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on 25 September 2012
I will review and grade each story in order but I believe as a whole the book is 3 stars but leave open to question whether it should be deducted 1 star for repeating already released material without no prior warning to a customer. Although it is my personal preference to have the text version of what were previously audio book versions it is nonetheless shady marketing practice by Black Library to include 3 of them here. The other over-arching criticism is that the Horus Heresy series (exacerbated by this book) keeps jumping about in the chronology of the Heresy itself. The stories here are all pre-Heresy or set at the outset of the declaration of the Heresy and it would have made more sense to have released this anthology much earlier.

The first story, 'Crimson Fist' is my second favourite in this anthology. It starts with a memorable back story for the main Imperial Fists character and then leads into a Retribution Fleet being sent by Dorn that is trapped in the Phall System. It is a flaw though that the story does slow in pace whilst the reader waits for the inevitable trap to be fully sprung. Although readers of 'Fear To Tread' will be familiar with a beleaguered Space Marine force beset by warp storms and ill-equipped to deal with psyker threats in this pre-Chaos awareness phase, the story is nonetheless well told and involves an engaging mass-scale space combat. There also cut-backs to Terra where we see Sigismund and Dorn and a good surprise that shows the events that are the genesis of the Black Templars. However I did feel that these cut-backs, interlinking as they do with the events in 'The Lightning Tower,' slightly took the edge off the novelty of their telling in the latter story. I rate this as 4 stars.

The 'Dark King' is an important story in that it tells of a pre-Heresy conflict between Dorn and Curze. It is important in so far as it is further setting the scene for Imperial tensions and lines of potential fracture. We have become aware through the series that the Space Wolves were created to combat other Legions and that they have in fact engaged in combat against other Space Marines prior even to the attack on Prospero. In addition, 2 Legions have already been obliterated and their Primarchs have suffered an unknown fate. Dorn tells Curze `Your way is not the way of the Imperium' - Curze whispers in reply `I think you might be right.' Although important, I felt the Primarchs lacked depth and the conflict was too overt and over-stated. I rate this as 3 stars.

`The Lightning Tower' covers the work undertaken by Dorn and Singh to fortify Terra. It covers Dorn's anxieties about the threat of the Heresy itself (what drives his siblings to rebel) and also the aesthetic impact of the fortification itself. The defacement of the artistry of the Imperial Palace into a fortress is a metaphor for the diminution of the art and hope of the Great Crusade into what will become the militaristic and repressive social structures of the 40K Imperium . Although a very short story at 18 pages I rate this as 5 stars as Abnett covers thought provoking ground as well as providing greater detail to the Imperial Palace, Dorn and Malcador.

The `Kaban Project' is pre-Heresy and is the prequel to `Mechanicum.' I believe `Mechanicum' to be one of the best Horus Heresy stories and I also enjoyed the Kaban machine in that work. I was therefore really looking forward to reading its back story. I was, unfortunately, disappointed. As a prequel it is actually quite poor if read in conjunction with `Mechanicus.' For example it introduces a character that is much better detailed in the main work and appears here half-described, robbing the originality of the character in the main work and also creating major repetition. I also felt that this story did not even live up to the promise of being the Kaban machine's creation story as it is half-created already and we are not given details of the source of the forbidden knowledge that led to its creation. I rate this as 2 stars.

`Raven's Flight' tells the attempt to galvanise a rescue bid to save the remnants of the Raven Guard from Isstvan V. Having to avoid spoilers it sufficient to say Corax is well described even amongst the savage fighting scenes and it is one of the few times we see a Primarch fighting Space Marines. The unique character of the Raven Guard comes across well and this story fulfills an important link in explaining how some of the loyalist Legions survive Isstvan V. This is almost made the 4 stars grade but I ultimately rate this as 3 stars.

`Death of a Silversmith' is pre-Heresy and is a good human interest story but arguably adds almost nothing to the Horus Heresy arc. It feels like a filler story and I rate is a 2 stars.

`Prince of Crows' is a Night Lords story with some Curze back story. The Curze part is well told but I still think Curze seems one of the less convincing Primarchs and it is odd that the Emperor does not take a greater hand in steering him away from his `fear of authority' mantra which has already led to clearly negative side effects by the time of their first meeting. Sevatar's dry humour seems to be popular with other readers but I think it is his role as the acceptable anti-hero that is more problematic. Riding on the exterior of a fighter during space combat held on by his mag-locked boots during very high G manoeuvres feels comic book ridiculous to me and I am concerned he could become a wise-cracking super-Space Marine unless more sensitively handled in the rest of the Horus Heresy series. This is of course just a question of taste as the story itself is certainly well told. I rate this as 3 stars.
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on 14 November 2012
I would rather wait longer between Horus Heresy novels than have these filler collections released. I understand it must be difficult for Black Library/GW to turn down guaranteed profit, but they really need to do better than this.

