Horus Rising (Novel)
Horus Rising, written by Dan Abnett, is the first novel in the Horus Heresy series. It also forms the first part of a narrative trilogy, along with False Gods by Graham McNeill and Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter, focusing directly on Horus's fall to Chaos.
Horus Rising was first published in April 2006, and as of July 2006 is in its third print run. An anniversary edition was released in April 2011. Each print run has a different colour for the titles: First was gold, Second was silver, Third was bronze, and the anniversary edition was platinum. In 2012, a hardcover edition that included several internal illustrations was published.
Part One: The Deceived
It is the two hundred and third year of the Great Crusade, and Horus, the primarch of the Luna Wolves Legio Astartes, has been Warmaster for barely a year, after the Emperor of Mankind retired from the Crusade and returned to Terra.
Under Horus, the 63rd Expedition Fleet's first major engagement since his elevation to Warmaster is the pacification of the planet Sixty-Three-Nineteen, a human civilization whose sovereign identifies himself as "The Emperor of Mankind". For daring to suggest the existence of "another" Emperor, Horus's envoy, Captain Hastur Sejanus, is murdered by the "Emperor"'s bodyguards, the so-called "Invisibles". There is nothing for it but to make war.
The four Companies, chosen at random to spearhead the assault on the Emperor's palace, are led by Captains Abaddon, Torgaddon, Aximand, and Loken. They are victorious when Horus arrives in person and slays the "false" Emperor.
One of the changes introduced by the newly-formed Council of Terra is to send remembrancers - historians, poets, artists, and pictmakers - to accompany the Expedition Fleets and document the glories of the Crusade. One of them assigned to the Sixty-Third, Mersadie Oliton, develops a rapport with Captain Loken and becomes something of a confidante to him.
Garviel Loken is surprised when Abaddon, Torgaddon, and Aximand invite him to replace Sejanus as the fourth member of the Mournival, an informal council of advisors to the Warmaster. In private, he consults with his mentor, Iterator Kyril Sindermann, and confesses his doubts about the morality of the war on Sixty-Three Nineteen, and his own fitness for the post. Sindermann tells him this humanity is exactly why the Mournival needs him.
While touring the recently-conquered capital city, another remembrancer, poet Ignace Karkasy, finds inspiration in seeing the ruins of the planet's older civilization. His verses flow freely, but under the influence of alcohol, they become increasingly morbid and defeatist. Soon he is declaiming aloud that what they have done to Sixty-Three Nineteen, under the pretense of enlightenment, is simple, naked conquest, and how all empires, even the mighty Imperium, are destined to collapse, and he is beaten nearly to death by an enraged squad of the Imperial Army that happens to overhear him.
Loken's first experience of his place in the Mournival is not only to advise the Warmaster, but to play his part in a political show orchestrated by Horus and his equerry, Maloghurst. A final pocket of resistance on Sixty-Three-Nineteen remains in the Whisperhead Mountains. The Imperial Army has been unable to crack the rebel stronghold. Loken volunteers the 10th Company to finish the war, and Horus agrees. In private, Rogal Dorn, the primarch of the Imperial Fists, who is in council with Horus before his Legion's withdrawal to Terra, takes Loken aside and confides that he also recommended Loken for the place on the Mournival; his humanity is a necessary counter to Abaddon's bellicosity and Aximand's "lofty disdain." But at the same time, the Mournival has a part to play: Horus wanted to unleash the Luna Wolves on the rebels, but wanted someone else to be the one to suggest it.
During their approach to the mountain stronghold, the 10th Company and the accompanying units of the Imperial Army hear strange whispers: "Samus. That's the only name you'll hear. I'm Samus. Samus is all around you. Samus is the man beside you. Samus will gnaw upon your bones". Loken dismisses it as vox distortion, or a useless scare-tactic by the rebels.
With an assault spearheaded by a squad in the recently-issued Terminator armour, the Luna Wolves crack the rebel stronghold with little effort. But at the conclusion of the battle, Loken is contacted by one of his Sergeants, Xavyer Jubal, claiming he sees Samus. Confused, Loken confronts Jubal in a cave inside the stronghold, talking nonsense. With a smile, Jubal raises his bolter and guns down the marines accompanying Loken, crowing, "Samus is here!" He then attacks Loken, who is forced to kill him.
Meanwhile, a small group of remembrancers has finally been allowed to accompany an Astartes expedition on a combat mission, though they have been kept well away from the actual fighting. Loken calls for Sindermann, desperately seeking an explanation for Jubal's behavior. Sindermann theorizes that Jubal was afflicted by some kind of disease which caused him to become delusional; in his delusion, he started repeating the nonsense words broadcast by the rebels. To Loken, this makes much more sense than Jubal claiming to be a daemon... then Jubal rises up with another smile, and his body bloats, becoming monstrous and grotesque, snapping out of his armour.
Unknown to Loken, the remembrancers, led by Euphrati Keeler, have decided to give their Army escort the slip and view the carnage at the stronghold for themselves. When the daemon charges out of the shadows, it kills two of them, and is about to kill Keeler, when Loken intervenes and finally kills the daemon.
