Prospero Burns – Dan Abnett

Published: 6 January 2011
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 444
Series: Horus Heresy #15
Format Read: Physical Copy


The Emperor is enraged. Primarch Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons Legion has made a terrible mistake that endangers the very safety of Terra. With no other choice, the Emperor charges Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, with the apprehension of his brother from the Thousand Sons’ home world of Prospero. This planet of sorcerers will not be easy to overcome, but Russ and his Space Wolves are not easily deterred. With wrath in his heart, Russ is determined to bring Magnus to justice and bring about the fall of Prospero.


I am going to start this review of by saying I HATED this book when I was finished with it. I was so pissed off that I actually wrote a particularly scathing poem that I wanted to start my review off with. I hated the fact that it was a misleading piece off shit that had me believe I was going to read an extenuation of the battle that took place on Prospero from the Thousand Sons novel, that this was the sequel too. Sadly I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and generally have no IDEA as to HOW or WHAT to say about this novel. Do I give spoilers away? Do I go in depth and say stuff that I liked about it like I did with the rest of the series so far? Or do I make an example out of this one to prepare people for the future reviews that might lead to the same thing as what happened here? I guess I am just going to go at it like I always do. We will see how it turns out. Let me start of with the little poem I hinted at and go from there…

As always, a little time line of where the book takes place…

As with some previous reviews I actualy had this one in the as part of the Hatchett Partworks collection that Milou got me shortly before I started the reading. So I’ll have some pictures again. 


Dan Abnett ye mangey curr!
You with your Space Wolves 
and their Leopard purrs???
How could Black Library be such fools
and allow this to occur?
Title Clearly said Prospero Burns Right?
What a dickhanded way to make me loose interest in the final fight!

Colour Cover used for the mass market paperbacks.

Prospero Burns is book 15 in the Horus Heresy series. It is essentially a novel centred around the Space Wolves, a Legion whose lore I actually tend to like as it draws heavily on Norse mythology and culture. Close to the third chapter I was already getting 13th Warrior vibes from it as our protagonist gets drawn up into the ranks of the Space Wolves. No coincidence that his one name was also an Ibn something, Ibn being Hebrew for “son of”. Ibn- or Hawser, is our link to the Space Wolves. Where other novels introduced people called remembrancers to document the feats and stories of other legions Hawser gives us a first hand account of his journey with the Wolves of Fenris instead of giving him the lable Remembrancer, the Wolves bestow on him the title Skjal, you see skjalds being those people that wrote the Sagas of the Vikings back in the day. Hawser is not given pen and paper though he is commanded to commit everything to memory. I have said that I hated this book when I finally got to finish it. The fact that it was an Abnett book has a slight part to play in that as I have come to know him for telling a lot and showing little. In most of his books there will be a whole 400 page set up to a battle in the last ten pages of the book. He has done this on many cases and I am starting to get a little sick of it. The man can write, make no mistake about that, but in most cases he seems to miss the mark for me. Abnett is cited as one of the best writers regarding Warhammer, I just do not understand why I miss the points he tries to bring across.

My second big gripe with this book was that it mislead me to believing that I was going to see the battle of Prospero, if not from the point of view of the Thousand Sons, then at least from the Wolves. Which I did get nearing the end of the novel, one whole sentence that gave the book it it’s name. Something along the lines of “and then Prospero burned”…. Like WTF man, please, indulge me a little more in divulging some more details as to how it did, please? It does say Abnett wrote this on the cover does it not? I got the message that this was ultimately going to be a Space Wolves novel. I felt that this could have easilly been left out of the Horus Heresy series and if read as a stand alone perhaps it would have been great. The only part I took away from it was that the Wolves do the jobs that no one else feels like doing, but there is also a small contradiction to it as the World Eaters were also classed as the legion that would not hesitate to wipe out a civilization for being idiots in the eyes of the Emperor. In my eyes they are even more barbaric than the Space Wolves as their inspiration comes from the Roman gladiator pens. At least that was my take on it.

