Reviewed by Steve Dean
This one is by Dan Abnett, so it’s obviously very good.
What? Okay, I’ll make it a bit longer.
Roboute Gulliman, primarch of the Ultramarines, goes to Calth to meet up with his brother Lorgar, big cheese of the Word Bearers legion. The planet and its surroundings are crammed with military personnel and hardware, ready for a fight against a swarm of orksies.
Unknown to the Ultramarines, the Horus Heresy is in full swing, and Lorgar is actually there to settle an old score with Gulliman. The Ultramarines are taken completely by surprise in every field as the Word Bearers begin their process of total annihilation.
It’s the descriptions of the opening few hours, the unrelenting one sided battle, that show Mr Abnett’s genius for this sort of work. The scene where a kilometres long space ship falls slowly backwards through the atmosphere and crashes into the planet is particularly superb. The rest of the novel keeps up this high standard. Plotting, characterisation and pacing are all perfect. Regular readers will know my opinion of the Horus Heresy thread, but this novel is not to be missed.
If there wasn’t such snobbery and prejudice against genre novels, this one would be a candidate for a major award. This is literary entertainment at its very best. If you have to sell some other books to buy this one, do it.