|It may be a re-used piece of artwork, but looking at it I must say there's nothing wrong with that.|
"A panoply of short stories featuring the Angels of Death that is not only a great introduction to the 41st Millennium but also a set of brand new stories that will appeal to all fans of the indomitable Space Marines." - Lord of the Night @ Talk Wargaming
Honour of the Third by Gav Thorpe
The anthology starts off with a simple Dark Angels story from Gav Thorpe. Sadly Honour of the Third does not tie into his Legacy of Caliban trilogy but is rather a stand-alone brief featuring Belial, the Master of the Deathwing, in his early days and is a straightforward story about triumph by luck rather than skill.
Since this short doesn't use any of the unique features of the Dark Angels I feel that it suffers as the Dark Angels could have really been any Space Marine chapter and the story wouldn't have changed a bit. I did like how Belial triumphed over Furion but apart from that the story was pretty much a single and brief battle scene that featured cookiee-cutter Space Marines. It wasn't bad really, it just wasn't good in any real area beyond the moment at the end that made me chuckle briefly. Gav's prose is well written though and the story did flow nicely, though some more description of Belial's withdrawal strategy would have made the story a fair bit better. I give Honour of the Third a score of 2.5/5.
The Thrill of the Hunt by Anthony Reynolds
The next story features the White Scars doing what they do best, hunting and riding massive bikes. I liked the choice of foe for the main character, who felt like a White Scar in all the things that make them unique, and I particularly liked the imagery of the enemy keeping pace with him even on his bike. A stand-alone story but one that shows that Reynolds has a good idea of what makes the White Scars a cool chapter of Space Marines and after reading this I would be interested to see what he could do with the chapter given some longer stories.
The twist of the story was nicely done if somewhat predictable, after all the White Scars are hunters and it appears the enemy were not. One moment that I really liked was the protagonist's feelings on the enemy's choice of vehicle and that it was unexpected for him to feel such a way rather than react in the manner that I would have expeted from a Space Marine. The only thing that would have made this story better while sticking to the format would have been to show the fate of the enemy rather than cut out before that moment. I give The Thrill of the Hunt a score of 3/5.
Iron Priest by Chris Wraight
The next story features the Space Wolves and looks at a part of them that hasn't really been used much in stories featuring them. The Iron Priests, and the rather unique weapons they build and bring to the battlefield. This story shows how one of those weapons was forged and in turn how that weapon helped forge the Iron Priest into the warrior that he is. I liked the depiction of an Iron Priest undergoing unique trials even as an aspirant and how that Priest has changed over the years to become the warrior he was in the second section.
I also very much liked the depiction of his unique weapon though I think it might have been better had he earned that weapon a different, perhaps less violet, way which would have shown a nice bond between the priest and his weapon. The idea that Space Wolves give up their names from their human lives is a new one and I think something that Wraight has chosen for his own series, though he hasn't confirmed that in the new Space Wolf books yet. Either way this was a good story that showed how some of the Space Wolves most unique weapons of war come to be and how this particular one was born. I give Iron Priest a score of 3.5/5.
The Tithe by Ben Counter
And now onto the Imperial Fists with a story from Ben Counter, an author with quite a divided fanbase of which I am firmly on the side of his fans rather than his detractors. Counter always comes up with good ideas that you never see coming and this story was no exception, even with 1000 words Counter manages to tell an intriguing and shocking story. At first it seemed rather straightforward, but the final two lines turned this from a simple chronicle of a Space Marine's life into a cautionary tale and one that had me laughing grimly at the end.
The misdirection of this story was very impressive, at first I thought it would end in a particular way given what the protagonist is doing we are introduced to him, but what does happen to him is while at the same time something that could be expected, Counter adds a unique twist to it that surprised me and really made this story stick in my mind. A very good story that despite it's short length manages to really stick with you as a warning, that something you think is harmless may in fact be deadlier than you could imagine. I give The Tithe a score of 4/5.
Visage of Zeal by CZ Dunn
And now the Black Templars from CZ Dunn, an author whom I have only read a few stories from and thus far none of his work has really stuck with me. This short story was enjoyable for the twist that it featured, I actually was surprised when I saw what the prose was hiding, and exactly what the protagonist was going to do was also a surprise despite it being not far from what I guessed he was going to do. Dunn's Black Templars do not really show any unique character but since this is a 1000 word short story that can be forgiven somewhat, but his depiction of a Chaplain was done well enough.
I did really like the depiction of the story's enemy, it felt powerful and really posed a threat to the main character though the outcome was never in doubt. I also liked the point of the story and the implication it makes about certain parts of a Space Marine Chaplain's armour, which if you read the story will have you looking at the images of them a little differently. A fairly good story that while not very memorable was enjoyable enough. I give Visage of Zeal a score of 3.5/5.
That's it for this part of the review. Thanks for reading. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!