Age of Darkness by C.Z. Dunn

beorn_101's review against another edition

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I really have mixed feelings on Short Story compilations. They lack the growth and development that tends to get me invested in a book, but the variety of perspectives here was pretty solid.

I would rate the last two stories, Iron Within and Savage Weapons as my favorite and must reads. Each explore their respective legions in compelling and interesting ways, while also addressing some of the wider events of the Heresy.

Rebirth was also pretty good. I enjoy anytime we see interplay between potential loyalists and traitors. It also has the Thousand Sons which is always a perk.

The rest were mostly a variety of interesting, but not amazing, but one stood out as particularly boring.

Liar's Due tries to do something unique, but ends up being rather bland and uninspiring. It focuses on a backwater planet, with characters that are basic imperial citizens. In doing so it wants to show the ways this conflict is spreading to smaller imperial worlds and outposts, but it also means this story is rather slow, and in my opinion, rather boring.

Overall, this is about what I come to expect from short story compilations, a few standouts, most ok, and 1-2 ones I don't like.

fastasashark's review against another edition

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adventurous dark informative mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


The second short story collection in the Horus Heresy.

Rules of Engagement by Graham McNeill
4.25/5 - An Ultramarines story

Liar's Due by James Swallow
3.5/5 - mainly humans on a remote agricultural planet

Forgotten Sons by Nick Kyme
3.75-4/5 - mainly Salamander

The Last Remembrancer by John French
4.75/5 - Awesome Iron Fist story without giving too much away

Rebirth by Chris Wright
4.25/4 - Thousand Sons 

Face of Treachery by Gav Thorpe
4/5 - World Eaters, Raven Guard

Little Horus by Dan Abnett 
3.75/5 - Sons of Horus/Luna Wolves

The Iron Within by Rob Sanders
3.5-3.75/5 - Iron Warriors

Savage Weapons by Adam Dembski Bowden
4.25/5 - Dark Angels and Night Lords

nraptor's review against another edition

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warragh's review against another edition

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A collection of short stories from various points in the course of the Heresy, mostly working as prequels to longer works.

1.Rules of Engagement

Takes place after the Heresy, after Guilliman finished the Codex Astartes. The Ultramarines go through different battles testing the tactical and strategic value of the Codex. The Ultramarines are usually quite dull and this makes no exception.

2. Liar's Due

A Alpha Legion agent infiltrates and sows dissent in a random backwater world. Predictable and devoid of any meaningful action, just serves as a pedestal for human stupidity.

3. Forgotten Sons

A Ultramarine and a Iron Hand are sent as ambassadors (?!) to a heavy militarized world who has not declared allegiance to either the Loyalists or the Traitors and have organized a debate to settle the mater. Absurd concept with an equally flabbergasting conclusion.

4. The Last Remembrancer

The greatest and most famous of the remembrancers is found in the Sol system aboard a Sons of Horus ship. Is interrogated by Dorn, who starts by denouncing the need for secrets and subterfuge, only to be promptly executed and the truth of his words burnt. The first short story that is actually quite good.

5. Rebirth

A Thousand Sons squad lands on Prospero in search of answers. They are confronted by an unexpected foe. Serves as a prequel of sorts to Scars explaining how Revuel Arvida got where he got. Again a very good story full of both action and character moments.

6. The Face of Treachery

A World Eaters ship hunts in the Istvaan system for surviving loyalists. Bamboozle ending courtesy of the Alpha Legion. Decent story, serves as a prequel for Deliverance Lost.

7. Little Horus

Character study for Horus Aximand. Nothing really very exciting but sets up a future confrontation between Garviel Loken and Aximand.

8. The Iron Within

Traitor Iron Warriors fight Loyalist Iron Warriors. Fun and filled with action and great moments. Serves as backstory for Warsmith Dantioch and explains how he ended up working with the Ultramarines. Very good. Maybe the best of the bunch.

9. Savage Weapons

Lion El'Johnson and his Dark Angels vs Konrad Curze and his Night Lords. A cool fight but nothing really more.

Overall a decent collection of stories which provides some background to other Horus Heresy books but at the end of the day nothing really special.

simonmee's review against another edition

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Of course, once they reattached his face, all he ever really looked was angry.

I started out thinking this was a miss. Tedious gap filling. References to events that haven’t occurred yet, such as the attack on Calth and Imperium Secundus.

So Roboute Gulliman is aware the Codex Astartes might not cover every situation? Yawn.

The Alpha Legion sure are sneaky. Boring.

Rogal Dorn sure is sad that things didn’t turn out the way he hoped. Give me a break.

Only the reappearance of Iacton Qruze, “The Half-Heard”, interests me. I like all three authors (McNeill, Swallow and French respectively) and the writing is good. Yet, they just don’t serve goals that I find interesting.

The Ascent

Nestled amongst these early stories is an effort by Kyme about a Salamander and Ultramarine performing diplomacy. The story asks too much from you. Space Marines suck at diplomacy and there isn’t really a way to write them to make them good, because why would they be good at it? The Traitors’ plan is a gibbering, contradictory mess. The Loyalists’ plan is possibly worse. But…

It was a fact the Ultramarine didn’t take well. ‘The Legiones Astartes do not surrender their arms. Prise my weapon from my cold, dead fingers – that is the only way a warrior of Ultramar would give up his bolter, so says my Lord Guilliman.’‘And my Lord Vulkan counsels temperance in the face of impasse. That pragmatism not pride is the solution to seemingly irreconcilable discord.’

…he gets across what it is like to be an Ultramarine who cannot serve in the front line. He makes the Salamander interesting beyond their default and over-repeated “I like the humans” character trait. And Kyme also shows why the Imperium aren’t quite the good guys of the Horus Heresy, as portrayed by the Traitors:

(i) The destruction of Monarchia because the EMPEROR OF MANKIND had a tizzy about divine worship of him.

