Fallen Angels – Mike Lee

Published: 13 June 2009
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 412
Series: Horus Heresy #11
Format Read: Audible  
Duration: 10h


As news of Horus’s treachery spreads, the Great Crusade grinds to a halt as the Primarchs and their Legions decide where their loyalty lies – with the Emperor, or the rebel Warmaster Horus. In this sequel to Descent of Angels, the Dark Angels too face a time of testing, both in the stars, and on their home world, Caliban.

Arriving in the Gehinnom system, Lion El’Jonson and a force of DarkAngels set about subjugating the system’s core worlds which are key to the Warmaster’s plans to overthrow the Emperor.

Meanwhile, on Caliban, Luther and the rest of the Legion feel abandoned by their Primarch. Civil war erupts as the planet strives to break from Imperial rule, and the Dark Angels are thrown into a deadly conflict where all that they know and trust is thrown into doubt.


It is no secret that I did not enjoy the first Dark Angels book that we got earlier in the series. I do however now understand the reason why it was included, or rather made my own assumptions about it. It was not only to give us an origin story of a Legion, but make us aware what it could be in any of the other Legions’ home worlds before the coming of the Emperor. I respect that in hind sight, just imagining that, were they to have not included it in the HH series and just it being a stand alone, Fallen Angels would have suffered the wrath of many pissed off Warhammer fans who would possibly not know why it was in the series. At least that is the way I see it. I thought I could clear that up before I started the review for Fallen Angels. I would also like to say that, if you have not already read any of my other HH reviews, I am going through the series with Jenn of Eternal Bookcase. If you have missed her review of this novel, head over to the link, give her a follow if you are not already doing so.

I just got my first Warhammer starter set last week so I decided to listen to the audio book while I built mini’s as well as spend time getting familiarized with the game mechanics. As a result of this, I did not spend 100 % attention on the book, I might have missed a few key points that Jenn discusses better in her review. I do, however know a little bit about the history of the Dark Angels and I already had some idea as the direction the book was going to go. I was not expecting it to be as good as it was though, the ending gave me quite a kick in the Iron Fist if you catch my drift…

Fallen Angels follows where Descent of Angels left off, although quite a few years have passed as the book brings us up to speed into current Heresy era. Lion El’Jonson, Primarch of the first Legion is of fighting among the stars, while a contingent of his army has been sent back to the home world Caliban in a form of disgrace linked to the events of the Descent of Angels book. While Jonson tries to piece together his own assumptions in the battles going on, Caliban also deals with the industrialization of the planet as the coming of the Emperor also means the coming of the Imperium. Obviously some people will either be for, or against these new changes as any person in real life would be for or against something that they do not believe in or support. Jonsons’ second in command Luthor, whom was not allowed to join the ranks of the Astartes due to his advanced years, the person that taught Jonson all he knows, now has to take up the reigns on Caliban at the same time as dealing with his own feelings of betrayal and jealousy towards Jonson. There is a lot that happens in this book.

A few things I liked about F.A was the inclusion of treachery from the Mechanicum side, the involvement of them in the story, an almost direct result of what happens in the Mechanicum novel, made this a blast to read. I also liked that Caliban is considered a Death world, a world that you can die on as it is inhabited by monsters that are tough to kill. Even though Jonson led a campaign to root out all the monsters in Descent of Angels, it turns out there was more than just monsters to be taken care of. Caliban seemingly holds a secret that has been kept under wraps for quite a time. If there is one Chapter that can give the Alpha Legion a run for their money it’s the Dark Angels in keeping secrets and being all cloak and dagger about things. It is for this same reason I feel that the whole lore around the Dark Angels turned into what it is today. Some times things are better left unsaid, but most times, it could be better if every one could just be on the same page, at least that is what I feel. There were also a xenos encounter that felt like the author took some inspiration from Alien in the life cycles department, I know H.R Giger was the man to thank for giving us some models based off of his art in the Tyranids, but the Alien life cycle has not been copied so much and I enjoyed that a lot. I also liked that the Mechanicum Scitari units was a little expanded upon in this novel. There were also references to battles with Orks mentioned and I know I am yet to find out which novel on my shelf links to the one mentioned in this one. Knowing that this is the last Dark Angels driven book in the series for a while, I think I know enough now to pick up those books that I have been wary of picking up that have only adorned my shelves and sat there looking pretty. I might reach out for them this year. Another thing that I liked was the inclusion of one Space Marines Chapter actually, physically going up and into battle with Horus’ Legion. Though it was over pretty quick, that is the stuff I like to read, knowing that most Heresy books will in most part be about inner toil and struggle, I do like an all out war scene in between, just to get the attention span awake again. The politics in these books are great and at times, all that they are about, but a good ass kicking scene placed here and there is always a win in my books. I felt satisfied that Horus could believe that he has everything so meticulously planned only to be thwarted by an unaccounted variable. Said variable in the form of another brother Primarch. That cliffhanger that this book ends on though gives me so many more questions as to what will be happening further on.

