Published: 25 September 2012
Publisher: Black Library
Series: Horus Heresy #22
Format Read: Audible
From the battlefields of Phall and Isstvan, to the haunted shadows of Terra itself – the greatest war in the history of mankind rages on. While the traitor Legions continue their campaign of terror across the galaxy, preparations are made for the defence of the Imperial Palace and the final, inevitable reckoning that must yet come between Horus and the Emperor…
This anthology spans the entire Horus Heresy, with short stories from Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill and Gav Thorpe, as well as two brand new novella-length tales. Learn the fate of Rogal Dorn’s fleet originally sent to Isstvan III in ‘The Crimson Fist’ by John French, and descend deeper into the darkness of the Night Lords Legion in ‘Prince of Crows’ by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.
The Crimson Fist – John French
The Dark King – Graham McNeill
The Lightning Tower – Dan Abnett
The Kaban Project – Graham McNeill
Raven’s Flight – Gav Thorpe
Death of a Silversmith – Graham McNeill
Prince of Crows – Aaron Dembski-Bowden
We are slowly crawling our way to the 30 book mark on the 50+ book series that is the Horus Heresy. Jenn and I seem to have been so eager to get on with the Heresy that we flew through this compilation. Helps that I had a shit tonne of work to do and had the benefit of having this read to me on Audible. I can honestly say the narrators all did an amazing job with the collection. I included the whole Good Reads blurp in order to not have to say too much about what this book was about. I did manage to scribble down a few lines for some stories here and there, this review will probably be really short so lets jump in.
Crimson Fist- John French:
I think this story was a continuation of events that happened post Isstvan III and also referenced a tiny bit of events near the end of Flight of Eisenstein. It mainly dealt with Sigismund having decided to take the message to Terra as well as dealing with the brunt of stick up the arse Dorn, his primarch, not being all to happy that he “disobeyed direct orders”. On the one hand I get it but I also think Dorn should at least have been grateful for some reinforcements that came with Sigismund’s message. He did bring the story of Horus having turned traitor directly to the guy that was supposed to be handling the fortification of Terra, now that the Emperor has gone silent and does cloak and dagger things. This story was also the longest in the collection and had quite a few good action scenes where the Iron Warriors were making sport on the rest of the Imperial Fists fleet still dealing with the aftermath of Isstvan. One thing that pissed me of a wee bit is that we get glimpses of Perturabo, primarch of the Iron Warriors, already being swayed to Horus’ cause, while we have not read nearly enough about him to begin with. This was a great story to kick this book of with tho.
The Dark King – Graham McNeill:
This story again features Dorn, thorn up the arse (i only do this little bit to amuse myself…), who reprimands Konrad Curze, primarch of the Night Lords, who was exacting heavy punishment on the people that opposed the pasification on the planet they were bringing the Imperial Truth too. My favorite part of this story was where Dorn says something along the lines of “you are not fit for this kind of thing” and Curze just says “Yeah, I think you are correct”. It then fast forwards a little bit to where Curze is in some sort of prison? And ends up breaking out and killing some Emperor’s Children in his wake, in a time where brother killing brother is still not even part of the Space Marine thought process, this story I think happens pre Heresy and then also gives us a look at how Curze and his Night Lords obliterate the planet Curze grew up on. They guy is a total nutter and I think I am becoming a little fanboy of his. I have said it in my Konrad Curze review, think Batman, but slightly of kilter and with a penchant for not pulling punches but reveling in bloodshed, for the sake of proving a point, in Space…
The Lightning Tower – Dan Abnett:
Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion, faces a stark reality – he must tear down the magnificence of the Emperor¹s Palace, a shining beacon in a galaxy of darkness, and turn it into a fortress. With the army of Horus drawing ever closer Dorn must face a difficult question, ‘What are you afraid of?’. This was quite a different take on Dorn, stick somewhat pulled out of the arse (I promise I’ll stop soon). It also give a little spoiler as to what is (I hope) to come, regarding that Curze who went crazy did some propper damage on Dorn (kicking his arse). Apart from that I can not remember too much else, it was also real short.
