Book Review 130 // Mark of Calth (Horus Heresy)

Well after last week's little break, I was excited to get back to Space Marine high adventure in the 30k. Seems like a good title to bounce back into, it is full of short stories all set in the same theatre of war, Calth. Here is the official write up from Black Library:

In this all-new collection of Horus Heresy stories, witness the untold tales of the Underworld War. The Heresy reached Calth without warning. In just a few hours of betrayal and bloodshed, the proud warriors of the XIIIth Legion – Guilliman’s own Ultramarines – were laid low by the treachery of their erstwhile brothers of the XVIIth. Now, as the planet is scoured by solar flares from the wounded Veridian star, the survivors must take the fight to the remaining Word Bearers and their foul allies, or face damnation in the gloomy shelters beneath the planet’s surface. The battle for Calth is far from over...

The Shards of Erebus, Calth That Was, Dark Heart, The Traveller, A Deeper Darkness, The Underworld War, Athame & Unmarked

Let's dive into these tales:

The Shards of Erebus by Guy Haley

Had to start with the main villain himself Erebus. Set during the planning stages of the Calth war we get to see inside the villain head and his dealings with the other leaders. It is a great opening tale and gets you into the headspace of the book.

Calth that was by Graham McNeill

The main tale of the book. Set in the aftermath of the Calth conflict written in Know No Fear. This was an amazing read and the characters were all deserving of a full novel. It had some dodgy parts just like any Space Marine Tale, especially with the Ultramarines facing off against high numbers of Word Bearers and suffering no losses! But was a great follow-up to the Know No Fear novel.

Dark Heart by Anthony Reynolds

This story ties in with Reynold's 40k Word Bearer trilogy. The main feature character is Marduk and the story is set during the Battle of Calth. It would seem Marduk is in some deep trouble after killing his assigned mentor. Due to this, he is being interrogated by Kor Phaeron!

This was a standout story for me, as it fits in perfectly with Know No Fear story and makes me want to reread the Word Bearer Series. So watch this space.

The Traveller by David Annandale

The next story was a slight change of pace as we actually learn about the refugees of the conflict. It deals with life in the caverns, how they cause themselves more trouble than they solve and how scary daemons can actually be. It was an intriguing read.

A Deeper Darkness by Rob Sanders
Oooh, a horror/ghost story. Whilst seeking a warren of traitorous Word Bearers an Ultramarine squad discovers a darker horror! Some real great highlights in this tale, the setting is great and made me feel claustrophobic and the daemon is terrifying. Another great short story.

The Underworld War by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

An intriguing story about how the Gal Vorbek is created. The story had a great twist to it that left me wondering what was happening all the way up to the end. I found it interesting how Lorgar and Argel interact with each other over their creation and the future of the chapter. I hope we see more of these in future novels.

Athame by John French

A bit of a strange tale as it follows the life of a ritual dagger. It feels like this is an opening tale that will get a follow-up at some point. It did seem out of place in the story lineup and came across as an okay tale compared to those that came before it. 

Unmarked by Dan Abnett

Oh, wrote that last review too soon. Seems like the follow-up happens straightway. Abnett jumps into the tale and has to jump through time and space with a small group of Calth survivors fleeing with the Athame whilst chased by the daemon M'kar. Felt like a 30k version of Sliders and was a fun read, though once again with it being the final tale of the book it felt a bit out of place.

Overall an above-average read for this title. Lots of great shorts with the Dark Heart, A Deeper Darkness, and The Underworld War being my standout picks.

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Audible: Mark of Calth

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