Gary’s Review of The End and the Death Vol 1 (Siege of Terra #8) by Dan Abnett
There is no way out.
The walls have fallen, the gates are breached, and the defenders are slain. It is the end and the death. After seven brutal years of civil war, the Warmaster stands on the verge of victory. Horus Lupercal, once beloved son, has come to murder his father. The Emperor, a shining beacon of hope to many, an unscrupulous tyrant to others, must die. The lives of uncountable numbers have been extinguished and even primarchs, once thought immortal, have been laid low. The Emperor’s dream lies in tatters, but there remains a sliver of hope.
Now, at the final hour of the final day, the Emperor rises. With him come his Angel, his Praetorian, and his Captain, all determined to enact terrible vengeance. Yet the hope is slim, for the Warmaster sees all and knows all, and the ultimate victory of Chaos is at hand.
For this is the end, and the death. And, finally, the beginning.
It is finally here. The first volume of the endgame of the Siege of Terra and the Horus Heresy as a whole, a story spanning sixty books written by over a dozen writers. It is fitting that Dan Abnett, the author who penned the first book, Horus Rising, which released in 2006, is the one to finish it. To deliver a satisfying conclusion to such an incredibly expansive and epic story would be a monumental task for any writer and I cannot imagine the pressure and amount of work that went into it. What I can say is that Abnett has risen to this challenge like the Emperor himself rising from the Golden Throne one last time.
The dead are just the dead. The living are just the dead who still feel grief and pain.
As you would expect from any Warhammer novel, The End and the Death is extremely grimdark. There is violence and death on an unimaginable scale. It is brutal, terrifying, and graphic. An overwhelming sense of despair permeates every page. Yet, despite this, there is still some hope as the Emperor and his greatest warriors make one last desperate gamble to end the siege and save mankind from the Ruinous Powers of the warp. Many fans will already be familiar with the endgame as it has been a part of the established lore since the early days of Warhammer. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of jaw-dropping moments in the first volume. Abnett handles these moments with expert precision, exploring them in depth, capturing their significance and instilling each with such feeling that I’m not ashamed to admit brought one or two tears.
Every warrior carries another’s death in his fist. The turmoil is unending and unbearable.
About a fifth of the book consists of what can only be described as fragment chapters. These provide glimpses of the siege through the eyes of both loyalist and traitor alike. Some are very much for fan service as Abnett throws in a few cameos from characters throughout the Heresy. Others are used to foreshadow a massive revelation that resonates with the ongoing Arks of Omen story in the 40k setting. Nonetheless, I still found it frustrating whenever the story jumped from the middle of a major moment to a fragment chapter, before going back to said moment. I would have preferred that Abnett focused only on the major players at this late stage in the siege.
He stole fire from the four annihilator gods and used it to keep them at bay.
Like all books in the Siege of Terra, The End and the Death is told through multiple narrative perspectives. The three standout points of view for me were Malcador the Sigillite, Sanguinius the Great Angel, and the Warmaster himself, Horus Lupercal. Malcador has always been a favourite character of mine. He is the closest thing that the Emperor has to a friend and has always played the role of a secondary father figure to the Primarchs. This makes for some truly heart-warming scenes that left me an emotional wreck as Malcador prepares for the greatest task in his centuries-long life. Similarly, Sanguinius scenes are just as moving as he fights against fate despite the grievous wounds he suffered while defending the Eternity Gate in the previous book. Horus’ chapters are unique in that they are written in second person. This works very well as Abnett submerges the reader in the madness that inflicts Horus’ mind. It simultaneously makes him more human and shows what he has become. There are plenty other perspectives that make for great reading, especially those of the last remaining loyalist Astartes, whose stories have been at the heart of the Heresy since the beginning.
It is the final triumph of Ruin, hymned by the spit and crackle of the warp…Their laughter becomes the avalanche roar of a falling world.
Overall, the first volume of The End and the Death is a fantastic read. The endgame to the Horus Heresy is in the best hands possible and I have no doubt that Abnett will absolutely deliver a heart-breaking and awe-inspiring finale, one that has been nearly two decades in the making since the release of the first book. My only concern is how long we will have to wait for the second volume. Six months tends to be the average length between books and considering how Abnett has brought us right to the precipice with the cliffhanger of an ending here, it would be a shame if Games Workshop decided to wait that long to release the concluding volume to the Horus Heresy.