Horus Heresy book review – Aurelian and Deliverance Lost

Aurelian book coverDeliverance Lost book cover

“All I ever wanted was the truth.” – Lorgar
“We were born to greatness, but we must endure tragedy.” – Rogal Dorn to Corax

Since Aurelian is a pretty short novella, I thought I’d chuck a mini-review in with Deliverance Lost. Though I also read Death of a Silversmith, I’ll tackle that one when I reach Shadows of Treachery.

I’ve already started Deliverance Lost, unable to help myself. But I’m going to try to put down my thoughts on Aurelian while they are still fresh. I think I should begin with the conclusion – I really liked the story. After my disappointment with the Night Lords series, I was wary when I picked up Aurelian. It was, however, refreshingly consistent, both with The First Heretic, The Outcast Dead and Fulgrim, as well as itself. The interactions between primarchs were deliciously interesting, especially with Magnus and Lorgar (but maybe that’s because I’m biased towards the tragic puppet). And while the being all prophetic and forewarning of the grimdark future that follows the Heresy is becoming a bit of a cliche in the series, the twist of Lorgar’s impending choice (coupled with out of context knowledge of how it all ends) adds a nice streak of character to the formerly distraught primarch. Not to mention AD-B’s portrayal of Kairos Fateweaver is great and pretty much better then most of Architect of Fate – the story collection that was actually dedicated to him (or it) – excepting John French, of course. Thus, I do warmly recommend readign this one, provided you’re rich enough to get one (or lucky enough to have a friend who will lend it to you 😉 ).

Now, on to Deliverance Lost. I started the book with great enthusiasm, as it features two of my most favourite Legions. I finished it now, out of town at my grandparents’ place, in a cold weather that’d make Space Wolves really happy. Gav Thorpe is a good writer, though I can’t yet say I see his style. The story picks up from the Isstvan V massacre, adding some explanations that help clear the story of Raven’s Flight. It then goes on to describe how Corax and the last few thousands of his marines evade detection, evacuate the system and go for Terra, all the while being infiltrated by the sneakiest marines in the galaxy – the Alpha Legion. Like pretty much all Horus Heresy stories, this one is told from multiple perspectives, but this time there’s a bit of a catch – all the Alpha Legion operatives ‘are Alpharius’. At first this is relatively confusing, but as the pages turn, you get the hang of it and even recognise each individual before their rank/position is even mentioned, a credit to Gav Thorpe’s skill.

Unfortunately, the story itself wanes around the middle where the Raven Guard have to go through a labyrinth to retrieve a great gift from the Emperor, one that would allow the Raven Guard to get back in the war in force (and one that the Alpha Legion obviously want to steal for themselves). What could easily have been a raid against an enemy legion’s assets, or virtually ANYTHING else, turns out to be a boring batch of chapters where marines walk through corridors and shoot at automated turrets. This is essentially one of two disappointments in the novel.

The other is the missed of opportunity of ‘whodunnit’. Thorpe could have really played with us by offering clues as to who the infiltrators are posing at, making us try to guess/deduce by the end of the novel (when of course they are revealed). Instead, the author only does something akin to this with the infiltrator holding the highest rank, but falls short of the mark as it is easily predictable who it is.

Other than that, the rest of the book is an entertaining read, and you never know who will get away and who will get caught (and how). It also sets the background for the saga of the weregeld very nicely (which you should be familiar with if you read the old Index Astartes articles). There’s plenty of action to keep explosion junkies satisfied and the ending manages to tie all the loose ends without upsetting any of the established canon. A recommended , if not spectacularly good, read.

Up next – some Russian sci-fi, Metro 2033. And now – lunch. 😀

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