Sunday 29 January 2012

The Outcast Dead by Graham McNeill

The Outcast Dead is the seventeenth and most recent book in the Black Library’s epic Horus Heresy series that relates how the enlightened human empire of the 30th century collapsed into a grim dark age of war and hopelessness.  Considering that Graham McNeill wrote my favourite entry in the series so far, The Thousand Sons, I went into this book with high hopes.
Four hundred and fifty-nine pages later, I was left a little bit disappointed. The Outcast Dead isn’t a bad book, but it does suffer from a number of flaws.  The main plot involves a psyker who unwittingly gains a critically important vision of the future, and thus becomes a pawn in the Civil War tearing the galaxy apart.  Unfortunately, our little psyker is essentially powerless and thus spends the entire book being dragged around, captured, abused, recaptured, etc. He rarely gets the chance to make any meaningful decisions.  To make matters worse, the big secret that he carries around in his head is no secret at all. We are teased with it throughout the book, only to finally discover that it is something any reader interested in the series would know before they picked up the book!
I also feel it my duty to report that the book was riddled with typos. I know enough about editing to realize that a few mistakes will creep into any work, but the number that appeared in this novel made me wonder if it had been edited at all.
But it wasn’t all bad. There are some good action sequences, and it was fun to finally see a book set on earth, in the heart of the empire. We also get a few brief glimpses of the Emperor himself (although I’m not convinced that what we see makes his a more endearing figure). 
So, if you are enjoying the series, you’ll probably enjoy this one too. However, if you wanted to skip this one, I don’t think you’d be missing anything important.

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