Wednesday, 31 March 2010

A Thousand Sons - wow.

In a previous post, I bemoaned how I was getting completely bored by the whole BL Horus Heresy series. Well, after reading A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeil, I may have to re-evaluate.

A Thousand Sons is easily the best book for me in the entire series, if not the best BL book that I've read. To recap, it covers the downfall of the Thousand Sons; how they come to earn the ire of the Imperium for their use of magic, how they are censured by the Emperor and ultimately come to lose his favour and, ultimately, how both their legion and their planet of Prospero is decimated by the Space Wolves. What I particularly liked about the book was, in many ways, what I have found lacking in the previous books in the series, namely:

*I felt for the characters. One of the bad things about the series so far as was I couldn't really feel for the characters and found them a bit (well, a lot) one-dimensional: Horus is good (albeit a bit bland) -> Horus gets injured -> Horus sells the Imperium down the river (after falling for some pretty weak persuasion) -> Horus goes bad. Even in the Fulgrim book (also by McNeil), you never really got a sense of struggle with him and his whole descent into Slaanesh-iness, while tragic and more powerful than Horus' descent, felt a bit lacking. With ATS, I really got a sense of the tragedy of the Legion's fall from grace. More than this, I really felt sorry for the noble Magnus and the way in which, while trying to do good, he ultimately sowed the seeds for his (and his Legion's destruction)

*I loved the references. McNeil's writing was full of nice little nods and references to philosophical and occult ideas that - while possibly lost on much of the BL readership - made me smile. References to Plato's Cave, Alhazred from the Cthulhu Mythos, egyptology, ranks in magical orders abound, and certainly add spice to the plot.

*I loved the measured use of bolter-porn. There had to be battles, but it was really kept to just 2 places in the book - a short skirmish at the start and then the big battle at the end. Even here (in the latter example) the whole battle was tempered with pathos, though, rather than just being 'big guy shoots stuff up and then some more and then some more)

Let's hope that the rest of the series lives up to where ATS has taken it...

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