If you remember the previous book from the Horus Heresy series and my thoughts about it, you would surely remember how I praised the second half of the book. You also must remember how I said it was a half too long, very predictable, and boring in the first half with no substance to its core. Well, will I say the same about Fulgrim? Well… Sort of. Read on.
Fulgrim is the fifth book in the Horus Heresy series that deals with events happening in the 30th millennium of Warhammer in space. Fulgrim is the name of the Primarch of the III Legion, the Emperor’s Children. He’s also somewhat of an arrogant jerk. And a perfectionist. That’s what I meant. A man who strives for perfection in all things. If you have to remember one thing about him, remember this.
Fulgrim is also a huge book, compared to everything else in the Horus Heresy. Why is that? I’ll tell you why. Because all things must be balanced and after writing a very interesting half, full of memorable events and important character twists, the author decided he needs to write another half in order to have a whole. A balanced book. Not great, but not good, interesting and boring at the same time, split perfectly in the middle.
A sort of introduction
The fifth novel in the series takes us through the same events we already witness in the first three books. But this time, instead of spending time meandering with no purpose in the first half (like in the Flight of the Eisenstein), we get to know Fulgrim’s legion, characters, and quests, as well as their defining features.
At its core, this book is a tragedy, a fall from the brotherhood. Fulgrim and Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the X Legion, share the bond of brotherhood, with many stories and memories that connect them. How will their relationship change in the wake of the great betrayer? That’s what this book is about. It’s even more exciting if you go reading it with minimal knowledge about the major events in Warhammer 40K universe.
In order to have the right impact, we need to familiarize ourselves with the characters and get to know their motivations. That’s why we spend the first half of the book covering the same events before Horus turned traitor. We’ll also find really important parts about Fulgrim’s backstory that lead to further events in the series.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
My problem with the first half is that it is full of pointless battles described in exacerbating details. In contrast, in the second half, most of the battles happen off-screen, even though they are turning points for the book, as well as the series. And guess what happens when we have battles off-screen and the dialogue and suspense take scene? The pace quickens and finally, this reads like an action book. I know, it’s weird. Right?
So if you have the patience to read over the first half or just skip the minor battles and read only the important bits about the character’s motivations and ambitions, then you’ll be surprised to discover a fantastic second half, where so many things happen that it almost feels rushed. The most important thing is Fulgrim and his fall. Do you want to know how it comes about? Well, read the book.
I don’t know how it happens that even when the story is not told from their perspective, the Primarchs have a certain presence on the page. They dominate any interaction with minimal description. Imagine when the interaction between two well-developed Primarch happens on-page. These were only the first 5 books, and they each focused on mainly one Primarch. Imagine the future books, when the conflict will escalate. Oh, boy!
You should read it if…
I would recommend Fulgrim cautiously to general fans, even though I’d say it’s mandatory reading in the Horus Heresy series (obviously the second half). For the fans of the Emperor’s Children, this is an amazing story, where you get to find out about their life before, during, and after being corrupted.
I would also have to warn you of the hyperbolic and repetitive writing style that gets old really fast. Too many unnecessary words, just to make everything bigger than life. This book would have been excellent if an editor would have cut at least 20% of the total word count, if not more.
I’ll give this book 3 and a half demons out of 5. Yeah, sorry little one, you’re only coming out in half.
Main Legions present: Emperor’s Children, Iron Hands
Main Primarchs: Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus
Important Events: Attack of Laeran, Istvaan III, Massacre of Istvaan V