So wow, I got through a short story collection far faster than I expected. Audiobooks once again FTW. Those sweet, sweet dulcet tones of John Banks and Toby Longworth make it super easy to get through, well, anything. I also feel like Eye of Terra wasn’t as long as other anthologies. It had a ton of stories, but they didn’t feel as long. Maybe I zoned out for a few. That’s entirely possible.
With the title of the book and the fact that the Emperor and Horus pre-Heresy were on the cover, I (wrongly) assumed that these were going to be short stories about the Great Crusade, before Horus became Warmaster. Hahahaha, silly me. The first story was certainly about that, but everything else was a hodgepodge without a consistent theme. Basically a lof of the stories fall into the “Well, that’s nice,” category. Cool to know, but it doesn’t move a dang thing forward.
Here we go.
The first story is practically a novella, which is something Graham McNeill is wont to do. “The Wolf of Ash and Fire” is a rare look into a time when the Emperor warred with His sons. In this instance, He’s warring alongside His favorite son, Horus. They’re fighting the greenskins on Ullanor, right before He names Horus as Warmaster. We rarely get to see the Emperor speaking, much less doing battle, so yes, this was nice. Does it explain the Emperor’s reasoning for choosing Horus? Does it provide a unique insight into Horus and his demeanor? No, not really. But it was nice.
A few other short stories hit for me, such as “Brotherhood of the Moon” and “Master of the First.” I enjoyed reading the interrogation of Torghun and how he got where he did, aka on the wrong side of the divide. Naturally I loved the short story about the Dark Angels. It was fun to see how Astelan goes from the cautious, life-preserving Chapter Master from “Call of the Lion” to the shrewd man turning against the Lion and becoming a future Fallen.
There was also “The Long Night,” a surprisingly touching story about Sevatar befriending a lonely astropath. Damn the Night Lords for having their emotional moments. I really want to hate these flesh-cape wearers but darn it, I can’t entirely.
The last story that really grabbed my attention was “The Herald of Sanguinius.” I thought it was going to be a slightly humorous story about Azkaellon refusing to be cowed by the Lion. I did not expect it to explain where the Sanguinor came from. When Azkaellon told Sanguinius, “You may address him as the Sanguinor,” I literally yelled, “WHAT?” in my car. My jaw stayed dropped open for a good few minutes afterward, while the Audible end credits were rolling.
No short story was bad, per se, but they didn’t add anything overall. While I liked the stories about Thiel and the Ultramarines, they didn’t add any new flavor to Thiel’s story. Most of these, I admit, just didn’t hit what I personally like in the Legions. For instance, all of the stories about the Word Bearers. I barely remember these, mostly because I didn’t care and, like Thiel’s stories, they added nothing.
The only one I remember nothing about was “Vorax.” Pretty sure I zoned out completely for that one. Sorry about that. I’m also sorry and yet not sorry that I don’t care enough to go back and re-read or listen to it. I’m really ready to move on to a “real” novel.
Also, Mr. Goulding? You didn’t need to ask in the Afterword if we got the title reference. I sincerely doubt the title went over anyone’s heads.
The next book is by Chris Wraight and it’s about White Scars. Yes, please!
Thirty-five books down, 19 books 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.