Good Calth Background,
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This review is from: Mark of Calth (The Horus Heresy) (Paperback)
Mark of Calth (MoC) is an anthology of 8 stories set on Calth during the Horus Heresy.
However, you MUST have read "Know No Fear" by Dan Abnett (and possibly "The First Heretic" by AD-B) for this book to make any sense. There are several Ultramarine and Word Bearer characters throughout that appear previously, or events are referenced that you'll want to be familiar with. I waited nearly 2 years between reading KNF and this, and some parts went over my head. It *might* be better to read this first before reading "Betrayer".
As a collection, some pieces are better than others, but overall the additional info from various perspectives that this book provides to that battle is great.
The first book, "Shards of Erebus", explains how certain knives are first forged, and these provide almost a running theme through several of the other books here.
The second, "Calth that Was" is novella-length, and is written from the perspective of Remus Ventanus and Maloq Kartho, generally explaining the context of the Underworld War.
"Dark Heart" was next, following a young Word Bearers acolyte named Marduk, and whilst good, probably meant more for people who have read the Word Bearers series by Anthony Reynolds.
"The Traveller" was probably the worst for me - I wasn't really that interested with the plot, and the "twist" at the end (if you can call it that?) left me thinking "So what?".
"A Deeper Darkness" was next. I enjoyed this one, but it was a bit slow to start with, and it didn't really add much to the overall Calth or HH plot.
AD-B's "The Underworld War" is set deep into this stage of the Calth conflict, and follows a member of the Gal Vorbak, and explains how he first came to be possessed. It also features my favourite heretic, Argel Tal, reveals more about why certain Word Bearers were chosen for Calth, and impacts on the events in "Betrayer".
"Athame" was next and was ok I guess, tracing the titular weapon from its discovery through various owners. I didn't get the 8th section though - who was it talking about?
Finally, "Unmarked" was one of the stronger works for me. It follows Oll Persson's group after he cuts a hole into the warp, and their journey onwards. Particularly interesting is his conversation with fellow Perpetual John Grammaticus, and the hints dropped in this one that are followed up in "The Unremembered Empire". Also, heavy hints dropped that Oll knew the Emperor at the dawn of civilization, but decided he didn't want any part of the Emperor's schemes and was therefore not a part of his inner circle.
A good collection, buy it if you're a HH enthusiast, but make sure you've read KNF first (and preferably fairly recently!)