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Sat, 12 Jun 2010

Book review: Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter

Galaxy in Flames

This is the third book in the Horus Heresy series, continuing the action in False Gods, and my least favourite of the series to date. Not to say that it was bad: this one simply "bigs it up" too much by trying to cover too many points of view. In fairness, story events are now moving faster and faster, but the book suffers a bit from "this happened, then this happened, then this happened". A couple of bits are glossed over, for example some loyalist Luna Wolves drove off Angron in battle? How in the heck did they manage to see him off, when the last book had him shrugging off a mountain falling on his head?

This book continues to develop and humanise the characters we've grown to enjoy - before killing many of them in spectacular fashion. Some characters (e.g. Erebus) are shunted aside for new ones to take the limelight (e.g. Iacton Cruze). I do wonder if this might prove to be a weakness of the sheer scale of this series. The story simply covers too much ground to follow any character for too long. Still, it keeps things interesting...would have been nice to see that prat Lucius get his, but this is sadly never to be.

This book does reasonably well as a standalone, but you really need to have read the first two to get the most out of the character interactions. A lot of loose ends are wrapped up in this book, and done quite well. Naturally, there are any number of new threads to follow. The descriptions of people, cities, and technology was interesting and vivid. The military action was handled well, moving back and forth between large- and small-scale combat. We get to see the proper birth of the Imperial Cult, and the deification of the Emperor takes hold. I found the ending a little bitter, but it couldn't have happened any other way - this story is a tragedy, after all.

Overall a solid read, but missing a certain "something".

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