Friday, October 02, 2015

Booknote: Tales of Heresy

 Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley,eds., Tales of Heresy. Nottingham, UK: Black Library, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-84416-682-4.

Genre: Science fiction
Subgenre: military scifi, role playing game novels
Series: The Horus Heresy, Book 10.
Format: paperback
Source: I borrowed this one on Interlibrary Loan at my library (Hutchins Library). The loan came from Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library System in Alaska. For me, this may be the furthest out ILL I have borrowed so far. 

This is the tenth book in the Horus Heresy series. As I have noted previously, this series has its ups and downs, but it is one I have enjoyed overall. This particular volume is a collection of seven stories, and like other anthologies, quality can vary. The stories' themes focus mostly on heresy and those who cast their lot with Horus. If you are interested in the early days of the Horus Heresy events, this book may be for you.

Some highlights of the stories featured (there may be a light spoiler or two):

  • "Blood Games" is a story of the Custodes, the warriors that guard the Imperial Palace and the Emperor. One way they do this is by running drills to test their defenses, using some of their members to see how far they can infiltrate or not. It took me a bit to realize that was what was happening; Abnett does a good job of immersing the reader into the story and setting. If you like some suspense, a little cat-and-mouse play, this is a good tale for you. 
  • "Wolf at the Door" is a story of the Wolves of Fenris, the VI Legion, as they fight to bring a world into Imperial compliance. The end twist is that some of the locals, who initially supported the legion as it helped them get rid of rivals, do not wish to comply. The ending, though I could see it coming, was still moving. 
  • "Scions of the Storm" has a similar ending, but here we deal with the Word Bearers legion, at a moment when Lorgar, their primarch, is on the verge of a new vision for his legion. 
  • James Swallow gives us a tale of the Battle Sisters. This particular group of combat sisters are the Sisters of Silence; they have vows of silence, so I find interesting the idea that they use different types of sign language to communicate. In "The Voice," the sisters find a derelict vessel of their order filled with psykers, and they need to find out what happened.
  • Gav Thorpe's "Call of the Lion" is a tale of the Dark Angels. As legions of Astartes grow, they begin to draw members from other worlds besides Terra. In this tale, a Terran and a Calibanite confront each other over command and perhaps the future vision of the legion. 
  • Graham McNeill's "The Last Church" is not much of an action tale. However, it looks at an interesting detail. As the Emperor unifies Terra and spreads the rule of reason and logic, religion is torn down; churches are closed down and destroyed. In this story, the day comes for the last church on Terra to be closed down, but its last priest will not go down without a fight, a debate with the Emperor's envoy who calls himself Revelation. The story does present some good lines in their debate. For regular readers of Warhammer 40,000, well let's just say they will appreciate a touch of irony given how the future unfolds. 
  • The final story, "After Desh'ea" by Matthew Farrer was for me the slowest read in the set. As the Imperium expands into the stars, the Astartes legions go looking for their primarchs, some of whom have been lost. The War Hounds Legion have finally found their primarch, and he has a whole new plan for the legion. For me, this was the weakest story in the set, but I still read it. I did like the ending of it even if it seemed to drag a bit to get there. 
Overall, I really liked this volume. I think it ties nicely into the series, and it highlights well early events of the Horus Heresy times. As I said, some stories are better than others, but it is a good collection overall.

 4 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2015 Reading Challenges:

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