I feared that the short story compilation that Black Library has decided to pass as a true tenth novel in the series would be like Battle for the Abyss—a complete waste of time. While not all of the stories appear to be relevant, all of the Tales of Heresy spun interesting insights into various characters. Some took place before the heresy, some during, and some were way before the heresy was even thought of. But each had its own merit, even if you couldn’t tell what impact it would have until the very end.
In the 41st millennium it seems that the Imperial Fists are always hanging around Terra somewhere. If this short story is any indication, then Dorn’s sons have always hung around. It also seems that Dorn’s sons never shared much with the Custodes. But even bigger, this short showed just how much the factions could not trust one another.
Dorn couldn’t tell the Custodes he had planted a spy on Terra to do business with Horus, because how could he know if any of them spies? On the same token, the Custodes who uncovered the spy couldn’t reach out to Dorn or their higher ups in case they were spies. It was a no-win situation cost the spy’s life, many innocent lives, and nearly killed Dorn.
This story certainly sets the stage for how distrustful everyone had to be.
Wolf at the Door
Leman Russ has called everyone back to go pick up Magnus at Prospero. They have a few months to rendezvous, but the Thirteenth Company (yes, THAT COMPANY) isn’t ready to leave their current expeditionary system. They found a fourth planet that was previously hidden by warp storms. Lord Bulveye refuses to meet Russ without bringing this last planet under compliance first. This was the second saddest story of the collection.
Bulveye truly wanted to do everything in his company’s power to bring this planet into compliance peacefully. The last page will haunt me for the rest of time. I had flashbacks to the final few words spoken in Resistance 2. If you played that game, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Scions of the Storm
This is the saddest story of the anthology. It’s told from the point of view of Sor Talgron, a deeply devout member of the Word Bearers. He follows the Lectitio Divinatus faithfully, and it appears everyone around him does as well. They’re in the middle of the Great Crusade, attempting to bring a planet under compliance the only way they know how: worship the Emperor or die.
But yes, I said “appears” for a reason. This conquest actually takes place sometime during The First Heretic, and evidently Sor Talgron did not accompany Lorgar and Friends to Cadia. I thought maybe Sor Talgron remained a lone loyal Word Bearer, but then I looked him up. That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.
Did you wonder what happened to the Sisters of Silence that Garro met in Flight of the Eisenstein? No? Well you’re going to find out anyway.
At least it’s a bit of a horror story regarding a Black Ship lost in the warp, unrestrained psykers, unknown horrors in the dark, steep animosity between Sisters, and some time travel thrown in for good measure. I don’t know how this story impacts the Horus Heresy as a whole, but it’s an entertaining tale at the very least.
Call of the Lion
“Call of the Lion” was deceptively important. (And I just now realized that is accurate for the Dark Angels as a whole on so many levels.) What seemed to be an incredibly petty squabble between two Chapter Masters undeniably sets up the Dark Angels for the upcoming fall. In Angels of Darkness, a captured Fallen Angel describes the friction between the Terran Dark Angels and Calibanite Dark Angels. He suggests that this is part of the reason why they rebelled, yadda yadda yadda.
As I went to look up who that Angel was, oh hey, it’s the same Terran Dark Angel in this story. I obviously have issues remembering names.
The Last Church
If there’s anything Graham McNeill knows how to do, it’s hit you where it HURTS. “The Last Church” takes place near the end of the Unification Wars at the literally last church on Terra. As the Emperor has cruised across Terra with his secular message, the congregation of this church has dwindled down to nothing. Regardless, the priest still prepares for mass every night and takes care of the church. He knows that one day the Emperor will burn this church to the ground like He has all others, but until that day, he will keep going as if everything is fine.
A mysterious stranger takes over his church one night—who is obviously the Emperor in disguise—and delves into a Socratic discourse with the priest about religion. I am a religious person, but even I was questioning my beliefs until the Emperor appeared. I’m sorry, buddy, but it’s really hard to dispute divinity when you are literally too bright to look at. I’ve yet to read a sciencey explanation for that phenomenon.
But you don’t have to be religious for this story to hit you in the gut. It’s rare we get see the Emperor speaking in any book, much less understand His reasons about anything. This short story provides the rare opportunity to experience both.
I’ve heard stories aka memes about the first time Angron meets his sons, but I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened.
I’m not an Angron fan to begin with, and this story does not paint him in a flattering light at all. You can tell me you want about how he was a tortured slave in fighting pits, blah blah blah, I still don’t like him. On the other hand, I do like Khârn, and this story made me like him even more.
I always knew Angron was a rage-monster brute who killed anything that looked at him sideways. However, I never read anything that had him speaking before. At Istvaan V, he didn’t say a word. He let his axes do the talking. “After Desh’ea” suggests maybe there’s a reason why he doesn’t talk. I can’t tell if he’s actually dumb or if it’s the Butcher’s Nails that hinder his intelligence. If I hadn’t read the Black Legion stories, I’d believe it was the Nails, but Lheorvine’s intellect implies that is not the case.
Either way, if I wanted to find something endearing about Angron, this story was not it.
The next Horus Heresy novel goes back to Caliban, and I’m assuming it gets into Luther’s rebellion. Surely THIS TIME I’ll recognize Astelan’s name.
Thirteen books down, 41 to go.
Horus Hearsay is dedicated to Keri’s journey through the Horus Heresy saga. The chronicling of the Horus Heresy began over ten years ago, with currently 54 books in total, not counting The Primarchs series or the various short stories. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.