I liked this book but I liked the start far more than I did the conclusion. The characters are interesting but rough in many areas. I like Loken and I want him to succeed and I thought that some of the best scenes are him recounting his stories or in conference with the rest of the Mournival. Speaking of the Luna Wolves I think that the idea of lodges and the Mournival was very well used so far (at least the Mournival part) and I like the character of the legion as a whole. Not so thrilled with the humans though...
In fairness they are not as incredible as Space Marines but other than Karkasy they seem colorless to me too. I expected that from the Astartes but certainly not from normal humans. It is an odd reversal. I also immediately questioned, with the rest of the legion, the need to include them in the crusade. I understand the need from a meta perspective but I feel that their inclusion as a human element could have been as easily done (and more believably) by using Imperial Army officers, Tech-priests, Navel officers etc. People appropriate to the campaign. The remembrancers aren't even allowed to see the SM in action, merely following in their rather bloody wake. So over all I wasn't impressed with them though I acknowledge the necessity for them.
The whisperheads bothered me. It was so easily shrugged off as if this sort of thing happens all the time. Horus explains to a 100-200+ year old captain something that I would think would be VERY pertinent information as if it's just some interesting facet of the universe. This incident cost at least ten lives though, Jubal's whole squad and a fair chunk of another. A little more knowledge of the warp and a little more concern for it would have been more immersive.
The warp during the 30k period is hardly explainable. And at this time, "chaos" is known only to very few who have the will to not freak out over it. In the 40k human setting, not many human beings know of daemons either. If they had knowledge they most likely would be killed in fear of spreading fear and cultism.
I do not like the Emperor's Children, I figured that out in about five pages. They are portrayed as arrogant, haughty, and rather shortsighted. The command structure seems to be comprised of sycophants and reckless idiots and the only level headed officer is treated with disdain that borders on outright hostility. After reading all the brotherly goodness in the Luna Wolves it was a bit jarring (even Ekaddon worked his issues out with Loken) and made me immediately hope they would all die except for Tarvitz. It only gets worse when the Luna Wolves arrive and Torggadon serves up a diatribe on Eidolon. The Lord Captain had just been rescued from damn near certain death and his first act is to start a pissing contest? (Wait until you read Fulgrim. But at the rate you perceive the Heresy I fear you may not enjoy it enough to go that far.)
Sanguinus is awesome, he and Horus fighting together is awesome x2 but I don't understand WHY. They had pulled everyone off Murder and have a big fleet of ships. Why not glass the whole planet? Doesn't seem to be valuable or strategically important. They commit their forces to months of war, war that costs even more casualties, for what reason? (They are finishing the Great Crusade. You should go back to the part of the book where it talks about the reasoning of the Great Crusade. If you don't want to, you should go to lexicanum.com)Because Horus wants to fight at the front again? This whole part seemed unneeded to me. (not really, he's the warmaster and has a record to uphold).
Interex seem nice, shame they are paranoid to the point of murder. The hall that houses their weapons is burned? Must be the new guys. For a species that is supposed to be so advanced and who detest killing so much they leap really fast to armed confrontation. A simple "Ok, one of our weapons was stolen, the ones we showed you, would you kindly allow us to search you?" would have avoided so much. Horus seems to REALLY want to negotiate with them even when his men are getting shot (him too for that matter). ( I don't think you are grasping the concept of Chaos. Chaos is a corrupting thing that causes thousands and millions to have warped minds and put the galaxy into anarchy. At this point in time, Chaos has very little footing in the Galaxy. Of course the Interex aren't taking the theft of a warped weapon that eventually causes the heresy so prudently.
Erebus....you sneaky snake. You just ignited a war to get a weapon that as far as I saw you had no way of knowing even existed. The interex meet the warmaster at murder, they talk in space at murder, only after weeks do they finally take them to Xenobia (really? Xeno right in the name?). Did Erebus know about this weapon before? If so how? Why is he such an amazing guy and yet perpetrating this? My knowledge of what is to come (having read all of these already) notwithstanding his actions are not so much mysterious as just strange. Not evil, just weird.
Over all it was a good book, not a GREAT book though. The problem is that the author has to create the background, he has to show you enough of the world and set enough of the rules that what follows makes sense. In that capacity it does very well, it is a good springboard for more books but not the most amazing book. Since this is building to a crescendo I rather like this aspect of it. Too much awesomeness early on would have really over egged the series.
Rating for advancing the series 8/10
Continuity-none so far
I added some comments to your review. I do appreciate you writing a review for Horus Rising
because it has yet to have received a review on this website (mostly because its an older novel). However, it vexes me that you came out of this novel not understanding many important things.
For example, you ask why Horus keeps on fighting right after Murder. You might as well ask why there are space marines, and why the hell humanity is doing out in space to begin with. In truth, I'm surprised you didn't have a headache reading this.
I also am not sure of your understanding of Chaos generally speaking. You do understand that Loken and the humans he is with know nothing about daemons or chaos except for fairy tales in old books.
As a whole, I am surprised you rated this novel so low. Even if you looked at it as someone who knows little to nothing of the lore, it explains the Great Crusade, the Emperor, the Primarchs, and Horus' becoming to Warmaster. I'm talking from personal experience because I knew nothing of the Heresy, Chaos, the Great Crusade when I read this novel many years ago. If anything this novel got me to start looking for more related fluff because I wanted more information, which is the purpose of this novel. Loken I thought, was written particularly well. As you read about the other Legions, you can see Dan wrote them through perspective, which was done intentionally to make stereotypes and generalizations of the legions.
What might be more troublesome for people reading this review is that your review is a complete outlier to what most people have rated this book. And I'm basing it off polls and peoples top ten or five novels. At worst I have seen this book rated an 8. I mean, it probably has the best written character in the warhammer world and is considered the best introductory novel in the series. If you don't like this one, I'm afraid you may not like the others. Or at the very least, the whole series may seem confusing to you. People have different reasons to grade books a certain way. But a six usually means the fluff in the work makes no sense or in a series, the fluff really didn't present anything new to what you already know. Which is fair if you really feel like that.
Anyhow, I'm not trying to get down on you. You may genuinely not like the lore of the Heresy Series and think its cheesy. But if you are interested, and you have read and liked the other novels in the series, I suggest you read and look at the novel again.
p.s. I'm also surprised you mentioned Samus as an antagonist. He really doesn't come off as a character worth mentioning at all. What makes "it" important in the novel is the simple fact it introduces characters to the warp.