Top positive review
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A good collection of stories
on 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.