The galaxy is burning. The Emperor’s loyal primarchs prepare to do battle with Warmaster Horus and his turncoat Legions on the black sand of Isstvan. Such dark times herald new and yet more terrible things still to come, and when Astropath Kai Zulane unwittingly learns a secret that threatens to tip the balance of the war, he is forced to flee for his life. Alongside a mysterious band of renegades, he plunges into the deadly underworld of Terra itself, hunted like a criminal by those he once trusted. In the face of betrayal, Kai must decide where his own loyalties lie and whether some truths should be buried forever.
The novel focuses Outcast Dead focuses on Kai Zulane, the Astropath and one of two survivors of a doomed starship. Forced to psychically endure the deaths of the entire crew, he is sent to The City of Sight, the headquarters of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica on Terra, to undergo treatment. While there an unidentified character (I don’t want to spoil things) sets in motion a series of events that hides a terrible secret with Kai. This part of the book primarily focuses on character development, setting the scene for the conflict which occurs at the end of the first act. Many of the fans of the Horus Heresy series may find this part of the story a little lacking I’m regards to action but as with most novels by Graham McNeil the second half of the book really takes off once the scene is set!
Where the first act of the novel focuses on story and character development, the second is almost pure action. In this part we are introduced to the mysterious namesake of the novel, a group of Marines with a mixed background that we don’t get the full story on unfortunately! One could draw many conclusions as to who or what they have done but to be honest after a few pages of action those worries are put aside quickly. From here on in things get wild, lots of action and in true Dr Who styling, lots of running. On top of this we get to meet a whole new face to the Heresy and one that delves deep in to the history of the imperium.
The Outcast Dead may not be the most exciting or my favourite Horus Heresy book but it still delivers. While, like may Graham McNeill books, there was a very slow start that didn’t grip you the attention to detail of the planet and the the inner workings of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica was brilliant. The novel also gets a tick in my box as the focus on non-superhuman characters is something I would like to see more of (you know maybe some Imperial Army action soon please Black Library???). Yes the start was slow but having read Graham McNeill before I knew to expect this and took time to revel in what was shown to us. The second part of the book however flew by, the escapades of the novels namesakes certainly wasn’t slow and left you wanting more action, again I don’t want to give too much away at this point as it’s a good story.
The novel once it gets going is well paced and chock full of action, though most people will not enjoy this “low-level” almost squad based plot, but the beauty in this book is the way Graham McNeill weaves, as he so expertly does so often, the plot elements and characters he has set up earlier in to the latter half of the book (not to mention some from other books) then not only does this set up for revelations in this novel but helps for the basis for follow on books from the other writers. So with all of this weighing on its side the book gets a damn fine 4 out of 5 for a book that doesn’t look much to start with it certainly delivers.
The Outcast Dead by Graham McNeill
Softback • ISBN 9781849700863