Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now flip flip flip Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 February 2014
At last, some seven books after “Know No Fear”, the Horus Heresy saga seems to be moving forward, but only by half a pace, with this book being centred on the “Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar” and their Primarch Roboute Guilliman.

Unfortunately, Dan Abnett’s attempt to bring together a number of loose ends is not, in my view, entirely successful. More generally, there are a number of inconsistencies or tensions across the book, although there are also a number of good pieces and nice touches as well, and I will begin with these.

One nice and amusing touch right at the beginning are the apparitions, with references to and a quotation from “Amulet, Prince Demark”, authored by the dramaturge Shakespire. Another nice bit of context is “Magna Macragge Civitas”, the huge capital city of the planet of the same name, and of Ultramar more generally. Both the text and the map of the city show that Abnett has largely drawn his inspiration from Constantinople and the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire.

A third interesting idea was that of a mysterious alien device that acts as an alternative beacon to the Astronomican and manages to pierce through the Chaos storms and draws all sorts of refugees and loyalists to Macragge. It is in part through this device that Abnett manages to bring together a number of the loose ends that I mentioned.

Another interesting feature is that this book allows for a number of insights into Guilliman’s personality which were simply not possible (and not done) in “Know No Fear”, given the battle report format that the author had chosen for that book. So we get some idea as to how Guilliman was trained to be a ruler and a warlord by his human predecessor and by a very interesting character who plays the role of a foster mother. If the point was to show Guilliman as essentially human, and attempting to overcome “human weaknesses” (his emotions) through self-control, then I will admit that Abnett has been quite successful here, even if this is perhaps not quite what readers have become to expect from a “super-human” Primarch.

Unfortunately, this is perhaps where problems started to arise. As noted by another reviewer, the fact that a whole hit-squad of barely disguised enemy Space Marines manages to enter Guilliman’s without being challenged beggars belief. It also is somewhat at odds with the portrait of Guilliman as the ultimate tactician and strategist. Maybe this extraordinary lapse of elementary security can be explained away to some extent by one of Guilliman’s “breakdowns” since it is he who allows them in and expressly prevents his own security from doing its job. Maybe his “semi-godly” status explains why his security does not insist in running even the most elementary checks on his “visitors”, although this is not very credible.

Anyway, as a result, you are treated to a quite superb fight in a confined room between a Primarch and ten Space Marines. In fact, the book contains a somewhat “symmetrical” scene further on when another Primarch gets to fight another squad of Space Marines from another Legion. I could not help having the impression that Dan Abnett rather liked this feature and therefore decided on a repeat. One problem, however, is that this second feature, and the roaming of this second Primarch across the locked-down fortress and palace more generally, puts the Ultramarines in a rather bad light once again. Their security measures look rather inept, given the easiness with which the intruding Primarch avoids them.

Another point is that this books has a concentration of Primarchs – five of which only one is among the “Traitors” and, to some extent, it also tends to concentrate on them. The pieces showing the rather ambivalent relationship between Lion of the Dark Angels and Roboute of the Ultramarines are possibly among the better sections of this volume. However, “Vulkan’s comeback” is not fully convincing. A bit like in the previous volume of the HH series, Dan Abnett seems to have trouble in deciding – once and for all – whether “Vulkan Lives” or not.

The last scenes of the book, with a third “loyalist” Legion and its Primarch arriving, are suitably impressive and grandiose, just like the arrival of the Dark Angels. Here again, Dan Abnett tends to double up his effects.

So I liked a number of features in this volume, and I liked the way in which Dan Abnett managed to bring a number of loose ends together. Thanks to this book, we essentially end up with having three “loyalist” Legions plus elements of most other “loyalist” Legions all gathered at Macragge, all more or less ready to move to Terra’s rescue. However, it was a bit of a pity that all of these Space Marines (a thousand according to the book) never really take centre stage, with the exception of the leader of a group of Scars, whose reason for being on Macragge is somewhat unclear, and a pack of Space Wolves whose role seems to be to prevent Guilliman into becoming a second Horus.

