[Book Review] Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia – Guy Haley

Title: Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia
Author: Guy Haley
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 24th June 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardback
Source: Private Collection
Series: Horus Heresy: Primarchs

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Born to a life of political conflict, Perturabo was always considered a child prodigy among the people of Olympia – indeed, his philosophical and scientific works were beyond compare. But then, after his rediscovery by the Emperor and decades of thankless military campaigning on the Great Crusade, the primarch begins to resent his Legion’s place in the Imperium. When word reaches him of turmoil on his adoptive home world, he orders the Iron Warriors to abandon their campaign against the alien hrud and crush this emerging rebellion by any means necessary…


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve now got some sort of rough plan/order for my reading and Black Library rolled around. So I figured I’d continue with my non-sensical order of Primarch books; purely because some new ones are landing really soon!

Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia tells the tragic tale of Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors. Going from his origins on his home world to the eventual fate of the planet; all crisscrossed with the, present day, campaign against the Xenos entity known as the hrud.

After reading Angel Exterminatus, I felt compelled to learn more about Perturabo. Not because I particularly liked him in the main Horus Heresy series, but because I was intrigued to learn how he got to be the man he is. Bitter. Angry. Those sorts of emotions don’t come from no where. I am pleased to report that Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia fills in all the gaps nicely. Right from the get-go, Perturabo is used to show off his proress against other, rivalling clans of Olympia by his adoptive Father, leaving Perturabo bitter and feeling unloved, used as a tool for aggression and war, where he’d rather create. While I didn’t come out of reading this book with any more affirmative emotions towards Perturabo, but it certainly made me feel more sympathetic towards him. Especially due to the massive turn of events towards the end.

For those that don’t know their Warhammer 40k Lore, something happens to Perturabo’s homeworld that makes him feel diminished in the eyes of the other Primarchs; an imagined slight I’d wager. This book goes into exacting detail as to those events and how Perturabo deals with them – it helps to fill in the gaps that were missing in Angel Exterminatus and I applaud Guy Haley for having to take on such a difficult task as this – treating Perturabo with a human touch that will endear his plight to the reader, no easy feat when you’re working with a characters such as this.

Alongside the backstory of Perturabo and his time on Olympia – and the fate of the Primarch’s homeworld – there is a Pre-Heresy campaign to conquer several backwater planets overrun with the time-bending Xenos the hrud. These scenes give an action-based campaign in which to explore the tactical methods of the Iron Warriors and how they work together, or not as the case may be. I did find some of these scenes a little on the confusing side as in the initial set-up scene a lot of names were thrown around that seemed to serve little purpose; many of the characters were met with typical Warhammer 30k fates and never mentioned again for one reason or another. These characters, mostly because of the length of the novel, seemed to be vastly under-developed and other than established side characters such as Dantioch, Forrix and Golg, they were instantly forgettable. More meat for the grinder.

The two narrative elements of the story work well together. Interposing back story between scenes of modern-day warfare breaks the genres between warfare and character drama. Keeping the book flowing forwards where otherwise it would become a dull drudge of either topic.

What I relished about this book was how tragically sad it all really is. His entire youth, Perturabo is looking for a father figure that would love him, not use him. Dammekos, his adoptive father, professed a deep love and pride in his son and wanted to show off his talents to his rivals – which Pertuabo viewed as being used. Only for Perturabo to climb a new cliff to his real father, the Emperor of Mankind who… well… we all know where that ended!

While I enjoyed the meat and bones of the story. The backstory with Perturabo and the conflict centring around the hrud, a large part of the story is instantly forgotten when the rebellion on Olympia is announced. The threat of the Xenos is ignored and dropped the moment that Perturabo sets his sights on his homeworld and never mentioned again. Even if the Hrud are expanded upon in other Warhammer 30/40k novels, it would have pushed this novel up to 5 stars to have this aspect of the story face some sense of resolution.

Going into this book, I was dreading a couple of aspects. Firstly, that I am none-to-fond of the titular characters. As stated, this book has made me understand and see him in a more sympathetic light. Secondly, the author. Most of Guy Haley’s books I’ve read I have been rather unimpressed with. I find as an author he tends to over-bloat his writing with needless descriptors that throw off the pacing in lieu of word-count. Initially, I had the same issue with Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia. Several of the early passages didn’t flow well or felt bloated, but as the book progressed , the narrative took over and the characters came into their own, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. There’s a few instances where a characters name altered slightly, and I am still of the firm opinion that Black Library need to hire a team of proof-readers before their books are published, but I can hardly put that blame entirely on the author!

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to understand the Iron Warriors Primarch at a more fundamental level, especially those that see him as just a petulant man-child; as this certainly offers some insight into how he turned out the way he did.


A solid entry in the Horus Heresy Primarch series that blends the backstory of the titular character with pre-heresy warfare. Good action scenes are interwoven with a character-driven narrative. Well worth reading if you’re looking to learn more about the Primarchs and their origins; as this book has a heavy focus on Perturabo’s home-planet.

4 responses to “[Book Review] Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia – Guy Haley”

  1. I’ve got this up in my box of Warhammer books up in the loft, so have only briefly skimmed your post as I didn’t want many spoilers, but it’s good to hear this one is worth reading! I think I heard some bad press about a lot of the earlier primarch books, so have been avoiding them, truth be told!


    • This is one of the good ones in the series.
      I’ve read a few that we’re pretty poor though – Guilliman’s I remember being particularly bad and I think that was the first one that was published.
      Some of them are amazing though, Angron, Lorgar & Alpharius’ were really good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I need to get myself the Alpharius one! I have Lorgar’s book too, and had heard good things, though said good things came from a Word Bearers player, so I wasn’t sure what to make of that 🤣


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