Afterwards, Abaddon debriefs Loken in secret, warning him to keep silent about the events in the Whisperheads. Then Horus arrives in person, ordering his "son" not to reproach himself: placed in an unthinkable situation, Loken fought back and won, and his commander is very proud of him. To ease Loken's mind, Horus confides his understanding of what happened: Jubal was possessed by an entity of the Warp - they may be called daemons, but in reality they are xenos like any other, just more insidious. Loken is disbelieving, since they are all taught that only psykers, such as Librarians, are vulnerable to warp-entities, but Horus explains that there are places in the galaxy - the Whisperheads are apparently one of them - where the barrier between the Materium and the warp are unusually thin. Part of the reason Horus became Warmaster, he confides, is because the Emperor has withdrawn from the Crusade in an attempt to master the warp; if He fails, then all that the Crusade has accomplished will be for naught.
Part Two: Brotherhood in Spiderland
As the Crusade rolls on through the sector, a distress call is received from the Blood Angels' force on One-Forty Twenty, the planet grimly dubbed "Murder" by the last transmission of Captain Khitas Frome, before contact with the Angels' force stopped altogether. Both the 63rd Expedition Fleet under Horus and a task force from the Emperor's Children respond. The latter arrives first, and its leader, Lord Commander Eidolon, refuses to wait and orders his Space Marines to drop immediately.
Soon, two companies of the Emperor's Children, commanded by Captains Saul Tarvitz and Lucius are fighting for their lives against the Megarachnids, the planet's insectile inhabitants. Electromagnetic storms have scattered the Space Marines all over the planet and are blocking vox communication, making it virtually impossible for them to coordinate their forces.
While the 63rd Fleet is en route to Murder, Loken must deal with several disturbing revelations. Going through Sgt. Jubal's meagre possessions after his death, he finds a medallion showing Jubal's membership in the secret Warrior Lodges that have spread through several of the Legions. Loken forbade his own men to have anything to do with them, and is furious to find out that not only Jubal, but his own trusted second, Nero Vipus, are members.
Aximand placates Loken by bringing him as a guest to one of the lodge meetings aboard the Vengeful Spirit. Loken is surprised to find that Torgaddon is also a member. Observing the meeting, Loken sees no heathen rituals or seditious plotting; Torgaddon explains that the lodge is simply a place where the men of the Legion can gather as equals and speak their minds, without regards to rank or unit; they may be Astartes, but fraternity is one very human need that their creators did not breed out of them. Torgaddon and Aximand believe that, if anything, the lodges strengthen the Legion, creating bonds of loyalty between men from different companies that might not otherwise exist. Loken is somewhat assuaged, but still has his doubts; the lodges may be benevolent, but they are still secret, and secrecy is anathema to a military organization.
Loken finds Kyril Sindermann obsessively browsing the ship's data library for any reading material related to "Daemons." The iterator, a much reduced man since the events on 63-19, confesses that he has had difficulty focusing on the Imperial Truth he is supposed to be spreading.
Mersadie Oliton asks Loken to sponsor Ignace Karkasy's work, saying that he is a first-rate poet (though less than a perfect human being), and that he tells the unvarnished truth. Loken respects this, even if that truth is unpalatable.
Loken is also troubled by an encounter with Euphrati Keeler, who has taken to drinking heavily and sleeping indiscriminately with soldiers aboard the ship. When Loken goes to her quarters to comfort her, she shows him images from her picter. She was given the "official" explanation that some kind of wild beast got loose in the rebel stronghold, but her images show the truth: a daemon wearing fragments of Astartes power armour. For a moment Loken is afraid that his orders from Abaddon and Horus will force him to silence her, but to his surprise she gives him the picter and promises to say nothing, trusting that he will do the right thing with them. After he is gone, she opens a shrine hidden in her cabinet and prays to the Emperor as a deity.
On Murder, chance has allowed the Emperor's Children to regain the initiative. The Megarachnids had been impaling the bodies of slain Astartes to the enormous, stone-like "trees" growing all over the planet. Saul Tarvitz insisted on taking the corpses down and destroying the trees, which Eidolon decried as a waste of good explosives. Yet when the trees came down, the electromagnetic storms and vox distortion begin to clear. By the time the Luna Wolves' relief force arrives via Drop Pod, spearheaded by Torgaddon's company, destroying the trees has become standard procedure. Torgaddon is not impressed by Eidolon's ingratitude, nor by Lucius's loftiness, but quickly forms a bond of kinship with Tarvitz.
The war on Murder lasts for several months, accelerated by the arrival of a relief force from the Blood Angels, led by Sanguinius in person. Horus is overjoyed to see one of his most beloved brothers again, and both lead the war with gusto. But near the end of the war, with the Megarachnids all but exterminated, a strange alien fleet arrives at the planet, transmitting a music-like language. When translated, the message identifies the newcomers as a human civilisation called the Interex, criticizing the Imperial forces for ignoring their warnings.
