Thursday, March 8, 2012

Redemption! Dan Abnett and "Know No Fear"




Redemption?  For what?  It is freaking Dan Abnett!  

Oh, yeah, Prospero Burns.  I mean, I liked that book even though  I hate Space Wolves.  After A Thousand Sons, one of my favorite Horus Heresy books, probably my favorite after the first four, it would have been a tall order to craft a better tale that featured the Wolves of Fenris.

But so many of my 40K friends hated Prospero Burns.  I mean they hated it.  Too slow, not compelling, it really was not a fan favorite.  Now, I am such a big fan of the Horus Heresy series that I like all the books, even ones others don't.  And Dan Abnett is such a great writer that I will read any of his books.  So I am not a good judge.

Last year at Adepticon I got to talk to Dan, and I have to say he is as nice as they come.  He took a lot of time chatting with me.  And I asked him about the reactions to Prospero Burns.  I said that my friends didn't like it because it wasn't what they expected And Dan said "Good!  That is exactly the reaction I wanted."

Dan explained that if he just did the Space Wolves version of A Thousand Sons, it would have been totally repetitive.  So he had to attack the book from a different angle.  And frankly, that makes a lot of sense.  I still feel Prospero Burns is one of the better Horus Heresy books, if for no other reason that it ties up so many threads and gives us insight into events we really want to know about. 

With so many people not liking Propsero Burns, many feel that Know No Fear needed to redeem Dan Abnett.  Well, I am happy to say, that if you feel that way, you will be pleasantly surprised.  Know No Fear is an awesome book.  

Of course Know No Fear covers one of the most famous battles of the Horus Heresy, the legendary battle of Calth between the Word Bearers and the Ultramarines.  It is here that the Heresy is revealed to the Ultramarines.  We see Roboute Gulliman and Lorgar, we see the Ultramarines decimated and have to fight back.  And we see how far the Word Bearers have fallen.

First, GO READ IT.  I am not here to tell you what happens.  I will say a few things though.

1)  It isn't your typical bolter-porn that many space marine novels devolve into.  

2)  You get to see why the Ultramarines are maybe the most important legion.  

3)  There are a few cool reveals, including the origin of Ultramarine heraldry, which was cool.

4)  There are some truly moving and emotional points in this book.  Dan's imagery and writing have never been better.

Ok, that's it.  This book rocks.  Go buy it.  You won't be disappointed.

Alec


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I found Prospero Burns to be a very good Sci-Fi book, but as was said before it was nothing like what I expected from the main Space Wolf book in the Horus Heresy series. I was expecting to learn much more about the role the Wolves play in the Emperor's plans and their reason for existing, but it just seemed a little to tame for being a book about the Space Wolves. Yes, yes Mr. Abnett sold home the fact that the Space Wolves aren't some mindless savages, but at times it almost felt like I was reading Dan's second Alpha Legion book instead of reading about some brutal, yet cunning, Wolf Vikings in Space. Like I said before, I think Prospero Burns was a good Sci-Fi book, but it didn't really scream 40k to me specifically. I don't know, perhaps I'm comparing Dan Abnett's writing to much to my new favorite Mr. Aaron Dembski-Bowden, though it might be that Mr. Abnett's writing is a bit more cultured and higher brow next to Aaron's more visceral and explosive writings. I do love both writers, but it seemed like getting through Prospero Burns became almost a chore at some parts, while books like Blood Reaver and The First Heretic continue to get me to turn pages. What are your thoughts about it? (Also first time poster, but I just had to spark up a conversation about literature lol. I'll also be sure to pick up Know No Fear soon!)

CLBenarius said...

I will try not to comment with a spoiler. Just a minor one at the end of my comment. Consider yourself warned. Personally i REALLY liked this book. I found it hard going the first 100 pages as so many story threats get introducedvwithout being given the time to get to relate to the characters in them. But after that i couldnt put the book down. There are some great lines in there and unecessary gore that i totally loved. Like why ventanus uses the bannerpole as a weapon and the part how the trackeranimal gets his scent. i didnt like was that three story lines didnt get the chance to truly develop. I'd have loved to read how the contemptor and champion fought their way back to the front lines gathering survivors along the way as well as read more of the space battle a the end. One part gets described as being legendary but then gets no time. Also i hope we will see Oll again in the future as it seems he has a rather important role he didnt get to fullfill in this book.

CLBenarius said...

Anonymous. I agree with you. Abnet and dembski are my two favourites too. And i experience the same as what you are describing. Bu i havent put my finger on why exactly yet. I thought prospero burns was fine although i missed out on a part or two where the two books could have handled a similar scene where both chapters get manipulated (such as at nikea or the wolfpriests dishonest side) but described from opposite perspectives. I also missed a reference in prospero burns as to how the wolves perceived the time they attacked the 1k sons at the alien library and first blood was shed.

In addendum to my previous comment. I felt know no fear could have been given more pages. At tmes it seems BL books rush the end so they dont go too far beyond the 400page mark, which seems like a formula and a real shame.

Loken said...

CLBenarius, thanks for your thoughtful and in-depth comments!

Alec

yorkie said...

Thanks for your comments on the books, personally i thought prospero burns was a great book, as it showed a different and much cooler side to the wolves.

Im looking forward to reading Dans new book too.

Steve.

Itchy said...

I'm a ridiculous fan of the HH series. I've read them all up to Know No Fear and honestly, while there were some I liked less than others, there isn't a single book I flat out disliked.

In my opinion (like the qualifier?), I honestly thing the best HH books to date have been the last five that I have read, those being; A Thousand Sons, Prospero Burns, The First Heretic, The Outcast Dead, and Know No Fear.

Each of those books was so utterly fantastic in its own way. A Thousand Sons was an epic tragedy. A tale of hubris and arrogance and a belief the what you are doing is right, even when it isn't. Prospero Burns was a tale about not being able to escape who we are. The First Heretic was a tale of the descent into madness. The Outcast Dead was also a tragedy that in the end, had the taste of victory to it. After all, "sometimes the only victory possible is to keep you opponent from winning." And Know No fear was a mesmerizing look at how a group of individuals deal with a situation for which they were utterly unprepared.

I apologize for the lengthy comment but these books are great. I've actually recommended A Thousand Sons to friends who know nothing about Warhammer 40k, simply because the tale of tragedy transcends the genre.

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