Have you missed me? I had to take a break from reading the Horus Heresy after reading 2-3 books a month for so long. I really wanted to finish the series by the end of 2023, but I just ran out of steam. With 2024, it was time to pick back up where I left off, which was with Tallarn by John French. It’s a collection of short stories and two novellas French wrote about the destruction of Tallarn. I give John French a lot of shit about his books, but hot damn, Tallarn just proves what I have been saying about him for some time. The man writes amazing short stories and novellas.
John French’s collection tells about the fall of the agri-world into a desert wasteland and the following battles for the next year. Basically, everything was running just fine until the Iron Warriors decided to pay a visit and drop a bunch of virus bombs on the planet. There was no saying, “Hi,” no checking to see if the planet was going to side with the Imperium or Horus, and not even a cursory, “Hey, can we dig here for a bit?” Just straight to the virus bombing. This is why no one likes the Iron Warriors.
The survivors are left wondering why this happened and how they can defeat an unbreakable foe. However, they aren’t the only ones wondering what is going on.
The first novella, Executioner, is the actual fall of the planet and how survivors of the assault banded together to try to fight back. The war for Tallarn is affectionately known as the war of ten million armored vehicles or #TenMillionTanks. Anyone who has any ability to drive or shoot a gun is shoved into a tank and sent out to patrol and defeat the invaders.
This particular tale broke my heart, and not because many of the new soldiers died in horrific ways. It was a punch to the gut to learn that the upper echelons of Tallarn were preparing to welcome Horus with open arms. This obviously was not what the agents of the Warmaster promised. In fact, the agents of the Warmaster weren’t expecting the Iron Warriors at all. Their arrival and destruction of the planet was a shock to them as well.
So the rich of Tallarn were ready to betray the Imperium, and were instead also betrayed. It’s incredibly sadly fitting. And it wasn’t even the Alpha Legion this time, although it’s hardly surprising to learn that the agents of Horus are Alpha Legion.
Executioner was the beginning, and Ironclad is the end of the Iron Warriors’ siege of the planet. Ironclad highlighted so many undercurrents of this civil war, from bickering between the traitor factions to how the government on Terra uses loyalists as expendable tools. On one side, you have the Iron Warriors searching for something on Tallarn, the Alpha Legion wondering what they’re doing on Tallarn and whether they can stop them from doing it, and an emissary from the Sons of Horus demanding answers from the Iron Warriors as to what they are doing. On the other side, you have a Vanus assassin toying with loyalist Tallarn regiments to help them fulfill their mission, no matter the cost. All of it is so delightfully diabolical.
In the end, the only ones who got their way were Horus, who demanded Peter Turbo return to his side and stop disobeying him, and the assassin, who died anyway, so maybe they didn’t get their way?
Most importantly, Ironclad showed how fractured the traitors really are. Horus said as much when he told Mortarion, of all brothers, that he was the only one he could trust. He mentioned that Fulgrim was now a headcase, and because Fulgrim is such a headcase, Perturabo has gone off to sulk. He chose to sulk at Tallarn, trying to get a weapon to stop all betrayal, which makes me think it was a form of protection for himself after Fulgrim grossly used and betrayed him. Then there’s the Alpha Legion, which is doing…whatever they want to, I suppose. I’d ask if this faction on Tallarn is actually working toward Horus’ goals, but then I have to remember that the Alpha Legion only does things for their own goals.
There are a couple of short stories that run between these novellas, but they fall more in the camp of “A Day in the Life of This Character” and don’t link to the other novellas. They’re good to be sure, but nothing about them really stuck out like the events of the novellas.
Forty-five books down, 9 to go. We’re in the single digits, people!
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 outside of the official anthologies. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.