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The First Heretic

(The Horus Heresy #14)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  3,488 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Amidst the galaxy-wide war of the Great Crusade, the Emperor castigates the Word Bearers for their worship. Distraught at this judgement, Lorgar and his Legion seek another path while devastating world after world, venting their fury and fervour on the battlefield. Their search for a new purpose leads them to the edge of the material universe, where they meet ancient force ...more
Paperback, 502 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Black Library (first published October 26th 2010)
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Showing 1-30
4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,488 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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Keamy Loken
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Well all the other teenage girls where worshiping Twilight, I was on a Pilgrimage with the Word Bearers to find the true gods.

My first experience with Aaron Dembski-Bowden was Helsreach. By far not his best book and also...I've lately come to realize I really hate the Black Templers. So to say I was excited when I found out Aaron was the writer for this book would be a lie, I was mad. The story really interested me however and I bought the book.

I am sorry I judged Aaron D-B on Helsreach, The Fi
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
I’ve been reading the books in the official ‘suggested reading order,’ and it was very hard not to skip ahead and read this one because I wanted to know more about the machinations of Erebus, Kor Phaeron, and of course, Lorgar. It did not disappoint. (And was worth waiting for). I am truly addicted to this massive series; I remember reading all the ‘bits of fluff’ I could in the rulebooks and Codices when I was a teen. This series is the long-awaited culmination of those snippets.
Emil Söderman
Like Fulgrim, A Thousand Sons, and the short story Butcher's Nails in Tales of Heresy, this book largely follows one of the traitor primarchs and his fall into Chaos. This time Lorgar Aurelian the Word Bearer: Most devoted son of the Emperor, first convert to Chaos.

The result is... Mixed. What you realize after a couple of books is that The Emperor is a shitty dad. And just about all problems in the Heresy stems out of his inability to consider the emotional and psychological needs of his gaggle
Andrew Ziegler
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where to start with my review of this book? I guess, the first stop will be the author. I have not read anything by Aaron Dembski-Bowden yet, neither in the 40K universe or in any other alternate universe of fiction that he has written in. Wait, scratch that, rewind, yes, I belong to his blog, and remember very distincly his amazing blog about pitching an idea to Dan Abnett and the other 40K mucky-mucks. It was hilarious. That besides the point. Aaron is legit. This was out of the norm for me. N ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating explanation of how the seeds of Chaos were planted in the Word Bearer's legion and their Primarch Lorgar decades before the Horus Heresy began. Narrative begins at the humiliation and reprimanding of Lorgar at the hands of the Emperor for enforcing worship of the Emperor as God, and culminates in the drop site massacre of Isstvan 5.
Alexander Draganov
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating novel, which trascends the genre with metaphysical discussion about the role of religion in a supposedly enlightened society and the perception of Heaven and Hell in the mind of the believer, all of this interwoven into an enthralling and epic space opera with gargantuan battles and level of gore, which is not for the squeamish. Detailed review in Bulgarian here:
Student Teacher
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was really looking forward to this book, as the Word Bearers were one of the original legions that I know very little about. My only previous experiance was with The Battle For the Abyss, and that wasn't really a Word Bearer book.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It was different from many of the other Horus books in that we have a main character that isn't a stand out against the fall of his legion like Garro from the Death Guard, or even someone who is convinced he is doing what is good for
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
OK, this is THE book that makes EVERYTHING, the whole heresy deal and Chaos, make sense! It's the one that tells you everything you need to go on with pretty much any heresy book now. You thought you had "The Aether" all figured out in "Thousand Sons" eh? Whateva! This takes the Empyrean to a whole new level on a different scale! I LOVED all the deamons in this one!(even if it might have been "too gory" for your weak, lesser mortal minds.) Creep me out all you want I LOVE THIS!!!
I'm glad it didn
May 20, 2011 rated it liked it
An incredibly compelling look into why it could be argued humanity NEEDS religion and is hardwired for belief in the spiritual. It's a tragic and heart breaking drama that asks the questions: What do you do when you find out that God is really the devil? And do you preach and hope for heaven even if you know your place is in hell?
Adam O'Grady
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is solid science fiction, worthwhile even if you've never been into Warhammer 40k before. It's the story of Lorgar and his failure to live up to the warlike expectations set by his father and brothers. Instead he dreams of being a philosopher and priest and after being castigated for his work tries to find new divine inspiration, potentially leading to the damnation of humankind across the galaxy.

