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40K Book Review: Age of Darkness

2 Minute Read
May 1 2011

The Warmaster has declared open war, and is making his way towards Terra with no one to stop him.  Black Library presents a set of short stories set during this darkest of times amid the Horus Heresy.

Age of Darkness is an anthology of Horus Heresy short stories set during the Warmaster’s seven year drive towards Holy Terra.  With numerical superiority, and the Loyalists scattered and unable to halt his advance, this is a dark time for the forces of the Emperor.  We are given nine short stories set during this period.

As with any anthology, there is a bit of unevenness, but there are enough gems within to make the journey worthwhile.  What makes Age of Darkness so interesting, is the stories aren’t little throwaway candied treats, but instead draw fully from the events of the previous Horus Heresy novels and fill in several of the missing pieces we’ve only been hinted at.  We get references to Mechanicum, Nemesis, Legion, The First Heretic, and others sprinkled around liberally. 

Standouts are Rules of Engagement by Graham McNeill, showing us the Ultramarines on the knife edge of a momentous change that will define the Imperium forever.  Liar’s Due by James Swallow takes place far from the heroics of the Astartes to show how the Horus Heresy was fought on even the most backwater of worlds.  Chris Wraight’s Rebirth is almost an epilogue to A Thousand Sons, with a most unusual twist.  Rob Sander’s The Iron Within gives us a key missing piece of the Iron Warrior’s legacy, that we knew must have occurred at some point. Finally Abnett manages to subtly continue the tale of the original Horus Heresy trilogy with his workmanlike Little Horus.

All in all a great set of easily digestible stories and even the non standouts are good quality.

I recommend it.

3.5 Stars (out of 5)

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