Nevertheless, and as a number of other reviewers, I did not find the plot entirely plausible. The fact that Terra was inaccessible and the Astronomican cannot be seen anymore creates uncertainty. It does not imply that the planet has fallen and the Emperor is dead, neither does it imply the need for a new Regent of the Empire or even a “Second” Empire. More specifically, there were a number of instances (mentioned above) which stretched credulity and goodwill to breaking point.

Three stars for a book that was a bit of a “mixed bag” for me.
4 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 13 November 2014
The Unremembered Empire (TUE) was a thoroughly enjoyable book, but its not without its critics or flaws. It has divided the readership.
However it is a must-read for fans of the Horus Heresy series and ties up or continues at least 6 previous Horus Heresy novels/novellas: The Crimson Fist, Prince of Crows, Betrayer, Know No Fear, Vulkan Lives, Fear to Tread, with nods to Mark of Calth and Battle for the Abyss too.

It has an interesting premise: That Guilliman fears Terra has fallen, so wants to re-found "Imperium Secondus" at Macragge to rally the loyalists against Horus.
However it has a few plot holes or stretches of the imagination that ultimately spoilt it as you read through.
Below I shall list them in no real order (Spoiler warning!). Do read it, its fairly essential for whatever comes next I'm guessing, but be prepared.

1. The idea that Terra has fallen is simply assumed yet Guilliman has no proof. Maybe he's just being precautionary, but it does seem to be a leap of logic for him and his fellow Primarchs Lion El'Jonson and Sanguinius...
2. It features multiple protagonists which is cool at first, but you're left wishing they each got more exposure. For such an important "tying together" novel, it deserved more pages... Nevertheless, this is one of the great strengths of the novel - lots of your favourite characters all in one place.
3. The Pharos that draws everyone together is, as another reviewer notes, a macguffin. A mysterious piece of xenos-tech that magically works like a lantern on Macragge. How convenient...
4. Lion has Curze trapped on his ship and doesn't kill him? He decides to hunt him one on one with no success... Then he escapes... How thick is he?
5. Speaking of Curze, he appears to have gained invisibility powers similar to Corax? And can dodge bullets? Where did that come from?
6. Guilliman, admittedly unarmed, nearly dies against 10 Alpha Legionaries mostly armed with guns. A weakened Curze (he's just fought a Chapter Master, a massive Imperial Fist and Two Primarchs...) easily dispatches 10 armed-to-the-teeth execution squad Space Wolves... Where's the balance?
7. Guilliman's security seems lax, letting "Thiel" into his personal quarters with NO checks on them beforehand... Surely he'd have caught on to traps following Calth? Speaking of security, Polux makes him and his legion look like an idiot.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 14 June 2014
I'm usually a fan of Dan Abnett, but I found myself unable to finish this one. As a previous reviewer put it, he seemed to have a real crush on the traitor primarch.


I actually found the first three quarters enjoyable enough, with an interesting portrayal of Roboute Guilliman and his thought processes. It also continued a theme touched upon previously that while superhuman, the primarches are still mortal and can make mistakes; notably when Roboute lets his guard down and is almost killed by ten impostor marines. Unfortunately, this angle was completely ruined for me as this carefully constructed fallible/human aspect is juxtaposed to the suddenly massively inflated capabilities of the traitor primarch who dominates the latter quarter of the book. The entire point is the brother primarches are largely equal with various idiosyncracies that offer certain advantages and niche talents; who would 'win' is up for constant debate both in the lore and amongst fans. As a whole their demi-god capabilities can vary somewhat from story to story, fine, but at least make their 'race' consistent within your telling. Instead, in this book we get a barely-competent Guilliman who is such a putz he drops his helmet infront of two legions of onlooking marines (demi-god of awkwardness), and KONRAD M***** *******G CURZE! YEEEEAH! (demi-god of killing dozens in a single sentence).

