Battle for the Abyss – Ben Counter

Published: 1 January 2008
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 416
Series: Horus Heresy Book 8
Format Read: Physical Copy


Now that news of Horus’s treachery is in the open, a time of testing has come. Some Legions have already declared their allegiance to the Warmaster, while the loyalty of others lies firmly with the Emperor. As Horus deploys his forces, loyalist Astartes learn that a massive Wordbearers fleet is heading to Ultramar, home of the Ultramarines. Unless they can intercept the fleet, and destroy the mighty battleship that has been sent to reinforce it, the Ultramarines may suffer a blow from which they will never recover.


Jenn from Eternal Bookcase and I are still going strong on our partner read through the Horus Heresy series. If you do not follow her already, please check out her review that she put up, the woman knows her Warhammer that is for sure. I am really glad to have a partner that is doing this with me as it helps me to keep motivated in continuing on.

Battle for Abyss was a tough read, read in a month where I felt more burnt out than I have ever felt in my life as well as had to go through two Corona test checkups due to faltering health. On the positive side of things is that I have this book as a physical and I felt that that really helped me in finishing it faster than what I would have done if I had to read it on my phone. I am glad I am done with this one and that Jenn and I are nearing our first ten book mark of this series.

Review wise I am at a loss as to what to say about B.O.T.A. It had a lot going on, while at the same time dragged me along at the pace of a snail racing a falling paper dropped just outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. I struggled to stay awake through this book and I do not mean to say that the book was boring, but that first 200 pages is exactly what I am implying. We had a few Space Marines from different Chapters coming together to put a stop to a threat that another Chapter started. We have a Space Wolf, Ultramarine and Word Eater as well as a Thousand Son, cardboard cut outs of their respective chapters, set up against the bland and uninteresting Word Bearers unit. Word Bearers there to purely start the plot and to move our snail race forward.

Now I know from that whole paragraph that things might sound a little off. I had a lot of problems with the novel as I was trying to place previous books I have read that takes place during and before the Heresy started in some kind of order, in order for things to work out for me, I needed perspective as all the books in this series cover a certain event and are in some way connected to the one Main Event, yet there are so many things that need to take place before the Whole comes together. If Abyss had any purpose it was to hint at the Traitor forces moving in to blow the Ultramarines’ home planet; Ultramar out of the history books. That was the only thing I felt that Abyss had going for it. As far as the blurp goes, the news of Horus’ treachery clearly did not reach everyone, so it was no surprise when the Word Bearers arrived with their new and shining Furious Abyss to pump lazer beams and void missiles into anything and every one standing in their way of reaching Calth, the place where the Word of Heresy will truly be made known…

Me being me that have been hoping for some answers that span back from the first book in the series have still not been addressed, yet some of the stuff have been answered from reading books set outside of this series. I could try give an example here. You have the first three HH books that kinda follow on one another and then the rest of the series kinda references back to them as well as Lore that novice readers to the franchise might not know apart from if they happened to either Google or had the miniatures codexes on hand where more info is given. In my case I read the Primarch series where Angron’s origins were explored that answered the question of how the loyalists within the Traitor Legions of Horus’, Angron’s and Fulgrim’s armies were weeded out in order to be virus bombed in book 3. Something like that at least. Picking up Battle of the Abyss when I did I had a lot more knowledge than what I would’ve had if I had only stuck with reading the HH series. This helped a lot more in making sense of what was going on, while at the same time opened up to me having even more answers. 

I understand why the Word Bearers were set up as the bad guys in Abyss, it was inevitable as the whole series starts of because of a Word Bearer manipulating Horus into turning against the Emperor. What I liked about this book was reading that more than one Space Marine was going to be in it. What made me sad was the fact that none of the characters were particularly interesting. I did have a bit of a soft spot for the World Eater and Thousand Son in this book and really want to read more about their chapters in the future. Abyss was the first book that featured a Thousand Son I have read in my six year span of reading WH, the more I read about him the more his Chapter seemed more appealing to me. I am sorry to say that the Ultramarines and Space Wolves just pissed me of a slight bit too much. I was actually glad when some of them got injured or killed and the certain parts where they did something heroic just for the sake of redeeming their shitty attitudes came either too late or did not really do a good job of making me feel different about them. That World Eater and Thousand Son though, man…

Abyss did contain quite a bit of action, action that could have been implemented earlier in the book. As it stands I think I sent Jenn an email stating that things only started getting interesting after the 200 page mark, when that started the book was piss easy to get through as it was all out void wars, Warp daemons, Space Marine kicking other Space Marine ass even some back and forth battle banter. There was also a scene where a space marine went up against a half assembled, wait for it, DRRREEEEEEEAAAAAAADDNAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGHHT!!, 
man I love dreadnaughts, even tho this one was on the bad side, I couldn’t help but kinda route for it as it went up against the Space Wolf I felt the most anger towards. It does become apparent why said Wolf was such an ass later in the book, but that fact is part of my too little too late rant a little further back.

