Uneven, but sublime in places,
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This review is from: Prospero Burns (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
I think the highest compliment we can pay to Dan Abnett is that nobody will ever write the Space Wolves the same after this contribution. He has shone so much light on them, and enriched their background so much that we'll never see them the same again. The Wolves come across as barbaric but noble, intelligent and savage, animalistic and yet also deeply aware and intellectual. Bill King's trilogy is utterly eclipsed.
The first appearance of a space marine in the book is vintage Abnett; an absolutely blazing, cinematic passage that just leaps off the page.
In response to the criticism that he's used too many unusual words, well, isn't it an author's DUTY to introduce us to new words when the time's right? What better word to describe a doughnut-shaped artificially-constructed structure than 'toroid'? Yeah, a few caught me out, but how great to find myself reaching for a dictionary whilst reading such page-turning yarns?
Something I thought was quite successful was the way several uniquely Abnett characters and ideas sparked in previous books came together in this one: the importance/use of names by psykers, Enuncia, the Custodes, the untouchables...
As for the narrator, it makes sense that Dan chose to tell the story through the eyes of an uninitiated third party, a device he's used time and time again to great effect. It's an old writer's trick to help keep the wonder and surprise in narrative, and to ensure the odd nudge and wink can take place between the author and Warhammer-initiated (the 'purring' axe 'licking its lips' at the start of the book is a perfect and brilliant example).
My only quibbles are that the third act, the actual assault on Prospero, is weaker than the preceding two, and Hawser's recollections are passable reading but pale alongside the rip-roaring combat scenes by such an extent that they drag quite badly. And, for goodness's sake, how many 'wet-leopard purs' can a cast of characters utter in one book!?
So, uneven, but an absolutely essential read for anyone who's remotely interested in space marines!