"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
Judgement by Mark Latham
Mark Latham has chosen an interesting subject to write about with the Doom Legion, specifically the fabled Abyssal Crusade where over 30 Space Marine chapters fell to Chaos by the command of a heretic saint. A dark day for humanity and the Doom Legion face censure for five-hundred of their own warriors betraying the Imperium. Latham captured the shame yet resolution of the Chapter Master in his conversation with the Inquisitor, and what sacrifices they will make to clear their names.
The twist at the end of the story was surprising as I didn't think any Space Marine would be willing to do such a thing for such a character, yet the Doom Legion did and even though they remain loyal there is a great fight ahead of them to defeat the fallen they once called brothers. I quite liked the idea that the Doom Legion has been forgotten on the fringes of known space, their resentment for the Imperium finally remembering them was interesting and has potential for some more stories. I give Judgement a score of 3.5/5.
Final Journey by Guy Haley
Guy Haley's second story in the anthology was unfortunately not as good as his first. Returning to his Novamarines from The Death of Integrity we get to see the funeral of a Space Marine, however the unique twist on the dead that Haley gave the Novamarines in his book is absent here and rendered the entire story pointless, beyond showing how a Novamarine is interred.
The funeral rites were nicely choreographed and I liked the idea that the Novamarines are constantly building new crypts that may never be filled. But the thing that would have made this story much better, even mentioned by the Chaplain as a part of the funery rites, never happened and as such the story was quite let down and became pointless beyond providing the reader with some esoteric information about the chapter. I give Final Journey a score of 2/5.
Reclamation by Laurie Goulding
Laurie Goulding is a new author for me and his take on the Scythes of the Emperor is one I was curious about, the Scythes being one of my favourite chapters, and I am pleased to say I quite liked his depiction of them. Remembering the very enjoyable Orphans of the Kraken by Richard Williams, Goulding has taken what Williams did in that story and continued on the theme of the Salvation Teams and the Scythes becoming a chapter of scavengers.
The characters show in their conversation how bad things are for the chapter, forced to scavenge from the dead which appropriately costs them respect among the other Space Marine chapters, and how precious even the least of materials can be to them. Goulding's Scythes are a desperate chapter that is trying to maintain their pride while acknowleding that they must take what they can get, but sometimes you get lucky. And as the author information in the back reveals that Goulding is working on a full Scythes of the Emperor novel, I look forward to seeing more of them. I give Reclamation a score of 3/5.
Skin Deep by Sarah Cawkwell
Sarah Cawkwell's Silver Skulls are a chapter that I quite like reading about, mainly because she goes beyond the typical characterisation of Space Marines and offers much more human characters, not quite human as they have been so far removed, but her characters have a core of humanity that sets them apart from most other authors. This was the point of the story, showing how a Space Marine can bond with a human and how that friendship feels to the Space Marine.
I quite liked the Cruor Primaris for being a character who you feel could have been a great Space Marine if his genetics had been better, and Argentius respecting him despite him being only a mortal and considering him a friend was a very nice moment in the story. The final line though was the best, showing that the Cruor is a Silver Skull, just in a different way. I give Skin Deep a score of 4/5.
Vigil by James Swallow
The thing I liked most was the explanation as to why the Doom Eagles consider life important, because it's precious, but death is inevitable so it must be respected equally. And the reason they go to old battlefields is actually quite smart, so on the whole I think this story reveals quite a bit about the mindset of the chapter and that some of their "morbid" behaviour actually has a good reason. I give Vigil a score of 3.5/5.
That's it for this part of the review. Thanks for reading. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!