Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Book Review: Horus Heresy Pharos

Ok so I am gonna start with the warning that this is 'hands down' my favourite Horus Heresy book in a while so expect a gushing review here....

This is Guy Haley's first full Horus Heresy book and he takes us to the beginning of the end for the Imperium Secundus. By the end of the book the cracks have been well and truly pried open by a Konrad Curze shaped crowbar! Although to be fair to him it's as much the relationship between the Lion, Guilliman and Sanguinius as anything he does. 

And really this galactic-shaping event is just the back story to the gripping attack on the world of Sotha and the Pharos by the best (or worst) baddies in 30k...The Nightlords. 

The book has some great characters that I was really into and Guy Haley does a great job of making the Nightlords relatable and 'human' whilst remaining the biggest psychos around.
Dantioch and Pollux are there and have always been favourites of mine, and there are also major appearances from Curze, Sanguinius and Roboute. Pollux kicks power-armoured arse as always and even elicits the comment "someone in there knows what they are doing" from a thwarted Night Lord captain which I loved.

For the Nightlords we get the two rivals Skraivok (Clawmaster) and Krukresh Lord of Kyroptera. 

These two are great characters, being as back stabbing, scheming and generally evil as you can be and also showing us the Nightlords are not so impervious to the temptations of the warp. 

But by far the most interesting NL characters are the brothers Kellendvar and Kellenkir, who along with their gene-father explore the question of pre-determinism and Haley confronts the idea that the NL leapt 'from their mothers arms intent on torture and death'. Along with the Primarch, Haley injects some sympathy into us for these characters who are reaching for redemption (Curze to a degree) at times only to fall short. 

The best character in the book though is Sgt Mericus Giraldus - a human joker turned hero who cracks jokes with and at the expense of the stoney faced Ultramarines and Pollux throughout the story in a way we haven't seen before. He does not suffer from the awe of trans-humans and his wit is always walking a line of insubordination only to be saved from rebuke by his great martial prowess and leadership. Without doing Haley any discredit, he reminds me of some of the great characters from the Gaunt's Ghosts series and if I ever build a Solar Auxilia army you can bet there will be a squad lead by Giraldus. 

There is plenty of action in the book without feeling like the tired bolter porn that this can become. It's got so many kinds of combat; sneak attacks by the filthy nightlords, Primarchs fighting each other, ship combat, assault on a fortified location, guerilla warfare, humans v Astartes, Astartes v humans, Astartes v Astartes v humans! As you can tell I love the battle scenes, partly because I was so invested in the heroes but also because they are so well paced and great fun to read. 

The verdict: great action, we learn some more about the fall of Imperium Secundus, engaging characters - it's got it all. Well done Guy Haley. Now stop reading this and go buy it 10/10. 

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