Published: 31 March 2009
Publisher: Black Library
Series: Horus Heresy Book 10
Format Read: Physical
When Horus the Warmaster rebelled against the Emperor, the ensuing civil war nearly destroyed the Imperium. War raged across galaxy, pitting Astartes against their battle-brothers in a struggle where death was the only victor.
Black Library love their short story collections. I have gone through quite a few on my eight year reading span and have quite a few more on my TBR to get through. Where normally you would have the short stories mixed and spanning through 40K, Age of Sigmar or Old World, Tales of Heresy gives you exactly what the title suggests; stories exclusively set within the Horus Heresy era of 40K. This makes a lot of sense as this is the official tenth book in the HH series. I am glad that we and by we I mean me and Jenn @Eternal Bookcase are so far in our buddy read through this series. Book ten means we still have over 50 books to still get too, but it has been fun to have a friend to read along and I hope it will continue to be fun in the next books. As this was a short story collection and I read it in physical form, I managed to scribble some notes along the way. I tried to give a synopsis of the story, but I think somewhere along the way I forgot what I was doing and ended up just stating if I liked the short or not. Please bare with me as I try to remember each story as I go along with this review…
Blood Games – Dan Abnett
From the beginning Dan had me in his grasp with this short. I thought right up until the reveal that this dealt with John Grammaticus, who we met up with in the Legion novel, only to be given a good glimpse of what the Custodes do back on Terra to keep fit. Blood Games takes us on a journey of a certain individual who attempts to infiltrate the Emperor’s Palace. It read like an espionage story and it was exactly what it came too in the end. The Custodes have to weed out who is loyal to the Emperor and who needs to be branded traitor. I found it interesting to see a bit from their point of view as they nearly always come of as pompous asses, but know I know why, their jobs are really important and they take it very seriously. Where I always thought they were a bunch of pretty boys in golden armor, I got to see the hand they have to hold on the fragile politics as it is in favor of old Empsy Smempsy. This was a surprisingly easy story to follow, it ended with Dorn interfering in the investigation of a possible heretic in communicating with Horus, only to be revealed that it was a front to gather information that Dorn himself had a hand in. He very nearly had to stop a fight between the Custodes and his own Space Marines Chapter, The Imperial fists. Dan opened this collection on a very strong foot and I was exited to get into the next story.
Wolf at the Door – Mike Lee
This short followed a company of Space Wolves dealing with the task of bringing a world into compliance. It felt that the particular company was not yet aware that the Heresy had happened yet and gave me the feeling that it was taking place during the events of Fight for the Abyss novel. Where I had a sour taste in my mouth with a certain Space Wolf in that novel, this short gave me hope that I might actually grow to like the Chapter again. This story also felt like it was a set up for another novel coming later in the HH series and I am interested to see if the characters in this one will feature there. Wolf at the Door also featured the Wolves pitted against Dark Eldar raiders. The leader of the Space Wolves company really badly just wanted to protect the citizens of the world they were on in the hope of them becoming part of the Imperium. Sadly people can be idiots some times as well as ungrateful, thus things do not work out so well for those that were just saved by the Wolves… Lots of action to be had in this short, I had fun going through it.
Scion of the Storm– Anthony Reynolds
This was another short where a world was being brought into compliance. This time around it was the Word Bearers Chapter. I have to admit that I do not lean well in the WB side of things, but I actually really liked this story. It felt like it was set really early in HH era before the Word Bearers turned traitor. There was a decent amount of action to be had. I liked seeing this part of the Word Bearers, but as soon as I read the name Erebus, I knew that the story was going to to take on a different turn, as Erebus is the one that basically turned Horus traitor. Lorgar, their primarch also made an appearance, but it was only to add some form of weight behind Erebus’ command. I was surprised I liked this short as I have quite garnered a distaste towards the Chapter after the Fight for the Abyss. This short showed me that I should not be like that because of a few bad apples…
The Voice-James Swallow
This was a Sisters of Silence short that threw references back towards The Flight of Eisenstein, which I had mixed feelings about but ended up giving a better rating as I was writing my review up at the time. A pretty cool insight into the inner workings of the Sisters. There is more suspense set up in this one that the run and gun, Nuns with Guns, normally has. I think it works great as this Chapter fight more psychic battles than any other Chapter I know of in general. A team of S.O.S have to investigate a Black Ship that disappeared into the Warp and resurfaced recently, only to find that all the psykers it was supposed to keep locked up have escaped. One thing I have learned is that untrained psykers and the Warp do not mix well, its like taking me to a chocolate shop and saying I can have everything I want for the next 24 hours… Dave will go apeshit as much as a psyker in the Warp will when being contacted by beings offering unlimited power for a small price as your soul… This short intrigued me quite a bit as I have often wondered if it was possible to corrupt a Sister in the same way that Chaos can almost instantly take over a normal human. For these Pariahs and psychic blanks it be a lot harder right?
