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The First Wall (3) (The Horus Heresy: Siege of Terra) Paperback – August 18, 2020
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The war for the fate of mankind blazes on. Though the outer defences have fallen, the walls of the Palace itself remain inviolate as Rogal Dorn, the Praetorian of Terra himself, uses every known stratagem and ploy to keep Horus's vast armies at bay. In Perturabo, the Traitor siegebreaker, Dorn faces an adversary worthy of his skill. A terrible, grinding attrition ensues. The crucial battle for the Lion's Gate spaceport is at the heart of this conflict. With it in their possession, the Traitors can land their most devastating weapons on Terran soil. Dorn knows it must not fall. But with enemies attacking from within as well as without and the stirrings of the neverborn drawn to the slaughter, can the Imperial defenders possibly prevail?
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About the Author
- Publisher : Games Workshop (August 18, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 528 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1789991773
- ISBN-13 : 978-1789991772
- Item Weight : 1.18 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.2 x 1.1 x 6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #246,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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So it's no surprise that the Siege of Terra, the final 'chapter', is padded and bloated with no detail considered too insignificant for a prolonged tangent. As long as you know this, and accept it (and why are you reading this is you haven't already?) this is a pretty good book.
Like Book 2, The Lost and the Damned, not much happens as far as the overall plot. Chaos advances slightly and the siege continues. But you knew that already, the very name, The First Wall, tells us we're in for a bit of a slog. But the success is in how it was told.
Gav Thorpe's author's note is an interesting insight, he had 3 plot points to hit and 300 pages to fill. He uses a mix of new and established characters to cover his ground. We follow an army of Ethiopian soldiers as they fight to reach the battle, the growth of Emperor-worshiping cults in the palace and a group of Iron Warriors trying to break the palace defenses. Many characters are well-defined and as a reader I cared about their struggles. I also liked the conflict among the Imperial forces about whether or not they should shed their anti-religious bias and fight the army of literal demons with faith.
As usual the weaknesses were in the established characters. The author's hands are tied as far as what they do or what happens with them. So when a major hero and villain meet they scowl, trade insults and then skulk away since they still have several books to fill before they can fight. It feels like a comic book cliche where the hero says "let him go, he's beaten" and knocks me out of the story as the author's limits show.
If you're reading this you're probably already invested in this seemingly endless series and will buy this, at least know that it's a pretty decent read.
First 70% was a drag. It was a mix of bolterp0rn, some nobody teenager army girl’s road trip and some deamon stuff. I kept pushing and grinding to finish line like Perturabo’s assault on Imperial Palace.
Up to that point my grade was 2 stars, only readable plot was Lectitio Divinitatus cult. Then after 70% things started to change.
-Minor Spoiler Alert-
Sigismund took to field. When that bad boy comes awesome in the neighorhood triples. My grade increased to 3 stars.
Then some nice plot twists happened i did not see. My grade increased to 4 stars.
Then champions duelled and it seemed like Primarchs duel is on the horizon. My grade wanted to go 5 stars but Primarchs just trolled eachother so my grade is still 4 stars.
If you can suffer the first 70% of the book it is a nice read.
A plot point is introduced early on about how the Palace space port is actually a serious flaw in the defenses. Perturabo believes it will allow a deeper penetration into the Palace interior than would be accomplished elsewhere. Prior to this, nobody seems interested in the port. The space port. The facility that would allow traitor reinforcements and Titans to be deployed with ease, or make it easier for the Ultramines and others to do the same once they arrive. Dorn did not seem overly concerned until the commander there said the impending assault was not a feint, and to please send reinforcements. Dorn: "I guess I can spare whatever I can scrape together." It's not like it's a point of interest for either side *rolls eyes.*
The battle for the space port was convoluted and made no sense with so many threads abandoned. What happened to Berossus? He was actually interesting. No decision anyone made there led to anything. The importance of the bridges is mentioned over and over until someone realizes "Nope, the landing pads are the real prize!" I mean duh. By the time it was over the Iron Warriors were declared the victors because Perturabo's ship landed. As another reviewer pointed out, why is a target behind the aegis so easy to access all of a sudden? Yeah the field is weakening but apparently a concentrated bombardment can punch through. And avoid all the guns (prior to them being disabled). Dorn decides to take it seriously at last, lands on the platform and smacks Kharn into a backflip (that's how I imagined it). Then Perturabo takes the field. Their conversation went like this:
P: "Mwah haha. I have bested your defences and proven myself your better."
