For issue nine of Hachette’s Warhammer 40,000 Legends Collection, Black Library legend Gav Thorpe gets his first inclusion with Angels of Darkness. First published way back in 2003, this is one of the seminal 40k novels, widely credited with nailing down much of the Dark Angels’ backstory and regularly referenced as one of the best books from that period of Black Library’s output. Typically, I somehow missed it first time around – it was just one of those books that I always meant to read, but never did. Happily, its inclusion in this collection gave me the perfect opportunity to remedy that situation!
You can check out my review here – suffice to say I’m in complete agreement with the overall opinion that this is an absolute cracker of a 40k novel. The tale of two Dark Angels – one a ‘loyal’ Interrogator Chaplain and the other a ‘traitor’, one of the Fallen – and told via two interrelated narratives, it’s both a great story in its own right and a fascinating dive into the history and psychology of the Dark Angels. Whether you’re an out-and-out fan of this chapter or not, there’s a huge amount of interest to any fan of 40k as a setting, and it holds up incredibly well considering it was written nearly fifteen years ago. That’s several years before the Horus Heresy series began, remember.
If you’ve read my articles about this collection before you’ll know that I see it as aiming for two objectives – introducing key 40k factions, and celebrating classic novels. Let’s just say this book hits both of those objectives; as I’ve already mentioned, it’s a well-deserved classic, and absolutely deserves to be included in this collection. More than that, though, it’s the first Dark Angels novel in the collection, and whether you’re a fan of them or not there’s no doubting their importance in the 40k setting, or their overall popularity amongst players and readers alike.
This isn’t just about Dark Angels being popular, either. This is a book which does so much more than showcase a faction – it really digs deep into what makes them tick. Bringing together two characters whose apparent differences are in fact much less clear than you might imagine at first means that it can look at what the implications are for the Dark Angels of not just actions taken and decisions made ten thousand years earlier, but their continued determination to define themselves by their secrecy. It’s a rare book that single handedly defines so much of its subject matter, but this is clearly an important book for the Dark Angels.
It’s worth mentioning, as well, that (in my opinion, at least) it’s absolutely right for Gav to be included in this collection early on. As one of the earliest and longest-running Black Library authors he’s responsible for an awful lot of Warhammer and 40k stories, so it’s only appropriate for him to be featured here. I’ve read a lot of Gav’s work, and having read Angels of Darkness I can absolutely see why this one has been chosen first. I would say that it’s comfortably one of his best – still – and is well worth either reading for the first time (like me) or coming back to for a re-read.
As always, if you’re counting – this one has number 30 on the spine. It’s also worth quickly noting that the cover art chosen for this is the most modern iteration, by the talented Paul Dainton. If you’ve got an earlier paperback version you might have cover art by Mark Gibbons or Clint Langley, nice colour versions of which are both included in the colour sections here.