Review: DEATH AND DEFIANCE by Various (Black Library)

Various-Death&Defiance(HH)A collection of Horus Heresy novellas

Words alone can no longer convey the horrors of the war that now grips the Imperium. In what should have been an age of enlightenment and glorious triumph, instead warriors on both sides reel from the twin agonies of betrayal and bloodshed. The hatred of a sworn foe, the ire of a primarch, or the unholy wrath of a daemon-lord – none but the mighty Space Marines can hope to weather such torments unscathed…

Death and Defiance is the latest anthology from Black Library – originally, it was only available as a hardcover (possibly at the Black Library Weekender?). The short stories it contained were recently made available through the publisher’s website as individual eBooks. Naturally, given my addiction to Horus Heresy fiction, I snapped them up right away. On the whole, it’s a very good collection. Surprisingly, though, my favourite author featured did not deliver the best story (in fact, it was by far the weakest). Continue reading

Short Story Review: “Know Thyself” by Andy Smillie (Black Library)

Smillie-KnowThyselfMore superb Flesh Tearers from Smillie

Sent to meet with Flesh Tearers Chapter Master Gabriel Seth to discuss a recent incident in which the Flesh Tearers and Space Wolves came to blows, Inquisitor Corvin Herrold boards the flagship of the Chapter, the mighty Victus. But when he discovers a shocking secret, Herrold finds himself a prisoner of Sanguinius’s most dangerous sons, and his audience with the Master of the Flesh Tearers proves more perilous than he could have ever imagined.

Andy Smillie has done it again: he has managed to portray characters that should be mindless, ferocious psychopaths in a nuanced, relatable, and not-unsympathetic manner. What Aaron Dembski-Bowden does in long-form, Smillie has mastered in this shorter-format.

It was really interesting to see how the Flesh Tearers’ command deal with the Inquisition, and their extreme means of conveying unto those who deem them heretics and corrupt what lies at the heart of their character. It’s not pretty, nor is it supposed to be. The Tearers are the way they are, a distillation of the more brutal aspect of their originator Primarch, Sanguinius.

This is a superb short story, and I can’t wait to read more by Smillie. I really must get caught up with Flesh of Cretacia

More Flesh Tearers by Andy Smillie: Beneath The Flesh, Torturer’s Thirst

[This story was originally published in the Black Library Weekender Anthology 2012: Saturday.]