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The First Heretic

The Horus Heresy, Book 14
Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong
Series: The Horus Heresy, Book 14
Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins
5 out of 5 stars (112 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Amidst the galaxy-wide war of the Great Crusade, the Emperor castigates the Word Bearers for their worship.

Distraught at this judgement, Lorgar and his Legion seek another path while devastating world after world, venting their fury and fervour on the battlefield. Their search for a new purpose leads them to the edge of the material universe, where they meet ancient forces far more powerful than they could have imagined.

Having set out to illuminate the Imperium, the corruption of Chaos takes hold, and their path to damnation begins. Unbeknownst to the Word Bearers, their quest for truth contains the very roots of heresy.

©2010 Games Workshop Limited (P)2015 Games Workshop Limited

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Spectacular

Not incredibly action-packed, but it will make you sympathise with the most blasphemous of traitors.

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Not bad but not great.

There were some times in this novel where I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately there were not many. Quite often I felt as though I was just forcing myself to get through the story. Overall it does an ok job of showing the Word Bearers fall from grace and the reasons why.

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  • Chase
  • 03-11-2018

The Word Bearers are actually likeable!

I've read about 10 books and the Word Bearers are always painted in a fanatical chaos light. However, I was surprised that the characters in this book were the funniest and most likable of all the legions thus far. That's what makes their fall all that much sadder. Like the Thousand Sons their fall to chaos is a tragedy.

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  • Ronnie Komstedt
  • 18-09-2018

Oh Lorgar....

Loved the book, a very cool look into a legions fall and their gene loyalty

But oh Lorgar you loathsome piece of piss, you who think of yourself as compassionet, yet sacrifice your own Sons in your desperat quest, you who betray your Sons, just as you feel betrayed by the Emperor (although he, as always, does seems like a grade A arse)... And worst of all, You a Primarch let yourself be manipulated by your own Son and a Mortal... Oh Lorgar you weakest of Primarchs... I Body , Mind and Soul....

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  • Sean M
  • 02-12-2018

Critical piece of lore

Great story, great narration. One tiny gripe is the narrators portrayal of the femal voice. It's kind of... Silly. Still, a very good story overall

1 person found this helpful

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  • Allanson
  • 28-09-2018

An Excellent Intro to the Word Bearers

This is one arc of the Horus Heresy that I knew very little about. Now, I am hooked and can't wait to start Know No Fear. I personally didn't like how it jumps around at times, but once is I finished I see now that it needed to complete the story. Overall, this is a great book, and another awesome reading by Gareth Armstrong.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-03-2020

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is AWESOME!

This is without a doubt one of the best written WH40K books. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the audio version, but it too was phenomenal! Garett Armstrong is a master at conveying the many emotions and complex characters within this novel. Well done!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-02-2020

Could have been better

The narrator literally sucks at voicing LORGAR when he is angry. I felt like I was listening to some childhood villain's voice whenever he got mad. The writing style was not as intriguing as I expected it to be

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  • jessesaintjames
  • 26-02-2020

Great Book by a Great author

Loved the book, loved the narration, and another great story by Aaron. Highly recommended for any 40K or Horus Heresy fan.

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  • Harper Micko
  • 02-01-2020

Lore-gar

i never though i would be able to empathize with a traitor legion. my favorite in the series so far

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  • Nerd_Dad2017
  • 18-11-2019

Great book!

The book hooked me instantly. the character development is amazing all around. I'm new to the Warhammer 40k universe and I honestly haven't read a bad book this far in the series, but of all that I have read, this one has been the best.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-11-2019

Best Horus Heresy Book Yet

Deep characters and amazing story telling. I loved this book from start to finish. I can't wait for the series to pick these characters back up.

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  • nob1993
  • 17-06-2019

Brilliant

Utterly enthralling story from start to end.
Jumps around a little but explains itself as it does it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-02-2019

excellent.

likely the best book in the series, and definitely one of the best audiobooks. Definitely check this out folks, only the fear to tread, vengeful spirit and the opening trilogy come close!

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  • Matt Clarke
  • 01-08-2018

My first real experience of the Horus Herecy!