Just to give you an idea, after spending months alone being constantly hunted by The Lion and his legion aboard a ship with no rest, in one evening Konrad then:
- Single handedly assaults the most heavily guarded fortress on one of the most heavily guarded imperium worlds (Macragge), slaughtering his way through literally countless loyalist marines.
- Once inside then fights two loyalist primarches by himself (despite the fact one, The Lion, had previously defeated him in single combat) nearly killing them both while escaping unharmed,
- Stops his rampage briefly to empty a whisky glass then fill it with blood in order to scare an old lady (wtf)
- Kills a pack of space wolves specifically tasked to end primarches. Recurrent characters throughout the book, with their leader displaying skill even Roboute finds daunting, they turn out to be nothing more than cannon fodder to be snuffed out in a single paragraph. Faced with a similar scenario earlier Roboute is hospitalised and haunted by subsequent PTSD; a mere distraction for aaaaw yeaaah Konrad Curze.
- Who moments later rather flippantly kills another primarch, Vulcan. At this point I sighed and put the book down, so no doubt Konrad's excellent adventures continued.

Perhaps if I had no previous knowledge of the universe or any of the characters I'd find it bearable, but the fact is these characters and their backgrounds are well established. I felt like I was reading some tiresome and overly biased fanfiction. Yep, shadows, smoke, death, unstoppable, death, smoke, murder, everyones dead, I get it now, anything else going to happen? Nope. Knowing what this author is capable of, it just seems like laziness. He couldn't be bothered to think of a decent ending so instead we get about 100 pages of Curze rampaging around with little or no thought involved (for him or the author).
3 people found this helpful
|11 Comment|Report abuse
on 25 November 2014
This is a fairly decent WH40K story in the Horus Heresy series. Not the best but not the worst either so at the very least you should be reasonably entertained.

My main issue with this story is it doesn't really go into any detail on the title of the book-the unremembered empire of 'Imperium Secundus.' In fact, it is barely touched upon...

Roboute (to The Lion): As the Emperor is likely dead Im thinking of starting a new Imperium.
Lion: Are you sure that's a good idea?
Roboute: Yeah.
Lion: Ok.

Later on:
Roboute: By the way, there must be no record of this imminently practical precautionary measure in case it is considered heresy (for some reason that isn't touched upon).

That's the extent of the unremembered empire. This book really might as well have been called 'Assault on Macragge'
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 8 April 2017
One of the better books in this ongoing series. Dan Abnett is widely regarded as one of the best of the black library's authors and this work is good by his standards. Yes it's typical military sci fi, lots of guns, lots of product placement for games workshop's models, but the author manages to turn the normal portrayal of the post human supersoldiers of the 41st millennium into good and accomplished character portraits.

This novel covers an interesting chapter in the series; the pragmatic attempt to plan for the future assuming, as is believed, that the loss of contact with earth does truly represent the end of the Emperor of Mankind. Feuding Demi gods and a decent pace made this a properly entertaining read
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 13 September 2014
Dan Abnett is one of the star players in the Black Library stable and this book is clear evidence of his stabilizing influence on the Horus Heresy series. A solid evolution of the mythology focusing on the Ultramarines Legion and Primarch this book was a pleasing fleshing out of big characters while doing solid work driving the series story arc forward. I've enjoyed Abnett's work throughout this series and based on this offering will be buying his next outing too.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 7 March 2014
Excellent book in the Horus Heresy series. Dan Abnett delivers an immaculate narrative on the interaction between 4 primarchs, and additional background on a fifth primarch.

My only concern about this book is that it didn't really feel like the story moved forward in the larger scheme of things. We still don't know much about Terra, Dorn and the Emperor, but this is very likely intended.

High expectations for the coming book Scars. Oh and, you can read the first chapter at the end of the Unremembered Empire.

Overall a very good read
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 19 July 2017
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 12 April 2015
A very good book. Lots going on, a good read. Unfortunately by the end the Heresy was no further on. If you don't read this book you won't have missed much of the overall Heresy or key plot lines. .
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 7 October 2015
Present for hubby, he enjoyed!
|0Comment|Report abuse