Lord of the Night reviews the Space Marines anthology Angels of Death featuring 31 short stories by a wide range of Black Library authors.
"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
The Crown of Thorns by Peter Fehevari

Peter Fehevari has only written one novel thus far but Fire Caste is still one of my favourite books for it's gripping story and very esoteric themes and ideas. This story sees Fehevari move on from the Imperial Guard to the Space Marines and he has created one of the most interesting and shocking chapters yet, the Angels Penitent who immediately make their strangeness known to the reader. This story is of their fall, but it is a fall unlike any other and the idea behind this chapter's fall is a very very interesting one.

I really enjoyed the look into the Angels Penitent and their former identity as the Angels Resplendent, the hints as to how they fell show that it was something very unexpected that brought them low from grace, and the unique rituals and horrors that await those who fail the Crown of Thorns. All of these paint the image of a chapter that stands out amongst all the Space Marines, for all the wrong reasons, and that there is much much more to explore with this fanatical and self-flagellating chapter. There is also a link to Fire Caste in this story, and I am ninety-five percent sure I know what it is and if I am right then... wow. Just wow. I give The Crown of Thorns a score of 5/5.

Iron Soul by Phil Kelly

This story is the first experience of Phil Kelly's writing that I have ever had and it was a rather enjoyable one with a surprising twist. The Iron Hands are a chapter that so far I have only enjoyed Chris Wraight's depiction of them, and while Kelly has not really used any Iron Hands beyond the one character whose secret turns out to be quite a shocking one, the story is still fairly compelling.

I liked the idea of the Apothecary, or the Wolf Priest to be exact, only trying to be helpful and instead learning something that he can never unlearn, and seeing something that while open to interpretation, is still quite clearly what most readers will assume it to be. It is interesting that such a thing would exist and that if any chapter were to use it, it would be the Iron Hands, and I think perhaps another short story more focused on that topic would be very enjoyable. I give Iron Soul a score of 3.5/5.

No Worse Sin by Joe Parrino

Now this story was an odd one, mainly because I don't understand what the point of it was nor am I one-hundred percent on exactly what happened in the ending. The Brazen Claws as a defeated and weary chapter was an interesting characterisation, but the story didn't really go anywhere beyond a meeting between the chapter officers, and aside from their weariness nothing much was made of what made the Brazen Claws a unique chapter.

The ending was the key problem as I am not sure what it meant. It felt like a complete surprise and one that the characters understood, but I did not because I lacked their knowledge. Not a good thing for a short story and it let down the plot quite a bit which combined with little progress or real plot at all made this story a let down. I give No Worse Sin a score of 2/5.

Codex by Graham McNeill

At first I didn't think I would like this story, mainly because I liked Uriel Ventris more when he was willing to look beyond the Codex Astartes and I dislike that McNeill has made him slavish to it like every other Ultramarine. But I actually did like this story as it was quite straightforward and didn't feature a lot of Codex praising, just Uriel running a simple operation against some Orks with a wider goal in mind.

The appearance of Torias Telion was a nice cameo and I liked that the Swords of Calth returned for this story, that and where the story ends makes me think that this short is an introduction to where Uriel and Pasanius will be for the seventh Ultramarines book whenever that may be released, and it has the potential to be an interesting book if Uriel's new goal by the end is anything to go by. I give Codex a score of 3/5.

Duty's End by Robin Cruddace

Robin Cruddace is another new author for me and while the idea of a dying Space Marine and what he would do in his final moments is an interesting idea, this story didn't feel very memorable and certain plot elements felt pointless and thrown in only to add some meat to the story. The point of the story was clear but it just didn't feel like it mattered at all.

The other problem is that the Howling Griffons felt like placeholders. Nothing in this story made the protagonist feel like a Howling Griffon, rather he just felt like a standard Space Marine with no unique chapter ideals or idiosyncracies, et cetera. This really let the story down as if Cruddace had made it a bit longer and reworked the protagonist to feel like a member of his chapter it could have been a more interesting story. I give Duty's End a score of 2/5.

The Third War by Ray Harrison

The Mortifactors are an interesting chapter, what we know of them at least, and this story by new author Ray Harrison made use of what we do know about them to tell a story that at first seems like a straightforward battle but is revealed to be quite a bit more than expected, and it ties in nicely with the knowledge we already have of the Mortifactors and their participation in a certain conflict.

The protagonist did not really stand out in this story which did let it down a bit as a Mortifactors Chaplain would be an interesting character to read about, particularly with what the Chaplains of this chapter are responsible for. A missed opportunity that keeps this story from achieveing a higher quality, it was enjoyable but could have been more so had the battle lasted a bit longer and with more written about the character. I give The Third War a score of 3/5.



That's it for this part of the review. Thanks for reading. Until next time,

AVE DOMINUS NOX!
 
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