Sunday, 21 February 2016

Book Review – Horus Heresy Book Anthology – Blades of the Traitor – No spoilers

Ok so a quick disclaimer here. I know these anthologies can feel like another attempt to drain us of out cash without moving the Heresy forward but I have long since stopped being impatient and worrying about that. I am reading them for what I think they are – an opportunity for the authors to explore bits that were cut out of their longer stories, or to explore the beginnings of characters that they didn’t get chance to without impacting on the pace or focus of their novels. This collection doesn’t disappoint.

Daemonology - Chris Wraight.
This short story shows Mortarion being manipulated by the warp and being drawn ever closer to the fate we know awaits him. It’s a very short story depicting the destruction of a ‘library world’ by Mortarion’s Legionaries. It also shows his hated for witchcraft and his near murder of the Sigillite whilst he is waiting to take control of the Death Guard. It is a reminder that some of the Primarchs started with good intention but that the compromises of the Crusaded worked upon their misgivings to turn them traitor. A brief, but formative essay on the aspects of the 31st Millennia that worked to turn Mortarion ‘bad’. 6/10

Black Oculus – John French.
This is just a few pages long – it is a stream of conscience from the mind of a Navigator aboard an Iron Warrior ship arriving at Tallarn (John was author of Tallarn Executioner). This adds a little colour to an as yet unheard voice in the 31st Millenia – that of the all-knowing Navigators. 6/10

Chirurgeon - Nick Kyme.
Basically, if you ever end up in the 31st Millennia, get sick, decide to report to the doc and see the name Dr F.Bile above the apothecarion, immediately turn around and take a couple of aspirin! This guy is your worst surgical nightmares rolled into one. Here we get a glimpse of early influences that made Bile into the obsessed butcher he became.

The story flicks between an ongoing surgery and the period after the Proxima Betrayal (at which they defended the wounded Emperor). This period pre-dates Fulgrim and after much of their gene-seed was mysteriously lost leading them to be one of the smallest legions. Bile describes the IIIrd as ‘an endangered species’ and his early work in trying to harvest gene-seed from the battlefield leaves him ‘dehumanised’ in is own words. We learn about the blight affecting the legion and what Bile finds himself forced to do to save his brothers. The piece ends with him revealing his own infection and the lengths he is prepared to go to hide it. I really liked this one, I think it gives real insight into the making of one of the 31st millennium’s greatest villains. 7/10

Twisted, Guy Hayley.
This story centres around Maloghurst (the Twisted) and his relationship with the warp and Horus. It’s a tense, creepy setting amidst the changing atmosphere of the Warmasters flagship. Maloghurst is given the chance to reach for great power thanks to his fathers alliance with the warp and we see how he takes that on for himself. I found the imminent threat and temptations of the warp made this short story into a great page turner, I would really recommend it. A great insight into the Twisted and events unfolding as Horus marches on Terra. Great stuff 8/10.

Wolf Mother - Graham McNeil.
Ever wondered what happened next to Alivia from the Molech story? Well you can see the next step on her journey from Molech in this short story. Wonder what Severian did next after the failed assassination of Horus? Well, Alivia is joined by the Knight Errant Severian in an attempt to rescue her peril-prone daughter again - think Taken on a space ship during the heresy! I wont say anymore for fear of spoiling the story, its action-packed and the relationship between the two heroes is great to observe, my favourite of the collection. 8/10

The verdict
If like me you are a sucker for all things Horus Heresy, get it on your shopping list. Overall 7/10.


  1. Thanks rich, wasn't sure whether to get this hit it actually sounds like there's some interesting stories in there

  2. Yeah I am finding that if I go back and read the anthologies I am not in such a hurry to find out what happens next in the Heresy and I can just enjoy the action and gather what more info is possible from them. Well worth a read.