Review: Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeil

Perturabo – master of siegecraft, and the executioner of Olympia. Long has he lived in the shadow of his more favoured primarch brothers, frustrated by the mundane and ignominious duties which regularly fall to his Legion. When Fulgrim offers him the chance to lead an expedition in search of ancient and destructive xenos weaponry, the Iron Warriors and the Emperor’s Children unite and venture deep into the heart of the great star maelstrom that haunts Perturabo's dreams. Pursued by vengeful survivors from Isstvan V and the revenants of a dead eldar world, they must work quickly if they are to unleash the devastating power of the Angel Exterminatus!

There are no spoilers in this review.

The latest entry in the Horus Heresy is written by Graham McNeil and it is an amazing tale of secrets, treachery, revenge and ultimate corruption! I have typically mixed reactions to Graham McNeils works. I find them to either be really stellar, or incredibly not to my liking. There is almost no middle ground for me and I am not sure why. Obviously Graham is one of the most prolific writers in the Black Library stable and I know he has a tremendous following. Well with this latest offering I am currently on the McNeil bandwagon!

First let me talk about the version of the book I read. I had a copy of the new Horus Heresy Collectors Edition of this book and they really pull out the stops with them. Not only is the cover art of the book on the dust jacket an amazing piece of work, the art is then also reproduced on the hard cover of the book as well. This rendition is not marred by title, description or quotes, but is instead covering the book front to back cover in full detail. Additionally, there is artwork in the book though these are black and white drawing depicting specific scenes or characters. There are only four such plates throughout the book, but I found myself looking at them for quite some time.

The story, right from the start, grips you and doesn't let you go. I found that I could not put this book down and as I drew near the climax of the tale I was reading faster and faster to see what the end result would be! The book comes in at over 420 pages and its contents are full of great characters and scenes. Center stage is of course Perturabo, the Primarch of the Iron Warriors. By the end of the story, you have a very clear understanding of why he has sided with Horus and what his motivations are. While the story centers around him for the most part, I found him to be almost the least interesting character presented. What I mean by that, is that there are so many great characters here, you will be torn trying to decide who you are most interested in finding out about next.

Also present is Fulgrim and his Emperors Children. Since Fulgrim fell in his self titled novel (Number 5 in the series), he and his Legion have gone through some major changes. For the first time ever, I felt like there was a Legion I despised more than The Word Bearers. In my opinion, The Word Bearers have really been the best villains in the Horus Heresy series... Until now! We get to see just how far The Emperors Children have fallen and how corrupted they have become through their worship of Slaanesh! Not only that, but we get to see some serious "screen time" from such notables as Lucius (the eternal) and Fabius Bile! There were scenes that had me cringing and squirming in my seat as they were so uncomfortable to read!

And as fascinating as the interactions between these two Legions and their Primarch is, I found myself even more drawn to the ragtag band of loyalist survivors of Isstvan V that are operating on their own, attempting to harass and disrupt the followers of Horus. I found myself incredibly drawn to this group and their attempts to thwart the plans of the villains. What an amazing cast of heroes Graham has gathered here. And while this group consists primarily of Iron Hands, it also contains a member of The Raven Guard and The Salamanders, who quite frankly steal the show.

If you are at all interested in The Horus Heresy series, this book is a must read. Complaints in the past of the story not moving forward will be assuaged somewhat here, though there are not great leaps and bounds towards the finale. However, there are some large changes for major characters in this story that you will not want to miss.

Rating: Five out of Five stars!

3 Responses

  1. What a great review, I'm trying to resist the hardbacks as I have shelves nicely set up to continue amassing the paperbacks but you do make it sound nice. The story though really does sound exciting, I'd not heard about loyalists in it yet. :) You say Perturabo is the least interesting character? Is that because he remains a 'dull and angry' Iron Warrior or is it just that the other character really do shine? Thanks
  2. Jamie, the paperback is out in JAn, I've pre-ordered it but according to WHW dudes, its going to be an odd size? I told them they should stick to the format to keep the library aestheic, I also presume we'll get a silver jacket embossing because the paperback will technically be a second run
  3. Carl Tuttle
    To be honest he isn't even a boring characters... he is just the LEAST interesting of a ton of VERY interesting characters!

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