False Gods by Graham McNeill – A Book Review

False Gods


Far from Terra, the XVIth Legion continue in the Great Crusade as the ‘Sons of Horus’. Putting the debacle with the interex behind him, the Warmaster has become more withdrawnas he struggles to deal with the jealousy of his brother primarchs, and increasingly relies on the council of his advisors as he plans each new campaign. Noble captain Garviel Loken harbours misgivings about the clandestine ways adopted by many of his brethren, but when the Legion is sent to reconquer the moon of Davin, it is clear that Horus has a personal stake in the matter which may have clouded his judgement. With dark forces rising against them, have the primarch and his warriors been drawn into a trap?

Author: Graham McNeill

Publisher: The Black Library

Series: The Horus Heresy #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 412

Release Date: 25/09/2014

My Chosen Format: Paperback

My Rating of ‘False Gods’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon, Audible


I feel False Gods was a good deal better than the book that came before it (Horus Rising) yet, at the same time, it had some drawbacks. Be advised that, reading on from here, there will be mild spoilers.

Firstly, False Gods has a fair bit more action and just a general feeling of pushing things forward than Horus Rising did. Horus, once a man who loved his father, The Emperor, above all others and saw himself as a shining beacon of Imperial might and righteousness, now finds himself descending down a darker path in which he feels betrayed by his father and that the only course of action open to him is to kill everyone who disagrees with him, basically.

I felt the way Horus was coaxed towards the side of chaos was a good way to go about it, I just don’t feel it was executed in a good way. If you are the most righteous of men, being showed a few things during a vision should not tarnish your outlook on life so much that you suddenly decide you need to kill everything to make things right. Plant seeds, yes, but not pretty much just sway your outright. It felt like the author started Horus gently down the hill to madness, got a little bored of the gentle pace, put his foot on the accelerator and just had at it. So yea, my main drawback is that Horus just went from good to dark almost in the blink of an eye. He also felt far too easily led, despite the fact he claimed ‘I knew what was going on all along.’Β 

The parts of the story that featured the fracturing of the legion (Sons of Horus) were done very well. You get to experience the pain as battle brothers find themselves looking towards men they have fought alongside for decades, only to find themselves wondering if they would soon have to fight these men they ordinarily would have died for. Everything that is fracturing onto one side of the divide or the other (other than Horus) is done really well.

Certain parts were glossed over (certain swaying conversations with primarchs etc …) but, as a whole, I really enjoyed this book. I just feel that, considering it is a fifty+ book series, they could have had some of the dark machinations going on behind the scenes as we focused on other legions and other characters, rather than having an opening trilogy centred around Horus and his legion. It might have come off better, but we’ll never know. Just one man’s idle speculation.

24 thoughts on “False Gods by Graham McNeill – A Book Review

  1. Great review. I am totally with you in the way Horus was turned so easily. That just came out of nowhere. I do understand that Erebus has a silver tongue, but swaying a Primarch through a dream? Come on…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea, I was expecting a slow burn after the visions. Maybe the lectitios divinitas gaining prominence might have made him believe that The Emperor truly was going for godhood. But, no. He woke up and instantly killed a couple of remembrancers. So much for the ‘built into our DNA not to be evil’ ethos

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In the 40k lore it’s good at it. But even then it has to find a weak spot and worm its way in.

        If someone said to me ‘you shouldn’t like Dave, he’s evil’ I’d expect proof before believing it πŸ˜‚ then again, maybe Horus’ weakness was that he wssn’t the Emperor and, no matter how much responsibility the Emp gave him, he still didn’t have full power?

        Or it could just be rushed storytelling.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In terms of other primarchs that turned traitor they played on personality traits ascribed to those characters like vanity or pride, just feels like horus was a jealous kid, i revered my father as a god, now he wants to be a god so now i want to be THE god too, boo hoo whiney whiney?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Pretty sure Angron got turned into a dick tho… Fulgrum is more vain i feel, always striving for that perfection, which makes his downfall equally sad and also confusing. Do not know of Perturabo too much, i know he was pissed horus got the pick for warmaster. Your very right in horus not succumbing, but imagine Lorgar, Angron or even Guiliman Rising, doesnt have a ring to it…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I think it would have been epic if Sanguinius was the one. ‘Angel’s Fall’ instead of Horus Rising πŸ˜‚

        Perturabo, and the Iron Warriors in general rarely get much screen time. They’re my favourites so it’s a shame

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I know Perts is comming up in Angel Exterminatus that i am very close to in HH. I know what happens there as it was the first hh i ever read. Cant say i understood everything back then the way i do now. I am still to read a book centered around the Angel and his chapter, vaguely remember a Space Marines Battles novel that had them in it, but im not sure i understood anything about that either. Man im getting all exited for reading now!

        Liked by 1 person

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