D: "Meh. No biggie." Turns to leave.
P: "Wait. What?"
D: "It's just the first wall. There are, like, several others."
P: "Nooooo. Taking this port allows us to bypass..." Scratches head. "At least I think it does. I have taken the port though. It's more important than any of us thought. I can bring down Titans for Horus like he asked me to. Where are you going?"
D: Flips the bird as he ascends the drop ship ramp.
Forrix: "How do I get outta this chicken sh** outfit?"
Okay I took some liberty there. Moving on... I could write just as much about the Imperial Army plotline but I'll spare you and just say that the final twist was handled poorly. By that I mean I was confused on who said what and why. I had to read the author's afterword to figure out what happened. What should have been a clever twist simply wasn't. In his effort to surprise us I think the author broke an important "rule" if you will. I'm a writer myself and I don't want to set rigid formulas but damn if over a third of the book felt wasted (more actually if you count the other plotlines). Besides, the mortal human angle was handled quite nicely in the previous book.
This review is already overlong but I will say that I enjoyed seeing Keeler again and much of that plot thread was interesting though ultimately unsatisfying.
This book bogged everything down for me. Like so many HH novels I think you can skip it. I have more to read that has been published at the time I write this so we shall see.
Unexpectedly, I found myself rooting for Forrix and the Iron Warriors. The battle for Terra continues, with great fight scenes.
In addition, we see the return of the first Imperial Saint, and the impact on Custodians, Dorn and the battle in general.
Finally, we get to see the trials of an Imperial unit as it travels to the battle over months. And, perhaps it's the fever, but Thorpe fooled me utterly.
Easy to recommend and a must get.
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The story itself has to be read to get an idea of what is to come which is annoying as the story is pretty awful and the battle scenes entirely contrived and redundant. Some scenes are simply glossed over with a single sentence rather than get into the difficulty of explaining the how/why of them. We can clearly assume Gav Thorpe wasn't considering Chekhov's gun as an important principle in this book.
The interaction between key characters is forced, with stunted dialogue and contrives to make fafnir rann particularly look like a complete moron but also takes away from the mysticism and allure of the primarch characters he has written here. The writing of the addaba hub troopers is frankly horrific and Gav should be entirely ashamed of writing some of those dialogue lines. All of which contributes to the first half of the book being terrible.
The second half of the book gets better, the dialogue is less forced, the scenes more tied together into something approaching narrative. Much more in keeping with what we might expect from Gav. However throughout even the finale scenes everything feels just too rushed. It would have benefited from a couple more months of work and overall feels rushed...
The book has a human perspective that I couldn't care less about yet again, much like The Solar War by John French. None of the new human characters introduced are compelling, interesting or even have a name that I can readily remember. I started out curious and by half way I was uninterested and was skipping chapters and paragraphs.
Huge fan of the Horus Aries but this book.... It’s just inconsistent storytelling and pure filler. Started and stopped reading this a few dozen times as it’s just so unbelievably lacklustre.
Preface, I’m fully aware of the Heresy Conclusion and the current state of the 40k universe. I know how this story has to end.
Like the titanic, the ship has to sink but this is just poor.
To start with, the basic premise is bad guys want into the palace. But this palace has walls dozens of kilometres high. Ship and Titan killing ordinance and millions and millions of troops and tens of thousands of legionaries.
Bear in mind the place is the size of Himalayas. Yet this whole book focuses on a tiny subsection with minor touch points on other areas.
But rather than an epic, sprawling battle, we end up with another winding and arduous internal monologue of an un augmented human trudging towards the palace. Again.
Plus we get to see the lad from the previous book again. Joy.
Half the previous book was this and they’ve done it again. The book spends more time talking about her struggle getting out of an on fire auto cannon cupola than than a massive breach into the palace. Not even joking.
Enemies want into the Spaceport. Which is supposed to be the single most impregnable part of the palace due to its importance.
However, the enemy manage to not only pierce the impenetrable Aegis that the entire fleet fails to penetrate, with a single strike cruiser, which allows a wings of ships to lands on the roof with absolute ease. Guess the fighters and AA batteries work 9-5 only.