It's mostly told through the perspective of other warriors and people variously under Lorgar bu
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
ADB is a good boy.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The First Heretic is the 14th book in the series, and is written by Aaron Dembski-Bowden ('easily the coolest name' according to a clip from the DLT podcasts). He's written a few other books for Black Library, but I don't believe I've read any of them yet.

The novel covers Lorgar and his legion, the Word Bearers. There are three phases to the book, which are actually divided to help the reader out:
Grey, the Word Bearers fall from grace, and their punishment by the Emperor.
Pilgrimage, their voyage
Fabián Vaca
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excelente libro, muy recomendado para los que nos gusta Wh40k y la ciencia ficción en general.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Almost 50 years before the Dropsite Massacre, the XIII legion (Ultramarines) forcibly evacuated the city of Monarchia, capital of Khur. The XVII Legion (Word Bearers) respond to Monarchia's distress call, and are ordered to descend to the planet's surface. There, the Emperor of Mankind orders Lorgar and his children to kneel. Lorgar is guilty of the heinous crime of worshipping the Emperor as a god, which is contrary to the Imperial Truth. As the Word Bearers prepare to leave Khur forever, Argel ...more
Derek Weese
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was simply excellent. I could leave it at that, but I won't.
The book follows the evolution of the Word Bearers Legion from Loyalist to Heretic Legion.

At first I wasn't sure about this book. Both 'Horus Rising' and 'Fulgrim' were spectacular and honestly all the other Heresy books I had read were really good (though my head is still spinning from 'Legion') so why hesitate. Well the reason is Ben Counter's excellent 'Battle for the Abyss'. It's his fault really. See I am relatively new
Sean McGovern
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are two characters in this entry into the Horus Heresy series that can be labeled tragic. First is the primarch (general/son of the Emperor of Mankind [EOM]) Lorgar (Space Jesus...and later Space Judas), who, after 200 years (just go with it) has just now been chastised for promoting the religious worship of the EOM (who espouses an atheistic world/galaxy/universal view). This chastisement takes the form of the EOM sending an army and destroying one of Lorgar's best examples of ability and ...more
Dylan Murphy
By the gods what an amazing novel. Truly at my number 1 spot in the Horus Heresy alongside "Fulgrim".
The First Heretic depicts the fall of the Words Bearers Legion, from 47 years before Istvaan V, to shortly before the battle of Calth. And what an eventful 47 years it was!
The novel opens up with the Word Bearers greatest failure, and it was expertly written. I felt Lorgar's anxiety, his fear and doubt, and his anger so truly, it was as if they were my own! That has only happened to me with a sma
Gabriel Baciu
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pfff... I don't even... This must be the second or third book on the "best heresy books" list, for me. But here's the thing... I feel guilty cause it should be the first! Beautifully written and gives us an exceptional insight in the Word Bearers universe.
I've only seen them as single minded maniacs hell bent on doing whatever the Gods of Chaos asked, but, boy, was I wrong. This book shows us the human and humane side of Lorgal's warriors and in completion to "The Thousand Sons" and the third s
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Describes how the Word Bearers' Legion starts the Heresy. It does some good development of the effect the Emperor's decisions have on the Word Bearers, in particular those exposed to chaos (the first 2/3 of the book). Unfortunately, it skimps around how they influence the other legions, and in particular how Erebus influences Lorgar, in favour of doing another rehash of the Battle of Istaavan V, from yet another perspective.
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: warhammer-40k
I am giving the story and author five stars the editor though only gets 3 stars. Several errors existed that with a little editing would have been caught. Not as bad though as some of the Wizards of the Coast books from the 90s. I loved the Clan War novels but they were rife with mistakes ie spelling etc.
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-2010, sci-fi
This is a VERY good book. A story of a godlike Emperor's short-sightedness, of his warrior-son who didn't want to be a warrior, of a need for faith, and of tragedy. The betrayal of son against father, and brother against brother.

