A few months after Death and Defiance, the first novella-length, non-limited edition Horus Heresy short story anthology, comes Blades of the Traitor, a collection of five short stories from some of Black Library’s best-known authors. Interestingly, Black Library are offering readers a choice straight away of how to purchase these stories – the physical book is due for release soon (after pre-release at the Horus Heresy Weekender) while the ebooks are available either as a well-priced collection or as individual stories. It’s therefore up to readers whether to cherry pick the stories they’re most interested in or read them all as a collection.
Quick reviews of each story can be found by following the links below, but those interested in the anthology as a whole should read on. Subtitled Heed the Warmaster’s call, as a collection it’s themed largely around the traitor legions, with the focus being on various key elements on Horus’s side of the war as they look to their own plans which may or may not correspond to his own. It feels as though we are at a fascinating point in the series, where Horus’s ability to control his forces is being tested, and loyalties are being challenged once again.
Each of these stories feels tied in quite tightly to recent events in the series; anyone familiar with Scars and Vengeful Spirit will see the links clearly in Daemonology, Twisted and Wolf Mother, while Emperor’s Children fans will have much to discuss after reading perhaps the standout story, Chirurgeon. Whether or not any of these stories are specifically leading into future novels remains to be seen, but they certainly open up some intriguing possibilities. Black Oculus is the odd one out in that it overtly links in with John French’s Tallarn arc, and also is the least Space Marine-focused of the five.
Fans of the specific legions/characters involved in these stories have got plenty to enjoy here, but it’s as a collection that this really makes most sense, not only cost-wise but also in terms of its themes. With five stories of consistently high quality and a coherent sense of theme, when read as a whole it gives a strong sense of the difficult task Horus faces to keep his forces unified, and hints at just how interesting the next few chapters of the Horus Heresy story are going to be. The only real criticism is that the first two stories (Daemonology and Black Oculus) were released individually in advance of the collection, so fans who like to keep up to date may well have already purchased them, in a sense devaluing the full collection, whether in print or ebook format.