The first bit is that this story is a jumper. It jumps from two current event tales to flashbacks. I was ok with it, but it could get a bit annoying because just when you are lead somewhere…..BAMPF! you are taken to another story.
Alright, the first story revolves around Vulkan being tortured, both physically and mentally by Konrad Curze. This is by far my favorite tale as it goes into who Vulkan and Konrad really are. It is a nice bit of character study and development. Here Curze does his best to break Vulkan and does using some delightful techniques! During these bouts of torture Vulkan has his values, psyche and body tested. Curze wants to break him physically and/or mentally. Why? Well because Curze is a dark twisted nutter is why.
The second story running throughout is about that upstart John Grammaticus and his attempt to fulfill some crazy destiny. He is stuck on a planet that is besieged by the Word Bearers. He is after a magic weapon of some sort. The Word Bearers are there to do their warp and chaos worship bit. Meanwhile, there is a contingent of Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders that have survived the drop sire massacre and are running a small guerilla war against the Word Bearers. This is more the typical space marine action/adventure we all know. You know the long odds, the desperate struggle, honor, courage, sacrifice, revenge, bolters and chainswords: all set against the Word Bearers trying to do nasty warp stuff. This has events that are relevant to the greater Horus Heresy story, so it has some importance as more than just filler.
The final story is a flashback tale of the dropsite massacre on Istvaan V. I am a supporter of all stories that deal with the events of that battle. There was so little written in the game fluff prior to this series. Now we get various accounts in the Hersey novels and I enjoy any new take on that event. Here we are treated to the Salamanders prefight rituals. Then there is a story of how they brought the fight to the traitors, namely a great encounter with the Death Guard ( a personal favorite ). A small Angron cameo with the arrival of the World Eaters. Then eventually this leads to the reinforcements who turn traitor and the routing of the loyalist armies. Istvaan V, I’m a big fan!
If there is a problem it is that during the Curze/Vulkan story there are events happening in real time that are never really discussed. There is a battle raging in space maybe? There is a random appearance of Corax that is a bit of a puzzler. I can only hope there is some tale that explains what is going on while Vulkan is captured. That or it was a wyrd torture fatigue dream he was having. There is also some bit that happens between this book and Unremembered Empire that has Curze on a Dark Angel ship. How did this happen? No damn idea. Here is to hoping there is a story somewhere that ties the Corax and ship travelling Curze stuff together.
This isn’t a must read for the Hersey series, but it does bring a few interesting 40K bits to light. It does help the next book, Unremembered Empire, make a little more sense. It isn’t necessary, but it isn’t the worst of the series.
What the hell was Curze doing with the Dark Angels? Where is this damn story!? Where is the fall of Caliban stuff too? Where is the Mortarion/ Death Guard fall from grace book? When are they going to get around to this stuff? Lousy Horus Hersey stuff making me want more and only doling out what they want when they want.