Friday, August 02, 2019

Booknote: A Thousand Sons

Graham McNeill, A Thousand Sons. Nottingham, UK: Black Library, 2010.  ISBN: 9781844168095.

Genre: science fiction
Subgenre: military science fiction, Horus Heresy series, Warhammer 40,000
Format: paperback
Source: Interlibrary  Loan request at Hutchins Library, Berea College. It came from Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Indiana.

This is Book 12 of the Horus Heresy series. I truly wanted to like this one. Graham McNeill also wrote the Ultramarines novels (link to my review of the second omnibus in that series) in Warhammer 40,000, and I enjoyed those, so I figured I'd like this novel too. In addition, the book's description sounded great. I came in with high expectations only to be disappointed.

The Thousand Sons legion, led by Primarch Magnus the Red, are among the most loyal and brave of the Emperor's legions. There is just one problem: they are all powerful psykers who use arcane and occult methods as part of their warfare. It's a problem for the Emperor and the other legions who regard them with suspicion.

In Aghoru, Magnus is awaiting an event, a vision, a revelation. Meanwhile, the Great Crusade continues. When the Thousand Sons get called back to action, Magnus disobeys and stays put. Leman Russ, another primarch, sends some of his Space Wolves legion to find out why and bring Magnus and his legion back. Later, Magnus is called to Nikea where the Emperor, despite Magnus' loyalty and devotion, censures Magnus and forbids him from pursuing their arcane ways. To be plain, Magnus leaves, and the legion does what they do anyhow. Magnus even foresees Horus' treachery and tries to warn the Emperor, but instead of being grateful, the Emperor orders the Space Wolves legion to attack Prospero, the Thousand Sons' homeworld. When you think about it, the Emperor was kind of a close minded asshole. From there, Magnus' path along with his legion to serving Chaos is sealed. Much of what Magnus did was to save his legion.

The novel is the tragedy of the fall of the Thousand Sons. Much of it is due to the Emperor's obstinacy,  but also the legion was tempted by Chaos. All that sounds great and dramatic, and I like good drama as much as the next guy. The big issue of this novel is that nothing happens for most of it. The first 100 pages we are just sitting in Aghoru waiting. The legion's space marines are all waiting, and they are miffed about waiting. In fact, they bitch  and moan about how the other legions are out at war, and they are stuck in some backwater world because their leader is doing who knows what. By then, as a reader, I could feel the space marines' boredom too, wishing the author would get on with it. Yes, eventually there are some battles and action, but the action is scarce and far between. Bottom line is this book is a serious drag. I recall writing in my daily journal as days went by about the annoyance of this  book not going anywhere. That is how bad this was. Sure, there are positive reviews out there of this book, but those seem basically WH40K fanboys gushing praises, and I wonder if they read the same book. It seems more likely they are legion's fans so the book itself does not matter that much.

The book does present some interesting lore details. The Thousand Sons give a feel of Ancient Egyptian or similar culture in their practice and customs. Those details as well as their arcana are interesting, but we get too little of that to really hold a reader's interest. This book was way too long and seriously boring for the most part.

If you are a fan of the Thousand Sons legion, you'll probably read this anyways. For the casual readers, I'd consider this very optional reading. Overall, Horus Heresy books can be hit or miss. This one was a miss. Oh well, I'll try my luck with the next one.

1 out of 5 stars

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