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This book has received many negative reviews in the past and overall is not viewed well compared with other books in the series. At this point, 14 years after its original publication, this review will be as much about answering the question of why the negative sentiment as the story of the novel.
Story first. The Furious Abyss is a mega ship constructed for the Word Bearers legion by the treacherous Mechanicum. The ship is revealed in Earth’s solar system and leaves for Macragge to attack the Ultramarines’ homeworld. The Word Bearers attack an Ultramarine vessel that gets in their way, and the distress call of this doomed ship brings loyal Astartes onto their tail. The loyalists, themselves representing two loyalist and two traitor legions, must come to view their differences as strengths and band together to stop the Word Bearers’ attack.
The story is something of a cul-de-sac, with limited connection to other Heresy novels. I think this is where the negative sentiment comes in. Rather than a book in a series, Battle for the Abyss reads as a ‘Horus Heresy adventure’ novel. The launch of the ship doesn’t reveal the treachery of the Word Bearers or the Mechanicum as both will be revealed in later novels. Neither are the Ultramarines massing at Calth made aware of what is about to happen. Success for the loyalists means a devastating attack on the Ultramarines will be not quite as devasting at it might have been.
The stakes of the novel are low, the character haven’t been seen before and won’t be seen again. No particular character of any legion is revealed here. The Space Wolves are short-tempered, the Ultramarines are noble, the World Eaters revel in combat. Overall this book adds more in length than in value to the series.
rating: 2 golden thrones