Within this post we shall examine the foundation of The Horus Heresy, what the series is, what it is connected to, information that would greatly assist you as you undertake the journey of reading this excellent series, and some of the practical notes on the logistics of the series all in a fairly Spoiler Free method. In future posts we will discuss the actual books in a little more detail and as such those posts may contain a few Spoilers just because they cover the series as it grows, but they won’t be Spoiler laden. Our goal is to interest you in reading the books we review, not in spoiling the fun.
Please note: there are also games, models, miniatures, comic books, and audio books that detail this series. For the purpose of this review we will only focus upon the books.
Now on to the Heresy!
The Horus Heresy is a 30+ (and growing) SciFi book series that sets the stage for the WarHammer40K (WH40K) Universe. What’s that you say? You don’t know about WH40K? Well imagine a GrimDark future Imperium of Mankind that spans across our galaxy. It’s been running for 10,000 years and is always on the brink of destruction but barely keeps enduring thanks to the heroic actions of the Space Marines: genetically altered super warriors who live an almost eternal life of fighting humanity’s enemies and protecting us from falling into Chaos.
The future isn’t pretty. It’s very dark and dangerous but it wasn’t always so! There was a time at the foundation of the Imperium of Man when the superhuman Emperor walked amongst us and was guiding us into a Golden Age of promise, of science, of hope. From his very being he created the Primarchs: superhuman beings made in the image of the Emperor. His sons. Gifted in ways as he was. Each Primarch was given a legion of Space Marines of his own that had been created from the Primarch’s genetics just as the Primarch was taken from the Emperor’s genes.
The Emperor then led his Primarchs and their legions of Space Marines on a two hundred year long war of reunification of humanity that had previously migrated from humanity’s birthplace of Earth. After two hundred years of this conquest the Emperor is returning to Earth to start the next phase of the Golden Age and leaves the task of the never ending wars of expansion and reunification in the hands of his favored son: the Primarch Horus.
This is where The Horus Heresy begins. On the eve of the greatest possible age of humanity, Chaos creeps in. Dark Powers that have been taking shape behind the scenes for decades start to rise to the fore and even the most pure and mighty will face temptation and possibly fall. When many beings have godlike power and purpose what hope of survival does the galaxy have when those purposes and powers find themselves at odds?
Someone asked how The Horus Heresy compares to A Song Of Ice And Fire. This was a question I wasn’t expecting because while both series are excellent they are quite different in nature. One stark contrast (don’t lose your heads over the pun ASOIAF fans) stands out: ASOIAF tries to take the giant characters you see in High Fantasy and make them human. In The Horus Heresy the authors are taking the major characters and making them so much more than human. The Emperor, the Primarchs, the Space Marines all are much larger than life characters and this series examines events in the WH40K universe that have been much alluded to but never examined. As a result the primary characters are seen as giants in every way and as the noblest of beings. This is so that when the darkness wells up from within or surrounds from without you can truly see it for the evil that it is.
But what is good and what is evil? That has been a question that plagues us all and is one of the primary drives within this conflict. Is the Emperor good? Is he saving humankind from ourself or is he a tyrannical conqueror enslaving us to his will and condemning us to an empty future? Is the Emperor’s chosen son Horus evil for rising against his father or is he good and bringing freedom to choose our own destiny to humanity?
And conflict it is. The Heresy spreads and sides are chosen. Misunderstanding, doubt, jealously, hatred, rage, and miscommunication flourish in the heart of Chaos and destruction follows close behind. The greatest war to engulf our species breaks out and you’ll see the greatest of heroics and darkest of treacheries. There is no war darker than a civil war and this one might tear the universe apart.
Time to discuss some of the logistics of this series! The series as I said is already greater than 30 books long (and growing) with each book typically being between 400 to 500 pages in length. Multiple books are released within the same year and sometimes the books cover the same events but from very different perspectives. This is able to happen and be maintained by the fact that it is being written by multiple authors and not just one. Several excellent authors who have helped to shape the WH40K Universe have joined forces to examine this dark time at the foundations of its history, each a very talented author who brings certain strengths to the development of the story overall.
How long does this Heresy take for there to be so many books? Well future historians have offered differing opinions upon this fact but most agree that this chapter in human history lasted around a decade. However as this conflict spans the galaxy there are several different stories to be told as it all comes together. The first few books of the series set the stage for the Heresy and advance the story, then the series starts examine events taking place from different angles, often advancing the series bit by bit but always expounding upon the characters and events that make up this greatest of conflicts.
Within the overall series you’ll find there are a few short story collections. These stories will sometimes go further back in time to show you the origin of some of the characters and organizations within the conflict and often add valuable depth to the series. It’s an interesting way to tell the overall story.
Overall the experience of reading The Horus Heresy has been an enjoyable one as you meet so many characters that you truly care about and you experience the devastation of this conflict through their eyes. The authors do a fantastic job of bringing these godlike beings alive within the pages, and capture your imagination with their storytelling abilities. Though there are many authors writing this series they aren’t at odds with each other and they truly accentuate each other with each author bringing something to the table.
Future posts on this subject will delve a little deeper into the specific books of the series and as such may contain some Spoilers for those who haven’t read them. We will try and avoid this but it can be difficult to discuss book 11 of 30 without divulging something that happened within book 8. We’ll try and mark Spoilers but we encourage y’all to open the pages of the books and enjoy the series so that we can discuss it together!
The Horus Heresy is the definition of an epic and it is a tale deserving to be told. RedStarReviews will continue reading this story and recommending it!
I’d like to thank my puppy as she helped me with all of the photos. Thank you Piper!