It’s back to the Horus Heresy for day thirteen of Black Library’s 2016 Advent Calendar, with The Painted Count by Guy Haley. Picking up where Gender Skraivok left off at the end of Pharos, we see him back on the Nightfall among his fellow Night Lords, embroiled in a power struggle for the leadership of the Legion. Deeply troubled by the clinging presence of the daemon weapon that he acquired on Sotha, Skraivok nevertheless finds himself in a position where he may well need every source of power he can lay his hands on if he’s to survive.
Since his introduction in A Safe and Shadowed Place, Skraivok has been the archetypal Night Lord, snarky, selfish and devious, but this time he’s in a much tighter spot with his back to the wall, forced into making decisions he might regret. At its core this is a classic Night Lords tale, but it also feels like a turning point in both their involvement with the Heresy and the wider character of the Legion. Haley’s done an excellent job as usual, tying this in to previous stories and leaving the way open for the Legion’s next steps, so read this after Pharos and keep your eyes peeled for what comes next.