While Warhammer isn’t really a place to go to for reading about good character development, F.A did have quite a few good characters in it I felt. Some have come over from the previous book and it already set up threads for them there to be continued in F.A. Even though I at times got a bit lost or got confused about the who’s who form the previous book, the back of my mind had enough power left to semi remember all of them. The characters of Zahariel and Nemiel which could be seen as one of the sub plots, was almost a direct comparison to the relationship between Luthor and Jonson. It just goes to show how envy can turn a man into a bad person. I can’t say that I have particularly warmed up to Jonson, but I guess it is just the way that he is written, secretive, recluse, drawn back, very much like the strictures that he was brought up with I figure. I have also now learned that to go into the Heresy series, looking for straight answers will leave you with more answers by the end of a novel which is exactly what I got left with after F.A, but that does not bug me too much as I know now, things will be revealed probably way, way, way into the later books, or by some snipe in a following book. I am happy with what I got and I am even more than willing to give this book a second go seeing as I now have both audio and physical copies of it.

Inquisitor Jenn and Savatarius approves

Fallen Angels was a pleasant surprise for me after my reluctance of reading about them further after the first installment in the HH series. I am glad that I stuck with it though. It has given me some positive feelings towards the Chapter again. I can only recommend this to people who are familiar with the HH series as well as those that might have had the same trouble as me after the first novel in the Dark Angels saga, it does get better for a bit at least. F.A got a 4 out of 5 on GR it also got both smiles for the banner from Jen and myself. By the time this post goes up we will have already started with book 12. I hope I can write such a long review for that one too, it is quite a big novel…

Till next time.

43 thoughts on “Fallen Angels – Mike Lee

    1. Well, i got as far as the introduction yesterday and already it has me pretty hyped. Hoping i can get some progress in today. You can do a review on it, ill book mark it for when im finished then comment. If you want i can also tag you into my review. Always great to see other’s reviews on books i read. Are you also taking on the whole series?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you’re liking it so far, it just gets better as it goes on imo. I’ll be doing a review on it at some point. You’re right it is good to get other views on things. I am, slowly but surely I am getting through it. I only have another 42 books to go and then the Siege of Terra series. I mean it’s a lot of books but I am looking forward to reading them, it still excites me and if a series can still keep me hooked after 12 books they must be doing something right.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He read the entire series in one year? Wow, that’s an accomplishment. Hmm, interesting. I’m currently buying them in physical form because apart from everything else my big vice is that I am a collector and I like having collections even if I have the space or not. The problem with that is some shops might not have the book at that moment and such, but I just order through the store or amazon.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I do like the idea of owning all the physicals in the series, but it might not be finacially possible… where do you live? What side of the globe do you call home?


      4. Oh I get you, I mean on average a book is about €10, so for me to own all the books is €500+ euro. Also you need to have space for 50+ books. Thats not even counting in the SoT books. I am in Irish lad from the capital city of Dublin. How about you?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. South African living in The Netherlands… ive scored some books in this range for under the 10 euro mark. Most of my books came with me from SA tho, been collecting for a while now.


      6. Not seen alot in the three years ive lived here, been working on getting a nice work rapport up and going and spending a few months in lockdown last year as well as still being in lockdown since december, there aint much we can do and see. Quality of life is a lot more manageable than my previous life though so that is good.


