The First Wall (Siege of Terra #3) by Gav Thorpe

Write on: Thu, 30 Apr 2020 by  in Gary's Reviews Read 1887

The First Wall by Gav Thorpe is the third installment in the Siege of Terra, the final arc of the momumental Horus Heresy. Here are my thoughts. Minor spoilers ahead. 

The main focus of the novel is the battle for the Lion's Gate Space Port between the fortress-building Imperial Fists and the siege-breaking Iron Warriors. The siege is as epic as you exepect, from massive bombardments akin to the Somme to phalanx formations that even the Greeks would be envious of. It's a military fan's wet dream. Of course, both Dorn and Pertruabo are the main Primarchs to appear. There is a showdown, one that has been in the making across the series and does not dissapoint. Other great characters also play a role, including the templar Sigismund, the warmsith Forrix, the bezerker Kharn and Horus' right-hand-man, Abbadon. I have always been more a loyalist than a heretic when it comes to the Heresy but I have always enjoyed the series from the traitors' perspective and found Forrix's POV one of the strong points in the book. 

A recurring theme throughout is the question of faith. Faith in commanders, strategy and tactics. Faith in your brothers and sisters in arms. And faith in religion. The last has been a central plot thread throughout the Horus Heresy and here we witness the foundations of the Imperial Cult on Terra. We experience this through one of my favourite characters across the Warhammer lore, the Custodian, Amon, and see the return of one of the most influential characters from the earliest books in the series. The 'resolution' to this plot thread in this book has major implications for both characters and the lore with ties between the past setting, the Horus Heresy, and future setting, the Dark Imperium. Also, Malcador the Sigilite continues to steal the show every time he appears. 

One of the most appealing features of the Siege of Terra books is the scaling POVs. Not only do we experience the siege through the eyes of the godlike Primarchs and demi-godlike Astartes but also the common folk, the hive-rats like Katsuhiro and Zenobi. They don't just serve as eyewitnesses to key events but are well developed characters with interesting stories to tell on their own. As the main 'human' protagonist in the previous novel, The Lost and Damned, I was delighted to see Katsuhiro appear once more, albeit for a short period of time. Unfortunately, Zenobi's POV felt like the weakest part of the book. She is a fascinating character and I enjoyed her journey across Terra towards the palace. However, I felt it was dragged out a little too long, and I sensed her main moment coming about a third of the way through. Having read the author's afterword, I appreciate his approach to the concept of mental attrition in war through her arc. Unfortunately, it just didn't land as well for me as it might for others. 

There is a quote by Abbadon halfway through that has resonated with me. At one point he tells a nagging Layak, 'If it is my destiny then it will happen whether I accept it or not...You seem keen to persuade me I must make a choice whilst telling me that I have none.' I feel this best describes my experience of the Horus Heresy books. Like most Warhammaer fans, I know the consequences of Horus' great betrayal. We are well aware of the destination but the journey still continues to be a thrill ride.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next.  

4 / 5 

Last modified on Monday, 04 May 2020 01:35

Gary is a small town Irishman with a love for all things historical and fantastical. He works as an English and History teacher at post-primary where he endeavours to instil and nurture a love for reading and writing in students. Tea is his weakness. Reading is his passion. His one goal in life is to buy a castle when he retires.