After the strong novels of The First Heretic and Prospero Burns, the series doesn’t exactly kick-on, rather it plateaus for a short period. This series of books are all interesting in their own right, with one of them (Deliverance Lost) kicking-off a major storyline, but none of them are great.
Book 16 – Age of Darkness (Edited by Christian Dunn)
Age of Darkness is the second short-story anthology in the series and it is by far superior to Tales of Heresy. The stories in summary are:
- Rules of Engagement by Graham McNeill – A series of tactical simulations run by the Ultramarines using the new codex astartes, focussing on the character of Remus Ventanus
- Liar’s Due by James Swallow – An Alpha Legion operative plays with the minds of the populations of a backward world, causing mayhem in his wake
- Forgotten Sons by Nick Kyme – An Ultramarine and a Salammander try to convince a world to choose the Emperor over Horus
- The Last Remembrancer by John French – The greatest rememberencer appears on a ship on the edge of the Solar system – what is Rogal Dorne to do with him?
- Rebirth by Chris Wraight – A Thousand Son finds himself a prisoner in the ruins of Prospero, but who is his tormentor?
- The Face of Treachery by Gav Throrpe – The Raven Guard are saved from destruction on Istvaan V, but why does a World Eaters battle barge not attack them as they escape?
- Little Horus by Dan Abnett – Little Horus has been having haunting dreams, what do they mean? At the same time the Sons of Horus assault the world of Dwell
- The Iron Within by Rob Sanders – Strife between Iron Warriors in a brilliant siege story
- Savage Weapons by Aaron Dembski-Bowden – The Lion and Curze face off on the ruins of a dead world
Favourite Story – The Iron Within
Best character – Little Horus
Best fighting story – Savage Weapons – two primarchs going at each other
Best non-fighting story – The Last Remembrancer
- Rules of Engagement – 1 – Guilliman
- The Last Remembrancer – 1 – Rogal Dorn
- The Face of Treachery – 1 – Corax
- Little Horus – 1 – Horus
- Savage Weapons – 2 – The Lion and Konrad Curze
Book 17 – The Outcast Dead by Graham McNeill
The Outcast Dead is one of the strangest novels in the series, though the lore it offers up to fans makes it a worthwhile read. Some people have criticised the book for inconsistencies in the chronology, though I can explain this away to myself with the warp bending space and time.
The premise centres on an astropath, Kai, who has suffered from the loss of a ship he was on and the horrors he had to witness/listen to. He is being re-trained on Terra when Magnus’ attempt to communicate with the Emperor occurs and disrupts all those with a psychic gift on the planet. During the incident, Kai ends up with a war-changing secret implanted in his head that everyone wants to get out of him.
Concurrently a group of space marines known as the ‘Crusader Host’ have been incarcerated in a maximum security prison. It is never explained what the Crusader Host his but I assume it is a group of legionaries from all legions left to represent the interests of their legion on Terra. Anyway the legionaries manage to break out from the prison and take Kai with them (who was also in the prison). What follows is a hunt for both Kai and the legionaries.
If my synopsis sounds far-fetched then unfortunately that is part of what the novel suffers from. There are too many unexplained events and characters that it left my quite frustrated. The first two-thirds of the novel for me became quite a struggle to get through.
On the plus side though, parts of Terra are explained like never before and then of course there are the Thunder Warriors…
Overall the book is average and it really isn’t necessary in the grand scheme of the series. Read if you enjoy McNeill’s work or really want to be a completionist.
Best Character – Kai
Best fighting part – the final battle with all 3 factions
Best non-fighting part – Kai’s conversations with a mysterious hooded figure
Primarch count – 1 – Rogal Dorn
Book 18 – Deliverance Lost by Gav Thorpe
Deliverance Lost picks up the story from The Face of Teachery (from book 16) and the Raven’s Flight audiobook. Corax is saved from the face of Istvaan V and is determined to take the fight back to Horus.
The Primarch takes himself to Terra to speak to the Emperor, though unsurprisingly the Emperor is indisposed for various reasons. Corax does though find the secrets of ‘making’ new legionaries and take this secret back to the Raven Guard’s homeworld. Here he sets about re-building his legion, though with outcomes that he had not expected.
Alongside this, the Raven Guard who fought on Istvaan V and those who didn’t are struggling to gel back together, causing significant tensions. In addition the Alpha Legion are up to their tricks, trying to steal the secret Corax has acquired.
The story is very interesting and we get to see the Raven Guard properly for the first time, albeit after they have been signficantly reduced after Istvaan V. I found Corax a fascinating character and he had a real depth and humanity to him. I also enjoyed the Alpha Legion element, but then I always enjoy the Alpha Legion in any of these books. The book also begins a major storyline that will be revisited in later novels, with Corax and his Raven Guard at the forefront.
Worth a read!
Best Character – Corax himself
Best fighting part – Strangely none really stood out for me
Best non-fighting part – Corax’s reminiscense’s of his past
Primarch count – 4(5) – Corax, Rogal Dorn, Horus, Alpharius/Omegon