This is probably going to be the shortest writeup yet regarding the Horus Heresy, simply because I really did not like this collection of short stories and novellas, Mark of Calth. Oh sure, there were a few stories that were pretty good, but for the most part I kept wondering who asked for this particular story.
Then-Editor Laurie Goulding explained in the afterword that he commented to Dan Abnett that he left a lot of stories unfinished from Know No Fear. But did he really?
What Was a Waste of Time
I can think of one thread left open, and that was what happened to Oll Persson and his retinue, but if you know my feelings on perpetuals, then you know I did not care how that story panned out. Naturally, only Abnett would pick up that story to tell, because I’m sure nobody else cared to tell that story either. To be honest, during the entire story, I kind of hoped that M’kar would have caught up with Oll and killed him. Everybody he escaped with is screwed anyway, with or without him. Not to mention, it’s bad enough we have a couple of perpetuals in the Cabal, but do we really need a perpetual who isn’t working with the Cabal too?
Another story not needed was the tale of how the athame came into existence. Of course this isn’t about the athames that Erebus made from the anathame. It’s yet ANOTHER athame, one that Oll Persson has. Because again, who really cares how he got it and where it came from? Not sure why this one had to be called an athame too, since there are other words the writers could have picked from a thesaurus, but this is Warhammer 40,000. Why make anything simple and less confusing?
What Was Enjoyable
Three of the remaining short stories didn’t need to be told either, but they were enjoyable nonetheless.
For example, the story about Erebus making the athames from the anathame and his revenge on the priestess from Davin was entertaining. It never ceases to amaze just how much of an arsehole Erebus is to everyone, even his kindred. Plus, I snickered upon learning that he really wasn’t able to fully get revenge on the priestess. The gods of Chaos always have the last laugh, after all.
Of course, David Annandale told a delightful horror story about daemons playing upon men’s fears. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this trope time and time again. Most recently, we read it in Ahriman: Sorcerer.
Aaron Dembski-Bowden told a fascinating tale about how the Val Gorbak were made. This was something unique, but I don’t feel like it fit in this particular collection of short stories. It really sticks out like a sore thumb.
Lastly, there is the novella from Graham McNeill about why Remus Ventanus is the Savior of Calth. I agree this would have been too much to pack into Know No Fear, but I also think this might have been better as a solo novella or perhaps with other novellas, such as the Primarchs novella collection. Regardless, this novella was the best of the bunch by a longshot.
Or could it be…?
While writing this, I have to wonder if I really didn’t like the stories of Mark of Calth or if I’m just tired of all the filler. I can see why people get burned out with this particular series. On the one hand, we know a lot of background battles happened, such as the underground battles on Calth, but do we need to tell all of these stories?
Perhaps that’s why this series is over 50 books. Too many writers felt the need to tell every little thing that happened. At least so far they haven’t gone the Wheel of Time route and detailed what everyone ate for dinner that day.
It would really be nice to not read another short story collection in this series for a few books. At least the next couple are not. I’m really looking forward to starting Vulkan Lives by Nick Kyme. I haven’t read any of Kyme’s Salamanders books, and there’s always so little about the Salamanders in general. As an added perk, Jen really dislikes this story and I’m curious as to why.
Twenty-five books down, 29 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.