Book Review: Tales of Heresy
A must read if you're following The Horus Heresy series of books.
Edited by: Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley
Reviewing Author: Jim Zabek
Tales of Heresy is a collection of short stories set in the Warhammer universe at the time of the Horus Heresy. For those unfamiliar with it, the Horus Heresy was the schism that saw the forces of evil and chaos split away from the empire 10,000 years before the main period in the Warhammer sci-fi universe. Recently a series of books has been published, and continues to be published, which shed extensive light on this “historical” period. They can be found collectively under the master title The Horus Heresy. The books in this series are written chronologically, with the first four, Horus Rising, False Gods, Galaxy in Flames, and Flight of the Eisenstein almost certainly requiring sequential reading to get the most of them. After those four books, the next five can be read sequentially and make passing reference to each other, but can be read out of order without much danger of spoilers (much of which isn’t spoiler anyway since the Horus Heresy is set 10,000 years in the past…).
Released somewhere between books eight and nine in the series, as noted above, Tales of Heresy is a collection of short stories that provide brief glimpses of events unfolding during the Heresy but these are not restricted chronologically and can easily be read at any point after the first four books have been completed.
Within its pages are seven stories. The first, Blood Games, is written by the master himself, Dan Abnett. Abnett is one of the leading authors of the Warhammer 40,000 team, and frankly I suspect he could write about the gears in an agricultural machine on some distant grox farm and it would fun. Everything he writes is entertaining, and in Blood Games we get a glimpse into the lives of the protectors of the Emperor that can only leave the reader wondering why an entire series wasn’t devoted to this topic. It’s a great way to start the book.
The second story, Wolf at the Door, hits upon my personal favorite, Space Wolves. Not only are we treated to another great story about the Wolves, but this is the first glimpse into the mysteriously doomed 13th Company. The reader won’t learn why the 13th Company disappeared, but there are some tantalizing hints about it that suggest where things might have gone wrong….
James Swallow’s The Voice takes us on another of his adventures with the Sisters of Battle as they face a series of personal conflicts and stunning moral dilemmas that will tax the faith of even the most devout.
There are others stories, but each is worth the reader taking the time to discover them on his own. I haven’t read a lot of short stories in the Warhammer universe, but I have bought Let the Galaxy Burn and found it uneven and slightly disappointing. The stories I have read so far (admittedly not that many) are too short, and it’s difficult to get a sense of character development before it ends. That is certainly not the case with Tales of Heresy; here readers will enjoy a collection of work from top shelf writers who have ample space to weave tales of intrigue, heresy, and heroism. Each story sheds light on an area that gives us a hint as to what it might have been like to be on the ground as the impact of Horus’ treachery become known and felt. If you’re reading The Horus Heresy these are tales you won’t want to miss. And if you haven’t started reading it but are a fan of Warhammer 40,000 gaming fiction, it’s time to start.