Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Shadows Of Treachery Review

Shadows of Treachery is the latest Horus Heresy short story antology that Black Library has released. Unlike Age of Darkness, Shadows of Treachery feels much more solid and consistent; this is not only to a very solid roster of authors, but especially because it mainly focuses on 2 Legions, their Primarchs and First Captains, a similar timeframe and related events. In this case, it is the Imperial Fists and the Night Lords. 

Up to now, the Imperial Fists main contribution to the story so far was picking up the survivors of the Einsenstein after their escape from the Isstvan system, bringing the news to Terra and start fortifying the defences. The Imperial Fists were also in charge of retrieving as many supplies as possible from Mars when the civil war broke out in the Red Planet. It is also known what it was Rogal Dorn who organized the disastrous counter-attack that ended up with the dropsite massacre.

As for the Night Lords, we have had brief references of their skirmishes with the Dark Angels in some remote region of space, and I believe play an important role in the recent Vulkan lives, which I haven't read yet.

So what about this compilation? I was a bit disappointed with Tales of Heresy and Age of Darkess but given the roster of authors is top notch - Abnett, McNeill and Dembski-Bowden amongst other- and that the Legacy Edition was available, I went for it. See below a short review of each story.


The Crimson Fist by John French
This is the largest story in the book, almost a mini novel on its own. The Crimson Fist explains what happened to the Imperial Fists force dispatched by Rogal Dorn to support the other loyalist Legions in the fight in Isstvan V. About 20% of the Legion, which was a huge fleet in that time, was sent to Isstvan and did not participate in the dropsite massacre; we finally get to know their fate. Not that I want to spoil anything but the cover we can already see Imperial Fists with assault gear fighting Astartes of the +++CENSORED+++ legion. It might also ring a bell if you saw this amazing diorama from Games Day ...



In the story we get to know a little bit more about the impenetrable Rogal Dorn and the Imperial Fists' First Captain Sigismund (who had previously appeared saving some bacon in Mechanicum). On the other side we find out the origin of the bodyguards of the Primarch of the +++CENSORED+++ legion and get to know more of their efficient way of fighting. All in all an enjoyable read, if yet its final is not very imaginative.


The Dark King by Graham McNeill

The Night Lords are arguably of one the Legions that have spent less time in the spotlight (pun intended) and finally get some much deserved love, although they are still to get a full novell of their own. In the meantime, The Dark King preludes the origins of their Primarch Konrad Kurze in a similar fashion as other Primarchs have had mentions of their first steps in their worlds of adoption in their novels; think of Fulgrim or Perturabo but with some more detail.

I don't know much about the Night Lords lore and fluff but suffice to say, this story has a quite different flavour to those of other more normal Primarchs; Kurze arrives to Nostromo after being dispersed from Terra to find a violent hive society, and after sometime surviving by eating different types of meat (hint: there are no cows in the hives) decides to put some order on his on way, which is terror. This is where we see hints that things were not allright in the Night Lords legion many years before the Heresy, same as we saw in Fulgrim, Angel Exterminatus or A Thousand Sons, and rather than the Heresy was made possible because most of the traitor Legions were already hiding something. It is these little tidbits of information that together add a much needed sense to the overall story.

The Lightning Tower by Dan Abnett


Can the mighty, imprenetable, hard as a rock Rogal Dorn feel fear? if it's not fear, let's just call it a very deep concern. This short story is bolter porn-free and revolves around a conversation of Rogal Dorn and the Sigillite in Terra, where they discuss the origins of that fear. What can it be so grave, so daunting, so horrible that can affect Rogal Dorn? The Night Haunter is part of this conversation and we learn that Dorn and Kurze had some issues in the past, but is it Kurze the reason of the fear?



The Kaban Project by Graham McNeill
The second short story of Mr. McNeill explains the origins of that sentient machine that attacked Dalia Cyphera and her friends in the novel Mechanicum. Although this was not a part that deserved much explanation, it is very nice to have a complementary story around Mechanicum, for this is one of the finest Horus Heresy novels to date, and one that - time will tell - could be recalled in the future as the origin of a new Mechanicum army. The story itself isn't that great but again, those that enjoyed Mechanicum will be interested. Hopefully we'll get some more stories on the Knights next time?

Raven’s Flight by Gav Thorpe
In the context of the Horus Heresy storyline, one of the big questions marks so far is how could there be any survivors from Isstvan V, and especially how Corax got away. Well this short story sheds some light about it. Personnally I feel it gives a too simplistic explanation and that it could have been more developed but to be fair, it is only a short story and it's best to get a (simple) answer that no answer at all, IMO.


Death of a Silversmith by Graham McNeill
This is really a filler that adds nothing to the general storyline. A very short story on the Luna Wolves and a character we had not heard about in a long time...

Prince of Crows by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The second story of the Night Lords and one that I found very interesting; after a series of skirmishes with the Dark Angels, the Lion manages to ambush the Night Lords and in leaves Kurze badly wounded after fighting him. The remnants of the Night Lords ships flee and it is up to their First Captain Jago Sevatar to take the control. To do so will have to fight the inherent treachery of his Legion if he wants to strike back at the First Legion. 

Conclusion

Whilst the previous Horus Heresy compilations so far have been somewhat disappointing, this book feels much more solid and consistent. it sheds some light around details or secondary affairs far from the main action that some might find interesting, and definetely gives much more context to the Imperial Fists and Night Lords. If you are not interested in neither the details or those Legions and just want to see the story advance, I would probably recommend to skip this lecture. Otherwise it makes for a pleasant distraction (I read it one story at a time while going to work in the train) and the Legacy Edition at 10.5€ is definetely a great value. Verdict: 3/5

Have you read this book? what do you think?

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