I found myself thoroughly invested in the characters, who by their very nature have huge shades of grey dictated by their faith, wether warranted or not. I've had to take a star off due to a "flash forward" which at one point made me think that tracks were missing until things slotted back into place. My only regret is that I should've really started with "Horus Rising" but the writer placed enough word building and background detail here for me to learn from it quickly.

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  • Jake
  • 28-02-2018

Excellent form, shallow content.

This book, like a lot of Heresy books, has trouble giving its characters believable motivations. Too often does the author tell rather than show. Too often do they ask you to pity characters rather than sympathise with them. Too often do they defer to Deus Ex Machina than engage with interesting themes and dilemmas. At one point, the characters make compelling arguments against the Heresy, but then go through with it anyway because of "gene-bred loyalty."

That being said, this book really feeds the imagination, the prose is fluid, rich, and immersing.

Also, how do Geller Fields work? I don't think the author cares, as is evident in the glaring plot contrivance herein.

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  • Nephrite
  • 30-03-2020

The Shakespearean Fall Of Lorgar.

The First Heretic By Aaron Dembski-Bowden – Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Book 14


Nephrite’s Month Of Heresies

And once again I have returned to the Warp. As the world I come from has been ‘blessed’ by Nurgle on a somewhat universal scale I am joined once more by my Warpspawn companion. Say hello my…friend.

*Was it not last year when I first lead you down this path my ‘friend’? I feel no need for such frivolities as introductions.*

You argue your case well. Since we have returned to the topic of heresies it only makes sense to return to The Urizen, the first of all heretics. Ah yes…Lorgar Aurelian the 17th Primarch who called Colchis his home. And yet…he is the purest of all heretics. But how?

*Indeed, now let us observe the first to fall.*

The plot of The First Heretic is as follows: The 17th Legion Word Bearers have fallen to hubris. Lorgar has been secretly teaching worlds they conquer on behalf of The Emperor that The Emperor is a God incarnate. To teach them the error of their ways, The Emperor has sent the 13th Legion – the Ultramarines – led by Roboute Guilliman to destroy the city of Monarchia on the world of Khur the greatest creation of Lorgar and his sons.

Upon being rather forcibly rebuked Lorgar falls under the ‘spell’ of his two foster father figures First Chaplain Erebus (who will be familiar to those of you who read my review of False Gods) and Kor Phaeron a very close ally and friend. The two of them convince Lorgar to search for some ‘true god’ to worship as they explore the stars and in doing so…the first seeds of heresy enter The Word Bearers Legion.

As you might be able to guess from my description The First Heretic despite being book 14 is not 14th chronologically. This happens a lot during the Horus Heresy. According to some research of mine The First Heretic takes place over a 50 year period from 47 years prior to Horus Rising to The Drop Site Massacre to events I haven’t covered yet involving the planet of Calth.

As well as this Lorgar is not the only main character of note. Two other main characters include Argel Tal a Captain in the Serrated Sun chapter of The Word Bearers who is the main point of view character for most of the book. But I cannot forget The Blessed Lady who has another name I won’t attempt to spell. She is one of only seven survivors from Monarchia as well as the only one to actually see its destruction…even if it does blind her. Throughout the course of the novel she acts as a moral guardian or confessor figure for the Legion but especially for Argel Tal who becomes her closest friend over the course of the story.

The characterisation in the book comes across as very genuine. Lorgar being a naturally very philosophical and intellectual type is genuinely searching for what he sees as a true God figure not aware of where that search will end. At points he seems truly desperate and broken as is depicted beautifully by ADB’s prose. There’s a reason I praised Helsreach to hell and back. Lorgar truly starts his search in this book with the best of intentions for his Legion and for the Imperium. It will take many many books for him to be where he is in The Revelation Of The Word.

As well as this both The Blessed Lady and Argel Tal start with very clear visions of who they are and what they should be. Only to have those ideas changed or their internal view of themselves warped over time. Argel Tal in particular…

The writing in this book is glorious as this event deserves. The true first heretic – or perhaps my Warpspawn friend the true Arch-Deceiver? – is given the full Shakespearean tragedy treatment and it is both beautiful and heartbreaking. There are so many in this book who have no idea what will happen. So many who know and do not care. And so much blood that shall be shed over this search for a true god.