The Kaban Project – Graham McNeill:
This short was a nod all the way back to Mechanicum and I can not be too sure about what implications it has or had on the Heresy so far. Apart from introducing the armour associated with Horus that has the all seeing eye motive to it. It also dealt with the Mechanicum adepts doing cloak and dagger things regarding forbidden tech, tech forbidden by the Emperor Himself as one of the conditions for working hand in hand with the Mechanicum and not wiping them out when they were discovered. It revolves about A.I. Was a good read, but I felt it the weakest, while it was pretty strong, in this collection.
Raven’s Flight – Gav Thorpe:
After the horrors of the Dropsite Massacre, the Raven Guard are trying to survive in the caves and mountains of Isstvan V. Their plight is desperate, and escape from the roaming Traitor legions seems impossible. Meanwhile colonel Valerius of the Imperial Army begins suffering terrible dreams, believing the Raven Guard to be in trouble. I keep thinking I am confused as to what exactly was the difference between the Dropsite Massacre, Isstvan III and Isstvan V. To me it is all the same thing, but this is ultimately where Horus openly siad “Fuck you Father I am coming to kill you” and ended up bombing the shit out of not only three of the Loyalist Legions, but also those loyal to the Imperium within his on ranks, that of The World Eaters, Death Gaurd, Iron Hands, Salamanders, Raven Gaurd and Emperor’s Children? This story sees Corvus Corax, primarch to the the Raven Gaurd take center stage and I loved every moment of it. He fight with his sons and he kicks ass doing so even though he knows he might die any second while opposing the masses on masses of Horus’ lackeys who are coming in to finish the job the bombs did not take care of. I think this story also ties into a previous short story we got in an earlier anthology just before or after Deliverance Lost, where a human was the cause of saving Corax from being killed because of the constant nightmares he had.
Death of a Silversmith – Graham McNeil:
“I can’t say”- this was a little nod to the first three novels in the series regarding a remembrancer who was also a gifted siversmith. He describes as far as I could make out how he was killed. Basically giving a word of mouth account of his journey this far and how he came to be on the ship and ascribed to the Luna Wolves (who later become Sons of Horus). Nice little touch was that this is the person that made the rings for the Mournival. I do not really know what this story implies or if it will have any impact on later novels. I am still at loss as to who broke his windpipe and left him to die. I have an Idea that it might have been Erebus of the Word Bearers or Abbadon, but it could as easily have been Horus himsel too…
Prince of Crows – Aarin Dembski Bowden:
The Thramas Crusade draws to its inevitable conclusion, with the forces of the Dark Angels and the Night Lords locked in a struggle which neither side can abandon. The Night Haunter lies comatose after being mauled by his primarch brother Lion El’Jonson, and in his absence it falls to Sevatar and the remaining members of the Kyroptera to command the Legion. But the self-styled ‘Prince of Crows’ has his own plans to save the Night Lords from annihilation – plans he intends to follow, with or without his comrades in tow. (stole this blurp from GR as I have no better way of summing this short up)
Sevatar was quite an interesting character to follow in this novel. He is seemingly as crazy as his Primarch Curze and also, according to how I read this, has a hidden talent that is very close to that of his gene father. We see a sort of battle way into what will probably be happening in a future book, or different series, but the book ends with Sevatar being back on Nostromo, his home planet and talking to crows… My notes only state that this was quite an action packed fever dream that was yet to happen in the form of question. One of my favorite shorts in this collection, but again, might be because I am a softy for crazy space marine antics.
All in all I found this a good compilation. I gave it a 4 out of 5 on GR and I can see why so many people have gone and given it full marks over there, with glowing reviews, it certainly deserves it. One thing, as I have stated earlier, is that I am getting a bit pissed off about these short story collections spoiling things to come still or were written as an after thought or forgotten to be added the main story it bares reference too. It was a minor hinderance though as I know more or less what happens to most key players within the setting, its just that there was hardly two full novels between this compilation and the one before this one. Did BL not have a book available at the time or did they just decide to lob a few random shorts together as filler till the next novel came out? Who knows… I did have fun with this book. I am looking forward to starting on the next one. which will probably be over this weekend, but it is going to take a bit of time as work is still quite busy.
Hope you all have a great day.