Part Three: The Dreadful Sagittary
The strange signals being broadcast around Murder, it turns out, were warning beacons; the planet was a penal colony where the Megarachnids were incarcerated by the Interex, who say the Imperium could have saved itself the trouble by avoiding the planet altogether. Horus, eager to establish peaceful relations with the Interex, apologises to their leaders, to the secret outrage of Abaddon and Eidolon, among others.
The Expeditionary Fleet travels to the homeworld of the Interex, where they engage in prolonged negotiations. The Interex, though human in origin, have developed several alien customs and mannerisms from exposure to xenos species, several of whom have been absorbed into their culture. This alone, argues Abaddon and several of the more bellicose Luna Wolves, is enough reason for them to go to war, but Horus refuses. Yet as the negotiations go on, the Interex seem determined to keep the Imperium at arm's length, neither promising nor refusing to ally with them. The Legions are growing impatient, and many of them pressure Horus to simply conquer them and move the Crusade on.
In an impassioned speech, Horus describes to the Mournival the time when his father stood with him on Cthonia, not long after they had first found each other. The Emperor pointed up at the stars, and told his favourite son, "Make no mistake, and those stars will be ours." Even Loken is surprised to hear that Horus still blames himself for Sejanus's death on 63-19, and for letting the conflict there descend into violence, despite the others' assurances that he did everything he could. Horus feels the weight of his responsibility as Warmaster terribly, and is adamant that all peaceful means to establish relations with the Interex must be exhausted - even if it means bending his father's absolute condemnation of xenos species, or those cultures that have had contact with them.
Loken is among the Warmaster's entourage when he attends a reception at a dignitary's home. He is drawn into a conversation with a member of the Interex's guard, who confides that the Interex have been treading carefully because they feared the taint of "Kaos" in the newcomers. From the Interex's contact with the Eldar, they understand that Kaos is a threat like no other, and it would be just like it to come into their space posing as a friend, seeking to worm its way into their confidences and then destroy them.
Horus told Loken that there is no "fundamental evil" at work in the Galaxy, but the guard's words resonate uncomfortably with Loken's experiences on 63-19, and he finds himself in understanding with the guard. It seems as if Loken has bridged the gap, and the two sides may now welcome each other as friends. But before the guard can convey this exciting news to his superiors, he receives word of an alarm - a break-in at the Interex's museum where several dangerous xenos weapons are kept. Cursing Loken as a deceiver, the guard leaps at him, and Loken is forced to kill him in self-defense.
Battle erupts on the streets of the Interex city, as the Luna Wolves are attacked. Horus pleads for cease-fire, but when these are ignored, he rallies his men and charges into the heart of the enemy...
Afterwards, Loken relates the story to Oliton. The Legion has subjugated the Interex, but it is a battle he can take little pride in, having grown out of a stupid misunderstanding. The Interex believed that the Astartes had stolen an anathame (a semi-sentient weapon created by one of the Interex's subject races) from the museum, and refused to accept Horus's claims that he knew nothing about it.
The one bright spot in the whole sorry affair is that, having seen his commander's courage and nobility, Loken has never been more certain that the Emperor chose the right man to be his Warmaster. The sight of that courage and nobility, he says, is a memory that will stay with him for the rest of his life - even in later years, when to associate courage and nobility with the name of Horus will be the most obscene heresy.
Meanwhile, in a hidden recess of the Vengeful Spirit, First Chaplain Erebus of the Word Bearers, accompanying the Fleet on a diplomatic pretext, examines the anathame he took, and contemplates its galaxy-shaking possibilities.
Alone in her quarters, Euphrati Keeler thanks the Divine Emperor for placing humanity's fate in the hands of Horus and his Legion - who, after the battle against the Interex, shall henceforth be known as the Sons of Horus.
Oliton asks Loken where the Fleet is headed next. He says a small side-trip, made at the request of Chaplain Erebus, to a small moon called Davin...
- Horus - Primarch of the Luna Wolves, Warmaster of the Great Crusade
- Rogal Dorn - Primarch of the Imperial Fists
- Sanguinius - Primarch of the Blood Angels
- Maloghurst - Equerry to the Warmaster
- Ezekyle Abaddon - First Captain
- Tarik Torgaddon - Captain, 2nd Company
- Iacton "the Half-heard" Qruze - Captain, 3rd Company
- " Little Horus" Aximand - Captain, 5th Company
- Garviel Loken - Captain, 10th Company
- Eidolon - Lord Commander
- Saul Tarvitz - Captain of the 10th Company
- Lucius - Captain of the 13th Company
- Hektor Varvarus - Lord Commander
- Kyril Sindermann - Primary Iterator
- Ignace Karkasy - Poet
- Euphrati Keeler - Imagist
- Mersadie Oliton - Documentarist
- 1: Black Library's Horus Rising Page
- 2: Black Library's Horus Rising Hardback page (site accessed 2012/11/14)