It’s halfway to Christmas and time for the thirteenth story in the 2015 Black Library Advent Calendar – A Song for the Lost by Robbie MacNiven. Ulix, a young Ecclesiarchy novitiate, suffers under the harsh regime of his zealous bishop, taking refuge in the comfort provided by the mysterious Sister D’Fey. While his fellow novitiates shy away in fear he seeks out her company in the darkness, unwittingly ingratiating himself with something far beyond what he realises. The innocent actions of a young boy prove to have far reaching consequences, for Ulix and the Imperium at large.
This continues the high standard MacNiven set with his first story, Redblade, once again creating a believable, relatable character that forms the core of the tale. It’s a more complex narrative than Redblade, but still maintains a good pace as the action shifts and the focus widens, turning into an ambitious story that manages to stay very appropriate to the 40k ethos while still feeling fresh and original. There’s a sense that MacNiven is enjoying himself here and flexing his writing muscles a little, and that comes across in a story that’s dark, twisted and thoroughly enjoyable.