Well the latest Horus Heresy novel, titled Nemesis, was released two days ago on Black Library and I have finished it only a few minutes ago. The very first novel about the Officio Assassinorum has been a resounding success with an excellent story, with plenty of surprises, including one that made me stop in amazement for a few minutes.
The Assassinorum has been fleshed out very nicely. We have learned more about the secretive Venenum Temple that uses poisons to dispatch their foes, or Clade as they are called pre-heresy and the Vanus Temple of information-gatherers and cybernetic investigators have been added to the roster. And they are quite cool, even if they dont perform assassinations themselves.
The characters of the Assassins are also very cool and likeable. The Vindicare sniper Eristede Kell, the Callidus shade Koyne, the Eversor nihilator 'The Garantine', the Culexes protiphage Iota, the Venenum secluse Jennkier Soalm and the Vanus infocyte Fon Tariel. Each one is recruited in a mission of their own styling and we are shown how each of these Assassins operate, each very differently. And many older characters make their appearances like Erebus, Horus and Rogal Dorn, and one older character in particular will not be returning.
The story begins with another failed attempt on Horus Lupercal's life, foiled by Erebus, Luc Sedirae and Devram Korda before the Venenum Assassin can strike. Knowing that a tactic can be used by anyone Erebus decides to deploy his own Assassin to kill The Emperor, and without the Warmaster's knowledge. Meanwhile on Terra a meeting is hosted by the Master of Assassins and the Sires and Siresses of the Assassin Clades, and a special guest in the form of Constantin Valdor. They decide, with Valdor's advice, that no single Assassin can kill Horus but an entire group has a chance, and so an Execution Force is deployed with one operative from each Clade, in the hopes that they will succeed where others have failed.
Meanwhile a series of gruesome murders has struck the planet Iesta Veracrux where an investigator called Yosef Sabrat is given the case. The victims are mutilated and then displayed in a symbol that nobody can fathom the meaning of, an eight-pointed star. Soon Sabrat is drawn into a game of politics with the off-world Rogue Trader cartel, secretive organizations and cults and the plan of one of the deadliest beings to ever exist.
The pace of the story is very well-written and reflects the careful, methodical style of the Assassins very well. The nature and ethics of their work is brought into question quite a few times, querying whether or not subterfuge and shadow-work is the correct way to win the Horus Heresy.
Low Point: Ive thought it over and I can't really think of a flaw, at least not any for me.
So for its memorable and imaginative characters, a unique and well thought-out narrative and background on the mysterious Imperial Assassins, and a look at the Horus Heresy away from the front lines and into the shadows of the war, I give Nemesis a 9/10. Thanks for a great novel Jim Swallow, I look forward to your next work.
And for those of you wondering about my line above hinting at a character's death I will not disappoint you with the line, read it and find out.