2014 has been a bumper year for the Horus Heresy. We’ve seen the 29th and 30th books in the series released, Vengeful Spirit and Damnation of Pythos respectively, as well as a goodly number of novellas, anthologies, audio dramas and short stories. Now, on the one hand many Black Library fans are the kind of people who in the interests of completion will buy any new story as soon as it’s made available, while on the other hand many fans are unwilling or unable to fork out vast sums of money for limited edition releases, or just can’t get their head around audio dramas. If you’re Black Library, what do you do? How do you cater to both sets of fans? Well with Legacies of Betrayal sneaking in just before the end of the year to make it 31 in the series, it looks like you release as much as you can in as many different formats as you can, then bring out an anthology that collects a bunch of those stories together in one place.
First things first, all of the stories collected here have been previously released in one way or another; we get one novella (Chris Wraight’s Brotherhood of the Storm), prose versions of eleven audio dramas (of varying lengths) and seven other short stories (again of varying lengths) drawn from limited edition anthologies, ebooks and event programmes. Where some previous Heresy anthologies have had crystal-clear themes (Mark of Calth, for example), this is only loosely themed, looking at the way in which the characters represented have been affected by the events of the war so far, and while there’s an argument to say that every character involved in the Heresy has been affected by betrayal in some way, as a theme it just about works.
Objectively, this is a great book full of some really, really good stories; they vary widely in terms of subject matter, time frame and story length, but they all work well and are absolutely worth reading for anyone who isn’t fully caught-up with the Heresy. If you haven’t read Riven, Kryptos or The Divine Word, or if you’ve missed any of the audio dramas, then this will be an absolute treasure trove of new material shedding light on various aspects of the Heresy and linking in with the full-length novels. It’s also an absolute treat to get some of the best audio dramas in prose version, especially Honour to the Dead and Censure (perhaps some of the best stories in the whole series to date), and more than anything the overriding impression upon completion is how strong the storytelling is getting with the audios.
The problem is for completists. For anyone who has already bought the novellas, listened to the audio dramas, been to the events and picked up the anthologies, it might feel a bit like money for old rope, especially buying this in hardback, but it would leave a gap in the series if you didn’t get it. The best way to look at it is to focus again on the audios; it really is a different experience to read them in prose instead of listening, and it would be worth the entry price just for these. Add in the chance to revisit some great short stories and a truly magnificent White Scars novella, and it’s definitely worth having on the shelf.