Mechanicum – Graham McNeill

Published: 25 November 2008
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 350
Series: Horus Heresy #9
Format Read: Physical Copy


As the flames of treachery spread throughout the Imperium, Horus plots to subvert or destroy all those who would stand against him.

On Mars, home world of the Mechanicum priesthood, the great manufactory-cities have long produced much of the weaponry required for the expeditionary fleets across the galaxy – making the world invaluable to whoever controls it in the coming war.

Now, the Warmaster’s agents begin to stoke the fires of rebellion, turning the loyalist forges and the mighty Titan Legions against one another. And, with whispers spreading of an ancient terror lurking beneath the Red Planet’s surface, the Dark Mechanicum rises…


It has taken me nearly three months to get through this 350 page book. In no way was it a bad book, my reading of late has been very sporadic as I had other obligations to attend too. I am glad that I finished though as I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. For those unfamiliar with the Horus Heresy series, it is series spanning over 80 books set at the backdrop of the 41st millennium. I have been reading the last couple of books with Jenn over at and will hopefully carry on doing so throughout 2021 as we are only on book nine in the series. Jenn has already reviewed Mechanicum a while ago so head on over there if you have any interest in 40K reviews as well as other bookish reviews, she does a mighty fine job of putting her thoughts into blogpost form, unlike me that just types with no planning beforehand…

Mechanicum was a book that dealt with the Heresy in way that I did not see coming when I initially started reading. I thought it was going to give me a clear layout of how things were as far as the Heresy was going as well as give me clear explanations as to how certain events within the Mechanicum happened. I was not disappointed with what I got as I am among the few, it seems, that has a little bit more of an interest in this faction within the 40K setting. What I got was again events transpiring through the eyes of humans instead of the Space Marines, very much like the way the first Heresy novel started. These humans are taken to Mars, the planet inhabited by the Mechanicum, to take part in the building of some mysterious machine. On the other side of Mars one of Horus’ emissaries arrives to talk to the Fabricator General, basically the head honcho of all things Mechanicum, convincing him to start some form of rebellion that involves stopping all production of armour and weaponry for all the Space Marine legions and focusing on only supplying those Legions in league with Horus himself. That is basically the long and short of it without giving away too much. While all this is happening, there is also a lot of Titan action going on, a Titan being huge robotic walking machines that can deal vast amounts of death and damage to any unfortunate enough to find themselves within the sights of their rage.

Mechanicum was in no way a perfect book, but it did move the plot of the Heresy as a whole along in quite a unique way. Not only by referencing certain events that has taken place in the books that have gone before, but also showing us how the Dark Mechanicum started up. I did feel a bit of a let down as to how easy it was to convince people to turn against the Emperor, but then again, thinking back to what a push over Horus was at the start it should not have surprised me at this stage. I liked how I got a deeper understanding of how important the Mechanicum actually are in the way of supplying the Astartes with their guns and armour and ships to conquer the galaxy and it was a nice fresh take for me personally to get to know them better. One thing that kept playing in my mind while the story was going on was how early this novel was in terms of the phrases that I have come to learn during my trek through other 40K books. I say this as I read McNeill’s Priests of Mars series a long time before I got to the Heresy series and to see where it all started impressed me quite a bit.

One of the biggest issues I had was that, even though, Mechanicum introduced me to a plethora of new Names and Places as well as give me names that I somehow needed to remember for further in the story, it focused more on some of the Titans interactions than helping me connect to the smaller people that it introduced me too early on. I was taken away from a scene where people were bonding over the building of a machine that I did not quite understand, but thought of it as a miniature version of the Golden Throne that the Emperor will be sitting on later in the series, to a battle between Titans or some other plot line that did not have a significant part to tell in the story as a whole. I also did not quite get the whole chasing the Dragon aspect that one character had going on. It was nothing drug related, but more about keeping a secret that the Emperor was some form of imposter? I did not worry too much about that at the time as I was just enjoying being able to read for the first time in a while and just let it all wash over me.

One thing that made my read through of Mechanicum more special is the version I have in physical possession. Some thing that I believe could make your reading of it feel a lot more involved as it had quite some nice artwork as well as some deeper explanations to certain things. It also helped me to visualize certain characters that I had a bit of a problem with as my imagination has taken a bit of a hit in the last couple of months. Let me share them with you. Take note, that some pictures might seem very “off the mark” of what some of us have come to know regarding the Art work of Wasrhammer, but bare in mind that this was early Black Library still…

cover mechanicum
The full color version of the Cover.

Mars as it is visualized in 40K 

One of the emblems of the Titan legions as well as one of the many villains.

Kelbor hal 
Some more villains.

Some more enlightenment for those interested.

Two more Tech Adepts. One on the left was quite a badass woman that I would’ve loved to know more about, but sadly the Titans took some page time away from her. Glad with what I got though.

A nice detailed time line of where Mechanicum takes place as well as where other 40K events take place. I do love this feature within the Warhammer 40K Legends collection. 

Rho-Mu 31, another character I would like to read more of some time…

My experience with Mechanicum was a good one, like I said, it is in now way a perfect novel, but it is surely better than some of the previous HH books I have come across. I hope to read more of the faction itself and I have a few physicals awaiting my attention on my shelf that I hope to get to soon. Mechanium can only be recommended to those that have already started the Horus Hersy series and are uncertain that it will get any better anytime soon. From me there is a affirmative Yes, but you should stop reading them in order looking to find clear answers. I have stopped doing so and have had a better reading experience it seems than that most of the 40K veterans have…

Mechanicum got a 4 out of 5 from me on GR. I enjoyed it even though it took me a long time to get through. By no means the author’s fault, I had just a lot of things to get too.

Hope you enjoyed this review as much as I did writing it.

11 thoughts on “Mechanicum – Graham McNeill

  1. “I did feel a bit of a let down as to how easy it was to convince people to turn against the Emperor” that’s the one thing in general that has always been bothering me about the Horus Heresy series. How easy some people, as well as Space Marines turned. But eh, maybe we should just accept it. I’m glad you enjoyed this book. For me it was also one of the more surprising reads of the series quite honestly. I loved the Titan action though, and didn’t mind it one bit. I also have to say that I really am a fan of the author as he has really written some great books. That’s an incredibly cool physical copy by the way: Seriously awesome As always great post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks mate. I wasnt bothered by the titan battles, just the way they were integrated while i was still trying to identify with the adepts that had their thing going on. It was mentioned in abyss that one of the mechanicum guys built that ship as it deemed the Heresy as something inevitable that needed to happen, so i did not stand still at it too long. Thank you for dropping by🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem! 😊I definitely had those same issues too, but as it’s pretty much become a regular thing in the Heresy series I guess I’m getting used to it at this point😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the pix of the physical book.

    Also glad you kept on reading and finished this up. Sometimes finishing something can be as enjoyable as the actual reading. Almost like checking off something on a list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This certainly wasn’t one of my favourites of the series, which surprised me at the time because I really enjoy Graham McNeil. I guess, unlike your good self, i wasn’t all that into the Mechanicum at the time. I seem to remember feeling like it was just laborious though, but I can’t say as I have any desire to reread it! I’m very excited to read some more Heresy reviews from you though – the teens of the series have some of my favourites, so I’m gonna be following you with interest! (Not meant to sound as creepy as it does, honest!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by mate. If you want you should go to my “site” page and click on the HH link, i have reviews of book 1 till 9 so far. The next one is going to be short stories. Mechanicum can be a tedious book to get through, but concidering it was early McNeil I tried to not let it bother me too much


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