Book Review: Nemesis by James Swallow

Nemesis by James Swallow
Nemesis by James Swallow

The only prior book to Nemesis that I’ve read by James Swallow was Flight of Eisenstein, in the Horus Heresy series, which I enjoyed. However, I tend to be terrible at remembering each book in a series in detail and exactly what I enjoyed about it, I just recall how I felt about a book. So, going into Nemesis I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the author. I’ve read some great stories from Black Library authors and I’ve read some terrible ones. Naturally I was hoping for the former in this book.

Here’s the exert on the Black Library site about the book:

After the horrors of Istvaan V, Horus declares outright war against the Imperium. In the shadows of the Emperor’s Palace, powerful figures convene.Their plan is to send a team of assassins to execute the arch-traitor Horus and end the war for the galaxy of mankind before it’s even begun. But what they cannot know is that another assassin is abroad already, with his sights firmly set on killing the Emperor.

That stage is quickly set from the onset of the book. The Officio Assasinorum gathers and assembles a team of assassins, one from each clade, to kill Horus. You learn an interesting secret, the leader of the Officio Assasinorum, which I won’t reveal. Being that I knew nothing of the assassin clades prior to reading this, I found the information regarding each clade interesting even if it did lack depth. You get to learn a bit about two clades that little is known about, the Vanus and the Venenum. Again though, there wasn’t much in the way of depth here, more like passing mentions.

The beginning of the book follows two paths. One following the assassins and another following a detective investigating some murders on his planet. About half-way through you’re thrown a twist regarding the detective but it just seems forced. It felt more like James Swallow wanted to throw a twist in instead of something more contrived. That aside, there is some good character development with some of the assassins. You find yourself able to relate, if not empathize, with them in their struggle. Most of the book is setting up the stage for the assassination of Horus, as well as the assassin of the traitors achieving its goal to destroy the Emperor. However, I felt the story following the traitor’s assassin was a bit weak. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the road of the Imperial assassins getting to the point of and attempted assassination of Horus. I don’t believe I’m spoiling anything by saying Horus lives here. When the assassination fails you feel as though you’re there, feeling what they’re feeling.

All in all it’s a good book and worth reading if you’ve been following the Horus Heresy series. I feel the book could have done without assassin duality and just stuck with the Imperial side. The traitor assassin story could have been left out of the book and I wouldn’t have noticed.

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