Horus Heresy - False Gods Paperback – 25 Sep 2014
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About the Author
Scotland-born author GRAHAM McNEILL is an avid writer and has had several novels published by The Black Library. His most recent works have been False Gods (McNeill, 2006), published in June 2006, and Fulgrim (McNeill, 2007), published in July 2007, both of which are part of the Black Library's Horus Heresy novel series.
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Top customer reviews
All that having been said, the book itself has some good action sequences, and there is a *fantastic* scene on a shrine world during the temptation of Horus that really couldn't have been done better by anyone else. Certainly the second half of this book is the better half, and the interactions between the characters become markedly improved.
Nonetheless I strongly suspect it's the strength of the story rather than the skill of the writer that keeps this book afloat.
Emphatically `Yes'. Though all Warhammer 40,000 fans will be well aware of the tragic fate of the angelic Primarch Horus, there is a grim fascination in following his downfall and I found it very difficult to put this book down. Unusually for a Black Library book (the publisher is known for its tendency to deal out mass bombardments of death and destruction from the word `Go'), there's a good deal of build-up before the first confrontation takes place. And - without wishing to spoil the moment - what a confrontation it turns out to be!
In many ways, this book was what I expected Horus Rising to be. Much of the story is told from Horus' point of view, whereas the previous book relegated his magisterial presence to the background. In False Gods we follow Horus both physically and metaphysically through his struggles with powers divine and diabolical. I am sure that most Warhammer 40,000 fans will prefer this direct approach to telling Horus' story, but it does have its flaws. The divine ineffability that had previously veiled the godlike Primarchs is fast wearing thin as the Horus Heresy series continues. And there's the rub - it's unavoidable that the more familiar we become with these fantastic beings, the more mundane they seem. The Primarch Fulgrim is sadly wasted in this instalment, although McNeill clearly revels in the chapter featuring the animalistic Angron, a wonderfully wild and atavistic monster. The penmanship of the gritty Scot also transfers well to characters like the wrath-fuelled Abaddon, and the Space Marines as a whole feel like a far more brutal brotherhood than before.
Although McNeill lacks some of Abnett's facility for conveying the rich splendour of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and his writing is somewhat less elegant, for the most part you would not notice that this is a different author. Unfortunately, the iterator Kyril Sindermann is used mainly for exposition rather than philosophy, and First Chaplain Erebus' scheming is thunderously obvious, but I'm picking holes here in what is essentially a sound and gripping tale. Above all else, McNeill writes Space Marine stories well, and False Gods is no exception. The time has come to return to the worship of the old gods. You know it makes sense.
Horus Rising was a supreme success, and as good a teller of space marine action stories as McNeill is, he is simply not the writer that Abnett is. And unfortunately this book makes it obvious.
That being said, it is still a good book, enjoyable, and makes a noble effort to carry on the style, pace and scope of the first book. And it does not fail. Its just... not as good. Sorry Graham.
That being said, the change in the Mournival is worth it, and is rather well done, and Loken and other key characters are written with amazing continuity.
Unfortunately, I hated the bits with Horus in the warp. Frankly they were not enough to explain why Horus falls (though I will give McNeill this - his description of a 40k shrine world is absolutely fantastic - and almost enough on its own - its just a shame that the rest of Horus' acid trip is not nearly as poignant or strong).
So, a damn good effort, but simply not as good as Horus Rising.
The story delves a bit deeper into Horus' personality, and in particular the seeds for his fall. The mechanisms weren't unexpected, but it did have some surprises. It certainly sets the scene for events to come. It's also well reflected in the surrounding characters, in particular the members of the Mournival introduced in the first book. The new characters from other chapters play a significant part and also help identify the nature of the different Astartes chapters (well legions at that point).
The bleak nature of the universe is one of its best features, it's all very much shades of grey, even when there's a supposed purity of purpose. This is reflected in the writing which has a formal, and almost sombre feel. Having different authors in a series can be a mixed bag, but the style is consistent with the previous book. The style of writing suits the setting, but there are nuances here as well. For superhuman characters, there's some appreciated subtlety in the writing and characterisation.
The books downside is shared by many others in the world. As they're aimed at players of the game there's a lot of assumed knowledge, although for fans it does add a lot of richness to the background. Overall it's a solid action story, with some thoughtful moments. Definitely a good read for fans.
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