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Bruva I am hit!
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In my time on this forum, I've heard many wildly differing opinions and interpretations of the Horus Heresy novels. Personally, I am pretty uninitiated with them and with BL as a whole, but don't take this to be a book recommendation thread; rather, I am interested in hearing what qualities you think make or break a novel.

Keeping with the fluff on a general level and making sure the story is more than just bolter-porn are two big plusses, I'd imagine, but beyond that, what are you looking for in a HH novel? Is a certain modicum of respect towards major characters required, or are utter curbstomp battles acceptable? Are liberties with established fluff acceptable, and if so, by how much? In other words, what do you think makes the best HH books great, and the worst so bad?

I know so much of what I ask is subjective, and I'm pretty sure I've answered my own question by naming the two big plusses, but with such apparently fluctuating opinions on the HH novels, I am interested in knowing what standards you hold them to.

Let me know what you think!
 

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A good writer...but to break it down for you

1) Characters who display intellectual and emotional depth (and therefore engage the readers' brains and emotions)
2) An engaging plot, keeps you hooked, some suspense and tension is always nice
3) Well-written prose, vivid powerful imagery rather than bland vague descriptions, good dialogue

What makes a good novel is what makes a good HH novel. A degree of respect for already established lore and relevance to the Heresy storyline would be icing on the cake.
 

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I would say that there needs to be a level of balance. Some bolter porn is necessary to provide a little action. What's the point of having a bunch of genetically engineered post-human super soldiers if they aren't going to shoot something? But you can't rely purely on running from battle to battle with little else. There should be some point for why the battle is taking place. Not just a la ti da ti da, "Oh look! Chaos filth!" then a little later for no apparent reason, "Oh look! Foul greenskins!"

I'm definitely with Monty on the characters and would say they kind of make or break the story. IMO, some of the best HH novels have been the ones that go into some detail about why the various Primarchs turned to Chaos or simply sided with Horus. The First Heretic really stands out in my mind, but Angel Exterminatus did a pretty good job of detailing Perturabo's reasons. I only wish they'd given the same treatment to Horus in the opening trilogy. But if you have a solid set of characters, most of the rest will naturally follow.
 

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I want to start off by saying, in comparison with a lot of other peoples opinions and tastes, I think I am really fairly easily pleased by books.

I know there are plenty of books(From both BL and elsewhere) that I absolutely love, and others hate.
(For example Lord of the Night dislikes the Sword of Truth series while I really enjoyed most of it.)
I honestly like books that have a good bit of bolter porn, and I also like books that are more complex and in depth.

Now, to answer your question, I think that good Horus Heresy books(and 40K books for that matter) are either made or broken by the characters.
I have only read the first 6 HH books, and I loved all of them except Descent of Angels, which I still enjoyed.
To me, the characters of Descent of Angels just weren't written as well as in the previous 5 novels. Now, that is just my opinion, and I am sure a lot disagree with it.

Also, I think that individual fans interest may have something to do with it. I personally cannot stand the Dark Angels and am only reading their HH books because they are HH books. Because I already have a dislike for the characters involved, I am a little more critical of it. I also love the traitor legions(Emperor's Children are my personal favourite) and I absolutely LOVED Fulgrim and bought a second hand copy of Aurelian for, honestly, way too much on ebay because of my love for the traitor legions.

Although, my favourite bits so far are WHY characters fall. I don't need grand literature that will be read for centuries to come. I just need a book that I can sit down and have fun reading.

Props for making this thread, I look forward to hearing some peoples opinions!
 

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I'm quite easily satisfied with HH books too. Having said that, what I like most of all are interactions between the legions and most importantly the primarchs. I can't stand long battle sections unless there is more to it than simply killing

I really like reading about the early lives of the primarchs too.
 

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I think one thing that can trip up a novel (HH or any in general) is having to many separate characters. Nothing drives me crazier than reading what is going on with character A then having to wait 30 pages to read about him again because we have to read what B, C, D, E, F, and G are all doing. If they are grouped that is different but I can't stand when there are 10 character groups that only get 2-3 pages alternatingly.

And writing the HH has to be rough since everyone knows so many of the plot points. That being said, blindside me with something I don't see coming a mile away. Throw in a twist and make sure it makes sense.
 

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the book needs to feel important. in my opinion outcast dead, nemesis, legion and mecanicum all felt like filler stories. i could be wrong with legion/mecanicum because i only read those once and the only knowledge i had was of the previous hh books.
 

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like i said in the previous post, i could have missed something in legion or mecanicum because of my ignorance of the 40k universe. i didn't know that horus turned heel before i started the series, didn't have any idea of any of the other races or chapter related lore. i was going to re read those early books but decided i'll just wait till they are all caught up in hardcovers.
 

