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Gamertell Review: The Horus Heresy: The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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The First Heretic cover art

Title: The First Heretic (aka The Horus Heresy: The First Heretic)
Authors(Editor): Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Publisher: The Black Library
Release Date: November 2010
Price: $8.99
Rating: Two thumbs up, 95/100, A, **** 1/2 out of five.
Pros: It’s good to see the start of the Word Bearers turning traitor, the characters are well-developed even though it’s the first time that many of them have even been introduced, lots of atmosphere, strong story
Cons: It can move too slowly in quite a few areas (especially in the first half)
Overall: It’s worth it and, because of the way the story is, you could use it to ease yourself into the series if you haven’t read any of the series.

The Word Bearer legion of the Space Marines were the first to go over to Chaos. The First Heretic covers that story. Yes, this does mean that, much like Descent of Angels, the book is a prequel to the prequel to the thing that is The Horus Heresy.

And it is good. A little slow at times but still very good.

Great Crusade
The story is incredible following the first legion to turn traitor. It’s hard to actually say anything more without understanding the story. Then again, to understand the story, you need a quick glimpse into the Word Bearers. In a Crusade to reunite humanity and crush religion, the Word Bearers are a legion that bring worlds into compliance by getting its human inhabitants to treat good citizenship as religion. Then again, in the eyes of the Word Bearers, before they turn traitor, the Emperor is God.

So we’re looking at a story where differences in ideology are already popping up in the Imperium, so much so that one biggest and most beautiful cities on one of the Word Bearers’s biggest compliance successes is reduced ash and ruin within the first 30 pages. This makes the Word Bearers lose faith and then, when returning to the Crusade, go on a pilgrimage to what would become “the Eye of Terror.”

The story moves slowly but, as the pace is intended to build up the imagery and atmosphere of the story, that’s not a bad thing. This book has some of the best imagery and atmosphere brought up in the Warhammer 40,000 franchise.

With the amount of new characters introduced in this book, it’s incredible how many of them are as developed as they are by the end. Out of all of the Word Bearers that were introduced through the 14 books thus far, the only one who doesn’t get any development in this book is Erebus. There are others that are brought up in the process of the series that were developed fairly well and they just get built up more. Then there are many Word Bearers built specifically to show up in this book and by the end of this book, they are as well developed as the Bearers that were developed over the other books.

“Your Conquests Are the Slowest”

If there really is anything that can be complained about with this book, it’s how slowly it moves. Yes. As stated earlier, for the most part it works. Then again, there are issues with how slowly the book moves. When it’s building up to a plot point, it’s fine. But in some occasions, it just seems like it’s being long winded for the sake of being long winded. Again, for the most part, it works and it’s beautiful. Then there’s the rest of the time. The only problem that is noticeable is the pacing.

Beautiful treason

Despite how slowly the book moves, it is probably one of the best book in the series. If it doesn’t rival Horus Rising, it comes really close to doing so.

If you haven’t read any of the earlier books, The First Heretic is a really good way to ease yourself into the series. If you have read the earlier books, it’s worth the money. It is time to see the start of heresy.

Site [Black Library]

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