A smart, cleverly-told tale, Gav Thorpe’s Horus Heresy short story The Board is Set shows an unusually open side to Malcador, in the final moments before Horus’s forces arrive and the Siege of Terra begins. Looking for guidance and insight, Malcador sits down at an unusual game board with the Emperor to discuss what has been, what might have been, and what might yet be. With the last act approaching, he looks to the Emperor for a hint of what His final plan might be, and how they might survive what’s to come.
It’s a story which warrants careful reading (probably re-reading too) to tease out its full meaning, offering a fascinating glimpse into the relationship between Malcador and the Emperor, and filled with typically teasing hints as to how they see the ongoing events. After a slightly slow start it gradually picks up not so much speed but weight, remaining quiet and measured but increasingly intriguing, all the while offering a rare depiction of Malcador without his usual walls of self-assurance and mysticism. It’s another tale full of questions as well as answers, deliberately ambiguous as you might expect but cleverly written and fascinating nonetheless.