For me, the short story is not a format that works well within the context of the Horus Heresy. The best books of the series (e.g. Fulgrim) are those that have time to really explore and develop a character. Generally I think the light touch required by a short story is pointless.

On the positive side, there are compelling descriptions of Corax and Conrad Curze/Night Haunter. I haven't come across these primarchs described in any detail before, so they were interesting. The Mechanicum story is also reasonable, although the concept of the Kaban Machine is a bit too far-fetched even for the 40K universe.

The other stories I would rate as pretty poor. The 'Death of a Silversmith' one is basically unreadable, I gave up on it after too many pages of rambling.

Overall I will continue to get the Horus Heresy novels, I am hooked now. But I don't expect anything brilliant from them any more, which is a shame. Maybe the next full-length instalment will get things back on track.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 29 September 2012
Unlike previous reviewers, I found that this book was a good collection of seven short stories and I have therefore rated it four stars. I find that it is rather harsh, and somewhat unfair, to downgrade a book just because it contains stories that have already been released in other formats, whether audiobooks or any other format for that matter. This is also somewhat misleading for potential readers to some extent because it does not mean that the stories are not good, even in cases when they might have been released for the first time several years ago. Having stating this, it is also true that Black Library could have mentioned at the very least the titles of the stories included in the volume and did not do so.

A second area of disagreement with some previous reviewers may be partly about personal opinions but also in part about consistency. A number of reviewers, including myself, have been complaining that the Horus Heresy series of books had, after a Thousand Sons (book 12 of the series) got to a point where the story did not seem to progress over the next half a dozen volumes. The same story was sometimes told, but from a different perspective, or the implications of the same event (the Istvan V treason and slaughter) were spinned volume after volume. More recent volumes have addressed this concern to some extent, but the suspicion that Black Library authors may be delaying the final assault on Terra that all of their readers are impatiently wanting for lingers. This is probably another reason for the rather lukewarm reviews and ratings that this book has attracted, although I also found that these were rather unfair, or even unjustified.

I, for one, was almost put off by these reviews and considered cancelling my order for this book, although I had not read or listened to any of these stories before. I am happy that I didn't because the collection is worthwhile, even for the stories that are not very original. Essentially, I found that this collection of two novella (The Crimson Fist by John French and Prince of Crows by Aaron Demski-Bowden) and five short stories (three from Graham McNeill and one each from Dan Abnett and Gav Thorpe) were rather good, although I will not discuss and rate each of the stories to avoid spoilers.

All of the stories fill in gaps left from previous Horus Heresy volumes. The Dark King shows us why Konrad Curze got to destroy Nostromo whereas Prince of Crows, also about the Night Lords, shows us why the Dark Angels were unable to rally Terra and join in its defence. The Crimson Fist shows us what happened to the Imperial Fist fleet despatched by Rogal Dorn to help put down the rebellion while also showing the relationship and interactions between the Primarch and Sigismund, his first captain (the Prince of Crows also illustrates this relationship between Primarch and First Captain, but within the Night Lords, allowing for an interesting contrast between the two). Abnett's The Lighting Tower tells of the fortification of the Imperial Palace, filling in a gap (at last!) that the Outcast Dead had left open. Raven's Flight tells the story of how Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard, managed to escape Istvan V with the remnants of his Legion after putting up a spirited fight, in a sort of prequel to Deliverance Lost. The Kaban Project, which is a prequel of Graham McNeill's masterful Mechanicus, also fills in a gap because it explains why a large faction of the Mechanicum (or even most of it) sided with Horus and betrayed the Emperor, something that was left unclear in Graham's previous novel. Finally, even Death of a Silversmith, which is maybe one of the less original and weakest stories, is useful in its own way by showing indirectly to what extent the heresy plot and Horus' contamination was helped by the demise of Hastur Sejanus.

There are also two other features that I found of particular interest. One was the emphasis on the Night Lords and their twisted monstrous Primarch, with Graham McNeill matching Demski-Bowden all the way, and the latter let us learn much more about the semi-legendary First Captain Sevatar, of which we had heard quite a bit already in his Talos trilogy. Another is a relatively new focus on Perturabo, of which we had seen little up to now in the HH series.

So, despite a few glitches and physical impossibilities, such as spaceships burning in outer space during battles, I found that this collection was very much worth a buy (provided, of course, you have not alreadey read or listened to the stories!) and was a very good read, even if not the very best of the HH series.
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on 31 October 2012
To say that a couple of the stories in this collection are weak is an understatement.