My third and last gripe with this novel was basically the rest of the novel. From the time jumps that just happened out of nowhere, the three languages and the failed attempts at jokes with the three languages within the Legion and the biggest one, leopard growls, leopard purrs, and leopard murmurs going throughout the ranks of the Rout. Do Wolves not growl, grumble and purr? Why the fuck do I have to read about leopards while I am trying and failing to get invested with Space WOLVES? Who was the wise editor that went with that decision? I know I have had the one review I wrote 4 years ago, of where I was very much in favor of the Wolves winning over the Thousand Sons in the Space Marines Battles omnibus of War of The Fang by Chris Wraight, but I am worried that if I should ever re-read that now with the new knowledge in my head that I would much rather see them wiped out. Do not get me wrong, I am still in favour of the good guys winning, but if the Emperor was really that all seeing all knowing entity that the people were going on about, surely he could have seen that a few misunderstandings were going to happen in the grand sceme of things? But no, he jut decided to be a dick and keep secrets…

So with all these gripes, you would think I would give this story a very low score in the end right. The answer to this is very conflicting. Prospero Burns was well written and I can see Abnett’s angle. Making the reader see that the Space Wolves are not just loyal dogs to the Emperor, but they kinda need to be as no one else fits that role. I do get that they tried to get one to sympathise with them the way Hawser gets to know them, but the way it was done I was just not ready for. I did not want an only Space Wolves novel, I wanted to hear Russ and Magnus have a heart to heart and then go at one another. I wanted battles of planetary purportions and not just an afterthought as to how it happened in The Thousand Sons novel. I do get and understand that this is what one gets when setting expectations too high. It quite sucks that that this was a dud for me. Were it not marked as a Heres novel this would have scored top marks from me. The other thing I have learned is that one should not transition from the one novel to the other expecting vast amounts of answers answered. It simply does not happen that way. I’ll make peace with that for now. There was a lot to not like about this novel, but again, there is a lot that can be liked (apart from all te leopard purring going on). I ended up feeling very conflicted and I told my reading partner Jenn about it as soon as I finished the book. I am staying with the angry face where Jenn went for the “meh” read.

With all that being said. I am really happy I got to finish this novel. Even if it took me two moths longer than not only Jenn, but also Spalanz, who I got to read this along with us as he was looking for an excuse to give it a go. I can now understand both of their reservations when it comes to the Space Wolves. I do appreciate that I was not the only one suffering through this novel at least. I want to thank them both for sticking with me and powering through it the way they did. What does this mean for the score I gave it on GR?

prospero burns banner
Savatarius was not happy and wanted to really eat this book an not in the good kind of way. Where Inquisitor Jenn just thought “eh”… Prospero Burns, even with its great artwork and story telling capabilities from Abnett, scored a 3 out of 5 from me. I do not recommend reading this if you want to know about the battle that happened on Prospero. Rather just stick with The Thousand Sons novel and read this one as a stand alone when there is nothing else on your shelf left to read. I will give this a re try some time in future, but surely not as a Horus Heresy novel.

Thank you for sitting through this review with me. I know I probably did not say enough abut the book, but this is as much as I can divulge in this current state of mind I am in.  

Till next time…


18 thoughts on “Prospero Burns – Dan Abnett

  1. But no, he jut decided to be a dick and keep secrets…

    Oh, I HATE that writing trope. It gets me every time an author uses it.

    Sorry this wasn’t good for you. I remember Jenn’s review so I figured it wasn’t going to work out well for you. Then you talking about a HH book taking you forever and I realized what was coming. I almost expected a McSalty review 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nearly was a Salty review, but that guy has been nothing but positive the last few times he has been around.

      Emperor has every right to be rebelled against for his aloofnes… if he could just keep his supposed favorite sons (all 18of them) informed of the greater scheme of things. The HH wouldve never happened. He let his sons face of against entities and things they were ill prepared for, thats just the right amount of dickishness that gets me all angry. Im very glad i can move on to the next instalment at least. Thank you for your comment man.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The more I think about this book the angrier I get.
    The wet leopard growls were one of the most annoying things about it. That was both sloppy writing and editing.
    It being mis-sold as the counterpart to A Thousand Sons is the most disappointing thing about it, if I hadn’t been told that, I might have liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we that are angry about this are in the minority Jenn. But i do not care. I hate corporate decisions like this misleading eager fans with trics like these. Just glad you and spalanz were with me on this one.


