (a dreadnought who is awoken to discover the Heresy has begun) and especially Lotara Sarrin, the ships captain. She provides a more human perspective to what transpires as each Legion brings their unique characteristics to the tale.

I can't reveal too much more as it may give it away, but it is a must read for fans of the Horus Heresy.

However, there are a few criticisms:
*This book makes hardly any reference to the audio drama "Butcher's Nails", yet is meant to serve as a direct sequel to it.
*There is a discussion about a battle where the Word Bearers/World Eaters discuss facing "a billion" men. Now I know they are guessing, but it just seems stupid that they would even discuss such numbers without more intel, and that even 2 Legions against the discipline of several Ultramarine chapters, titans and human auxilliaries would not stand a chance against a billion men.
*Roboute Guilliman has a fleet of 41 ships against 3 big ships. Instead of a space battle then blast the WB/WE from orbit, he rushes ships past these massive enemy ships to land troops, losing many men and ships in the process... Then he's stupid enough to directly attack Two other Primarchs, one of which is meant to be the most brutal fighter in the galaxy... Mr Dembski-Bowden's portrayl of Guilliman flies in the face of what we've been constantly told about his meticulous planning and tactics etc...
*A character is brought back to life, yet nothing major happens to them. Their status is left ambiguous at the end of this novel, so that's fine, but I would've suspected such sorcery would've had greater repercussions. I'll have to wait for a new book to see what happens!
*He kills one of my favourite characters!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stikll good, even if not quite his best..., 19 Mar 2013
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JPS - See all my reviews
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I was waiting rather impatiently for ADB's next book, and his second in the Horus Heresy series. Since I very much enjoyed most of his previous titles, my expectations may have been rather high, perhaps too high, because there are a few issues - which I will come back to -that prevent me from giving this book the highest mark.

Having mentioned this, "Betrayer" remains a good and worthwhile addition to the series. It is a continuation of both "The First Heretic" (from the same author), to the extent that we learn more about and see more of Lorgar, the primarch of the Word Bearers, and his devious schemes, and of "Know no Fear" (by Dan Abnett) and the traitorous attack on Calth and on the Ultramarines.

One of the strong points of this book is characterization. Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters, largely takes centre stage and is depicted in a way that makes him both credible and almost sympathetic, to the extent that such an enraged character can be, of course, and as another reviewer on the UK site has mentioned already. What makes this character (and Kâhrn, his Equerry and right-hand man) interesting is their somewhat tragic humanity as their try, at times at least, to maintain some sanity and fight against the Nails that make them into monsters. Another feature that I appreciated was that Lorgar was much more credible in this volume that he appeared in "The First Heretic", where I found he was a bit of wimp. At least some of the secondary characters are just as good, such as Lotara Sarrin, Angron's flag captain, Argel Tal of the Word Bearers or Lhorke the Dreadnought and a relic of the past. I almost forgot to mention the arch-traitor, arch-schemer and loathsome Erebus, First Chaplain of the Word Bearers and Dark Apostle of the Word who is, of course, suitably horrid.

Some of the battle descriptions make up the second strong point of this book. Particularly memorable are the void battles and the battles opposing Titans against each other. Here, however, you make get a feeling a "dejà vu", to some extent, especially when one of the rebels' flagships comes crashing onto the planet (a bit like in "Know No Fear") that they are invading. You might, however, become a bit tired with the blood and gore scenes which are repeated, and perhaps a bit over-emphasized, at each of the World Eaters engagements. However, they do have the merit of showing how (and why) this Legion's warriors and its arch-gladiator Angron (loosely modelled on Spartacus) become possessed and completely berserk with bloodlust. It is their utter carelessness and relentlessness, together with their superior hand to hand fighting skills that make Angron's Legion so often victorious, and allows their Primarch to best two of his brothers.

Another feature that I appreciated was the depiction of the World Eaters' evolution and decadence and how, in particular, they manage to preserve some sense of brotherhood between them and some sense of loyalty towards their murderous and half-crazy Primarch. I particularly liked the "lesson" inflicted on Delvarius for his dereliction of duty that almost cost the Legion its flagship but will say no more about this episode to avoid any spoilers.

Then there is the plot itself, with two dimensions to it. The first one is to cripple the Ultramarines by destroying as much of their forces, of their strategic assets (dockyards, industries, etc...) and of their worlds as possible and prevent them from reinforcing Terra. The second aspect, which the books focuses much more upon, is the use that Lorgar tries to make of such destructions on a massive scale in order to bring the forces of the Warp into the "real" world. This is another area where I found that ADB's narrative was perhaps not entirely convincing or perhaps a bit "overdone", although it is a rather minor quibble on my part, rather than a serious criticism.

Two more quibbles to finish this review. First, and just like a number of other Horus Heresy books (something similar happened in Know No Fear, for instance), some events, and in particular those related to the Cabal, are not entirely explained so that this book is not entirely self-sufficient. Second, the book's ending, like many others, is rather abrupt, and leaves you wanting for more.
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Betrayer (The Horus Heresy) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Paperback - 26 Sep 2013)
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