Yes, I know that Jen already wrote a review of The Unremembered Empire in an Outside the Book Club review, but this is MY story now. I’m reading the Horus Heresy in order. I’m writing an irregular column about my experience reading all 54 books in order. I’m the hero of this story.
Now that we’ve gotten THAT out of the way… I vaguely remember editing Jen’s article three years ago. There are some key pieces I remembered that she told me, such as Guilliman’s mom making an appearance (to which I expected her to be a Queen Mother, not an advisor), Konrad Kurze and the Lion showing up, and Robby Bobby deciding that Sanguinius should sit on the Secundus throne. But there was a lot going into this story, and for that reason, I’m so glad I read the first 26 books before this one. Well, I’m glad I read most of them.
After Legion, the series has been a bit all over the place. It’s jumped forward and backward in time, it’s introduced new characters in short stories that you weren’t sure were going to mean anything, and the series has scattered the Loyalists all over the galaxy. The Unremembered Empire is a bit of a reset for the plot mess the series has been up to this point.
No idea if things will be on a set path for the second half of the series, but that’s not what’s important right now. What’s important right now is that we got to see a crack in the Lion’s armor.
Primarchs Have Feelings Too
Know No Fear was my favorite book in this series for a myriad of reasons. One is that we get see what a BADASS my man Robby Bobby is. Second is that we saw a crack in Guilliman’s polished veneer and got to witness real, raw emotions from him. It’s one thing for him to get angry at orks, but it’s quite another for his heart to be broken by a family member. And learn that one of his favorite brothers was killed. And nearly get killed by another brother.
With The Unremembered Empire, we get to see these emotional cracks again with Roboute and, probably for the first time ever, with the Lion. Oh yes, this was a two-for-one special just for me, and I loved every second of it. (And Robby Bobby is a momma’s boy! So sweet, all of it.)
Careful What You Wish For…
Last time, in Ultramar, Lorgar fucked some shit up. There’s a giant warp Ruinstorm engulfing the system, and there’s no communication in or out. As far as Rowboat Girlyman knows, Horus has already invaded Terra and killed the Emperor. In case that has happened, it’s best to keep the Imperium alive the best way Robert knows how, and that’s to name someone as Regent of Imperium Secundus. He doesn’t want that person to be him, because it has bad optics, to say the least. He laments that he needs someone to take the throne, and he’ll take any other loyal brother.
And then who should appear as if on cue? Lion El’Jonson! How does Robby Bobby take the news?
‘Of all of them… Why did it have to be him who found a way through the storm?’ Guilliman whispered.
Oh how I cackled. But then, there was a glimpse into Guilliman that I could not have predicted.
Despite himself, Guilliman felt his heart skip and his lungs pump. The Lion. The Lion. There were brothers that he could look down on, and was happy to, and there were brothers that he could admire. Rogal, Magnus and Sanguinius, and, damn him, even Russ. He could admire them for what they were. But there were only two brothers that he had ever actually looked up to, only two brothers that he had ever actually admired. There were only two brothers that he felt shadowed by when they were present. Lion El’Jonson and Horus Lupercal.
First of all, he admired Magnus? I did not see that coming at all. And then to learn he put the Lion on the same level as Horus? I got a little choked up.
But Wait, There’s Another Brother!
Just as Roboute and the Lion came to an understanding, everyone’s favorite psychotic primarch makes an entrance. The Lion captured Konrad Kurze after their tussle on Thramas, and wouldn’t you know it, but the little scamp escaped on his ship and went on a murder spree. When he began to bore of killing Dark Angels, he thought it would be fun to drop down on Macragge and kill a bunch of Ultramarines. And make Robby Bobby think the Lion is attacking Ultramar in the process. He’s all about killing two birds with one stone, that one. Ha! Foreshadowing.
This scene where Robby Bobby forces the Lion to admit he brought Kurze gave me chills. Not only did the Avenging Son grab the Lion by the throat and throw him up against the wall, the Lion admitted he was embarrassed to tell him that he lost Kurze. The Lion admitted he was wrong. That has never happened in his history. He’s never been wrong. People don’t understand his motives, but they’re the ones who are too dumb to not understand what he’s not telling them.
Who knew it would take a rampaging Kurze to bring these two brothers together?
And Then There’s the Perpetuals
The Unremembered Empire would have been a perfect book, 10/10, if it didn’t have the perpetuals.
Yes, I’m including Vulkan in that. I was so excited when they found Vulkan. But then Abnett had him go insane? In Vulkan Lives, Vulkan mentioned he was losing a little piece of his mind which each death, but he was completely of sound mind when he broke through Kurze’s labyrinth and teleported out. I cannot believe that this particular death, where he fell through the atmosphere, took the rest of his mind after everything else he had been through. The worst part is that the only reason why Vulkan was there at all and the only reason why he was insane was to be a fuggin’ deus ex machina.
Look, the deus ex machina only works in Classic Greek plays, because they literally had no other way to end these plays than with the gods interfering. Employing this plot device anywhere else BUT Classic Greek plays is lazy writing. Yes, I said it. Fight me.
I don’t even have to really get into John Grammaticus or Daman Prytanis. They had absolutely no bearing on the entire story. If you removed all of the perpetuals, including Vulkan, you’d have the same story. The perpetuals are Indiana Jones from Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. No matter what they did, nothing changed, the ark still opened, killing everyone. The only difference between Indiana Jones and the perpetuals is that at least Indiana Jones made his pointless ride a fun one.
To quote Jen from her article, “I hate that they are Mary Sue characters with all the cool toys and powers. Shadowy organizations bent on the destruction of our heroes belong in Marvel and DC. Get that shit out of my Warhammer, please.”
Twenty-seven books down, 27 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.