Black Library tend to release a short story anthology to coincide with each of their events. The 2014 Weekender was no different, with Honour of the Space Marines available, a six-story anthology featuring everyone’s favourite 41st-millennium super soldiers. As with the other ‘…of the Space Marines’ collections (except perhaps ‘Treacheries of…’) the title is a bit misleading, as this only loosely a themed anthology. It’s more about showing the next steps in story arcs that the authors are already known for, from long-established characters to newer, less familiar faces.
Individually the stories are excellent, with some of the authors picking up existing threads from their series while others look at the chapters you might expect them to, but from unexpected areas. Graham McNeill returns to the saga of Uriel Ventris with a snappy story that nicely introduces all the main characters and would appear to directly set up his next novel, Swords of Calth, while John French looks through the eyes of one of Ahriman’s minions in a story that sits between Exile and Sorcerer. It ties in with a couple of audio dramas and includes characters who look like having significant roles to play in the rest of the series. Gav Thorpe offers up a bleak, twisted tale of the Dark Angels on their search for the Fallen as a Librarian risks his very soul on a mission into the Eye of Terror, and Nick Kyme returns to his beloved Salamanders, this time looking at Chapter Master Tu’Shan as he meets with his opposite number in the Blood Angels, the legendary Commander Dante. Guy Haley has written a number of short stories involving Adelard and Brusc of the Black Templars, in advance of a forthcoming novel, and his story here looks at the conflict Brusc faces between his conscience and his duty. Lastly Chris Wraight returns to the Space Wolves, but in fact looks closer at some of their arch enemies and the long game they are prepared to play in order to see their plans come to fruition.
Compared to the paperback ‘…of the Space Marines’ anthologies, at a glance this would seem to be poor value for money. Those books had nine or ten stories each with considerably longer page counts, and came in at lower prices compared to the hardback, novella-length anthology here. In context of the current pricing for ebooks on the Black Library website however, it’s about the same price as you would expect to pay for six e-shorts, so the question of value is more about the standard of the stories and the relevance to what’s to come in their respective series. Only hindsight will show just how important they are, but from the standard of the stories and the interesting directions they take, it’s safe to say that this is recommended reading for fans of the series in question, or for completists who like to read every scrap of story they can find.