Reviewed by Steve Dean
This is the abridged version of the original novel, which was the third book in what has now become the bloated corpse of the Horus Heresy. It’s read aloud very nicely by Martin Ellis, and has some music and kitchen sink sound effects to pep it up a bit.
Anyway, to the plot. Horus is a very naughty boy and has decided that the Emperor is crap.
So, together with his genetically enhanced brothers, he has formed a huge army and is about to visit his brand of chastisement upon the aforementioned and his loyalists.
First of course, he must weed out those loyal to the Emperor within his own ranks. This he does by engineering a rebellion on Isstvan III, a formerly peaceful planet full of singers.
So, the loyalists are sent to attack but soon discover the treachery of the man upstairs. There follows an extended battle as the forces clash with those of the natives, then with their own kind. There follows some pretty graphic descriptions as the citizens and soldiers are killed by a seeded virus.
Although a little bit wordy at times, the plot does move along well, and the fighting does draw you in. I found myself getting involved as the royalists fought back against the betrayal. The whole plot moves to a natural climax, and the things you think will happen donâ€™t. There are some pretty nasty characters here, very believable baddies you find yourself hissing at. But also some heroes to cheer for, although not as many. Strangely, many of the goodies donâ€™t even fight, and arenâ€™t military at all. A nice surprise for a book of this type.
Overall then, not the best from the black library, but good enough, provided you think the hefty price tag is justified.