Thursday, May 31, 2012

Know No Fear Review

Know No Fear is the 19th installment in the Horus Heresy series, and a fine addition to the list. Author Dan Abnett explores one of the crucial battles of the Heresy when the Word Bearers attack Ultramar, the vast region of space controlled by the Ultramarines and in many ways an Empire on their own.

Surely the Ultramarines do not have a reputation like those of the World Eaters or the Space Wolves, but are nonetheless a perfect killing machine and the largest legion at the moment, so their destruction was a key step for Warmaster Horus. The novel provides a rich description on how the XVII Legion of the Word Bearers attack the XIII, Ultramarines, focusing in the first hours before and after the attack. As the Ultramarines casualties pile up and the Word Bearers draw close to victory, there is something inside each and every Ultramarine that makes them face the unexpected and fight to the end.

In the same fashion as we previously were introduced to the ways and customs of other chapters (like the Thousand Sons or the Space Wolves), Dan Abnett creates the Ultramarines personalities and ways, with their own ways to interact amongst themselves and their primarch, with their unique way of thinking, and pretty much erasing for ever the feeling that the only difference amongst Legions was the colour of their armours. Roboute Guilliman appears for the first time in the series (about time!) and his is a portrait of a perfectionist, a ruthless strategist that has everything under his control and expects only the best from their men. All in all it's very nice to finally see the origin on why the Ultramarines are like they are - they are just like Guilliman made them to be.

But don't get me wrong, this is not a book about how the Ultramarines repel the invasion and wipe out the traitors - this is a book about how Ultramar and its Legion is almost destroyed. The description about the attack is long and detailed, almost painful, and certainly most enjoyable by all the Chaos fans. The Ultramarines fleet is almost completely destroyed, the damage in Calth is unbearable and the loses of the XIII legion are above the 100K Space Marines, a most damaging blow to the heart of the Empire. Only their courage and honour will keep the Ultramarines fighting.

The best
Abnett's description of the Ultramarines through their customs and their prmarch is delightful; they will no longer be just Space Marines in blue. The book structure containing different sub-histories makes it very intriguing and addictive.

The worst
The 200-long pages of the Ultramar destruction are tiresome. One of the sub stories doesn't have a clear ending, perhaps that will come in another book.

8/10 Enjoyable, addictive and throughoutly well-written although the Word Bearers' attack description was too long for my taste.

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