So, the latest Horus Heresy compilation novel, brought to me thanks to the efforts of one Jay Sloper (thankyou my pointy-eared friend). The cover, as always is resplendent. Gorgeously graphic, with colours in perfect harmony, and the delights of Neil Robert's handiwork are awe-inspiring to behold. The entire tome is of the same high standard as the rest of the series, and this is the last edition to have been released as a sole-paperback copy (for those of you who don't understand this, head on over to the Black Library website where their blog will explain more).
First off we have John French's The Crimson Fist, a completely new novella-length item to open the collection. I have to confess I only recall The Last Rembrancer, Mr. French's other Horus Heresy piece from the Age of Darkness anthology. I quite like his style, reading through The Crimson Fist, with an easy pace and well-placed description, the prose is pleasant to read and flows well. The story itself and some of the information therein, well, you should read it. Some nice revelations there, I'll say.
Next we have the text-versions of the first Horus Heresy audiobooks; Raven's Flight, the Dark King and the Lightning Tower. I'll admit, having previously-released stories included within did miff me a little bit when I first found out, but reading through them I can see why the editors at BL decided to do this. It's nice to read these three stories in this new context - with so many novels having passed our gaze since their original releases, it's interesting to digest their collective information in a new light. And with an audio drama you can easily get distracted and miss something vital and lose where the story is; with a book its nice to be able to tune out all else (at least I am able to).
Both the Kaban Project and Death of a Silversmith were great shorts, but again, I've read them before. Their inclusion alongside the Lightning Tower makes this volume seem very much Graham's Collection, and whilst they are good stories, they aren't new, and they aren't in a new format. Both are very nice pieces, but in my opinion not as important to the Horus Heresy 'mainline' plots as the others in this book, and this dwindles their influence.
Lastly we have Prince of Crows, by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. A lovely piece, centered around Sevatar and Night Haunter, Mr. DB once more proves himself master of the Night Lords legion. I always enjoy this novella; the madness of both Konrad Curze and Sevatar are interesting and engrossing throughout. It ties well into both the Horus Heresy and as a little added information for the Night Lords series.
All in all the majority of the stories contained within this tome are a pleasure to read, as is the normal from this vaunted series. However the inclusion of one or two different or new shorts in lieu of the extra Mcneill ones would have bumped this up in favouritism for me personally. Age of Darkness still remains my favourite Horus Heresy collection of short stories.