Sunday, 1 November 2015

Horus Heresy Book Review: Macgragge's Honour by Dan Abnett and Neil Roberts

Yet another nostalgia inducing GW product arrived at my front door Sunday last week. (Yes a delivery on a Sunday!) As I received my copy of Macgragge’s Honour from Amazon. Originally released alongside the Horus Heresy novel 'Know no Fear' a few years back as a hardback deluxe limited edition, it has now, as most of the limited edition stuff is wont to do, arrived as a mass release for a saner price. I’d managed to keep from reading it so it would be a nice surprise and if nothing else it’s been an age since I have read anything from Dan Abnett anyway, stolen away by Hollywood and Marvel as he has been.

Of course this is far from GWs first foray into the comic world. Many of you will remember Warhammer Monthly, GWs own comic back in the early days of the Black Library and where legends such as Malus Darkblade, Ephrael Stern and Ulli and Marquand first came to be. In more recent years BOOM! Publishing produced a range of Warhammer and 40k Comics that are worth tracking down though they will never be regarded as classics. It is a medium that has always seemed to lend itself well to the universes of Warhammer and it is perhaps surprising that more have not been produced. Certainly based on the quality of Macragge’s Honour I fervently hope it is not a one off and that Neil Roberts will lend his talents to more than book covers again soon.

Upon getting the book the first thing that struck me was the size. Somewhere between A5 and A4 it is destined to look slightly odd on your bookshelf, the spine matches up with the gold on black design that has become so familiar but its size will most definitely stand out, larger than the novellas and hardback books it will stand alongside. Of course this is still substantially smaller than its original release and one would expect that the reason this decision was made was so not to diminish the impact of the artwork within. As it turns out this was a wise choice.

The book starts with a small excerpt of text. Following on from the last pages of his book 'Know no Fear', Dan explains how Kor Phaeon, gravely wounded by Roboute Gulliman, flees Calth; his work done. The Ultramarines Primarch will not allow this to stand and issues an imperative that the traitor must be destroyed. So Macgragge’s Honour sets off in pursuit of the renegade vessel.

The first thing that smacks you in the face is the artwork. Neil Roberts wonderful panels are a sight to behold. For one thing the scale that he manages to impart in his pictures is amazing. You really get a sense of the size of the ships involved and the epic nature of the conflict taking place. The damage that gets inflicted on both ships is spectacular and Neil nails the look of the book 100% from the mechanical aspects to the personnel on the ship. I’ll let the pictures I have included in the review speak for themselves but I particularly loved his depiction of the Warp. Very 80’s.

The size of the book works, there is so much detail in Neil’s work that to make it any smaller would be a crime. Any larger and you risk it not fitting on most bookshelves. So although it will look somewhat out of place the choice of size seems to be the right one. I do wonder if the original might have been a bit TOO big but in all honesty Neil works so much detail into the pictures im sure larger pictures are not an issue.

But of course pictures can only tell part of the story, thankfully Dan is on fine form here with a classic turn. Mr Abnett obviously has a great deal of Pedigree as a comic writer already having turned his hand to many different subjects and his work here is as solid as you would expect. It’s not the Watchmen but he moves everything along at a brisk pace whilst keeping the reader informed.

Don’t expect Macragge’s Honour to advance the plot of the Heresy either. The emphasis of this book is firmly on action and finding ways to show off Neil Robert’s art. Yes there are a couple of characters that get a little more time than others and there is the usual tales of sacrifice and valour that you expect from the increasingly large Ultramarines vs Word Bearers aspect of the Heresy, which lest we forget, was no more than a footnote in the original narrative of the Horus Heresy.

These are spoiler free reviews so I wont tell you what happens in the book but suffice to say that the Macragge’s Honour’s pursuit of Kor Phaeon is far from straightforward and there are plenty of twists and turns in store. There are space battles. boarding battles and even a bit of chaos daemon action for good measure. With the recent leaks of the Betrayal at Calth Board game (which this was surely released to coincide with) it got me even more fired up to start my own Ultramarine HH army. The ending is also left fairly open, begging a continuation.

Even after the action ends there is a 'behind the scenes' look at the book with story boards and pages of Abnetts orginal script. Its a nice touch and i'm glad they included it, it is nice to see the work that has gone into such a polished product.

There isn’t really a great more to say in all honesty. It’s a well written and superbly illustrated slice of Horus Heresy action. I’ve tried to include plenty of pictures in here but I really would recommend picking a copy up if you can find it a bit cheaper than the £30.00 GW want for it (I paid £17.99). It won’t take you long to read but the time it does take you should have a great big grin plastered on your face every time you turn the page.

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