This is the beginning of the Heresy. This is the beginning of the grim darkness of the far future.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good
this was my first venture into the Black Library Books, and i Would easily recommend this book to anyone who is unsure about reading the Horus Heresy books. Yes its an odd place to start, book 14, but its very easy to get into, and when you get into it it doesnt let you go. Best book I've read in years
Chris Pramas
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This ranks up there with the best of the Horus Heresy novels. If you are looking for action, action, action, this is not the book for you. For a 40K novel, this is downright philosophical, as the Primarch of the Word Bearers searches for truth in a galaxy where lies are a lot more comforting.
Benjamin Guest
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book in the Horus Heresy series. Aaron Dembski-Bowden does an awesome job immersing you in the story. On average it takes me at least a month or so to finish a book. I finished this one in a week.
Miriam Lupercal
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. This author's writting is one of the best from this series, and this story is incredible. The gifts from the disformity are somwhow hypnotic.
Graham Bailey
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horus-heresy, 40k
The Horus Heresy meets Quentin Tarantino!
One of the most revealing books of the Heresy so far, more from he-who's-name-is-hard-to-spell please!
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The traitor primarchs and their "falls" really interest me. That said, I knew nothing about Lorgar or the Word Bearers, so I didn't pick up this book thinking "so excited, this will be great".

It was great!

What I thought I knew about the Horus Heresy - I really didn't. I'm not reading the books in order, so perhaps it would have been less of a revelation if I was.

The characters are well drawn and we like them and empathise. We don't see as much directly from Lorgar's point of view, but there's
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: warhammer
I enjoyed it.
To be honest, I wanted to read this book after being inspired by the famous "The Grand Inquisitor" from Dostoyevski's "The Brothers Karamazov" novel.
While the events on the book do not go as I exected (I imagined a reasoning very similar to that of the aforementioned book. I expected a Lorgar telling the reader why the Emperor is not worth being humanity's deity and why the last one doesn't need Him in the same fashion Dostoyevski shows the Inquisitor with God. I can still mantain i
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: warhammer-40-000
Finally, some insight into how the Horus Heresy came about and what role the Word Bearers Legion had in the whole ordeal. I found the insight in the Word Bearers’ Primarch, Lorgar, quite intriguing. I felt that he was being portrayed as a tragic figure ( similar to how I have felt Angron being shown as)- one of the Emperor’s mighty sons but unlike his brothers he had numerous failings. Not respected by his brother-Primarchs, seemingly indecisive in his thoughts and beliefs and lacking in martial ...more
Miles Drake
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My legitimate favorite book in the series.
The 'human' approach to the fall of the Word Bearers couldn't be in better hands, as nobody does introspection onto the nature of darkness better than the ADB (blessed be his name). Argel Tal made for an excellent protagonist, and Lorgar provided an excellent contrast to Tal's narrative.
As is customary for me, my favorite character was actually the lowly human Cyrene, whose whole arc was thoroughly intriguing. Her utter willingness to follow, and in ma
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The Horus Heresy (1 - 10 of 80 books)
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  • Battle for the Abyss
  • Mechanicum
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“Everything is darkest," Xaphen mused, "before the dawn."

"That, my brother, is an axiom that sounds immensely profound until you realize it's a lie.”
“Xaphen swore an oath never to fail his primarch.

Argal Tal did not. He spoke in a voice soft enough to break hearts, "We are heretics, father.”
More quotes…