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All killers, some filler
on 5 May 2012
This is the first collection of novellas in the Horus Heresy series and its a bit of a mixed bag. The Primarchs featured are Fulgrim, Lion El'Jonson, Ferrus Manus, and the twins Alpharius and Omegon (not Kurze as Amazon seems to have suggested). Two of the stories are great, two are pretty forgettable.
The Reflection Crack'd, by Graham McNeill, is pretty awesome. People say Fulgrim was a pretty explicit and graphic tale - well, it gets even worse in this story. Essentially members of the Emperoro's Children suspect all is not as it seems with their 'Primarch' and decide to investigate. And the Emperoro's Children don't just want to talk t their leader. A great story which poses and answers questions that are quite important to the larger Heresy series.
Then you get two frankly weaker tales about the Ferrus and the Lion. Feat of Iron reminded me a lot of the last chapters of The Inquisition Wares, by Ian Watson. A promising start with what should be interesting characters turns into a lot of people walking through a desert, waiting for something to happen. Yes, there are a few fights, but the bare bones of it - that Ferrus had some warning of his impending doom - could have been handled in a short story.
The Lion is similarly overwritten. Somewhere in the the galaxy there is a secret planet with a secret project. Two Legions are fighting over it and The Lion steps in. Maybe that secret will have further bearing on the Heresy, maybe not. But again, there's not a lot revealed about the Lion or his Legion to make me feel this is essential reading for anyone but the most devoted fans of the First.
It does get interesting again with The Serpent Beneath though. The Alpha Legion live up to their reputation as the ultimate infiltrators and backstabbers as Alpharius leads a hand-picked squad to infiltrate and sabotage a top secret project being run by - the Alpha Legion! Many twists and turns, action and intrigue, all the best ingredients in a great story about the tricksiest Legion in the galaxy.
On balance then, this is a pretty good selection of tales. If you're a fan of the Legions within you will probably enjoy them nonetheless. If you're just reading it as part of the series though, don't expect to get as much from each novella.