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Horus Rising (Novel)

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Horus Rising
Author Dan Abnett
Performer Martyn Ellis
Publisher Black Library
Series Horus Heresy Series
Followed by False Gods
Released April 2006
Pages 320 (hardcover)
416 (softcover)
Length 12 hours 16 minutes
Editions 2006 hardcover (collector's edition):
ISBN 9781844164981

2006 softcover:
ISBN 9781844162949

2010 ebook:
ISBN 9780857870216

2010 abridged audiobook:
ISBN 9780857871114

2011 abridged audiobook:
ISBN 9781849700153

2011 softcover (anniversary edition):
ISBN 9781849701112

2012 hardcover:
ISBN 9781849703826

2014 unabridged audiobook:
ISBN 9781782514602

Cover art

Horus Rising is a novel written by Dan Abnett and the first book 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.[1] 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.[1] In 2012, a hardcover edition that included several internal illustrations was published.[2] It was later included in "The Novels: Volume 1" e-book collection, and it was included as part of the Crusade's End omnibus, released in paperback on March 8, 2016.

Cover description

It is the 31st millennium. Under the benevolent leadership of the Immortal Emperor, the Imperium of Man has stretched out across the galaxy. It is a golden age of discovery and conquest. But now, on the eve of victory, the Emperor leaves the front lines, entrusting the great crusade to his favourite son, Horus. Promoted to Warmaster, can the idealistic Horus carry out the Emperor's grand plan, or will this promotion sow the seeds of heresy amongst his brothers? Horus Rising is the first chapter in the epic tale of the Horus Heresy, a galactic civil war that threatened to bring about the extinction of humanity.[1]

Dramatis Personae


Luna Wolves

Word Bearers

Imperial Fists

Emperor's Children

Blood Angels

The 63rd Imperial Expedition Fleet

The 140th Imperial Expedition Fleet

Imperial Personae

Non Imperial Personae

Plot summary

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 though Loken has the chance to kill him in self-defense, he decides to incapacitate him instead, showing mercy.

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...

