Fulgrim (Horus Heresy, Book Five) by Graham McNeill

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The epic tale of the Horus Heresy continues in Fulgrim, the fifth volume of a planned twelve-volume cycle in the Warhammer 40K series. In the previous book, Flight of the Eisenstein, Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro flies to Terra to warn the Emperor of Mankind of heresy. Not just any heresy, but heresy led by Warmaster Horus to overthrow the Emperor.

Fulgrim tells a story parallel to the events of Eisenstein, eventually meeting up where the previous volume left off. The Fulgrim of the novel is the Primarch of the Emperor’s Children, a Space Marine legion priding itself in its fighting perfection.

The Primarch engages an alien enemy and comes in possession of a powerful sword. Fulgrim’s desire for power and aesthetic beauty cause friction with the policies of the Empire of Man. One of those policies is the blanket extermination and subjugation of alien (xenos) races. Fulgrim initiates a policy of his own, using xenos technology and genetics to improve his legion of Space Marines. The combination of human and alien causes dissension in the ranks.

In the novel, we also meet Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands. The friendship between Fulgrim and Ferrus Manus is legendary. Each forged a weapon for each other, which they exchanged. While Ferrus Manus remains loyal to the Emperor, he begins to see telltale signs in Fulgrim: a vanity that expresses itself in make-up and filling his warship with artworks.

Fulgrim is unique in Warhammer 40K novels in its depiction of artistic work and sexuality. While the Warhammer 40K franchise thrives on grim, bloody warfare, whether against space demons, alien races, or human rebels, the depiction of sexuality has always veered on the PG side. One does not see a lot of female nudity, let alone females, in this RPG (role-playing game) setting.

As the Emperor’s Children Space Marines legion slides further into open treason, the astute reader will find references to The Book of Urizen by William Blake and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

This volume is pivotal because Warmaster Horus prepares by separating those loyal to his cause and those loyal to the Emperor. When the opposing sides are finally assembled, the Horus Heresy transforms from covert operation to open rebellion.

Readers who enjoy military science fiction, epic fantasy, and British science fiction will thrill at the strange alien races and the epic battles studding this novel like bullet holes in battle armor.

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