Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill


A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill

Black Library Publishing

558 pages


Censured at the Council of Nikea for his flagrant use of sorcery, Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion retreat to their homeworld of Prospero to continue their use of the arcane arts in secret. But when the ill-fated primarch forsees the treachery of Warmaster Horus and warns the Emperor with the very powers he was forbidden to use, the Master of Mankind dispatches fellow primarch Leman Russ to attack Prospero itself. But Magnus has seen more than the betrayal of Horus and the witnessed revelations will change the fate of his fallen Legion, and its primarch, forever. (


Picked up the book last evening, finished reading and turned out the light at exactly 3:33am. Coincidence?

My review? Go out and buy the book, absorb it in one sitting.

That's it?

I have to admit that is this is a difficult book to read and review as I am forced to set aside any fanboy glee for what is my personal favorite Legion (1ksons) and the Horus Heresy novel I've been waiting for since the beginning. Deep breath. I'm a pro. Objectivity. GO!


A Thousand Sons is a story about one loyal son and his Legion versus another. If you're expecting this to be about The Thousand Sons being vile will be surprised to say the very least.

Graham McNeill crafts a moving story about one of The Emperor of Mankind's most loyal sons. If anything this can be considered one of the greatest tragedies of the entire Horus Heresy. I think that Magnus, like all his brother Primarchs are flawed in some way. Arrogance, hubris, pride...just like their father.

You ever have a friend or know someone who is really a genius, and every time you tell them something...they "know it". Maybe they do, maybe not. Even if that person has the very best's hubris.

That is Magnus.

If anything The Thousand Sons are the most personable Legion of Astartes I've seen yet. They have character. They are Astartes, so they are trained and hones like any other...but free thinking. Critical thinkers who question, evaluate, and delve in to all matter of knowledge. They are extremely disciplined in their learning. Magnus? Nicest and coolest Primarch you ever met. Ahriman? Great guy, love to share a glass of wine with him and talk history.

Graham McNeill makes the Thousand Sons very inviting. Very easy to like. You really do get to like them. Camaraderie and banter better than anything I've seen so far from "Astartes". Every single one completely and steadfastedly loyal to their Emperor.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions"

I swear that could be the byline of the novel and the XV Legion itself.

The novel tends to be fairly conversational. The Thousand Sons don't have the battle history that other Legions had. Where Russ and Lorgar tended to be largely weapons to be pointed at a target, Magnus and the Thousand Sons were considerate of the How and Why of battle. Winning hearts and minds. What is the point of conquering a place if everyone is dead? I am glad Graham McNeill was slotted for this novel because he does "conversational" well.

I don't mean to say that the author doesn't do action well or anything. He's just a very thoughtful, philosophical author. Take in to consideration the short story "The Last Church" in Tales of Heresy (a short story I consider to be absolutely fantastic). The author does a fantastic job at delving in to secrets (and being a frigging TEASE). I can't say much without spoiling things. Graham McNeill does a good job in expanding what is known about The Thousand Sons, The Emperor, the Emperyan, and the Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40,000 universe at a whole...without giving away the farm.

Quibbles? The naming conventions are flavorful, but alien to a modern day I had to reference the up-front cast of characters often to avoid confusion on who's who. What can you do though? The Legion has a pseudo-Egyptian flavor.

There are some slow spots. Sometimes frustrating spots...but then when you consider that these guys deal in prophesy, visions and interpretations of possible can be a little weird. It fits's not jarring or anything. I guess in a way you have to expect it. Maybe it was just anticipation wanting things to GO FASTER...but then we'd miss important plot points and bits of secrets. Mwahahahahah [rubbing hands together]

Like most BL novels the reader needs to understand that the books are written from a certain perspective: In this case from the perspective (largely) of Ahriman's. The Space Wolves are wild barbaric beasts, cunning and ruthless in extremis. Almost mindless savages. Again...this is a matter of perspective. I'm interested to see what Dan Abnett does with the other half of the story.


Overall, the story is a vast landscape of knowledge to be absorbed. There's a lot of material here just in understanding of The Warp and how it works as a tool and just how pervasive it can be. The secret bits of Thousand Sons and Horus Heresy lore are tasty. Other secret bits of Warhammer 40,000 lore, like the Blood Ravens? Well...I'll leave that for you to read for yourself!

4 out of 5 Stars.


Sirh0213 said...

Try as a might, the only a copies of the book I can find (in the US) won't be available until 2/23. Blast it!

As for camaraderie, the first book, Horus Rising, where it talks about the Mournival, especially before Horus's decent, were excellent. There, I could almost feel the brotherly connection they had with each other and Horus. If this book is better (which your review makes it look so) I can't wait to read it!

Jeff said...

Yeah, I have a pre-release copy for review.

Yes! These guys are very Mournival-like and even a bit more so.

Sirh0213 said...

Pre-release copy? You lucky bastard! (and yes, that is purely out of jealously).

I'm enjoying Sons of Dorn now... sadly, it won't last me until Thousand Sons... it probably won't last me until Martin Luther King Jr. day.

Raven said...

I too have been looking forwards to reading A Thousand Sons. I'm more a fan of reading the Horus Heresy books than any other book and have happily read them on release, the only downside is you get three a year released with the exception of last years two and an extra this year.

But if anything your review has really wet my appitite for reading this book.

Phillip Thomas said...

As a part of the series that I have come to love as much as, if not more then most others, I must say it makes me quite happy to hear how good this novel sounds. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

thats what ive been trying to say ever since i heard about the thousand sons
that they were loyalists and that the mindless space wolves (technically) commited an act of heresey by attacking another loyalist legion

Jesse badillo said...

At last we get the connection between the blood ravens and 1k sons! Need this book now!

Feirfek said...

got the book all ready brilliant and there is a hint connection with the Blood Ravens in it


"it's too late... the Wolf is at the door and it hungerrs for blood. Oh throne... no, the blood! The Ravens I see them too. the lost sons and a raven of blood." page 430

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