Know No Fear by Dan Abnett – Advanced Review [Bane of Kings]

Know-no-Fear

Bane of Kings writes an Advanced Review of the latest instalment in the bestselling Horus Heresy series, Know No Fear, written by fan-favourite Dan Abnett.

“Truly Spectacular, a novel that will keep you up throughout the night and into the early morning, Know No Fear is one of the, if not the best Horus Heresy novel yet, and is unmissable, unputdownable, and above all, epic.” ~The Founding Fields

The Horus Heresy is one of my favourite novel series, and bar a couple of exceptions (Descent of Angels, Fallen Angels and Battle for the Abyss), I’ve enjoyed every single novel that the series had to offer me, from Horus Rising, the fantastic series opener, to Deliverance Lost, Gav Thorpe’s first entry of this mighty series, and the latest novel that is available in the series (in stores) to date. Know No Fear is the next novel on the market, released in stores, in March. However, for some reason, you can currently buy not only the eBook version, but also the paperback copy, and the much more expensive MP3 download of the novel.

Any long-term fan of Warhammer 40,000 lore will know about the Battle of Calth, the clash between Ultramarines and Word Bearers, and indeed – it has been one of the highly anticipated battles in the entire Horus Heresy, which also plays host to such incredible scenes as the Burning of Prospero, the Dropsite Massacre of Isstvan V, and the yet-to-come Siege of Terra. Well, as the sub-title explains, this novel is all about the Battle of Calth. Nothing else. So, you can expect Know No Fear to be a bolter-porn novel, right from the outset. Normally, I’m often on the fence about whether a bolter-porn novel will be any good or not before diving into it, however, with Know No Fear, there are a few notable reasons why I had extremely high anticipations of this novel. First of all, the obvious reason – is that it’s a Horus Heresy novel, and you’ve just read why I like them so much. Of course, any Horus Heresy novel that arrives at my door will get read sooner or later. Second of all, it’s Dan Abnett, who is my favourite Black Library author, and I’ve enjoyed every single novel by him so far that I’ve read.

And, I’m quite glad to say, that Abnett not only met my expectations, but exceeded them. In fact, he exceeded them so much, that I’m going to go ahead and say it – Know No Fear might just be the best Horus Heresy novel yet. It was that awesome. I couldn’t put it down, and I spent most of the night reading it despite the fact that I knew I had to get up at 6:45am in the morning. I polished off the book in a couple of sittings, and as far as I’m concerned, the novel only had one flaw in it, and one that I find to be common about most bolter-porn novels that I’ve read.

The characters. In previous Horus Heresy novels (well, most of them) the characters have been pretty well developed and likeable. Heck, even Horus Lupercal, the arch-traitor (albeit before he turned renegade) was made likeable – something that I didn’t think would happen in a Warhammer 40k book. Ever. The Horus Heresy also gave us some fantastic characters such as Gavriel Loken, Saul Tarvitz, Nathaniel Garro, Argel Tal, but there was none in Know No Fear, no character that boasted depth, and no characterization. In fact, there’s only one character in the whole book who stood out from the others, and for me – that’s the censured sergeant Aeonid Thiel.

However, this didn’t really faze me as much as it probably should have, mainly because the action in this novel is possibly some of the most well-written of the Horus Heresy so far. The pacing is truly page-turning, and the battle-scenes are equally enthralling, as we watch loyalist and traitor alike to battle for Calth, in what, for Horus Heresy fans – will be a novel not to be missed.

Yes, even the most anti-Ultramarines Horus Heresy fan will enjoy this novel. Still have doubts? Go out and read it, and enjoy it.

Sure, the dramatis personae may be perhaps one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the Horus Heresy so far. The action told across these pages will satisfy anyone who didn’t like Prospero Burns, Abnett’s last Horus Heresy novel, and there is no overuse of flashbacks or the phrase “Wet-leopard growl” to slow down the fast-paced action that you will find in Know No Fear.

There are even several enjoyable cameos that a Horus Heresy fan will be delighted to find in this book, a nod to Garro: Oath of Moment by James Swallow, as well as a nod to the first novel, Horus Rising, by the same author. Even Captain Ventanus, the 4th Company Captain that first appeared in Rules of Engagement by Graham McNeill, appears in Know No Fear. And, to top it all off – there’s even a reference to Jason and the Argonauts.

Verdict: 5/5

The Horus Heresy: Horus Rising by Dan Abnett, False Gods by Graham McNeill, Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter, Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow, Fulgrim by Graham McNeill, Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon, Legion by Dan Abnett, Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter, Mechanium by Graham McNeill, Tales of Heresy by Various Authors, Fallen Angels by Mike Lee, A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill, Nemesis by James Swallow, The First Heretic, by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Prospero Burns by Dan Abnett, Age of Darkness by Various Authors, The Outcast Dead by Graham McNeill, Deliverance Lost by Gav Thorpe, Know No Fear by Dan Abnett, The Primarchs by Various Authors (June 2012), Fear to Tread  by James Swallow (September 2012), Shadows of Treachery (October 2012).

The Horus Heresy Audio-Dramas and Limited Edition Novellas: Garro: Oath of Moment by James Swallow (Audio Drama), Garro: Legion of One by James Swallow (Audio Drama), Garro: Sword of Truth by James Swallow (Audio Drama, December 2012), Raven’s Flight by Gav Thorpe (Audio Drama), The Dark King and the Lightning Tower by Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill (Graham McNeill and Dan Abnett) (Audio Drama), Butcher’s Nails by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Audio Drama, June 2012) Promethean Sun by Nick Kyme (Limited Edition Novella), Aurelian by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Limited Edition Novella), 

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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  • Anonymous

    Good review Bane but I must disagree with your statements on the characters. I felt that there were many depthful characters besides Thiel, who I do agree is awesome. Captain Ventanus, Guilliman, Oll Persson, and some of the supporting characters like Captains Ektritus and Phastorex.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrey-Nalyotov/100003117494326 Andrey Nalyotov

    Second flaw – ending! I pray for the Dans novel – that will have normal paced ending! Most of the coolest things happe n in 3-5 pages – just look at the examples – Titanicus – climatic battle – 4 pages! Double eagle – 3rd way – 4 pages! All Gaunt Ghosts books and etc. And if the battle between Macragge Honour and Infidus Imperator is so famous when why i havent read about it! Even google have nothing! Battle between commanders took 3 pages! (Guil vs Kor) So i dont think that personae is a let down – ending as always is!

    • Endaruka

      And that was hardly a battle. Kor Phaeron is not even a real Marine. Him nearly fucking up Guilliman had me pissed to no end.

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