      1. Lol, then i understand the confusion. I am pretty passionate about books based of a table top boardgame that spans in the thousands of books. Horus Heresy is a series in the genre set in th 41st millenium. There is a lot that can be said about it, but i doubt the comments section is big enough to go into detail about it🙂.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So, first of all that’s another excellent and well-written review. Secondly, I must admit I did enjoy this book a lot (although I do have a big gripe with it – more on that below!). On the whole though I liked it – hopefully that won’t mean I’m shot at dawn for heresy. 😉 I’ve never been a big fan of the Space Wolves but for me this was one of the first times I read something that really made them feel like a proper culture, rather than just cut-and-paste Vikings in spaaace. So much Space Wolves fiction is just lifted straight out of the Norse sagas so it was nice to read something that treated them as their own entity.

    However as I say I do have a bit of a gripe with this book (and it contains spoilers so if anyone is reading this who plans to read the book please look no further!). Now keep in mind that it’s been a long time since I read this (2013 I think?) so my memory may be playing me false here. However as I recall the original storyline (as laid out in White Dwarf articles etc before the Horus Heresy series was produced) went a bit like this:

    Magnus (using magic to communicate with the Emperor): “I have to warn you! Horus has turned traitor!”

    The Emperor (hacked off at having his super secret project thrown into disarray by Magnus and his magical shenanigans) “What have I told you about using magic?! Did I not specifically tell you not do it anymore?!”

    Magnus “Not really the point dad – Horus has turned traitor and has fallen under the sway of Chaos”.

    The Emperor however is having none of it and dispatches Russ to bring Magnus back to Terra for a stern talking to from his old man (or rather to be tried for the crime of sorcery). On his way to Prospero however Russ encounters Horus who has been forewarned of the situation by his spies and has not yet declared himself as the Arch Traitor…

    Horus “Thank goodness I managed to catch up with you! The situation is much worse than we thought. Magnus has fallen under the sway of dark and corrupting powers. There’s no way he’s going to come quietly – your orders are now to kill him and his legion”.

    Russ, who has always had a jealous rivalry with Magnus and has no reason to distrust his brother Horus, is only too happy to accept this, and the battle of Prospero goes ahead much as it does in the books. Only later does Russ realise that he was tricked by Horus into attacking the Thousand Sons and pushing them into joining the traitor forces, whilst decimating his own legion into the bargain. Apart from anything else this serves to make Russ’s conflict with Horus feel a bit more personal. It’s a nice, neat story that emphasises the very human foibles of the brothers and their rivalries. It shows Russ as both a powerful and noble warrior, and a flawed, hot-headed individual prone to acting without thinking. Horus is shown as being the great manipulator and a powerful figure with his own agency, the Warmaster of the Imperium setting everything up in his favour prior to launching his rebellion. The Emperor comes over as a bit of a dick but then he always does…

    Instead of that however they changed this and went with this ridiculously convoluted story involving a shape-shifting daemon which leads everyone along by the nose. It’s overly complex and makes everyone look like bumbling idiots, and as a result none of the Primarchs appear to have any real agency. To this day I’ve no idea why they felt the need to change things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First off. Thank you for this amazing comment man. I smooth talked the commissars into thinking twice about your heresy at Dawn. You seem to be safe for now.

      Your summary is spot on regarding the way it goes down in the heresy. Horus manipulated the fact that there was already a rivalry between the Wolves and Sons(this spinning of from what happens in The Thousand Sons). This was a great book an truely i saw that it was trying to get one into the mindset of the Wolves i wouldve 5 stared it if it was not for the misleading title and the way abnett went about it. It did nothing to edge the Heresy side of things along…

      I know abnett likes his deamon stories one only needs to read the Ravenor and Eisenhorn books to see it.

      Thanks again for the comment man. Really appreciate it

      Liked by 1 person

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