I wasn’t looking forward to reading Shattered Legions simply because it was another collection of short stories. It was surprising to learn that it’s not simply yet another short anthology. Instead, it’s a unique way of telling the story of the surviving Iron Hands from Istvaan V. All of the short stories tell a piece of the story of newly elected War Leader Shadrak Meduson (totally disappointed there wasn’t a Meshak or Abednego) and how he is changing the way the Iron Hands wage war. Some of the stories include Meduson and some do not, with those involving other wayward bands of Iron Hands trying to find remnants of their Legion. It all fits together, and it’s all incredibly well done. If I had any complaints, it’s that I wish there was a short story at the end that tells of how Alpharius ruined everything for them.
When Iron Is Forced to Bend
For a Legion with a primarch known for being a hothead, it was shocking to me how reluctant the Iron Hands as a whole are to making a decision. Perhaps this is why the Iron Hands had a reputation for taking too long bringing compliance. With Ferrus Manus gone, the Clan Fathers demanded a summit to make a decision about what to do next. Shadrak Meduson called that dumb, but because he’s Terran, no one listened to him. Meduson wanted to learn the ways of war from the Raven Guard and Salamanders so they could incorporate new methods to take against the Traitors. The Clan Fathers clutched their pearls in response.
Learn from others? How DARE you suggest that the way of war that our primarch taught us isn’t perfect! How dare you suggest that the Traitors will be able to predict our every move?
And yet the Traitors did and blew up the ship housing all of the Iron Fathers at the summit. It wasn’t just any Traitors, either. It was the Emperor’s Children, the Legion that knows the Iron Hands best out of any other Legion. Meduson MIGHT have said that keeping all of the leaders on the same ship was painting a target on it. But again, what does this Terran know?
Well, he knows enough that they agree to make him War Leader. He even creates a council with Raven Guard and Salamanders to serve as a temporary Hand Elect while his mentor heals. Meduson takes action. He’s open to change. He’s forcing the Iron Hands to bend their wills to compromise. You couldn’t help but cheer for him.
It Would Be a Shame If the Alpha Legion BROKE IT
About two-thirds of the way through, just as it seems that Meduson is making a difference in the war, Alpharius plays his hand. (Heh.) When he does reveal himself, you can’t help but ask how long Alpharius pretended to be Meduson. Was it him the whole time? Or was it when Meduson took the Iron Heart to attack the enemy directly? Did he run amok of the Alpha Legion then? They already heard his name after he broadcasted it to the Emperor’s Children and Sons of Horus.
There’s no short story that tells this tale of Alpharius taking over the Iron Heart. There is a short story where Meduson’s mentor comments that something is different about him. As such, I want to believe that it wasn’t Alpharius all along, but that Meduson bit off more than he could chew and then Alpharius decided to wear his face. That’s completely within Alpharius’ idiom.
I’m sure there’s a short story out there somewhere that someone will point me to that proves it was Alpharius all along, and then I’ll cry into my ice cream. Until then, I’m holding on to my belief that Meduson got a little too hotheaded himself when it came to the Alpha Legion. For all we know, a member of the Alpha Legion was pretending to be an Iron Hand the whole time. They did it with the Raven Guard. Who knows how many other Legions the Alpha Legion has infiltrated.
Next book is a full novel, The Crimson King by Graham McNeill. Curious if this is the novel where Ahriman casts the first Rubric. I’m nearing the end, folks!
Forty-three books down, 11 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.