Review: Know No Fear / Author: Dan Abnett / Publisher: The Black Library / Format: Paperback / Release date: March 5th
Know No Fear is the 19th book in Black Library’s Horus Heresy series, and a prime example as to why the series continues to be so successful. Fan favourite (and award-winning comic book writer) Dan Abnett has delivered a solid, action paced adventure novel featuring a heart-stopping, page turning, war in space. The premise of the novel is simple; a world, thought to be impregnable and resolute is invaded by an enemy sent from the depths of hell itself, and its straight laced defenders must re-think everything they know in order to save themselves.
The Heresy books are part of the highly successful Warhammer 40K franchise, a label that began as a way to sell toy soldiers and has since spread to video games, board games and even a short movie. 40K is a grim and dystopian setting, in which mankind’s brightest dreams have long since been smashed, in part due to a civil war between god-like men. The Horus Heresy gives us fine detail into this conflict, and is the most successful series of books in the franchise, producing multiple New York Times best-sellers. Several of these novels focus on the motivations and reasons behind a galaxy spanning war, whereas others simply deliver cracking tales of warfare.
Know No Fear sits in the latter category; this is a book in which insane, curvy knife wielding cultists fight sci-fi knights in powered armour, chain-saw swords carve up demonic monsters and very large things smash into other very large things and go boom. Abnett is better known for his character driven stories, and though they are some interesting people in this book, the main characters are the defending forces as a whole. The heroes of the novel are the Ultramarines, intergalactic boys in blue who stick to the book. By plunging stiff and regimented heroes into utter chaos, Abnett brings personality to an entire army.
This is a reasonable entry point for those looking to get into the Horus Heresy (though you’d be better advised to start at the beginning) and certainly, those familiar with 40K and the Heresy will enjoy it much more than those who don’t. (One relationship established early on is especially endearing to those in the know.) Regardless, Know No Fear is the best in the series so far. It isn’t subtle, but it is clever, and a near-perfect example of its genre.