Saturday, 3 March 2018

False Gods [Horus Heresy #2] - Graham McNeill

Title - False Gods [Horus Heresy #2]
Author - Graham McNeill

The human Imperium stands at its height of glory - thousands of worlds have been brought to heel by the conquering armies of mankind. At the peak of his powers, Warmaster Horus wields absolute control - but can even he resist the corrupting whispers of Chaos?


Well now. This book was a surprise.

False Gods picks up a short time after Horus Rising left us, and to be honest, for the first quarter of the book I was a bit disappointed. There was an increase in swearing, more sexual references, and overall it had a slightly more adult tone, but I wasn’t as invested in the story as I was with Horus Rising. This was not to last, however, and this book gets 9 out of 9 loyalist Primarchs of approval, because hot damn.

Where Horus Rising set the scene in terms of the culture of logic, reason and fanatical atheism present in the Imperium in the 31st millennium, False Gods did an amazing job of showing how that was destined to change. We got many different perspectives and reactions to the teachings of Lorgar’s Lectitio Divinitatus from believers and unbelievers alike, and it gave a fascinating overview of how a religion could form, even from those who preached (the irony is palpable) against religion itself.

Horus Rising showed the Space Marines of the Luna Wolves, now called the Sons of Horus in honour of the big boy himself, as very human. They had their humour, dry as it might be. They had their ambitions and desires. They were flesh and blood. In my opinion, False Gods somehow managed to reinforce that fact while simultaneously reminding the reader, in no uncertain terms, just how inhuman the Space Marines are. A bit of background for the uninitiated reading this review: A Space Marine is taken as an adolescent, and they get 19 genetically engineered organs derived from their Primarch shoved inside them. So yeah, these guys are not human any more, and False Gods shows how dangerous it would be to forget that.

My favourite scene in the book described a Chaos Ritual, one of blood magic and mutilation and cruelty. It was subtle in how it handled such a graphic subject, but the tone it gave sent a shudder down my spine as I read it, unable to pull my eyes from the page much in the same way that I could not stop reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis the first time around (I may even review American Psycho if I can work up the nerve to re-read it at some point). Coupled with the depiction of the Nurgle Plague Zombies on the moon of Davin, False Gods took the introduction to Chaos and Daemons from Horus Heresy and brought it to the fore.

Above everything else, False Gods was a chronicle of Horus’s fall, and at the heart of it is a character study of how insidious Chaos is, using your doubts and fears and ambition to tempt and manipulate you. In that respect, the book is superb at making the reader both sympathise with and be revolted by the Warmaster, and it is rare that a book can elicit such a strong emotional effect.

Tune in next time folks, where I review the final book of the first trilogy of this… forty-two book… series… God-Emperor, what have I dropped myself in here? My review of Galaxy in Flames will be coming as soon as I can get around to reading it.

Product details
Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher: Black Library
Language: English
Author's Website:
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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