Pretty much ever since I first heard of the Horus Heresy, Jen has been telling me how great Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is. Since I started this little journey, she keeps asking when I’m getting to Betrayer. Well, at long last, I’m finally here, woman. And yes, I concede that this is definitely one of the best books in the entire series so far. I’m honestly not sure what else trump it down the line, but this is only book 24 of 54. There’s time.
However, Betrayer holds a pretty high standard. I got CHILLS, just from the opening paragraphs of the book itself, from Kharn’s unpublished treatise:
The Wolves will always come to heel when called. In that regard, it is a mystery why they name themselves wolves. They are tame, collared by the Emperor, obeying his every whim. But a wolf doesn’t behave that way. Only a dog does.
That is why we are the Eaters of Worlds, and the War Hounds no longer.
I know I’m a bit biased because I’m not a fan of the Space Wolves, but darn it if Kharn doesn’t have a point. Seriously, damn, son.
And that was just the first page after the Dramatis Personae. Right then I knew I wasn’t prepared for how great this book really was. I mean, I knew this was the book where Kharn showed Erebus how much he appreciates him, but that was really it. Words can’t really express how this book enraptured me, but I’m going to try.
So the betrayer in this case isn’t Kharn?
I assumed that with a title like Betrayer, this was going to be all about Kharn, since he’s, well, known as the Betrayer. And while, yes, most of the book is about Kharn’s place in the Horus Heresy, it’s not about him as a betrayer. Instead, it’s really about all of the traitors around him.
It’s about Angron’s heart-wrenching story about how he feels the Emperor betrayed him when he removed him from the slave rebellion, leaving Angron’s slave family to die. How he feels that he was forced to betray his family by leaving them unwillingly. How he feels knowing that Nuceria history proclaims he betrayed the other slaves to flee.
It’s about World Eaters cursing Angron with their dying breaths for the Nails and the Heresy. Former Legion Master Lhorke keeping his thoughts to himself that he disagrees with what the Legion has become. Lotara openly telling Kharn this path is madness. Erebus betraying Argel Tal. Lorgar betraying Erebus. And Lorgar betraying Angron.
Ugh I feel sorry for Angron.
During our Kharn podcast, I mentioned that I understood the World Eaters a bit, but I still didn’t like the angry monster. I stand by that in that I still don’t like Angron, but uggghhhh I feel for the guy. I see where the Emperor did do him wrong. Not only did the Emperor yoink Angron away from his battle, but He didn’t even overthrow the tyrannical government. When Mortarion and Fulgrim both overthrew the tyrants of their worlds, the Emperor upheld what they had done. Not in Angron’s case. He whisked him away and didn’t protect the slaves from getting overrun. He let the ruling class still rule, even though it was them who put the Nails in His son. No wonder Angron was fine with turning against the Emperor. His Father never did anything fatherly for him.
But then there is his ascension to daemonhood. I believed that Angron willingly submitted himself to his Chaos god of choice, like Fulgrim did in Angel Exterminatus. I did not expect for Lorgar to submit Angron to the gods. I’ve been told, oh it’s cool, Angron comes to terms with it and is happy with how his life has turned out. While that may be, it bothers me greatly that he didn’t have a choice.
Lorgar, in his desire to “save” Angron, did exactly what his Father did: made a decision for him. Lorgar didn’t ask Angron first. He didn’t go to him and say, “Hey, I think I’ve found a way for you to not die from the Nails.” He took away his choice. Just like the Emperor did.
Congrats, Lorgar. You really are your Father’s son.
Twenty-four books down, 30 to go.
Horus Hearsay is dedicated to Keri’s journey through the Horus Heresy saga. The chronicling of the Horus Heresy began over ten years ago, with currently 54 books in total, not counting The Primarchs series or the various short stories. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.