It’s so easy it’s barely a footnote. They land and leisurely stroll through the port. Just land and that’s it. This is all done is about 4 pages. There’s a longer section about a jowly priest and the mental images they dream about while praying to the emperor.
While the enemy walk around the upper docks, another force walks up to the gates and smashes their way in with mauls. Yes you read that right. They walk up and smash their way in. And they stroll around for about 24 hours with minimal resistance.
They walk in the front door. Of the most impregnable strongpoint in the palace. No mention of the millions of defenders or legionaries. They must’ve all been at lunch or something.
There’s a counter attack much much later, which again is supremely brief then you’re back to the meandering human and her comrades who can’t go fourteen words without talking about the factory line they just came from.
I don’t understand this incessant need to wedge in hundreds of pages about normal people and their hurty feet while they walk everywhere. You don’t watch the premier league to spend 90 minutes about Dave from accounting who makes sure the electric bills are paid for the stadium lights.
Dorn and his boys are meant to masters of siege craft. Layers of defense assuming they previous layers are going to be breached but once the enemy find the key under the mat, that’s it’s. They’re in.
I’m aware this is massive rant but that’s just how disappointed I am with this book.
It doesn’t set the scene, it doesn’t even feel like they’re assaulting the cradle of mankind. I had a better mental image in the mini novel of the Iron Warriors on Damantyne.
This is the end. The siege of terra and it’s just a farce. Padding the story in an already padded story to sell more padded stories.
I can only imagine what tripe awaits me in the next few books if this is the norm of the siege books.
Do I have Guillemanns dry cleaners memoirs to read next?
Zero stars if possible. Skipping this book is like missing an episode of 24, it’ll be recapped in the next one.
The main focus of the novel is the battle for the Lion's Gate Space Port between the fortress-building Imperial Fists and the siege-breaking Iron Warriors. The siege is as epic as you'd expect. Bloody exhilarating are the words to describe it. I was also pleasantly surprised by the great amount of humour on both sides of the battle. Of course, both Dorn and Perturabo are the main primarchs to appear and neither disappoint. There is a showdown, one that has been in the making across the series, but I won't spoil when and where. Other great characters also play a role, including the templar Sigismund, the warsmith Forrix, the berzeker Kharn and Horus' right hand man, Abbadon. I really enjoyed Forrix's POV. Abbadon's thread continues to lay the groundwork for his future rise to the Warmaster of Chaos.
A recurring theme throughout the novel is the question of faith. Faith in commanders, strategy and tactics. Faith in brothers and sisters in arms. And faith in religion. The last has been a central plot thread throughout the Horus Heresy and here we witness the foundations of the Imperial Cult on Terra. We experience this through one of my favourite characters across the warhammer lore, the Adeptus Custodes, Amon, and see the return of one of the most influential characters from the earliest books in the series. The 'resolution' to this thread in the book has major implications for both character arcs and the lore. I can see ties being made between the heresy and the future setting of warhammer, the Dark Imperium. Also, Malcador continues to 'capture the scene' every time he appears. We even get to see him in action at one point. Again, no spoilers.
One of the most appealing features of the Siege of Terra books is the scaling POVs. We experience the siege not only through the eyes of godlike Primarchs and demi-godlike Astartes but also the common folk, the hive-rats likes Katsuhiro and Zenobi. They don't just serve as eyewitnesses to key events but as characters in their own right. As the main 'human' protagonist in the previous novel, I was delighted to see Katsuhiro appear, albeit for a short period of time. My gut tells me that he will have a big moment in subsequent books, perhaps even one of the biggest moments in the entire Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40k Lore (Vengeful Spirit maybe?) Unfortunately, Zenobi's POV felt like the weakest part of the book. She is a fascinating character in her own right and I enjoyed her journey across Terra towards the palace. However, I felt it was dragged out a little too long, and I sensed her main moment coming about a third of the way through. Having read the author's afterword, I appreciate his apporach to the concept of mental attrition in war through her arc. Unfortunately it just didn't land as well for me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and eagerly anticipate the next one. There is a quote by Abbadon halfway through that has resonated with me. At one point he tells a nagging Layak 'If it is my destiny, then it will happen whether I accept it or not…You seem keen to persuade me I must make a choice whilst telling me that I have none.' I feel this best describes the experience of every warhammer fan reading the Horus Heresy. We ultimately know the destination. Nonetheless, it continues to be a thrill ride to get there.