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Monty nailed it.

It's synonymous with what makes a book good generally, but with the added importance of its format - so care and consideration where continuity lies. This can be further broken down and becomes quite subjective. Some people prefer consistent portrayals of characters, factions or events between authors, while others enjoy fresh perspective.
 

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I like my characters somewhat flawed... With a good dash of inner turmoil. Nothing is worse than a one dimensional goody goody space marine. Same goes for Primarchs. I guess that's why the chaos sided Primarchs are vastly more interesting.
 

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I like my characters somewhat flawed... With a good dash of inner turmoil. Nothing is worse than a one dimensional goody goody space marine. Same goes for Primarchs. I guess that's why the chaos sided Primarchs are vastly more interesting.
This is exactly why I find the Grey Knights and Ultramarines somewhat boring in comparison to other chapters.
I agree whole-heartedly though, I do love me so flawed characters. I also love watching the characters evolve into something that you wouldn't see coming with their current personality.(I.E. Kharn being Angron's voice of reason -> Kharn the Betrayer)
 

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for me in general is boredom.....i find that sum of the heresy book take 200+PAGES to set up the story to then have the entire story finish in like 20 pages and im left like WTF! now im not meaning bolter porn, im just meaning like others have said characters,some plots can seem irrelevant or fillers. ive read most of the HH and been pretty pleased the only book mechanicum i simply could not read! its was just boring, i found it very hard to get in to, but im the sort of reader where if i by about the 50th page the book hasn't grabbed me well ill stop.
 

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HH Books seem so long because bad writers concentrate on description rather than dialogue. Character interaction is interesting. Describing the same thing in 10 different ways, isn't.
 

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Bruva I am hit!
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Discussion Starter #17
Rise, thread! RIIIIIIIIISE!

Good to hear from all of you so far. This really does help clarify why people feel how they feel on the books. Like I said, it's a pretty subjective topic.

Right now I get the feeling that the HH authors are running out of steam, as evidenced by reactions towards more recent books. Like I said, I'm uninitiated when it comes to the HH series, so do you get that feeling too?
 

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Rise, thread! RIIIIIIIIISE!

Good to hear from all of you so far. This really does help clarify why people feel how they feel on the books. Like I said, it's a pretty subjective topic.

Right now I get the feeling that the HH authors are running out of steam, as evidenced by reactions towards more recent books. Like I said, I'm uninitiated when it comes to the HH series, so do you get that feeling too?
I most definitely don't.
We have Abnett writing his BA and UM stuff, which I am looking forward to.
We have ADB working on some custodes stuff after he finishes his first Black Legion book.
We have Mcneill taking the focus back to Horus soon, which I think is needed in a series called the Horus Heresy.
We have that *FULL COLOUR* graphic novel coming out soon.
We have the Tallarn part of the story coming soon, which I assume will be kinda like Calth where it gets its own couple of books/novella/short stories and such.
and we have CW doing his Scars thing, which is getting a serialized release right now, but will be a full novel later.
Plus there is all the stuff that not many people know about. I am sure that there is other stuff in the HH planned.

We are only half way or so through the series, so I would definitely hope they are not running out of steam!
 

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I would probably say that a good Horus Heresy novel is one that respects the prior fluff while advancing the fluff in news ways. Unfortunately I'd say few Heresy novels are able to do this, mostly due to the multitude of retcons.

The ''Emperor is an atheist'' one for example. The Emperor advancing an anti-religion policy for the Great Crusade makes very little sense when Lorgar is involved converting people to a religion dedicated to him. It makes Lorgar look like an idiot for not noticing the policy of everybody else around him and it makes the Emperor's inaction for fifty years look strange.

The change at the Council of Nikaea is another. Previously the Emperor did not ban Librarians, only sorcery. Now in the new fluff, he banned all Librarians from the Legions. I'm honestly not sure why the authors chose to do that. It makes the Emperor look rather foolish and paranoid., especially when later characters in the series talk about how much of a disaster Nikaea was.

To look at a more specific book I'd probably say Know No Fear was the biggest disappointment for me. This is probably a heavily contested opinion, but I did not like the multitude of retcons as presented, or the portrayal of the Ultramarines within.

I found the account from Collected Visions to be much superior. Guilliman takes direct command of the fleet much earlier and demonstrates all the military genius he is often talked of having, while the Ultramarines are much better organized in Collected Visions. Perhaps some people may have liked the depiction of the Ultramarines in KNF. I certainly did not.
 
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