Series: The Horus Heresy #6
Author: Mitchel Scanlon
Publisher: Black Library
Released: October 30, 2007
Descent of Angels is the sixth novel in the Horus Heresy series – one of the most popular (and famous) series from Black Library/Warhammer 40K. Mitchel Scanlon wrote this novel; this novel is the first in the series that turns to look at the Dark Angels.
Young Zarahiel has only ever known life on Caliban. It’s a world covered in forests and made dangerous for the beasts that lurk within. Yet, there is a brotherhood here that fights to eradicate the beasts that plague the people.
Leading that charge is Lion El’Johnson. His days on Caliban were the days before he was known as a Primarch – yet he still created history and goals for himself. Now, he and his brotherhood are joining the larger initiative.
“You have crossed a line, but it does not change who you are. Don’t forget that. A man may be dressed up in all manner of fancy titles, but he must not let it change him, or else ego, pride and ambition will be his undoing. No matter what grand title is bestowed upon you, to thine own self be true. Do you understand?”
My read-through of The Horus Heresy continues onward, though admittedly, the going is much slower than I had anticipated. Part of the problem is that I really struggled to get into Descent of Angels. The transition between Fulgrim and Descent of Angels is so stark that it is nearly jarring.
Additionally, the story actually starts off a bit…slow? The first half of the book focuses on the battles of Caliban. Other than introducing characters (which is admittedly a necessary part of the process), a lot of what happens isn’t related to The Horus Heresy itself.
The second half jumps forward drastically, bringing Lion El’Johnson and Zarahiel, along with all the others, back into the fold. This is where the Dark Angels element really takes shape, though it does so in rapid fashion.
There were parts I liked about each half of the novel and parts I didn’t like. I enjoyed following Zahariel’s exploits for obvious reasons. He’s the main perspective in this story, following a trend that the rest of the Heresy (that I’ve read) has established. However, I felt like the pacing was lacking at times and found myself easily distracted while listening to the audiobook.
As for the second half? It’s easier to see how those events are going to be relevant to The Horus Heresy. However, I feel like it also suffered from some pacing issues. The jumps in time are almost too large. One moment they’re on Caliban – hoping to be chosen for the process. The next, they’re out in space, having been inducted, transitioned, trained, and blooded. It’s a lot.
All complaints aside – I will admit that the final twist in Descent of Angels got my attention. It left me eager to pick up the next book in the series (Legion), which is a huge relief on my part. Now to go and nab a copy for myself.