A quiet, measured short story that could only have come from John French, Now Peals Midnight is the calm before the storm, in which Rogal Dorn and the loyal defenders of Terra take a last, deep breath before the Siege of Terra begins. As the ever-present unrest in the Sol system fades away leaving an eerie sense of quiet, Dorn orders the final preparations knowing that Horus is only hours away. Across the breadth of the Imperial Palace, defenders wait…from conscripts huddled in the darkness to Primarchs standing proud on the walls. At last, the wait is almost over.
For all that there’s not a single moment of action, there’s a real sense of intensity to this story. French teases it out slowly, pacing the story as the final few hours slip by, building a quiet tension by playing upon the reader’s understanding of what’s coming. As Dorn makes his final moves, snatches of conversation from previous stories flicker in and out, combining with poignant descriptions of the Palace and its defenders to really bring home the Heresy’s trademark sense of tragedy and inevitability. For readers as much as these characters, this really is it…next stop the Siege.