Oh yay, it’s another short story collection in the Horus Heresy. Because I haven’t read enough of these so far. Technically, the Primarchs collection in the Horus Heresy is a collection of four novellas, but I got irritated all the same. I’m ready to move forward with these stories, not take little steps in the middle of these 54 large steps I’m already taking. Regardless, here I am, reading Primarchs, and a couple of the stories turned out to be a little important. But it was only two.
And at least the novellas were about the four Primarchs I care about: Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus, Lion El’Jonson, and Alpharius (but really Omegon).
You may remember that at the end of the HH book called Fulgrim, Fulgrim’s talking sword took over his body to instigate him to fight against Ferrus Manus, his favorite brother. Naturally, as daemons are wont to do, the daemon pulled away right when Fulgrim killed Ferrus. Then as Fulgrim cried out in anguish, the daemon offered to take over completely so he wouldn’t have to deal with those icky feelings. But how long does this daemon take over Fulgrim during the heresy?
Evidently it wasn’t long. After he somehow got over killing his brother, he decided to steer into the skid and just accept he’s a terrible person. However, his minions still think he’s under control of a daemon. And then Graham McNeill takes us on a journey that is way too long where Fulgrim’s sons decide to torture the daemon out of him. I guess they didn’t get the memo that Slaanesh is into masochism? I’m fairly certain Fabius Bile had that memo, but he just wanted to experiment on Fulgrim. Because that’s how Fabulous Bill gets his jollies.
The only nice thing I can say about this story is that Fulgrim Ferrus Manus’d him. I never liked that guy. Oh, and I chuckled at the very obvious Julius Caesar reference. Nice one, Mr. McNeill.
It’s only fitting that we have a Ferrus Manus story after a story about his favorite brother, right? However, since Ferrus is rather, well, dead, the only story we can really get is one of him pre-Heresy. To which…we really didn’t learn anything new about him?
Now that I think about that, that’s not fair of me to say. The only reason why I didn’t learn anything new about the Iron Hand is because I read his primarch novel. Thanks to David Guymer’s novel, I already knew Ferrus had a giant chip on his shoulder about his Legion not being bigger, better, faster, more compared to the other Legions. I already knew he was hyper-focused to the point of being single-minded. And I already knew he had massive issues with asking for help.
None of this is Nick Kyme’s fault. That said, though, I’m not really sure what the point of this story was, other than to paint a little more about Ferrus’ character. Considering he’s dead, was that really needed?
Anyway, moving on.
This story takes place immediately after the Lion’s little skirmish with Konrad Curze. He’s trying to escape with his Legion and sort out what is going on with the Imperium and the rest of his brothers. Of course, when he gets to the warp, things go ploin-shaped. Daemons infiltrate the Lion’s flagship, which he hasn’t encountered yet and therefore doesn’t believe they exist. He quickly accepts their existence, especially after he learns that only his former Librarians and Navigators have any affect on them.
What floored me the most about this story was seeing the other Legions’ response to the Edict of Nikaea. It never dawned on me that the Legions would just remove the Librarians from their ranks and make them regular soldiers. It makes sense, yes, but I never thought about it beyond how much it crippled the Thousand Sons. I also never thought about how seriously some Legionaries would take it.
Personally, I’d think you might forgive former Librarians for tapping into their taboo powers if it saves your life when your conventional weapons don’t work. I also would think that when your primarch says hey, it’s cool, I’m giving them permission, that you’d back off if you weren’t going to be forgiving. And when that primarch has a habit of punishing people for disagreeing with him or not reading his mind, maybe you don’t push it? I knew Nemiel, Zahariel’s cousin, died during an early heresy battle, but I had no idea that the Lion got so mad at him for insubordination that he punched his head clean off.
I figured it out in two books that one doesn’t question the Lion. One accepts that the Lion knows what he is doing at all times. Not sure how his own people haven’t figured that out yet.
Oh and we get to see the Lion talking to what has to be one of the Watchers in the Dark. Not sure how long they have been traveling with him, but I also have no idea when Perturabo tricked the Lion over the war engines of Diamat. That’s going to be a story somewhere down the line, even if it’s just a short story, right?
I don’t have much to say about this story, The Serpent Beneath, mainly because even after reading it twice, I’m still not entirely sure what happened. Then again, no one in the story seems to know fully what happened either. Alpharius and Omegon both would most likely approve.
Even though I’m a bit clueless on the plot, the basic gist is that the Alpha Legion will go to extreme lengths to hunt out traitors to their current calling. That includes infiltrating and killing members of their own Legion.
After reading this tale, I’m not sure I want to read Rob Sanders’ Sons of the Hydra after all.
So I guess that’s book #20 down? Am I going to have other Horus Heresy novella collections about other primarchs to look forward to? No wonder this series is taking forever to get through.
Twenty books down, 34 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.