I promised a less picture-intensive blog and here it is.
I've spent the last 3 months or so (among other things) devouring the BL Horus Heresy series and my general sense is one of disappointment. Don't get me wrong, the first four books in the series are great reads with lots of action - especially Galaxy in Flames and Fulgrim - but after Fulgrim I really got the sense that they were dragging the series out (although I appreciate that they are trying to do 'meanwhile at this time' and cover the history of the other Legions). Leaving that to one side, my general gripes with the series are:
1. Two Dimensional Characters (to say the least). I appreciate that the audience for these books isn't going to want pages and pages of existential discussions of the sort that you would find in a Dostoyevsky novel, but some actual character depth would be nice. In the series characters are very much painted as 'good' and 'bad' with little or no shading or exploration of motivations (the nearest that you get to this is the decline of Fulgrim, but this could have been explored a lot more). Arguably the worst sin of the entire series is that you do not get any real exploration of Horus and his motivations for switching sides. The scene where he becomes corrupted by Erebus, falls and then essentially sets the Imperium on a crash-course for implosion is handled in (correct me if I'm wrong) just a one chapter. Even then, the way that it is described is pretty superficial: another blogger described it well when he said it was like he was getting sold a used car rather than betraying all his principles, his father etc.
2. The Covers. I know that this is not a major issue, but why is it that the cover image of each book invariably has nothing to do with the contents of the book itself?
3. Back of a napkin/beer-mat plots. Once you get past the first books in the series, the plots become to feel like they have been sketched out on the back of a beer-mat and then passed on to the author with a request to 'spin this out to 150k words'. Two of the books in the series: Flight of the Eisenstein and Battle for the Abyss are nearly the same story - a chase through the warp. Arguably the worst two books for this, though, are Legion and Mechanicum. Again, I appreciate the respect in which Dan Abnett is held around the 40Kverse, but I defy anyone to not be able to summarise the plot of Legion in one sentence (my attempt would be: through a long and convoluted series of events, a member of an underground Cabal finally manages to tell the Alpha Legion about how the Horus Heresy will unfold). Equally the general narrative of Mechanicum is interesting, but it feels like the author realised that he was about 50k words short and so put the whole plot about the serpent in there for padding. I may ultimately be wrong on this, but I don't think a serpent trapped on Mars will be a defining motif of the series if it ever ends.
4. The Dark Angels Books. I don't think that I am saying anything too controversial when I say that the two Dark Angels books in the series are perhaps its weakest elements. Apart from the desire to draaaaaaaag the story out, I cannot for the life of me think of any reason why Descent of Angels, Fallen Angels and whatever the next book in the Dark Angels series could not have been done as one 400 page book. The first two books could easily have been made into one book and told the same story without the padding (and don't get me started on having a lead character who is called, at least when I speed-read it, Lionel).
5. When will we leave the Istvaan system? I know that the more books BL can sell, the more money they make, but, really, it would be great if they could move the main action from Istvaan back towards Terra (come on, guys, its been almost 6 books now!)
My only hope is that once the series is over, BL publishes a decent (say, 1,000 page) synopsis of the whole story with none of the padding.