Friday, March 19, 2010

A Thousand Sons

I'd like to take a moment and talk about this book. I actually read it over a week ago, and raved to the people in my gaming club immediately, but it didn't strike me to post about it here for some reason. Anyway, A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill is the latest installment in the Horus Heresy series from Black Library. It is excellent. I haven't been overly impressed with about half of the books in the Horus Heresy series (including the one preceeding this, Tales of Heresy, which is a collection of short stories), but this one is vying for my favorite thus far. And to understand what that means, my previous favorite was Legion by Dan Abnett, and he's my second favorite author (the first being Tolkien, of course).

Now, if you haven't been reading the Horus Heresy series, for shame! But seriously, you can read A Thousand Sons without reading, well, any of the HH books and not be completely lost. I would recommend reading Horus Rising, False Gods and Galaxy in Flames first, as they lay down the first steps of the HH cannon plus A Thousand Sons calls back to some of them (and they're good books to boot).

As you may have guessed, if you're into the 40k backstory at all, A Thousand Sons details the fall of the XV Space Marine Legion, the Thousand Sons. As you would expect, you get to meet the Thousand Sons' primarch, Magnus the Red, and everybody's favorite follower of Tzeentch, Ahriman (this is before he's a follower of Tzeentch, of course). It starts during the Great Crusade, when the Thousand Sons are still loyal to the Emperor of Mankind and before the Council of Nikaea. You get to see how the Thousand Sons were organized and how they operated, which is actually pretty cool, and I'm still fighting the temptation to create a pre-Heresy Thousand Sons army.

So let's see if I can describe what I like about the book without giving it away. First, you get a very in-depth look as to how the Thousand Sons were organized before the Heresy, which is very unique and pretty darn interesting. Also, you get to see two primarchs in action, Magnus the Red and Leman Russ, which is awesome. You hear about what primarchs at war can be like throughout the HH series, but now you actually get to see two of them laying in to their enemies.

Perhaps the best part of the entire book is the Council of Nikaea. If you're familiar with the backdrop of 40k, you've probably heard of it (and if you're familiar with history, you've probably caught the connection to the Council of Nicaea). For those not entirely familiar, the Council of Nikaea is when the Emperor, several primarchs and many top administrators in the Imperium met to discuss the issue of psykers and the threat of the Warp. It was also nicknamed the "Trial of Magnus", as Magnus and his legion were the foremost psykers in all of the Imperium. The end result was that psykers were condemned, and using the power of the Warp was forbidden. You actually get to see the Council of Nikaea in A Thousand Sons, and fully realize why people call it the "Trial of Magnus".

Anyway, the book is a fast, great read. I read it in about a day (I couldn't put it down). I even ended up feeling sympathetic, if not for Magnus then for Ahriman, which is odd because I think the rest of the traitor legions are whiny chumps with daddy issues. I highly recommend this book, even if you're not a fan of the HH series or even 40k at all. It's a pretty solid sci-fi novel.


  1. I have to agree Dan Abnett is by far my favorite 40K author. FIRST AND ONLY! I read the first couple of Hersey books but was not impressed with many after that, I have all but given up on them...but I may have to read this one. Good Review btw

  2. Thanks! IMHO, the first three were very good, but had the advantage of taking an entire novel for character development before hitting the serious plot stuff. The rest have all been one-shots (except for Descent of Angels/Fallen Angels), so they have to develop characters and plot at the same time, and be finished by novel's end.

    Flight of the Eisenstein was a little slow to me but decent, Fulgrim was kind of weak, Descent of Angels was kind of bad but also necessary for the much-better sequel Fallen Angels, Legion was amazing (by our boy Abnett), Battle for the Abyss was abyssmal (hah!), and Mechanicum was amazing. Tales of Heresy was okay, but it was more short stories that happened to be set during the Heresy than short stories that had anything to do with the plot of the Heresy.

    So I would highly recommend Descent of Angels and Fallen Angels, Legion, Mechanicum and A Thousand Sons. The others, meh, read 'em or don't.