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on 13 September 2017
Simply awesome you could write this into a movie and smash the box office with it. Hats off to the author
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on 24 September 2013
very pleased with book, was a great story line and very much enjoyed, one of my best purchaces so far thanks
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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 3 December 2016
The teen-drama (Twilight) telling of a Horus Heresy tale. This is actually the second time I've read this book, the first being so forgettable, as I try to re-engage with the HH series; and as a Blood Angels fan I decided to give it another chance. Given the beloved Warhammer-40K universe and a script likely handed down by authors like Dan Abnett, how bad could this book be?

Well in general Swallow's writing style is so flowery and forced that it clogs up the story flow with needless description of pointless objects. Fine, I can push through that, but the characters are what I hate most about, all of his books in fact. In Fear to Tread everyone is a cliche of a cliche - the arrogant d-bag that redeems himself at the end, the lowliest humble medic is the hero at the end, the same old bad guy, the noble sacrifice, etc etc... the Primarch is tough to like and seems unintelligent and one-dimensional. The attempt here to humanize these characters just makes them seem like - babies.

It's like Swallow has never spent any time among men, and is writing about a teen soccer team struggling with their changing hormones. And to the Black Library in general - enough already with the Black Rage / Red Thirst trope... ok it makes sense here for once, but how does this chapter still exist if EVERY single battle or contest has them on the brink? Having a small Death Company due to the Rage is already interesting enough, it doesn't need to be the only defining characteristic told in every mention of the Blood Angels.

I read this alongside Know No Fear which has a vaguely similar plot line, but the comparison starkly highlighted just how silly this book is. As a Blood Angels fan I really wish that Abnett, or French or Dembski-bowden would take over as the "Blood Angels guy" and move away from this cartoony depiction.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 2 September 2012
I largely agree with the review posted by "Me" on Amazon.co.uk. I had much the same impressions when reading this book, with which I was greatly disappointed.

While I do not necessarily mind "bolter porn", I start having a problem when there is too much of it. After a while, I got tired and almost bored of all the carnage, the bones, the boneless bodies, the atrocious Chaos monsters and all the "bang, bang" of these bolters. I almost found it dull and I even started to dread it when yet another "bang, bang" scene was so obviously about to happen. So, I found there was too much of it with the author tending to wax lyrical about it, rather than giving his story or his characters any depth.

The story is also largely "déjà vu". Other reviewers have already touched on some aspects, with one of them in particular showing that the author has retold part of the Horus Heresy story (see Horus Rising), and the Ulanor great parade. He also alludes to the great treason on Istvan V when the loyalist legions get massacred (yet again!). There are more than a few similarities between this book, and the trap awaiting the Blood Angels, and Know no Fear, including the liberties taken with physics and the implausibility of having a huge space ship crashing from space onto a planet without disintegrating as it enters the atmosphere.

While there is a lot of "deja vu", one of the most important pieces is simply missing. We jump from scenes where Horus and Sanguinius are the closest of brothers to the present when the former is betraying and trying to have the later killed. All that was needed was a couple of paragraphs explaining that Horus has "turned to the dark side" after having been wounded on Davin. However, we are never told how or why this happened so that this book, despite all of the "deja vu" pieces, simply cannot be read apart from the rest of the series. Another missing part was the absence of any history of the Legion. I was expecting to learn, through a couple of flashbacks spread across the book, something about Sanguinius' arrival on Baal, some history and some description of the Legion's home planet, how the Legion was founded and how they even earned their name. There is simply nothing on any of that so that, as another reviewer mentioned, you could almost change the colour of the Legion's armour to blue and have the Ultramarines instead (or perhaps even the Imperial Fists!).

Also, and contrary to another reviewer, I did not find that the Primarch's characterization and the Legion's portray were much good. Regarding Sanguinius, this is perhaps the author lays it on rather thick when he shows him to be so "compassionate". Somehow, this did not sound plausible to me, possibly because there was so much of it that it sometimes felt as a caricature. I was almost expecting the Great Sanguinius to start bursting into tears every time he comes across some slaughter. The nobility and righteousness of his Legion confronted with its genetic flaw did not always feel quite right either, especially when some of the senior officers gang up together to hid the truth from their Primarch - the slaughter of some of their allies when caught up in the Rage to kill. A Primarch that needed to be spared some horrible truth by his own Legion to avoid hurting his feelings after everything else he has gone through? Simply incredible!

Then there were a number of implausible or inconsistent developments, which also spoilt the story for me. One of the worst was the contradiction between the initial attack against the Blood Angels' fleet, which supposedly killed off or disabled the humans and servitors that were accompanying them and scarred the survivors for life and the humans and servitors which seem to happily pilot ships and craft as the fleet leaves the system and moves to its next destination at the end of the book.

Even the claim that this novel has significantly advanced the Horus Heresy plot seems rather exaggerated. The only real advance is that, by the end of the book, the battered Blood Angels Fleet reunites with another loyalist Legion.

So, despite a couple of nice touches that I did not bother to mention (such as Amit, Captain of the Fifth, whose nickname will become the name of one of the Successor Chapters of the Blood Angels), I really felt that James Swallow had missed an opportunity here and made a hash of it. This is a real pity, not only because the Blood Angels happen to be one of my favourite Legions, but also because Sanguinius happens to be one of the more complex personalities among the Primarchs. Two stars for me: this is one of the worst Horus Heresy books that I have read up to now...
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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 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 15 November 2016
I agree with a couple of the other reviewers on here in that I was pretty bored with this offering. Poor characterisation, too much bolted-porn and the parts which I think were meant to come across as scary & chaos-y just seemed ridiculous & silly, not creepy at all, kind of like a bad B-movie. If you want a better presented version of this story then you'll find it in the 'The Horus Heresy, Collected Visions'.
Two stars instead of one as the Blood Angels are one of my favourite legions and I really want to like this book... but I don't...
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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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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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