Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Thousand Sons: Quick Review

Ahh summer, the time of year when I get caught up on my reading.

As I mentioned a post or two ago, the first fiction of the summer was Graham McNeil's A Thousand Sons (ATS.) As Horus Heresy books go, this one was decent. I put it just below the excellent Flight of the Eisenstein and above Legion. Nothing still touches the original trilogy or the gem that was Fulgrim in my mind. Hand's down though, the best Horus Heresy story is the World Eaters short story with Kharn playing therapist to Angron, but I digress.

Anyway, ATS is part one of a two part look at the Thousand Sons and their role in the Heresy. Without spoiling too much, there really isn't any great reveal in this novel, as the plot sticks pretty close to the cannon as it has been developed over the years, with the addition of Magnus' motivations as revealed in Horus Rising.

The Good: Magnus and Arihman are characters. Not just Black Library characters, but actually have a little bit of development to them. Everyone else was a name and stereotype, but these two actually shined. We also get another glimpse at the Big E himself in this book and he is treated much more heroically than what we saw in Legion and the short story anthology. The action is hot and heavy, with a real focus on the fact that Magnus and his legion were full fledged sorcerers. We've seen nothing like this in 40k fiction and some of the battle scenes were very cool. The theme of hubris was well developed for the first 3/4 of the novel, but became a little heavy handed towards the end. Magnus screwed up. We got it. He thought he could do anything. Yep, you made it clear. The twenty or so monologues and expositions about how blind and stupid Magnus thought he was just really felt like repeated kicks to the teeth.

The Bad: Remembrancers... ugh. Can someone writing for BL please figure out how to include them in the story so they don't all seem exactly the same? Is there a Horus Heresy plot guide that says, "all Remembrancers will consist of a wise old man, a physically attractive woman with strange powers and a male figure with a heart of gold who is taken in by the Astartes and ends up feeling betrayed. Oh, by the way, make sure at least one Remembrancer dies in some really over the top manner to try to elicit an emotional response." Beyond that, it felt like this novel suffered from trying to stuff too much into its pages. The descriptions of Prospero were really flat, because McNeil was trying to tell us too much about its history and have a subplot going on. The Space Wolves were also written in such a way that they seemed like a legion of goons. It will be interesting to read Abnett's take to see if this was simply due to point of view, or if the BL cannon is set on the Wolves now.

Overall, not a bad read for proprietary fiction. I still hold that the whole series should of been written as one long series in chronological order with viewpoint chapters a la George Martin or Michael Sharra. The next book in the series is released this month and focuses on assasins!?!

So that's your lit review for the night. Speaking of George Martin, is that guy ever gonna write his next book? Man, it's been like five years!

BTW, don't forget the Tour de France started yesterday. This year's tour is shaping up to be one for the history books, so even if you're not a cycling fan, try to catch some of it. It's much more exciting than World Cup soccer....  kidding... some what....
  Go team Radio Shack! Go Lance!

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