Call of the Lion-Gav Thorpe
When one reads the word Lion in a 40K novel one tends to be 100% sure that the Dark Angels will be involved. After the first D.A novel in the HH series they have lost a little bit of their charm for me personally. This short was great but it speaks volumes about the infighting that most Chapters go through as they link up with their lost Primarchs and how narrow minded supposed Super Intelligent Manufactured Space Marines can be because they know the Primarch on first name basis. Call of the Lion was one such story where a company was sent on a mission and as soon as rank gets pulled, certain individuals will still rally against it because they think knowing some one on first name basis is waaaay better than no name basis. I am all for measuring dicks and pissing contests in my WH, but as I still have a lot of things to learn about the Dark Angels, it does not mean I want to read about it every time where they are involved though.
Last Church-Graham McNeill
Last Church is sited on many of the GR reviews as The story within the collection and I am sure I will be returning to it a few times more as I feel I did not quite follow what Graham was getting at. What I do know is that The Emperor set out to conquer the galaxy with his Space Marines and in order to do so he decreed that people denounce their religion and take on The Imperial Creed, as apparently stamping out religion will cause people to not make war so much. Last Church is a story of a priest that resides in one of the last churches on Terra, the planet where the Emperor plans to rule the galaxy from. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander they say and as such all churches have been systematically been wiped out to make way for the Creed. Said priest finds himself visited not by his congregation he is awaiting, but one individual that only refers to himself as Revelation. There is some theology mixed in here as well as some history I am not totally familiar with, but what it comes down too is that a priest, who wasn’t always a priest, came to the church to preach the truth he saw first hand at a battle many years ago. Said miracle seems to have been a misunderstanding between him and the Emperor and the priest realizes that he has wasted years on believing in the wrong thing. This was not a bad story, I just felt a little lost by the end.
After Desh’ea-Matthew Farrer
I know why they decided to put Angron on the title cover of this collection now… Having Read the Primarchs novel Angron as well as the stand alone Khárn I had some good insight as too who these two were going into the story. What I did not expect was for Khárn to get the snot kicked out of him. All Angron was looking for was a fight, but the fact that he was the Primarch of the War Hounds, now the World Eaters Legion and given command of them had not quite stuck in yet. Angron still believes he is a prisoner, very much in the same way he was on the planet he grew up in. When he was saved, or rather taken from the gladiator pits that he just won over just at the end of Angron, the Emperor gave him a short introduction to his legion after coming to his homeworld and fucked off, leaving the Legion to deal with their unstable Primarch themselves. It is safe to say that a lot of individuals died in the trying to communicate their allegiance to him. Khár is the last person who volunteers to talk some sense into Agron, but ends up getting a beating of epic proportions, how he managed to survive and exactly how it is that what he says to Angron gets Angron to do a double take still astounds me. At least Khárn lives to fight another day as Angron picks him up and walks with him to go and meet his Legion. I am really glad that Tales of Heresy ended on such a high note for me. I am exited to see what the World Eaters will be getting up to next in future novels. I know their Legion has a sad outcome, but I do not mind, the violence and action that goes where they are involved always resonates well with me as it is a lot less politics driven and more fight now, forget to ask questions later. It also makes me glad I went with this Chapter in my idea to make Savatarius the Word Eater derive from them. One day perhaps when I do start collecting miniatures, I might Word Eaters my own little Legion…
Tales of Heresy was a positive success read for me. Having read Jenn’s review that went up a long time ago I was glad that she also enjoyed it as much as I did. I am also glad that the first banner to our buddy read is the one we will use for a good read:
It is not often where I give a short story collection high ratings, but Tales of Heresy was a sure joy to read. I did have a bit of difficulty in starting one or two but that was because I was too tired coming back from work in the evenings. Once I did start though, I flew through these shorts. It has just taken me a bit longer to get the review all typed out as Milou and I were away for a week. T.O.H got a 5 out of 5 on GR and it is definitely recommend if you are doing a read of the whole series. Some shorts gave beter explanations of certain novels that certain full length novels could not give me. Others were a nice nod to previous novels before as well as give a good glimpse of what might still come in later novels. I want to thank Jenn once again for doing this read with me.
See you on the next one!