Retro Review – Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

Book Title: Horus Rising

Book Description: After thousands of years of expansion and conquest, the imperium of man is at its height. His dream for humanity nearly accomplished, the emperor hands over the reins of power to his warmaster, Horus, and heads back to Terra. But is Horus strong enough to control his fellow commanders and continue the emperor's grand design?

Book Author: Dan Abnett

Book Format: Paperback

Publisher Logo:

Date published: April 25, 2006

Number Of Pages: 412

  • Writing - 9/10
  • Development - 9/10
  • Overall - 9/10
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Series: The Horus Heresy #1

Horus Rising is the first novel in The Horus Heresy series/events. Set in the world of Warhammer 40,000, this is the beginning of an epic series of events.


Horus Rising: The Beginning of the Horus Heresy

Horus Rising is the first novel in a series known as The Horus Heresy. It comes from the world of Warhammer 40,000, and thus is a widely known event by many fans. Having heard so much about it, I’ve decided that I’m going to dive in and tackle the entire series, one novel at a time. Yes, I do know how intense that goal is—you don’t need to remind me!

Dan Abnett - Horus RisingAnybody who has spent time around a Warhammer 40K player has likely heard at least a little bit about the Horus Heresy. Understandably, that has probably piqued the interest of more than one reader out there.

As it turns out, the series is as massive as it is impactful. The novels in this series are in the double digits, branching this way and that to follow different characters throughout the events that follow.

So it’s a bit intimidating to get into, but is it worth it? Absolutely. Horus Rising is the perfect starting point, not just for this series, but for any new fans that want to get into reading Warhammer novels. There is no required knowledge going into this book, as Dan Abnett takes the time to explain everything as he goes. And the list of characters/titles in the front helps keep things in order as well, making it a lovely feature for those of us with poor memories.


Horus Rising is by and far one of the more epic novels I’ve read this year. Dan Abnett has managed to infuse so much more than I expected into the writing. This isn’t just a tale of Space Marines beating everything around them to a pulp. It’s also a tale of politics, brotherhood, loyalty, and so much more.

I love the concept of taking a character outside of the Primarchs for the primary perspective in this grand event. It makes everything feel more relatable. I almost said human, which feels a bit ironic, for Loken is an absolutely brilliant leading character, but I’m not quite certain he fits the average definition of human. That is not a bad thing, just to be clear.

Looking back on it, there’s a certain amount of elegance in the way Horus Rising was written. The warriors are proud and true (for now), their wars are epic, their leaders of the grandest scale possible. All of it set within a galaxy full of politics and the unknown.

I can see now why so many people recommend The Horus Heresy as a starting point to the fiction. Yes, the sheer amount there is to read is a bit intimidating. But it’s also shockingly welcoming to newer fans. Everything is explained in due course. Everything has purpose and context, making the world feel real and alive.


Horus Rising is a truly epic read, and while it isn’t exactly a small novel, it is still a quick read. That’s thanks mostly due to the pacing, but also thanks to the fact that you won’t want to put this novel down. I know I didn’t.

This novel is actually broken into three parts. Each part feels wholly distinct at first, with different events occurring (and sometimes different characters—at the start). They do eventually weave together, and the manner in which they do is actually fascinating. Once again, we’re shown the careful planning that created this world.

All of the events in this novel are merely leading up to the Horus Heresy itself. That’s a fact that becomes clearer with time. Yet there’s this constant feeling of tension—like something is on the cusp of occurring. That enhanced the reading experience and admittedly made me all the more eager to start reading False Gods.


Horus Rising was every bit the novel I had hoped it would be—and then some. I was impressed by how frequently this novel managed to surprise me. More than that, I love how elegant they were able to make the buildup feel.

I honestly believe that this is a series worth reading, regardless of your experience (or lack thereof) with the lore or gameplay. There’s a reason this whole event is talked about so much, and now I’m starting to get an understanding of that.

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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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