Angel Exterminatus – Graham McNeill

Angel Exterminatus

Published: 26 October 2012
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 542
Series: Horus Heresy Book 23
Format Read: Physical


Perturabo – master of siegecraft, and executioner of Olympia. Long has he lived in the shadow of his more favoured primarch brothers, frustrated by the mundane and ignominious duties which regularly fall to his Legion. When Fulgrim offers him the chance to lead an expedition in search of an ancient and destructive xenos weapon, the Iron Warriors and the Emperor’s Children unite and venture deep into the heart of the great warp-rift known only as ‘the Eye’. Pursued by a ragged band of survivors from Isstvan V and the revenants of a dead eldar world, they must work quickly if they are to unleash the devastating power of the Angel Exterminatus!


Angel Exterminatus was one of the first ever Warhammer novels I bought and read, not knowing it was part of a series, neither knowing that it was book 23 in said series. I read it back then and liked it enough to start collecting any and all Warhammer novels I could find. Fast forward a few years later (read about 10-12) and I can still not brag as to the small collection I have bult up through the years. This book has immigrated with me to The Netherlands, it went back to South Africa on my short July holiday as well as accompanied me on our trip to Iceland at the end of July… Some books have been on my TBR lists for ages and yet I have given them all the finger to do a re-read. Why you might ask, and the answer to that is simple, I read this before there was even a notion that I would ever start a blog to write down my thoughts on books no matter how stupid or uneducated I may come across. Warhammer book collecting has been a hobby long before this blog came along and even though I am not that big or well known, I am proud of what I have achieved with this small blog of mine. The other reason for re-reading this was because Jenn and I are on a buddy read mission to get through this series together, it has been a right pleasure having her to read this along with. Our goal at the end of the year was to get up to at least book 30, this one being book 23 only means I have a shit tonne of reading to do. But with the way things are going and how slow I was in finishing this novel, I think book 30 might not be realized this year. Sorry Jenn… I am happy to report that Jenn already flew through the next novel and I am halfway with it, so there might be two HH reviews this month.

Angel Exterminatus is a difficult book to talk about as telling things about the plotline goes into spoiler territory very quickly. I do not know if I am going to be spoiling it for people who also intend on some day going through this series so be warned it might happen…

Perturabo is not a well-known primarch. His Legion are normally called in to do all the digging and dirty work regarding sieges. Him normally being with his Legion getting down and dirty means that there are some of his brother Primarchs that underestimate him. One such brother comes to him after a quite lengthy siege against the Imperial Fists on a faraway planet to try string Perturabo and company into obtaining alien tehnology: The Angel Exterminatus. Pertorabo is hesitant at first and has to sit through a sort of Shakespearian play to listen to what his brother Fulgrim has to say, it is only after there is an assassination attempt on Fulgrim that Perturabo decides he will go and see what this fuss is about. As we are this far into HH territory already we know that something is a bit “off” with Fulgrim and his retinue, but thanks to the events of Fulgrim, the novel ( book 5 in the HH series that Angel Exterminatus follows on) we already know he has been corrupted by a Chaos entity.

Following from the plot where Fulgrim killed his brother Ferrus Manus, we see the latter’s small company that managed to survive the events of Istvan V on the hunt to avenge their father. Along with them there is also a Raven Guard and a Salamanders apothecary. I liked that they were part of this story and I liked that even though Ferrus is dead now, he is not treated as an afterthought and people are actually morning and thinking of exacting vengeance on his behalf. The small group go out of their way to make things difficult for team Fulgrim and Perturabo. They had a few too many, get away easy moments to my liking, but they did not, not suffer the consequences of said thwarting actions.

Angel Exterminatus had a looooot of names to keep track of and the fact that I read this one in the mass market paperback print, which has a dramatis personae, meant that I could leaf to the start of the book just to refresh my memory again. I liked the tension that built up between Pertorabo’s “get to the point” attitude and Fulgrim’s “I am overly dramatic yet perfect” personality, it made for the perfect “oooh shit” moment when Perturabo gives Fulgrim a lesson in how not to treat your miniature collection and smacks some reasoning into him. Love that moment. I also liked seeing how Perturabo has his legion “play wargames” with miniatures that kind of tied the painting and miniature side of Gamesworkshop into the Black Library universe. I do not know if this was deliberate or if it has been done before, but it stuck with me.

Also following from the Fulgrim novel there was more elaboration in the way that the Emperor’s Children had sunken into the clutches of Chaos, I am now pretty sure they are all Slaanesh followers as they are the easiest targets when it comes to indulges in a variety of matters. Throughout the book there are scenes where they take things way too far, but in their minds, it is all in the search for perfection, it is a code they live by, and they will do anything to get closer to that goal. What was not so perfect and was an absolute abomination was the creatures coming from Fabius- the apothecary of the Emperor’s Children’s laboratories. I think there was a reason the Imperial Fists featured so much in the last short story compilation, as two legionaries are really put through the ringer with all the experiments that Fabius does on them. The most horrible of all being that, for some reason, so far, it has only been the Imperial Fists, that have managed to hold onto their identity for as long as they do in this novel, the other Legion’s soldiers are not so lucky. Fabius wants to unlock the secret of all the Legion’s gene codes so he can exploit it against them in the chance that they ever have a sour run in with a Legion they dislike. Things like that make me exited to get into the Fabius series sometime soon.

That is but one character I was interested in reading more about, maybe I just have a bit of an evil streak in me. There are more characters in this book that I liked when they were given page time though. The only hardest thing for me was when there was talk of Iron Hands going up against the Iron Warriors. At some points I got a little confused as to who belonged to whom again, but luckily I had the thing at the front of the novel to help me keep track. Battles in this novel were also done on big scale. It was great to see how the Iron Warriors fought as well as see how the Iron Hands kind of adopted the Raven Guard way of fighting up to a point where everyone just said, “fuck it”, and went into the fray not caring who lived and who died. This was also the first novel where the Eldar played a bigger role in their involvement of the downfall of a Legion. While Fulgrim is only hearing whispers, he turns full Deamon by the end of the novel, although, the fact that Perturabo thwarted a huge part of his plan is still a bit vague to me.

As with other HH novels, there was also a sort of origin story for Perturabo, but this story was still so very vague, I do not know if there is a book that covers his story in better detail, I might have to ask the people that read all the Primarch novels series. There is the mention of Olympia, but I cannot draw any conclusions as to what exactly went down.

All in all, despite the fact that this took me so long to read I still had a good time with it. Recommended for completionists like myself who are reading every book in the main series. I gave this a 4 out of 5 and I feel that I know a lot more than that I did when I first this novel, apart from how to review it… Looking forward to finishing the next HH novel!

Till next time.


12 thoughts on “Angel Exterminatus – Graham McNeill

    1. I was going to give it away to someone in the uk that needed a copy when i was done, but took so long for me to finish, the guy got a diff copy some where else🙂. Now it can stay part of my collection.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Its quite an undertaking, but i am in it for the long haul. Even if it means i will be reading for the rest of my life. I am glad i am at least halfway with the next one already.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. To answer a question, Perturabos Origin story is written in Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia.
    It’s a great read and fills in some of the blanks you mention at the end of the review – I read it right after this HH book, so they both blurred a bit in my head until I read your review.

    Thanks again for being with me on this series and congrats on getting to the end and getting your review up, it was a great read.

    As for 30, it was always ambitious, honestly, I am glad that we’ve been able to get this far and are still pushing our way through them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We will be on 25 soon i think. Thanks for being along for the ride Jenn. Will defgo look into the primarchs series some time. I read Angron and Curze already, thats working great for the current Betrayer read.


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