"Science and religion collide - breaking friendships and brotherhoods alike"
This is a reread of the Horus Heresy series. I've been slowly buying the Premium edition hardback books. So given this, I wanted to mention how beautiful the embossed cover is under the dust jack. It portrays the image you can see on the cover picture. Rather neat. Black Library has also added four images per novel, that pertain to a particular scene in the novel. The thing is, there very cartoonish - I'm not a fan of Karl Richardson's art style. Personally I think given the Gothic setting, they need to bring in H R Giger - much more suited to my own tastes. Failing that the brilliant Alan Merrett - but he has moved on to better things. The style just loses tone and connection to the words. Now I'm done with the Yogi Bear "It's because I'm smarter than the average bear" images, let's move on to the meat...
False Gods must have been a daunting novel for Graham McNeill to write, given just how mangasm-rific Horus Rising was. He even states in his foreword that this was something of a challenge. The good news is that book two in the Horus Heresy is good, the bad news, well there isn't much bad news. Don't trust serpents, especially if you see a motif of a snake eating itself. It's never a good idea to go wondering into such places. Some of the ancient beliefs of such things believes that 'you will be born renewed, but changed'. I say this as a super-human such as Horus is meant to be enamoured with knowledge beyond anyone's understanding or perception.
How would you corrupt someone who is seen as the pinnacle of mankind? You'd offer them power, POWER! Why not. The Primarch Horus is no man I hear you cry - ah but yes he is, a man's heart with a man's brain. Tell me, what would you be willing to give up for power? In Horus's case it's his brotherhood, his bonds to his father the Emperor of Mankind and his jealously of his power. And why not. For generations humanity has fought over dirt, ideas and love. One of the first stories ever written was fought for love, power and dirt - Troy, Paris, Helen, Agamemnon, Achilles and Hector.
As per usual I ramble. Flase Gods lead straight off from the happenings of Horus Rising this time a darker tale is told. Horus is forced to make decisions that will change the shape of the galaxy for years, but more sooner his legion The Luna Wolves, who he renames The Sons Of Horus. Ego! Loken and Torgaddon are forced to pick sides and so are the human Remembrancers, who record the happenings of The Great Crusade for porosity.
In a secular society where religion is dead, science and the strength of the Imperium are what the people look to - belief in deities begin to take root abroad Horus's flagship The Vengeful Spirit. That deity is The Emperor, a living god. A Remembrancer Euraphti Keeler is viewed as a living saint, embodying the power of The Emperor - there are moments in the prose where I was blown away by how easily Graham transferred from the believable too the unbelievable. Great stuff. The physical and metaphysical become blurred, especially during Horus's 'trial' - just what is divine power, what is diabolical, who is good and who is evil? It's posed for the read too make their own mind up - which decision is right and which is wrong. Is life more important than Horus's own death? Is he willing to make a pact with forces within the warp? I could tell you, but I won't.
There are flaws, for me. I had a hard time believing Horus didn't know of Erebus's attempts to engineer events, even before later issues arise with Horus. I found him too easily influenced by Erebus's theatrics - this super-human stands aloft upon a colonnade beyond such individuals as The Word Bearer Chaplain. He shouldn't be so easily swayed (in my opinion) by such petty emotions as anger - well not to the extent where a human can see how Horus has been played and the Primarch himself cannot. Even Captain Loken knew the extent of Erebus's poor acting and how he manipulated Horus into the situations they were found in later.
What did I enjoy? Well everything I've mentioned so far. Kyril Sinnderman reminds me of a 'older' professor I work with at university. That one person who knows 'things' can be explained away using books, books from the past - why did we believe in fanes/thanes(?), is there a pattern to the wars we fought? Etc etc. The wise sage, that one person who seems to always have a answer. Kyril is that person. A strong orator and a even stronger believer of the secular truth (that being of science and of the Imperium). It isn't until he is faced with his own dabbling in the powers of the arcane that he starts to question his own 'naivety'. Onto Captain Loken and Toragaddon. Two characters I can relate to in the sense of brotherhood and shared banter. It's rife, it's great... but also sad in equal measures. One man Loken, who is a thinker and a 'starch arse' see's what is happening to Horus and the Legion. The other, Toragaddon, the joker and light-hearted Space Marine. Such brilliant balance between the two characters. They just flow off the page and I could easily envision them in real life - well as much as you can imagine super-human warriors.
So here we are - mankind and the Imperium are on a knife-edge. Will you turn left or right? Which way is the right direction? Only Horus seems to know (and Magnus Primarch of The Thousand Sons). There is no road map to destiny, just a series of decisions that lead you there. What one man decides will affect trillions. Is it betrayal, has Horus been mislead? Who decides what is good and evil? Make your own mind up! A great read, intelligently written and progresses the plot really well (unlike a good half of the Horus Heresy novels).