Fear to Tread – James Swallow

Fear to Tread

Published: 1 August 2012
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 508
Series: Horus Heresy #21
Format Read: Physical Copy


Since the earliest days of the Great Crusade, Sanguinius – angelic primarch of the IXth Legion – was ever among the closest and most loyal of Horus’s brothers. But the Blood Angels have long kept their true nature hidden from the rest of the Imperium, and when the Warmaster hints that the key to their salvation may lie in the ruins of a conquered world, the sons of Sanguinius race to claim it. Now, as the revelation of their betrayal dawns and the traitors’ hand is revealed, the Blood Angels must face all the warp-spawned armies of Chaos, as well their own personal daemons, upon the blasted plains of Signus Prime…


OMG… This book took me… 2 months to get through. Lots of time not reading this was being either at work, or just not feeling up to reading after coming back home from work, vegging on the chiar in front of the PS4. Boy am I glad I am done now though. I kinda feel that that racing that the blurp talks about, took as long as I took to get to the end of this novel… Jenn already wrote a quite stunning review for it about a month ago, if you are not following her yet, I´d strongly suggest that you do.

I also have a quick announcement…. As of recently, after reading that WP were being idiots, I have decided on trying a work around regarding pictures. I have started an Instagram account that I will be using for posts like these to make sure that my WP space does not clog up in a matter of a few posts. Let me know if it is viewable? I tested it out and it seems fine, but if I need to change something I would like to know. Sucks that I had to make yet another account in order to try work away at this fuckery. I am not asking you to make an account and to follow me, just see if the slide show works on the device that you use. 

How does one start to review this novel even if it´s taken him a months to get through this novel and a week since completion? Shall I just get to the good part where I say that I liked it a lot and work from there? In that case, Fear to Tread lived up to the expectations that I had. I was going to read about the Blood Angels Space Marines Chapter and I did. While so far withing the HH series, if I came across a new Chapter, it would normally be some sort of origin story worked into the main plot of the novel. James Swallow went about it quite differently. We get glimpses of him fighting alongside Horus, pre Heresy and way before the Nike Edict and we even see some viewpoints of from the coronation of Horus becoming Warmaster. Horus and Sanguinius shared a moment where Horus saw the flaw and potential weaknes Sanguinius holds close to his chest and refrained from sharing with his sons. A secret that could make or break his Legion if it ever came to light.

With that as an opening scene Fear to Tread started of promising. It had action right from the get go and it built up from there. Midway through the book there is a bit of a slog as the travel to the world where Horus has some dastardly schemes he wants to embroil his brother in and we see that Horus is pretty clever in the way he manipulates his loyal brothers. Very much the same way as playing on the Space Wolves’ dislike of magick and sending them to take care of Magnus’ Legion who specialises in the art after disobeying the Nikea Edict. The Edict that shackled the use of psykers and closing of the Librarius enclaves within all Space Marines Legions. This made it especially hard for some Legions as Sanguinius himself has mention of latent, if not mild psyker powers. Talks of seeing possible futures and outcomes regarding his and his Legions immediate vicinity. This power did not help him at all seeing his brother’s betrayal, but I can forgive Sanguinius for that.

The plot for this book was pretty straight forward and it took quite a few turns in getting to the reveal, but it was a good trip getting there. While other books in the HH series so far only hinted at Horus turning Heretic, this is the novel, I feel, where it all clicks into place. By the end everyone who is everyone knows that Horus is a bad boy now and it will be up to the few remaining Loyal Primarchs to seek one another out and try eliminate the threat. The plot mainly revolved around two emissaries of two different Chaos factions are vying for the soul of the Blood Angels. It was kinda cool to see how Slaanesh and Khorne’s lackies tried their utmost best to sorta turn Sanguinius to the proverbial Dark side, yet totally forgot that they were in literal sense dealing with a True Angel, you see, where Corvus Corax, primarch of the Raven Guard has his cool wing suit, Sanguinius over here has actual wings, like an angel… Wings that could bleed and served as an extention of the Primarch himself. Anyhow, where I thought Sangy was going to back seat drive through the novel, he actually took command of his sons and faced all the horrors set out to either ensnare or corrupt them. There was a part of me that wonders what would’ve happened if Horus won and got what he wanted out of this scenario that he sent Sanguinius on. Things I know had to happen for the secret that he kept from his legion to come into the light, things that Horus bargained on that fizzled out quite quickly as it seems that Sanguinius and co were heavily underestimated. It walked some kind of line that if you want some one to show their evil streak, you gotta try pull it out of them. Pull on the Blood Angels were done to quite a high degree. I liked the reveal of the flaw, I just do not know what the implications will be for the future Blood Angels novels. At least their fury will be unleashed on the enemy of man and not on man himself now. I like the idea that we now have potential Vampires or Canibals fighting on the “good side” of the Imperium. I also liked that Sanguinius aslo went blow for blow against not one, but two Chaos Deamons. It was pretty neat.