See also


Horus Heresy Series
Novels I Horus RisingII False GodsIII Galaxy in FlamesIV The Flight of the EisensteinV FulgrimVI Descent of AngelsVII LegionVIII Battle for the AbyssIX MechanicumX Tales of HeresyXI Fallen AngelsXII A Thousand SonsXIII NemesisXIV The First HereticXV Prospero BurnsXVI Age of DarknessXVII The Outcast DeadXVIII Deliverance LostXIX Know No FearXX The PrimarchsXXI Fear to TreadXXII Shadows of TreacheryXXIII Angel ExterminatusXXIV BetrayerXXV Mark of CalthXXVI Vulkan LivesXXVII The Unremembered EmpireXXVIII ScarsXXIX Vengeful SpiritXXX The Damnation of PythosXXXI Legacies of BetrayalXXXII DeathfireXXXIII War Without EndXXXIV PharosXXXV Eye of TerraXXXVI The Path of HeavenXXXVII The Silent WarXXXVIII Angels of CalibanXXXIX Praetorian of DornXL CoraxXLI The Master of MankindXLII GarroXLIII Shattered LegionsXLIV The Crimson KingXLV TallarnXLVI RuinstormXLVII Old EarthXLVIII The Burden of LoyaltyXLIX WolfsbaneL Born of FlameLI Slaves to DarknessLII Heralds of the SiegeLIII TitandeathLIV The Buried Dagger
Siege of Terra I The Solar WarII The Lost and the DamnedIII The First WallSons of the SelenarIV SaturnineFury of MagnusV MortisVI WarhawkVII Echoes of EternityGarro: Knight of GreyVIII The End and the Death (Volume IVolume IIVolume III)
The Primarchs Roboute Guilliman: Lord of UltramarLeman Russ: The Great WolfMagnus the Red: Master of ProsperoPerturabo: The Hammer of OlympiaLorgar: Bearer of the WordFulgrim: The Palatine PhoenixFerrus Manus: Gorgon of MedusaGrandfather's GiftPerturabo: Stone and IronMalcador: First Lord of the ImperiumKonrad Curze: A Lesson in DarknessJaghatai Khan: Warhawk of ChogorisVulkan: Lord of DrakesSons of the EmperorCorax: Lord of ShadowsAngron: Slave of NuceriaScions of the Emperor Konrad Curze: The Night HaunterGhost of NuceriaThe Passing of AngelsThe Abyssal EdgeMercy of the DragonLion El'Jonson: Lord of the FirstIllyriumThe Revelation of the WordMorningstarWill of the LegionEmbers of ExtinctionAlpharius: Head of the HydraBlood of the EmperorLoyal SonsMortarion: The Pale KingRogal Dorn: The Emperor's CrusaderSanguinius: The Great AngelHeirs of The Emperor
Horus Heresy Characters Valdor: Birth of the ImperiumLuther: First of the FallenSigismund: The Eternal CrusaderEidolon: The Auric Hammer
Novellas Promethean SunAurelianBrotherhood of the StormThe Reflection Crack'dFeat of IronThe LionThe Serpent BeneathCorax: SoulforgeScorched EarthTallarn: ExecutionerPrince of CrowsThe Crimson FistThe PurgeRavenlordThe Seventh SerpentTallarn: IroncladCyberneticaWolf KingThe HonouredThe UnburdenedGarro: Vow of FaithSons of the ForgeDreadwingSpear of Ultramar
Collections AngronThe Imperial TruthSedition's GateEchoes of RuinDeath and DefianceBlades of the TraitorMedusonBetrayal at CalthEchoes of the ImperiumVirtues of the Sons/Sins of the FatherEchoes of RevelationLupercal's WarCthonia's Reckoning
Short Stories The Lightning TowerThe Dark KingArmy of OneKryptosDistant Echoes of Old NightLost SonsDeath of a SilversmithThe Divine WordThe Kaban ProjectThe Gates of TerraLord of the Red SandsSerpentLuna MendaxRivenBjorn: Lone WolfThe Wolf of Ash and FireHeart of the ConquerorChild of NightThe ShadowmastersThe Devine AdoratriceDaemonologySins of the FatherThe Final Compliance of Sixty-Three FourteenVoraxThe Value of FearBrotherhood of the MoonVirtues of the SonsImperfectHowl of the HearthworldA Safe and Shadowed PlaceGunsightBlack OculusWolf MotherTwistedChirurgeonTallarn: WitnessIronfireHands of the EmperorBy the Lion's CommandAll That RemainsThe PhoenicianArtefactsGhosts Speak NotPatienceInheritorTallarn: SirenBlackshieldMyriadInto ExileThe Grey RavenThe Painted CountExocytosisThe Last Son of ProsperoOrdo SinisterThe Ember WolvesRestorerThe Laurel of DefianceImmortal DutyDuty WaitsMagisteriumNow Peals MidnightDreams of UnityThe Board is SetThe Atonement of FireA Lesson in IronMassacreTwo Metaphysical BladesPrologue to NikaeaOld Wounds, New ScarsAbyssalThe Last CouncilA Rose Watered with BloodBringer of SorrowLantern's LightThe Serpent's DanceThe Lightning HallEater of DreamsBloodhowlAmor FatiThe Fields of AbundanceThe Shel'tain AffairPrimacyThe NineVisageThe Last Loyalist
Audio Dramas Raven's FlightGarro: Oath of MomentGarro: Legion of OneButcher's NailsGrey AngelBurden of DutyGarro: Sword of TruthWarmasterStrike and FadeVeritas FerrumThe SigilliteHonour to the DeadWolf HuntCensureThief of RevelationsKhârn: The Eightfold PathLucius: The Eternal BlademasterCypher: Guardian of OrderHunter's MoonWolf's ClawTemplarGarro: Shield of LiesMaster of the FirstThe Long NightStratagemHerald of SanguiniusThe WatcherThe Eagle's TalonIron CorpsesGarro: Ashes of FealtyRaptorGrey TalonRed-MarkedThe EitherThe Heart of the PharosThe Thirteenth WolfChildren of SicarusPerpetualThe Soul, SeveredValeriusThe Binary SuccessionDark ComplianceBlackshields: The False WarBlackshields: The Red FiefHubris of MonarchiaNightfaneBlackshields: The Broken Chain
Artbooks Visions of Heresy (2013)Visions of Heresy (2018)Art of the Horus Heresy
Script Books Horus Heresy: The Scripts: Volume IHorus Heresy: The Scripts: Volume II
Graphic Novels Macragge's Honour