Book Review: Know No Fear (Horus Heresy #19)

Know No Fear: The Battle of Calth
by Dan Abnett

The 19th book in Horus Heresy series, and I think it’s the best so far.  That’s not really surprising to me, it’s written by Dan Abnett, and I find him to be one of the best writers that the Black Library has.

Know No Fear deals with the Battle of Calth, the epic battle between the XIII and XVII legions.  The Ultramarines and the Word Bearers respectively.  From the word go, this book is non stop, fast paced action.  This is a huge, bloody battle between two legions of transhuman killing machines and the book definitely showcases that.  Space Marines are genetically designed for war, and their skills are used to the extreme in this book.  There is fighting on the ground, fighting on ships, space combat, and surrounding it all is the grievous betrayal by the Word Bearers.  The Word Bearers have come to Calth presumably to link up with the Ultramarines and begin a campaign against the hated Orks.  At this point the Ultramarines have no knowledge of Horus’ treachery, and welcome their brother legion with open arms.  It is tough reading and knowing full well what the Word Bearer’s intentions are, and even tougher when the battle begins in earnest.  It begins with a sneak attack by the XVII Legion, and it so brutal, so overwhelming that it’s almost impossible to see how the Ultramarines could survive, let alone retaliate.  It’s a roller coaster, and it’s fantastic.

This amazing cover artwork deserves mention.

Dan Abnett does a wonderful job communicating his story.  He is constantly shifting scenes.  There is so much going on concurrently that you’re never in the same place for more than a couple of pages.  It does quite a bit to help show the huge scale of the conflict.  The large-scale doesn’t just refer to the battle itself, but also to the cast.  There is an abundance of characters, over 75 just from checking the dramatis personae at the beginning of the book.  He uses them all, and he uses them well.  By the end of the book you’ve come to know these characters very well indeed.  A great read.

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