Published: 1 March 2008
Publisher: Black Library
Series: Horus Heresy Book 7
Format Read: Physical Copy
A Great War is coming, and it will engulf the Imperium of Man. The Space Marines of the Alpha Legion, the last and most secretive of all the Astartes brotherhoods, arrive on a heathen world to support the Imperial Army in a pacification campaign against strange and uncanny forces. But what drives the Alpha Legion? Can they be trusted, and what side will they choose when the Great War begins? Loyalties are put to the test, and the cunning schemes of an alien intelligence revealed. The fate of mankind hangs in the balance…
As many of you know, I started my journey into Horus Heresy some time last year. Along the way, I believe it was either during book 3 or just before book 4 I got the chance to partner up with Jenn over at the Eternal Bookcase. Please head over there and see the amazing review she has written. Also give her a follow if you have not already as her books are not only limited to 40K. Jenn I really do appreciate you doing this with me.
Legion is the first book I picked up without knowing 40K was a thing 5 years ago. Yeah I knew it as a table top game and I even played some of the pc games before, but I never knew it was also available in book format. Fast forward six years later and I have my own little “Black Library” in our library at home. Legion was the book that started my addiction in scouring shops for more fiction and lore and I am glad I started it as that hobby initially led to WP becoming a hobby for me. I will admit that I am not the best judge of books, but if a book made me feel great, I will give it the praise I deem it worthy for.
This is very much what happened in Legion. Having been a re-read, I kinda remembered what it was about, but totally found out I forgot all I thought I knew about it. Legion is a complex book. To read it as your first 40K book would be a mistake, but if you are like me, an inquisitive person who wanted to retrace the steps of how the Horus Heresy came to be, it is actually a great place to start and could possibly be read as a stand alone. It is set 2 years before the heresy starts and is a pretty good book if you want to know how it felt like for people to not be truly aware of all the shit that was going to come down later.
The novel follows many view points from many different characters and factions you might find in your travels among the 40K universe. Where this was initially an Alpha Legion story, they did not feature a lot, instead we saw most time given to the Imperial Army known as Geno Five-Two Chiliad who have come to the planet Nurth to bring it to compliance. Strange things happen and it seems that not all is as it seems on the planet. Talks of spies and cloak and dagger dealings run through this novel like melted chocolate through a chocolate fountain. For people who do not know the Alpha Legion, do not be alarmed, you never really will as not a lot is known about them and the fact that they battle through secret keeping and espionage and and counter espionage will make one even more confused than at the beginning… I am glad that I now have had some form of glimpse as to how they will move further on in this series and made peace with the fact that I won’t truly know unless it is blatantly revealed to me when it happens. If I remember correctly Alpharius was in the first or second book already working alongside Horus for reasons unknown.
There are some great characters in Legion. It is a fact that not many characters have great developments in 40K novels, but here it showed just how expertly things can be done. Within the Geno Five-Two Chiliad I kinda felt like Abnett wanted me to think what if Russians were to be found in Space in the 41st millennium. The army is run by psychic women called Uxors and each Uxor has a group of men under there control. By control I do not mean mind control, its more like they are generals who can communicate via a telepathic link many times referred to as “cepting. Basically they can see the battle field through the eyes of their Bashaws and make adjustments sending messages via that link. Giving orders also seems like an easy task ask you can just rely what you are thinking and know that the people you are “cepting too, know exactly what you want as it comes directly from your mind’s eye.
We also have a pretty powerful psyker spy who infiltrates the Geno Five Two ranks in a bid to make contact with the Alpha Legion in order to give them an important message from a collective group known only as the Cabal. We follow John Grammaticus as he is on an important mission to intercept or make direct contact with the Primarch of the Alpha Legion. Grammaticus has already seen the future and wants to bring the warning to the Imperium, but getting hold of Alpharius and his boys becomes a bit difficult in the midst of a planetary compliance mission. John also falls somewhat in love with an Uxor and there is bound to be a screw up of some kind. Even though this is a 40K book, one cannot help but respect that an author tried to work in a little romance into the Grim Dark setting, or was it a kind of inside joke at the Terminator? “Hi, I am from the future, have some penis, help me save the human race”, this is not a line from the book, nor the Terminator movie, but it stuck in my head at a specific part in this novel. It was kinda cool to read how the Cabal have tried making contact with Alpharius’ brother Primarchs and how the others failed to take heed to the warning. Alpha Legion was seen as a kind of last resort as they are the last and newest Chapter that joined the Emperor on his conquest to bring the galaxy into compliance. I am interested into seeing what Alpharius is going to do and hope it does not take too long for him to show up again in an HH novel.
Legion can be either a great book or a terrible one depending on your mindset at the time of picking it up. In my case I was busy with Dune on Audible during my cycle to and from work and I tried doing one chapter of Legion each night back at home. Both books dealt with a lot of cloak and dagger actions. Both books were taking place in a desert setting. It just felt like when I was reading Dune it could be seen as a 40K novel and Legion was just another scene from Dune. It is very hard to put it into words, but I had as much fun reading Dune as I had with Legion, if you missed my review of Dune please click there and have a look. It kinda felt like Abnett took some inspiration from it all and not only Terminator…
Everything was interesting to read about in Legion. It wasn’t some origin story like Decent of Angels nor was it about how one of the founding Astartes started out with fumbling up their first mission of bringing compliance to a world. It was a small glimpse into the workings of the Alpha Legion and how they can play around with information and manipulate it towards their own tactical advantage. I gave Legion a 5 out of 5 on GR and I do not know if I should recommend it to people who are just starting out in the 40K universe so I wont. What I will say is that I read it with no prior knowledge 6 years ago and gave it a 4 out of 5 then. I believed I have said as much as I can for Legion. It was a great read. I also want to thank Jenn again for taking this journey on with me.
Hope you are all doing well.