As the Emperor travels the galaxy at the head of his Great Crusade, few events are as important as rediscovering his scattered sons, the Primarchs, and bestowing them as the masters of their Legions. United, a Legion becomes a reflection of its Primarch, both in his strengths and his flaws. For the Twelfth Legion, once the War Hounds and now the World Eaters, the line between strength and flaw is almost impossible to separate. Placed in command of a Legion he does not want, in service to a father he cannot forgive, Angron gives an ultimatum to his children, one that will set them down a path that they can never return from. So desperate for his acknowledgement, will the World Eaters follow their father and cast themselves in his broken image or will they resist? And will any of them ever learn who their father was truly meant to be?
I was given a copy of Angron: Slave of Nuceria by Lord Commander Eloth for Christmas. After hearing my thoughts on Angron after Tales of Heresy in person he figured this was a good book to purchase as a gift. (Review spoiler alert: It was)
Angron: Slave of Nuceria details the past of the Primarch of the World Eaters in a rather clever way. His Legion is given thirty-one hours to bring a lost-world back to compliance. After discovering the world Ninety-Three Fifteen has gone dark on it’s communications with their Imperial Masters, the World Eaters are sent to investigate the cause. Their discoveries are grim and ultimately their mission doomed to failure; earning the remaining Legionnaires their Primarchs unrestricted wrath.
In between the compliance plot line there is also Apothcary Gahlan and Magos Vel-Kheredar trying to solve the mystery of the Butchers Nails; the tech that is installed in the Primarch that has driven a rift in the legion – the crux being; Should the Legion submit to mind-numbing anger like their gene-sire or turn him over to the Emperor for his ‘crimes’ against the Legion?
Throughout the novel we’re also given brief, but wondrous insights into the history of Angron himself. Detailing his life before he was stolen from his home-world by the Emperor and thrust into leading an army that he doesn’t want. For me, it was these enlightenments into who Angron was before he was forced to take the Butchers Nails that make him so tragic as a character. Prior to the Nails he had a different personality; noble, despite having been thrust into a cruel, savage world where his every whim is dictated to him by high-raiders whose only source of entertainment is whether he lives or dies fighting various foes.
The plot of Angron: Slave of Nuceria is presented in a broken narrative format, much like Deathwatch: Swordwind, by the same author. The arrangement gives the novel a feeling of mystery, like there is something for the reader to uncover. When handled well, like in Angron: Slave of Nuceria, it is something that I particularly enjoy. With each reveal there is an ever increasing sense of dread, no reader of Angron: Slave of Nuceria should be going into the book blind and already know the dreaded fate of the World Eaters Legion. That doesn’t make the final act any less damaging.
We’re shown the loyalist side of the dilemma through the eyes of Mago, Centurion of the 18th Company. He is a more, run-of-the-mill Space Marine, dreading the changes that are happening within his beloved Legion. While Mago is a decent enough standard by which Space Marines can be measured, he does fall a little flat compared to the bigger personalities in the book, such as Primarch Angron and his emissary, Kharn. Mago as an Imperial Loyaist lead character doesn’t help garner any sympathy for his cause, despite his good intentions. I did find the build-up of the Butchers Nails to be intense in it’s inevitability. Most Horus Heresy readers know that Space Marines aspire to be the model image of their fathers and the World Eaters are no exception. The turmoil in Mago is something that I particularly enjoyed, as I do enjoy characters that face a crisis of faith or mental conflict that makes them question their core beliefs.
After certain pivotal events, I did find the pacing a little… off. During the initial assault of Ninety-Three Fifteen the World Eaters are met with overwhelming enemy numbers and forced to withdraw from the battle-field; this feed in nicely with other aspects of the plot. They are struggling to keep countless hordes from literally ripping them apart. Skip towards the end of the novel and the newly anointed sons of Angron face no difficulty with the numbers, even though they are much less organised than during the first assault. I found this a little trite, but it’s a very minor grievance in an otherwise spectacular book. I would have like the conflict between the different factions within the Legion to have been a bit longer than it was, but again, this is just personal preference.
The story of Angron is tragic and after reading this book I can certainly understand why. Ultimately, he is broken and can never be fixed. I would have liked to read even more about Angrons past and about his first meeting of the Emperor, but seeing as my progress with the Horus Heresy series itself has only gotten as far as book 10, I don’t know what is going to be covered in the books I am yet to read. While Angron: Slave of Nuceria is the title of the book, the story has more of a focus on exploring the act of the Legion taking the Butchers Nails for themselves and the repercussions that act brings.
A minor note, the ending of this book is fantastic and helps to bring the Horus Heresy era closer to that of the World Eaters roll on Warhammer 40k.
A fantastic insight into the life of Angron before he takes the Butchers Nails and the consequences that act has for both himself and his Legion. A good study into the history of the World Eaters as a collective. An intense, broken narrative plot that has a devastating conclusion.