Where I liked the overall story of Fear to Tread, I did find that it could’ve been a bit shorter. Some space battles were just never ending and dragging on so long that I would at some points just put the book down and not read for a few days. Yes it is interesting, but it was a bit of drag getting to Signus Prime. At least when they got there and the shit was allowed to hit the fan, the book revved up to the max. Fear to Tread was a good mix of politics, fighting your inner demons, realising betrayal and the way the Blood Angels dealt with it. I feel that they could be a Chapter that I could get into and I have a few books of them waiting for me on my shelf. Having read this novel I think I have enough background to venture into that territory now. My verdict for Fear to Tread was between a 3 and a 4 out of 5 on GR. It’ll most likely be a four just for the sheer scale of the novel. A lot happens with people that I can not be arsed to mention as my copy of the novel did not come with a Dramatis Personae. I am happy that I was able to finish this as well as that I could still remember certain parts of older book references hinted at here and there. Swallow did a good job. Very much like the Nurgle battles from Flight of Eisenstein, he shows that he has a good grasp on what Chaos Deamons and followers have to be like and act like and I appreciate that. While I could not really take Kahbun’da nor Kyris too seriously as they sounded like bickering children most of the time, I do like what the represented for futur novels to come. On that note, I think I have said all that I know and can remember about Fear to Tread. I just want to extend another Thank You to Jenn who is still continuing this buddy read with me. And for her patience in letting me finnish this one in my own time.

Have a good Easter everyone!

19 thoughts on “Fear to Tread – James Swallow

  1. Yep, the slideshow worked just fine for me. Glad you found a work around. It is always nice when you don’t have to worry about space.

    Maaaan, 2 months? That is dedication. I’m sure I’d have abandoned it long before that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to know that the slideshow worked. Means i can finally show of some paintings. And do bigger book hauls🙂

      The two months it took was very mucch work and life related things that kept me from reading most of the time. It took me quicker to get through the audio book of moby dick than reading this one…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember this as being a bit of a slog for me, too… not that it’s a bad book!

    Instagram worked fine, just read someone talking about Flickr for image sharing too, in case you need alternatives!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stooge wrote a post about it some time ago. They are capping the 3gb space for new wp users to 500 mb, if you want to have more your going to have to pay for it at a premium price. Each time i do a book haul or the 40K legends collection i loose about two persent of my 3gb.

      Means i am either going to have to redo certain posts or delete them all together to free up space…


      1. Really? Does that mean we’ll keep our 3gb and it’s just new users? I only use it for book cover pics. I have used a total of 1.6% storage over the past 3 or 4 years. So I doubt I’m in any danger

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are probably better at knowing how to scale your pics down to a small format, where i take a pic on my phone, add it to the mobile version then edit it on the pc…


      3. I normally do it from GR but some of my bookhauls and the 40K legends stuff were of actual pictures i took without knowing WP had a limitation when i started out

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Instagram pictures work a treat. Using a desktop for reading.

    However, didn’t get a ping in my notifications and the link to my review leads to a 404 error – my own fault as my way to fix the WordPress issues was to go self hosted again.
    For cheeky self promotion purposes: https://eternalbookcase.com/fear-to-tread-james-swallow/

    Your review was a great read. It was good to read it and remind myself what happened in this book. I too found the middle section a bit hard going and had to push myself through it. (Also, that whole Chaos City attacking people felt very far removed from everything else in 30/40k)

    Onward to the next!!
    When you’re ready of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll rectify the link in my review Jenn. I did get all the pingbacks from you going self hosted again.

      Check your spam folder in emails… we can start on 22 very soon, either that, the next witcher or Gothgul…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so sorry for all the pings. 🤦‍♀️
        Hopefully, this will be the last time.

        I’m about to head out but will check email when I get home.

        Gothghul might make a nice change, feels like forever since I read some AoS fantasy.

        Liked by 1 person

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