On the eighth day of Christmas Black Library gave to us…no less than six Blood Angels short stories. With contributions from veteran authors (Dan Abnett and James Swallow), well-established names (Chris Wraight and David Annandale) and relative newcomers (Ray Harrison and Mark Clapham), between them these six 1000-or-so word stories illustrate various facets of this noble but flawed chapter, only really scratching the surface but hinting at what lies beneath.
Blood of Sanguinius – Mark Clapham
An injured Blood Angel, separated from his squad, races against time and the impact of his injuries to return to his brothers before the genetic legacy he carries is lost. Though a little blunt at times, this neatly references the Blood Angels’ reverence for their blood link to the primarch Sanguinius, and the lengths they will go to preserve it. Very much a story showing the nobility of the Blood Angels.
The Blooding – Ray Harrison
The Red Thirst is an eternal burden to the Blood Angels; this story follows one Marine’s private, psychological battle with the Thirst and its implications both physical and emotional. Mixing visceral combat and twisted dreamscapes it’s a dark tale of the battle each Blood Angel fights for his very soul, and the knife-edge relationship they have with their darker sides.
The Chalice – Chris Wraight
While a Sanguinary Priest painstakingly repairs a chapter relic, Captain Laurentis of 8th Company risks everything to reclaim a missing piece needed to complete the artefact. As Blood Angels fall to the claws of daemons, this examines at the price they are willing to pay in order to preserve the history of their chapter. Epic despite its brevity, this is a detailed, beautifully constructed story, deeply introspective even in its bloodier moments.
Eternal – Dan Abnett
A single Marine comes to the aid of an embattled Astra Militarum unit on an unusually idyllic battlefield. Viewed through human eyes he is a powerful, awe-inspiring figure as he achieves what the human soldiers couldn’t, but at the same time is blunt and utterly lacking in empathy. With his usual flair for characters, Abnett looks at just how far removed the Blood Angels are from ordinary humans, not just in their physical prowess but also in their complete emotional disconnection.
Honour and Wrath – David Annandale
An old man talks of the Blood Angels to his grandson, telling of his world’s fall to heresy and subsequent redemption at the hands and guns of the Angels. Using the human viewpoint Annandale cleverly showcases the mixture of angelic glory and vengeful wrath that characterises the Blood Angels, including a nod to a character from the Mephiston stories. There’s a strong sense of the true, grim 40k style here, showing just how dark and dangerous even the good guys can be.
Reflection in Blood – James Swallow
No Blood Angels collection would be complete without a story from James Swallow, who brings back a familiar face from his own Blood Angels series to match up against the representatives of a renegade successor chapter, the Knights of Blood. Full of tension and mystery, this looks at the links between the different sons of Sanguinius and the power of blood ties, as well as the fine line walked by the Blood Angels in terms of their flawed nature.