    1. It is pretty the same still since last time i shared my shelf, apart from the new horus ones i got last year. That shelf could be full by the end of the year if possible. But i might be getting some books digitally

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great thoughts put out there for us to read, savageddt. I really appreciate how you spell this out. Maybe, when I get around to reading one of these, I’ll ask you later about which one to start with. 🤠

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you start the heresy series the first three is where to start mate. Its normally a make or break for anyone interested in the vastness of what is 40K these days. What i normally suggest to those interested in starting their journey in the setting is to try out some of the short stories first. Thank you for commenting. My little tidbits that i add only come from reading other books before even getting started on the Heresy series…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I only know of the Inferno magazine compilations and stuff like Crusade and other stories, which are marketed to people new to the setting. But i myself have not gotten tat far yet. So cant give a definite “thats where you should start” recommendation for now yet. Warhammer is very tricky to get into if you are not familiar with the games both table top and pc wise… its difficult for any fan fan to tell a non fan of a great place to start. One i got Stooge hooked on the Gaunt’s Ghosts series which is great, but that has none of the Space Marines in it. It all depends on your preference see? If you told me, say, you wanted to learn more on Dark Angels, i would recomend This novel and the one that came before to give you an idea, plus a few other novels that might tie into their stories. Bit of a long winded reply, i ask forgiveness🥺

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Holy smokes, this was a long post! I guess you liked the book 😉

    I am glad that HH is continuing to work for you. I feel your pain in regards of recommending where to start (in your comments to SD), because man, this series was NOT for me and yet I’m plowing through Gaunt like a work horse, and loving it.

    Keep up the good work with these posts. Even if I don’t care for HH, it is fun to get more info about the general WH40K universe…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trust me, i will. Yeah this post turened into quite a monster i did not know it was going to be so lengthy when I sat down to start typing. I sometimes baffle myself with not knowing what to write yet turning out things like these. Thank you for the kind words. Ill try get to one of those “beginners” collections and see if i can start SD of on those maybe. Always happy to hear others are interested in checking out the setting…

      Oldest brother started GG last week, he is on book 3 already… dont know how he does that

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Savatarius, huh? Is this your third persona? And how does he get on with Salty?? 😄

    Glad to see you enjoying the heck out of this one – did you start painting the figures along the way, or did you listen to it while setting up your little army?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Savatarius came before Salty… If you go see my Natural history of dragons review🙂. No painting yet, getting the minis cut out of their sprues and assembling took me the ten hours this book is. Paint will come when i have a job again some day.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wrote a long comment, then WordPress ate it. I am unimpressed.

    Great review – always nice to see a ‘buddy book’ review. Nice to hear your thoughts.

    I totally forgot the whole Aliens thing in my review, I’ll have to edit!
    I did feel like that part of the book was startlingly familiar, like reading a bastardised version of the Aliens novelisation.
    (Heroes go to an outpost they’ve lost contact with, place is deserted, people are found huddled together on a ‘computer,’ heroes go to rescue them underneath a reactor only to have alines coming out of the walls and realise the humans are incubators for a Queen.) I’m still processing my thoughts on it…

    Onwards to A Thousand Sons. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment Jenn. WP can be quite a dick sometimes… I am amazed i wrote so much, thinking I did not take a lot in, but i am happy with my review🙂. Have you started the next one yet? I got to chapter one only last night, so far it is great.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome~
        I was quite an interesting book in the end!

        I’ve started on Thousand Sons, am onto around page 80. It’s very intriguing so far, can’t wait to read more!
        Hoping to finish it by the end of the weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This thicc boy??? Damn, i cant read that fast🙈😅. Must say, i have a special edition with lots of pictures, like in Mechanicum, you can look forward to that so long from my side🙂


      3. It’s an aim, but who knows if I will actually get there! I like to give myself little goals to help keep me going.

        Ooooh nice. It’ll be nice to see all the nice extras in it that aren’t included in the normal version.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I heard bad things about the D.A books when I first read the Heresy so gave them a miss.

    The reviews you two are doing of the HH has totally spurred me on. Within the next couple of months I’m re-starting the Heresy and reading from start to finish (maybe not the shorts but certainly the novels).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy to read that mate. Jenn has stated that onward from Tales of Heresy everything is a first read for her, for me as well apart from Angel Exterminatus, which was the first WH book i ever picked up and did not know wtf was going on, I am glad i still kept on reading tho. Looking forward to your reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is indeed a sort of robot, in this case they are called dreadnaught, basically and literally a robot built around a Space Marine that was so close to death but refusing to die, so they take what is left of him, and inter him in this walking sarcophagus. I do love a good Space Marine story where they are involved. Sounds very bleak, but that is the life in the 40k setting

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice to know it’s not as bad as Descent of Angels! This is (I think) the only HH novel that I’ve skipped, due to how bad I found the earlier Dark Angels entry. Might have to give it a try, after all, then!

    Liked by 1 person

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