Even though Abyss did little in moving the whole HH narrative along it was not a bad book. I get why this gets so much hate and bad ratings, but you can not take it out on the author as he was basically told what he should be writing about and how to go about it. Very much like book 3 in the series where Counter had to pick up where two other writers had started of, here he had to make up a new plot that had nothing to do with either Legion or the book before that that was more a origin story for the Dark Angels than a HH book, so my hat goes of to him for what I got. Abyss also has subtle little things in between that I feel will be a small set up for the next books that will follow, especially in terms of the Space Wolves going to Prospero to kick Thousand Son ass and how World Eaters might shrug of the mantle of taking orders from Ultamarines and bash skulls in the name of Khorne. Not that the World Eaters were already serving Khorne in this book, but they had the Butcher Nails already installed…

With all that said I am willing to make a statement that I do not often do here on my blog. I gave Battle of the Abyss a 3 out of 5 on GR, but I am willing to bump it up to a 4 just because of my recent monologue a paragraph ago. I will not recommend it to people who are new to 40K as you will need prior knowledge of what has gone before. If you missed any of my previous HH reviews you can go here , I have made a separate category for these reviews so I can keep easier track of it on my blog.

Thank you for reading, please do not hesitate to comment anything that might come to mind while going through my chaotic review of Battle of the Abyss.

Till next time!



29 thoughts on “Battle for the Abyss – Ben Counter

  1. ‘Abyss was the first book that featured a Thousand Son I have read in my six year span of reading WH, the more I read about him the more his Chapter seemed more appealing to me’
    Mate…wait until you read about them in a “thousand sons”…you will find them even more appealing!😊
    This was a review I was looking forward to a lot, and it did not disappoint! You already know my thoughts on the book, but your review was very well written and gave some great thoughts about it. All I can say is: For the Emperor!!!😀😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm….can’t give too much away from it, without spoiling things, but erm…no. Can’t really explain too much without giving away details which you don’t yet know about😊 But well, as I said, think plotwise this is going to be an interesting one 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I could always look it up on GR🙂. I bought Pharos fir a friend one time when i bought deathfire for myself. Had a book deal buy 3 for the price of two special. But pharos was a lot later in the series if i am not mistaken

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Deathfire was good, I liked it. It’s another book that didn’t get goed reviews, but I really enjoyed it. And it does have Salamanders 🙂
        Deathfire, War without End, and then Pharos…so not very much later in the series 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I’ve already told you what I thought of Abyss, but if not allow me to rant again! Genuinely dire in my view – undoubtedly the worst book in the entire series and a strong contender for the worst book I’ve ever read. It could have been so good, which I think is what frustrated me about it most, there was so much potential to explore in terms of narrative tension and the personalities of the characters involved and instead it was just two-dimensional guff. Glad you enjoyed it more than I did though 😀 Your review was great however (I was going to say “better than the book” but that would be damning you with faint praise).
    That Space Wolf was such a dick wasn’t he? The good news is, everything improves after this one (apart from the Salamanders books, they weren’t great either – but then that might in part be my bias against the Sillmanders…).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have to say, i did struggle with Abyss a lot. It is only in hindsight with the little extra knowledge i gathered before venturing in that made it a little bit worth my while. Space Wolf indeed! But then the daemon influence reveal close to in the end kinda justified his shittyness… ive read the Salamanders omnibus by Nic Kyme, cant say i was impressed with the chapter, but then again Vulkan does intrigue me…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Block editor comment here.

    You know how you want to know the wordcount and have been frustrated? I just found out today, by accident of all things, that if you select “all” in your review, over on the right there is the “Post” and the “Block” tab. If you click on the block tab while everything is highlighted, it gives you the wordcount.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Once i have time again… i feel it easier to just copy my words to a word sheet get the count from there, not that i try to impress with many worded reviews though, just want to try get them to around the 1000 word mark. Personal challenge for myself you know…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Whatever works the best for you. Just figured I’d let you know I found that out, by accident all things. We shouldn’t be finding things out by accident. Smacks of wicked poor design on wp’s part…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Devs🙄… I do appreciate the heads up tho. Really hope they give thought to designing the classic layout as a template option… if i want to play around with blocks i could buy myself Lego or something…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Just tried this technique while writing a review. I highlight and go to block tab, I only see there that I am usu=ing the Classic editor, nothing else in that Block… Maybe it is like that becuase I use classic? Also just tried it with no classic block added, still no word count… am I missing something?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhhh, yes, probably because you’re using the classic block. Try using a paragraph block and then highlighting. Let me know if it still doesn’t work and I’ll see what happens on my end.


  4. It’s great to hear your thoughts on this abomination of a book.
    Reading your review, I think you got more out of it than I did!
    I am so glad that this one is out of the way though and we can move on from it – I just hope there aren’t any more clunkers in the series!

    Liked by 1 person

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