*I would not call him a Deceiver. He went in search of truth after a false faith was robbed from him and he found the four. How is that Deceit?*

That is true…although he did fall under the spell of others as I said. Perhaps Erebus would be a better fit for Arch-Deceiver. And yet there is something I haven’t mentioned yet directly. Perhaps we should tell them about Lorgar’s true victory? You see…Lorgar’s original truth. That of The Emperor as a God? Through certain unexpected means…the holy text Lorgar wrote – the Lectitio Divinitatus – has become a cornerstone of the modern Imperium. The so called Imperial Truth. (See my review for The Revelation Of The Word.)

However I am a reviewer of audiobooks. As well as praising the original books the level of praise is equally high for the audio editions. The narrator for The First Heretic is Gareth Armstrong who I have spoken of previously as he played the part of Be’lakor in The First Prince as well as doing narration duties for Little Horus and the Inspector Maigret series of detective novels. I must praise Armstrong as his voice is perfect for all the required battle scenes throughout the narrative especially the scenes at Isstvan. I also loved his heartfelt pleas as Lorgar and his persuasively silky voice for Erebus. His ability to change his tone and display the character’s true emotions in the narrative is brilliant and makes the already excellent story one I actually struggled to put down. Honestly The First Heretic is one of my favourite books in the entire Heresy and one I expect I’ll listen to again soon.

I certainly hope some of my readers will join me in returning to The Horus Heresy and the world of Warhammer. Who among you will join me and my chaotic companion over the remains of Monarchia…or above Colchis? Listening to the oratory of the Seventeenth Son? We aren’t done yet. Are we?

*Oh yes we are done here and yet it must be shocking for some, the knowledge of the lie their Imperium is built upon and its true origins. But this is not when the die of the heresy was first cast. That was by The Emperor long ago. In all his claims of not desiring godhood he doesn’t do a good job of not making people assume it first. He just destroys that and those who come to a conclusion he is at fault to cause. But come let us go back further still. Man once worshipped gods other than the four. Shall we see what became of that and the real monster that is the cause of so much death?*

Indeed. It is time for us to go back to the days of The Last Church of Old Terra. The dying days of Old Night…The Age Of Strife before The Emperor’s true glory days. But what a story it is. See you all soon.

Sayonara!

Nephrite and Sgathiach

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  • paul sparks
  • 11-03-2020

Incredible and heart rending

What a masterpiece of a story, the sheer amount of information told in this book fantastic, so much was explained and yet I still felt sorrow and empathy for the word bearers and their Primarch.

Absolute must read

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  • AB
  • 03-03-2020

Good, a solid 4* and gets better in the third act

No spoiler review: Overall this is a solid book and worth listening to, particularly if you are interested in the Word Bearers Legion and their "fall" in the pre-heresey. However, while I really like Dembski-Bowden's work I don't think this is his absolute best, so if you only have limited credit I'd look at Black Legion or Helsreach.
The book itself is split into three chunks and gets better as it goes along. I would probably rate each section 3 then 4 then 5 stars for the last third.
All that said, what A D-B does very well across his books is humanise the Astartes by looking at these post-humans from the perspective of the normal humans around them. His Astartes and Primarchs come across as more real? The other thing he does really well is fight scenes, ridiculous though combat in the 30K / 40K universe is, he makes it seem viable.

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  • alasdair robert ian revie
  • 17-02-2020

One of the best

By far one of the best of series. Stands up there with the beginning 5 books. Fantastic voice actor and a good change to get the story back on track

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  • A young man
  • 15-01-2020

Surprisingly weak.

Seemingly clever, and intelligent characters do idiotic choices to fit the larger plotline, even when they themselves points out exactly why they should not go down that path.
Many seemingly going against their nature just to hit the right notes for the larger plot with justifications being weak at best.

The performance is generally good.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-10-2019

Loved it!

The books is excellent, i’ve always hated the bearers of the word. I still do lol but less so now, and not all of them. The story is jumping back and forth a lot at first but it’s not worse than any other HH book.