Top critical review
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on 12 September 2011
Hello and welcome to another JBP review!
Age of Darkness is book 16 in the Horus Heresy series - a series of books, which if you are not familiar with the rich Warhammer 40k universe, depicts one of the, if not THE, most pivotal moments in the storyline.
Horus Lupercal, first of the Emperor's Primarch, has betrayed his father, and joined forces with the Dark Gods of Chaos. Civil war is tearing apart the Golden Dream of Humanity, and lines are being drawn.
This book roughly takes place two years after Horus' betrayal was revealed at the Istvaan Drop-Site Massacre. The book contains a total of nine stories written by authors such as Dan Abnett, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Gav Thorpe and Rob Sanders.
The first story, "Rules of Engagement", depicts how the Ultramarines are training for the war, having decided that they will not join the Emperor and Dorn at Terra, and how they are trying to implement the Codex Astartes, whilst Roboute, Primarch of the Ultramarines, is penning his second tome... It is an interesting story, and sets off the book nicely.
There are several good stories in it - stories such as "Iron Within, Iron Without" concerning loyal Iron Warriors faced with a choice of either joining Perturabo, their own Primarch, or remaining loyal to the ideals of the Imperium and the Emperor. "Liar's Due" is another story (by James Swallow) which is more in tune with his previous book "Nemesis", and is more concerned with the war in the shadows, far from the fields of war.
Of special note is "The Last Remembrancer", which for me is one of the two best stories in the book. Before I get to the best story, I will briefly mention the two stories which were sub-par.
These were the stories "Rebirth" and "The Faces of Treachery", the latter by Gav Thorpe. "Rebirth" is concerned with the Thousand Sons, and their return to Prospero following its devastation at the hands of the Space Wolves, and what they find there. "The Faces of Treachery" follows the Raven Guard and their attempt to retrieve their Primarch from impending doom, and the attempts of the World Eater's fleet to prevent a rescue attempt. Is just plain odd, with a massive moment of "non sequitur", that ruins the moment. Perhaps more light will be shed on the matter in Gav Thorpe's forthcoming book "Deliverance"...but if anything, I am becoming ever more weary of his Space Marine novels (so far, his Eldar "Path-series", is turning out really, really well).
The crowning piece of the novel is the story "Savage Weapons" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. It concerns a skirmish between the Dark Angels and the Night Lords, somewhere in the Shield Worlds, where the two forces have fought each other to a stalemate. It is, for me, an absolutely sterling presentation of the Dark Angels and hits EXACTLY the nail on the head, of how they are. Having so far had to enjoy the lacklustre Dark Angel books and short stories by Gav Thorpe, Aaron Dembski-Bowden really delivers. It is an excellent story.
Over all, the book contains good and bad stories. Some books are undeservedly forgotten, none are undeservedly read - and so it is with this one.
It is enjoyable, and I consider it time well spent. If you have enjoyed the other Horus Heresy books, then you will surely enjoy this one too.