Review: THE PURGE by Anthony Reynolds (Black Library)

ReynoldsA-HH-PurgeAn excellent new Horus Heresy novella (one of the best so far)

The Shadow Crusade spreads across Ultramar, with the Word Bearers 34th Company falling upon the isolated world of Percepton Primus. As the fighting draws out into a programme of extermination, embittered commander Sor Talgron begins to question his part in Lorgar’s grander scheme – for one who stood beside primarchs and high lords in the grand halls of the Imperial Palace, what glory can there now be in punishing Guilliman’s upstart sons? But the price of doubt is known all too well, and if the Word Bearers are ever to return to Terra in triumph then they must purge the last remnants of such unbelief from the face of the galaxy…

Originally published as one of Black Library’s ever-increasing deluge of limited editions, The Purge is now available in hardcover and eBook for a wider audience. And any fan of the Horus Heresy series should be very happy about this — it’s easily one of the best Heresy novellas the publisher has released.

Anthony Reynolds is one of Black Library’s best authors. He doesn’t write as much as some of the other BL authors, but each of his works that I’ve read has been excellent. The Purge is no exception. Following the actions of a Word Bearer captain in two time-lines, it shows us one of the first acts of treachery the Legion put in place, as well as the evolution of Sor Talgron. Given that the Legion is known as one of zealots, it is interesting to learn that Talgron is a rare non-believer — in anything, really, that isn’t based on hard fact and experience: he puts his faith in his brothers, his bolter, and his own abilities. The events of the novella, however, will put his worldview to the test; and his journey takes some pretty interesting, twisted turns over the course of the book. I’m especially looking forward to seeing what comes of the Word Bearers’ actions on Terra, beneath the Imperial Palace, and also on the comet that’s mentioned in passing twice…

Reynolds writes extremely well: tight prose and narrative. I was quickly pulled into the story, and his characters really come alive on the page. They were relatable, three-dimensional and interesting to read about. The story is well-paced, alternating between the two time-lines, offering a steady drip of development and revelations. There’s some action and battle, but not too much — which is just the way I like my Heresy fiction. This one is a bit more focussed on what’s happening on the sidelines, in the shadows. It’s very well done. I didn’t pick up on the significance of all the revelations; it remains to be seen if this is because I haven’t been following the official/game background of the Heresy, nor read all of the other Heresy fiction (there are so many limited editions that either aren’t yet widely available or are too expensive for me), or whether things will be explained later in the series.

The author has written three other novels about the Word Bearers (set in the “present”/game time-line of WH40k). I haven’t had the chance to read them, yet, but I think there may be connections between this novella and some of the characters in his other work. I’m looking forward to reading them ASAP. I think Black Library needs to commission more Heresy books by Reynolds…

Very highly recommended for all fans of the author and the Horus Heresy series.

12 thoughts on “Review: THE PURGE by Anthony Reynolds (Black Library)

  1. This is one of those stories that reminds me why I keep reading every story in the Horus-Heresy-series. It’s this continuation of the moral dilemma presented by the start of the series: You’ve got a big chunk of humanity united by a god-like Emperor-figure and demi-gods lead armies to reunite humanity and kill evil aliens. Also, they all do it to spread scientific enlightenment and freedom and justice and so on. And then the Horus-Heresy-series is at its best when it focuses on a specific element in this element and shows why things spiral out of control or shows why things just continue getting worse. The franchise started with this idealistic image and all the franchise has been about is exposing all these flaws and problems that were right there beneath the surface but got ignored. And of course to even continue this franchise after “shit has hit the fan” and not speed things up so that you would get to the “this is where good people win the day once and for all”-portion makes this franchise really interesting, I think.

    As for the limited editions… Thankfully Black Library has (finally) learned its lesson and the new novella The Wolf King is at least available as ebook right away (the price is ridiculous, though). But the Purge is a perfect example for how to convince people to start pirating that stuff. If your option is 1) “buying a VERY expensive limited edition or maybe you even have noticed it too late so you can’t buy it at all” or 2) “waiting a year for it to come out for the general public.” or 3) “just go to some torrent-site and get the book from there day one for free.”. That strategy has always felt like BL was more concerned with keeping the book out of my hands than selling it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a great novella. I hope he writes more in the future.
      The sheer number of limited editions is just nuts. Yes, it’s nice that they’re offering the eBook at the same time, but at that price point… Eeshk. That’s just too much, and I’m sure a lot of other people will think it’s too expensive.


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