WARHAMMER LEGENDS COLLECTION– THE FIRST HERETIC

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

The gothic space-opera world of Warhammer 40,000 is a galaxy wide and ten thousand years long. So it might come as no surprise that the books that detail this world are as vast and as numerous as the Warhammer 40,000 setting itself. This can often be a barrier to entry; with so many books to choose from it can be hard to know where to start. Hachette’s latest series, the Warhammer Legends Collection solves this by providing its own specially curated list. Of course, with a series like that, you’re going to have to open with something strong and memorable. You need something tightly written, atmospheric and that also happens to explain the universe to the casual reader. With all that in mind, there is only really one choice, Aaron Dembski Bowden’s The First Heretic, which was initially published in 2010.

Warhammer 40,000’s core story is one of inter-galactic civil war. Mankind has had its up and downs, but by the time it reaches the 30th millennium, it is approaching annihilation. A strong leader, a being known only as The Emperor, was able to bring mankind from the brink, thanks in part to his own genetically engineered ‘sons’, who lead legions of genetically enhanced soldiers (called Space Marines) to crush all alien threats. Alas, due to supernatural corruption, heresy lead to a civil war, pitting the Emperor’s chosen against each other and plunging mankind into ten thousand years of darkness.

Dembski-Bowden’s The First Heretic was originally part of a series that described the events of this heresy. It is the tale of Lorgar Aurelian, son of the all-powerful Emperor and leader of a legion of zealots known as the Word Bearers. This Legion has been conquering whole worlds in the Emperor’s name, venerating him as a god. This angers the Emperor, who humbles Lorgar by sending other Legions to correct his mistake. Rather than accepting that his father is not a divine being Lorgar goes on a quest to uncover the true source of his own mystic power. What he discovers alters the fate of the galaxy.

Aaron doesn’t shy away from the themes here; this is a book about the nature of faith, the sins of the father and the humanity-defining quest for a purpose. It contains some frankly beautiful and powerful writing. At its core, The First Heretic is a space opera novel about space soldiers blowing stuff up, but the elements of horror, angst and discovery really make it stand out. It also comes with some lovely art plates, which is a bonus. An excellent start to the Warhammer Legends Collection.

WARHAMMER LEGENDS COLLECTION– THE FIRST HERETIC / AUTHOR: AARON DEMBSKI-BOWDEN / PUBLISHER: HACHETTE PARTWORKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW




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