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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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Fantastic

I didn't think it was possible for me to love the Word Bearers any more than I already did but this book achieves just that. It's even caused me to despise Guilliman and the 13th.

Gripping and Exciting. A must-listen for any Word Bearers fan.

This book is head and shoulders above almost all of the series so far and even manages to rival the best of the series to this point; Fulgrim.

Not my favourite narrator but certainly not the worst. An especially strong performance for this one.

Do yourself a favour and listen.

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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

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

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

2 people found this helpful

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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!

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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a bit disappointed

strangely, I found this difficult to follow. that said, it's a good installment and worthy of the series.

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Great read, unexpected

No t what I expected, she'd a new light on the word bearers and lorgar. Loved it

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I just can't stand the Word Bearers

Gareth Armstrongs delivery is brilliant as always but I just cannot get on with the word bearers, they come across soo cringy and boring...

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I dont want 2 review anything

I hate reviewing stop asking me 2 do this I just wanna listen 2 mu books I pay 4 this service stop asking 4 a review

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  • Chase
  • 03-11-18

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
  • 18-09-18

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....

3 people found this helpful

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  • Venric
  • 18-05-20

Fantastic!

Amazing look inside the fall or ascension, of the Word Bearers Legion. A must read book for any 40k/30k fan. I literally did not want this book to end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Wanderer
  • 08-11-19

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-10-19

Essential piece of the series. Wonderful narration

This book tells one of the most essential tales about the Horus Heresy. The culture, philosophy, and mission of the Imperium are pushed to their breaking point, and then broken. Dembski-Bowden's The First Heretic has become one of my favorites in the series with wonderfully artistic writing and a strong set of fully rounded characters. Gareth Armstrong does an outstanding job narrating and he give texture to every character's voice. It's almost as if they're right there next to you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 02-12-18

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
  • 28-09-18

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Camille-Pierre Faure
  • 26-07-21

Great book, terribly unbalanced performance

Lorgar is very well written, but the reader absolutely fails at rendering him as anything but a pathetic tantrum throwing child. It is borderline comedic in tone, and it's a shame, since he is otherwise very talented at reading the text and some characters (not the women)

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  • Daniel
  • 21-07-21

Finally some exposition!

I love the whole Horus heresy storyline, but it does feel like pulling teeth getting answers on WHY they would so willingly betray everyone and everything they’ve ever stood for, this book finally gives you an excellent glimpse into the perspective far better than Fulgrim did. Great book, great reading.

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  • Brian Walters
  • 20-07-21

Quite a tale

Not a fan of bow how the Custodians are depicted
But definitely makes Lorgar sympathetic .... Until he isn't
Argol Tal is most definitely tragic, until he isn't.
There is a lot of weight and nuance to the word Bearers. They opened pandoras box and this book explains the why