Book review – Prospero Burns

The newest installment in the Horus Heresy series provides a perfect counterweight to its slightly older twin.

The artwork of Prospero Burns. Image: Black Library

Author: Dan Abnett
Series: The Horus Heresy
Release: January 2011

Image: Black Library

For the first time since starting With Boltgun and Brush, I’ve finally been able to finish a relatively new book. So instead of starting the long process of reviewing the entire Horus Heresy series, book by book, chronologically, I felt like creating something  more applicable to date (stretching my English here, feel free to correct if necessary). Also, having just recently finished it, I’ll obviously stand a better chance of producing a review inspired by fairly raw impressions and thereby enthusiasm.

Let’s get one thing straight from the very beginning: When reading the material of Dan Abnett you can always rest assured that you are in able hands. Perhaps the finest author of the entire Black Library, Abnett is foremost a master in the creation of characters. But also when it comes to environments and dramatical, well-balanced storylines does he truly excell. A recognisable trait you’ll notice in Prospero Burns is the author’s seemable penchant for placing the point of view with “ordinary” humans rather than Space Marines. Even though this wasn’t completely the case with his first Heresy-novel, Horus Rising, I think Abnett prefers a measue of mystique when it comes to the Adeptus Astartes. I tend to agree, also because this is unquestionably dangerous terrain (get it?). Several authors have burned themselves depicting certain Astartes as overly naive, antagonistic or simply caricatured.

Leman Russ - Primarch of the Vlka Fenryka (Space Wolves) Image:


But back to the story at hand. This is a tale of wolves. The Emperor’s self-proclaimed executioners, His most unrelenting warriors; the Space Wolves. It is the story of Prospero’s fall, the home world of the Thousand Sons assaulted and all but annihilated as a harsh response to Magnus the Red’s misguided actions to warn the Emperor of the coming heresy. It’s just as tragic as it sounds, but for the more general description of the epic Astartes vs Astartes battle itself, you should seek out A Thousand Sons (Graham McNeill), the so called series-twin and predecessor of Prospero burns. The storylines of these books run parallell, but they focus on somewhat different aspects (apart from describing two different Legions). Prospero Burns tells us a lot more about the Space Wolves themselves, than the conflict with the Thousand Sons, but at the same time this helps us better understand why it happened as it did. A kind of balance is restored, as it becomes clear where the real fault lies. I think I’ll leave it at that.

Getting to understand the warriors of Fenris at a deeper level than ever before, all the while being served new insight into the Horus Heresy itself, and having all of it wrapped into the exceptional writing quality of Dan Abnett, is no less than a real treat. Reading A Thousand Sons prior to this book should be compulsory though, unless you are bent on experiencing the story in a more unorthodox way. Much like watching the newest Star Wars films before the old ones; once you’ve done it, you can’t undo it.            

Comments in both English and Norwegian are appreciated!

About Tejech

Film student with a taste for movies (!), the heavier part of rock music and the phenomenon that is Warhammer 40,000. View all posts by Tejech

4 responses to “Book review – Prospero Burns

  • UTK

    Ah, so to really get an idea of just what occurs at the end of Prospero Burns I’ll have to wait till A Thousand Sons.

  • UTK

    I’m currently working on this book myself, and it is indeed a very well told story. I’ll have to make sure and get A Thousand Sons after I finish this. Sure maybe it’s ‘backwards’ but I’m already a fair chunk of the way through Prospero Burns already. >.<;

    • Tejech

      Heh, I might have slightly exaggerated the significance of reading A Thousand Sons first, and if you’re familiar with the series it really shouldn’t be that much of a deal. All I’m saying is that you might find the focus averting somewhat from what you might expect. This is simply because the main conflicts between the two Legions have already been described in full detail by McNeill, and so Abnett probably felt it unnecessary to repeat the exact same events, only from the Space Wolves’ point of view.

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