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The Horus Heresy series had a good run with its first five books. Each book doesn’t necessarily start after the previous one, but it finishes later and so adds to the tale. Not so here.
Descent of Angels is not about the Dark Angels. They don’t appear until we get around three-quarters of the way into the book, and their structure and background are essentially ignored. It’s not about the Dark Angel Primarch. The book reveals little of his character.
Instead this is a book about a boy living on a forest world who wants to become a knight, go on a quest, and slay a beast. And so he does.
Have you ever been stuck in a hobby shop or comic book store where a random person has you pinned to a wall while he tells his own personal made up background to various game or story characters? Reading Descent of Angels is like that. Unimaginative, dull, revealing of nothing about the supposed setting or character, and it goes on far too long.
None of the boy’s experiences in becoming a knight of ‘the Order’ has any relevance to the Dark Angels legion. His experience of becoming an Astartes is barely mentioned compared to his earlier, irrelevant knight training.
The best Heresy novels take what we know of a chapter in Warhammer 40,000 and expand that through exploring the legion which later became the chapter. There’s none of that here.
Ultimately we can see that Descent of Angels is meant as a precursor to… something. It remains unrelated to the Heresy tale. This book should not have been included in the series. Maybe reduced to 40 pages and called a short story? Maybe.
As a reader you can skip this with confidence that you aren’t missing anything of value.
rating: 1 golden throne