(ii) Isstvan Three is a scrap between his unloved and unattended sons.

(iii) Dagonet is an attempted murder by deranged assassins.

(iv) Prospero is, well:

Wolves unleashed on a cultured world and a son that desired only to please his father. The subsequent razing of the planet was made to show the Emperor’s inability to forgive or grant mercy.

It’s not that you can counter these portrayals, it’s that these portrayals plausibly exist within the universe. It’s a dark form of liberalism – in Warhammer 40K, every individual has his own defensible viewpoint about the atrocities they commit.

Moving on, the sojourn of the World Eaters on Prospero by Wraight and the saving of the Raven Guard at Isstvan Five by Thorpe are also better without being outstanding. While they are box ticking exercises – Khârn needs to become mean and Corax needs to be rescued – the elements of misdirection (the Alpha Legion actually do something interesting) and reflection (was there a chance that Khârn could have been saved?), mean they work, if not much more than workmanlike.

The Ascension

Is it a good idea to put the best stories at the end? Are they meant to be a treat for working through the shuffling of pieces on the chessboard?

“Little” Horus Aximund has been on the sidelines since the original trilogy. He was the least interesting of the Mournival. Now back in the hands of Black Library’s best(?) author, Abnett, he is redeemed.

By having his face cut off.

It was the visor and snout section of his own helmet, the entire faceplate. It had been sheared off, peeled cleanly away, as though shaved by an industrial slicer. And it was not empty.

It’s a simple story, but Little Horus, haunted in his dreams by a faceless man until his own face is restored (conceded, Warhammer 40K will never have subtle or complicated analogies) becomes an interesting and talented villain worth killing. Abnett reveals who will (eventually) kill him at the same moment Little Horus is reassured of the impossibility of that person killing him:

A man could not be afraid of the dead.

Penultimately, Sanders’ handling of a renegade unit of Iron Warriors manages to be faithful to the nature of that Legion (siege experts), fun (blowing up a fortress and seizing the besiegers’ flagship) and touching (the interactions between hrud survivors Dantioch and Vastopol nearly brought tears – a commendable effort in a pressurised cabin at 30,000 feet).

‘Our honoured brother is taking his leave,’ Dantioch said. His words were hollow and shot through with loneliness and the simple sadness of loss.

Then again, once they reattached his face, all he ever really looked was invincible.

I’m not sure how to describe Dembski-Bowden’s effort, which closes the collection.

‘I am Alajos,’ he told them. ‘Captain of the Ninth Order of the First Legion. Brother to all knights, son to one world, sworn to one lord.’ Sevatar lowered his halberd with a lance’s intent. The whirring teeth chewed air with a petulant whine. ‘I am Sevatar the Condemned,’ he growled, ‘and I will wear your skin as a cloak before dawn ruins the sky.’

It’s a talk. It’s two talks. It’s a fight. It’s two fights. It’s between a knight and a murderer, but it’s the knight who cheats.

‘For such a dishonourable blow,’ the Lion whispered into Curze’s pale, bleeding face. ‘I do not care who knows the truth now, tomorrow, or in ten thousand years. Loyalty is its own reward.’

…and it’s the knight who loses, saved only by a subordinate who fled his own fight, who condemned his own comrade to death in doing so. The set up; the horrific wit of Curze and Servatar; the execution; the callbacks to Dembski-Bowden’s [b:trilogy|18775059|Night Lords The Omnibus (Night Lords #1-3)|Aaron Dembski-Bowden||26680184]; the absoluteness that the Lion and Curze are fated by the laws of good storytelling to face off once more, carrying the weight of this battle with them…

…it’s fantastic.

‘So which are you, a traitor or a fool?’

The Night Lord’s voice revealed his own smile, even if his soulless helm did not.


l0rdtim865's review against another edition

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I really have mixed views on this book. There are some good short stories in here and some below expected stories too. I think it's one of the books in there Horus Heresy series you only need to read the stories that interest you.

ulzeta's review against another edition

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A fun read.

utbw42's review against another edition

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Collection of Horus Heresy related short stories to somewhat further the Heresy timeline. The Iron Within and Savage Weapons stand out to me, but I do feel that some of the short stories could have been fleshed out to full length novels, leaving these feeling somewhat rushed and contrived. Overall a fun read, but try to enjoy it for what it is: a small window into the overall Heresy saga.

doowopapocalypse's review against another edition

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Rules of Engagement 1/5
Did nothing for me. At all.

Liar's Due 3/5
Cool Bradbury vibe, and I like the alpha legion infiltrator, even though why would you have a tattoo?

Forgotten Sons 2/5
Kinda meh, but I like the alien shapeshifter assassin

The Last Remembrancer 3/5
Cool stuff. Not a big bombastic thing but I liked the glimpse at how Horus had already changed the Imperium.

Rebirth 3/5
I really like idea of post-razing Prospero and people picking over it's corpse. Straight into the scenario notebook.

The Face of Treachery 2/5
Not as fleshed out as I would have liked, but the Alpha Legion's motives and goals always intrigue.

Little Horus 3/5
I like that even after the drop site massacre there are Sons still trying to maintain a certain discipline to their legion. And it's always nice to have the Vth make an appearance.

The Iron Within 4/5
The best part of the anthology, even though it tried to get me to believe anyone would mistake a space marine for a cleric. The siege of Schadenhold is something that I wish I had come up with as a kid playing with my GI Joes

Savage Weapons 3/5
Fun duel, would have been interesting to see this lead more into stuff from Unremembered Empire

farilian's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes