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A sextet of imperial assassins embarks on a mission to kill Horus. In the hands of another author this could have been a waste of time, a dead-end tale of the Heresy. Instead, James Swallow provides us with a gripping tale of secrecy and deceit.
The assassins cross paths with another agent, this one on a mission similar to theirs, but sent against the Emperor, rather than Horus. The force of assassins must decide whether to continue with their original mission or allow themselves to be diverted by this unexpected threat.
In conjunction with this story, Nemesis also gives us a rare glimpse into what life is like for the imperial citizenry during this unprecedented rebellion. From ordinary citizens to planetary governors, individuals pick their side for a myriad of reasons and face the consequences. Others try and ignore the larger conflict and instead focus on maintaining the normalcy of their own lives.
This book also gives us a look at Horus and his legion now that the heresy has taken hold and there are committed to their path. Some form of the legion we saw in the first three books remains, but it’s fading fast as the pressures of rebellion and the nature of their immaterial allies becomes clear. The legion has not changed, but it is in the process of changing.
Imperial forces are also changing, with Rogal Dorn becoming ever firmer in his resolve to end the Heresy militarily. His differences with the Custodes on the best way to prosecute the war, hinted at earlier in Blood Games, again come to the fore here, requiring the intervention of a greater power to settle.
Nemesis provides an enjoyable tale alongside insights into the conflict, and how it affects those on either side and those caught in between them.
rating: 4 golden thrones