Quick Review: SHATTERED LEGIONS, ed. Laurie Goulding (Black Library)

Post-Isstvan, the Shattered Legions fight back…

Driven almost to the brink of self-destruction at Isstvan V, the Iron Hands now seek vengeance for the murder of their primarch Ferrus Manus. Gathering survivors from the Raven Guard and the Salamanders aboard any vessels capable of warp travel, these Shattered Legions wage a new campaign of annihilation against the traitor forces across the galaxy – a campaign masterminded by legendary warleader Shadrak Meduson. This Horus Heresy anthology contains ten short stories by authors including Dan Abnett, Chris Wraight, John French and many more. Also, in the novella The Seventh Serpent, Graham McNeill revisits the ragtag crew of the starship Sisypheum as they are drawn into a war of subterfuge against the Alpha Legion.

Warmaster Horus’s push towards Terra has been disrupted. Following the brutal slaughter at Isstvan V, Horus and the other Traitors believed they had neutered the Raven Guard, Salamanders and Iron Hands. They were wrong. Shattered Legion is a collection of eleven stories of varying length, each chronicling actions by members of the three broken legions, as they wage their own war of vengeance on their traitorous former brothers. If you’re a Horus Heresy fan, then this is a must read.

This anthology goes a long way to filling in some of the gap that existed for the Raven Guard, Salamanders and Iron Hands. Previously, as editor Laurie Goulding mentions in his Afterword, the three Legions had served as little more than plot devices — for example, Ferrus Manus’s whole existence, it seemed, was purely to serve as a component for Fulgrim’s fall. Given the popularity of the three Legions who bore the brunt of Horus’s initial treachery, and the excellent fiction that BL has been publishing about them (especially, in my opinion, Gav Thorpe’s Raven Guard and Nick Kyme’s Salamanders books), it makes perfect sense that the strange narrative void be filled. It also explains why the Heresy’s push for Terra ground to a bizarre halt. For those who missed the earlier anthology Meduson, you can also catch up on the heroic exploits of this new hero of the Iron Hands (he’s pretty badass).

Each of the stories in this anthology is great on its own. Of particular note, for me, are Graham McNeill’s The Seventh Serpent (which I had already read) and The Either. The latter sets things up nicely at the end of this book for more to come.

Each author takes a look at the physical and emotional toll the events of Isstvan have taken on the different Legions. The Iron Hands are dealing with the loss of their Primarch; the Salamanders with the uncertainty of the fate of Vulkan; and the Raven Guard… Well, they’re generally quiet and reserved. So, pretty much the norm for them. After a few stories, this focus started to feel a bit overdone. With each story focusing on basically the same things, just from different angles, I started to wish for things to move on. Much like the over-long focus on Calth, mid-series, it feels to me like the story of the Shattered Legions has brought things to a standstill (much like the Heresy itself…). This is not a reflection of the stories themselves — I do think they are all excellent. However, if you’ve read everything in the Heresy series, then I’m sure you’ll be ready for the narrative to move forward. I found myself muttering internally on more than one occasion, “We get it!” Luckily, it looks like the forthcoming novels will move the story forward.

If you’re a fan of the series, then I highly recommend you read Shattered Legions. It’s maybe not an anthology that you will binge-read in one sitting, but it does showcase the talents of BL’s best writers, and the stories have plenty to offer. Next up? Graham McNeill’s The Crimson King

*

Shattered Legions is out now, published by Black Library.

The Horus Heresy: Horus Rising (1), False Gods (2), Galaxy in Flames (3), Flight of the Eisenstein (4), Fulgrim (5), Descent of Angels (6), Legion (7), Battle for the Abyss (8), Mechanicum (9), Tales of Heresy (10), Fallen Angels (11), A Thousand Sons  (12), Nemesis (13), The First Heretic (14), Prospero Burns (15), Age of Darkness (16), The Outcast Dead (17), Deliverance Lost (18), Know No Fear (19), The Primarchs (20), Fear to Tread (21), Shadows of Treachery (22), Angel Exterminatus (23), Betrayer (24), Mark of Calth (25), Promethean SunVulkan Lives (26), Scars (27), The Unremembered Empire (28), Vengeful Spirit (29), The Damnation of Pythos (30), Legacies of Betrayal (31), Death & Defiance, Tallarn: Executioner, Blades of the Traitor, Deathfire (32), The Purge, Wolf King, Cybernetica, War Without End (33), Pharos (34), The HonouredThe UnburdenedEye of Terra (35), The Path of Heaven (36), The Silent War (37), Angels of Caliban (38), Praetorian of Dorn (39), Corax (40), The Master of Mankind (41), Garro (42), Shattered Legions (43), The Crimson King (44), Tallarn (45), Ruinstorm (46)

Horus Heresy Primarchs: Roboute Guilliman, Magnus the Red, Perturabo, Lorgar, FulgrimFerrus Manus

Review copy received from publisher

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