But don't worry about them because the real gem is Prince of Crows and that story takes up a third of the book and more than makes up for some of the weaker contributions.

If you're a fan, as I am, of the Aaron Dembski-Bowden Night Lords novels this latest addition to the Night Lords canon will delight. The author has also given flesh and character to Sevatar, First Captain of the Night Lords well beyond the one dimensional honour or evil of loyal or traitor space marines sometimes found elsewhere. Some other reviewers have criticised the Sevatar characterisation, but it is in keeping with previous portrayals of the Night Lords. They are monsters, they are dark and cruel and most definitely villains, but they have that hint of nobility and a twisted honor and above all a dark sense of humour that makes them more realistic and more fun.

Dembski-Bowdens' Sevatar is a great creation and I hope we see more of him in future Night Lord novels.

If you are deliberating whether to buy this book please also ignore the carping from some reviewers about some things being physically impossible. The Warhammer universes are fantasy and when we are talking about starships kilometres long; daemons that transform planets; terminators teleporting from one star ship to another; and Primarchs that are near indestructible we are well beyond the normal laws of physics as we currently know them. It's all fantasy and its daft to let slavish adherence to physics ruin the fun of a good story.

Prince of Crows takes up a third of the book so it really is worth accepting a couple of weak short stories to acquire this gem. You won't be disappointed by Prince of Crows or Sevatar and this is another Aaron Dembski-Bowden/Night Lords triumph that leaves you wanting more.
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on 29 October 2012
This book is a great read, filling in parts of the Horus Heresy you may not have known before.
If you have some of the audio books then you may know 2 or 3 of the stories but the book is still worth the money for the other stories, plus it does leave a gap in the series if you don't have it. Good for the half hour reads such as lunch times or commuting.
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on 29 September 2012
Well, as others have already said, this anthology contains two 'new' novellas and five 'repeated' short stories that have already been released elsewhere (notably several on audio format). I don't personally have a huge issue with audio stories getting written up, however I do have problems with these particular stories; firstly that they are so old - most having originally being released FIVE YEARS AGO! In 2007. This makes the whole book feel very much like a backward step in the HH series to me, with stories stretching back to much earlier times than we are presently at - secondly the stories do not feel particularly interesting or important.

We get for example the death tale of a remembrancer attached to the Lunar Wolves, a story about the early 'life' of the Kaban Machine seen in Mechanicum, a story about Dorn brooding, Corax's escape from Isstvan (which is at least a bit more important) and a Curze story. None of them are poorly written, but all feel a bit 'meh' to me, I had listened to three of them before anyway. Most of all though, as I say, they feel like they are backward looking and not very important. Disappointing basically.

The first new novella, the story of the Imperial Fist Retribution Fleet being trapped in the Phall system and there battling traitor forces sent to destroy them, is 'okay', a three out of five story. It's adequately well written, while not being especially exciting, imaginative, or interesting. There are a couple of good scenes featuring Dorn and Sigismund (the first Black Templar) and it does tell the story of the Battle of Phall briskly and fairly well.

The second new novella, focussing upon the Night Lords fleeing from the Dark Angels, is by ADB, so is well written but it's really not that interesting a story. ADB has a habit of featuring wise-cracking Night Lord characters in his work and there's hints of that here, which I find a bit jarring considering the pitch-black nature of these guys. There is a peak into the psyche of Curze himself, which feels rather too Batman-esque for my taste, and a good scene showing the Emperor's arrival at Nostramo.

All in all, I'm docking one star for the inclusion of the late repeat stories (causing the anthology to feel a bit pointless), one for the fact the short stories are rather superfluous to the wider story of the Heresy, and one for the fact the new novellas didn't excite me. I must say I find the HH anthologies to be generally disappointing, there has to be thousands of potentially fascinating subjects about the setting during the Heresy that would really work well in short story format, while not suiting a full novel, yet we just seem to keep getting stories we already know told from slightly different angles. I wish BL would use these anthologies as a way of exploring the less travelled regions of the tale more.
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on 7 November 2012
Overall some good insights and answers to other threads in the Horus Heresy collection.
This is a book which wont make much sense if you dont already know the back story, but if you do it will have you waiting for the next big release
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on 18 June 2016
my son has been reading this series of books for a while now and says that each is as good as the last. it is a brilliant series with great characters and story. he cannot praise them enough
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on 14 September 2013
Some very well put reviews already so only to say some of tis great and some of its poor. Particularly wondered the point of including the Silversmith story
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on 2 May 2014
one of the best so far, excellent collection of short stories with hardly any duds., highly recommend for any sci fi or 40K readers
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