Top critical review
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on 21 July 2013
Mark of Calth is a collection of eight short stories about what happened after the treasonous and treacherous attack of the 17th Legion of the Word Bearers on Calth and the 13th Legion of the Ultramarines, and after they had "poisoned the system's sun", making the surface of the planet inhabitable.
As it generally happens for many readers in such cases, I liked some stories more than others. The two I liked the least were the first one ("the Shards of Erebus", by Guy Haley) and, more surprisingly, the last one ("Unmarked") by Dan Abnett, although he happens to be one of my favourite authors (and in this I am certainly not alone). The reasons for not liking these two stories were similar. They were drafted in such a way that I simply did not see the point of the story or, perhaps more accurately, I did not understand what the respective authors were getting at.
I like the six other stories, however. My three favourites were "The Traveller" (David Annandale), The "Underworld War" (Aaron Demski-Bowden) and "The Athame" (John French), essentially because they were the most original in both style and content although I will refrain from mentioning anything more about them to avoid spoilers.
For those familiar with the works of Anthony Reynolds, "Dark Heart" will show you something of the early feats of one Marduk, and how he manages to impress Kor Phaeron, first Captain of the Word Bearers. "Calth that Was" (Graham McNeill) and "A Deeper Darkness" (Rob Sanders) are told from the perspective of the Ultramarines. They are about how they continued to fight back the war against the Word Bearers but from underground. The "Underworld War" is also largely about this underground conflict, but from the viewpoint of a Word Bearer.
Three and a half stars.