Sunday, May 17, 2020

Heralds of the Siege (The Horus Heresy #52)

Heralds of the Siege is a tie-in anthology in the Warhammer 40K universe and part of a huge body of collaborative work (novels, short stories, game lore) published in association with the tabletop game by Games Workshop. Released 31st March 2020 by Games Workshop as part of the Black Library, it's 432 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's unclear from the publishing info available online, but the eARC I received has a handy interactive table of contents. I hope the ebook release version does also. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. Presumably that feature will carry through to the final release version.

The quality of the stories is very high.  They are well written, varied, and well curated.  Of the 16 included works, only a few were from authors familiar to me. The book also includes extra lore material and background/world building history.  This is a -gloriously- niche book and although some of the stories will probably bewilder non-40k-gamers, there are a number which are surprisingly accessible to readers unfamiliar with the fandom and world. 

I've always had a particular fondness for collections/anthologies because short fiction is spare and technically challenging, so you get a better feel for an author's expertise with the form. Short fiction is less of a time commitment as well, so if one story is not working for you, there's another piece readily available in a few pages. Short fiction anthologies are also a rich source for finding new authors so you can search out their other works.

I really found a lot to love here and although it made me wistfully nostalgic for my hopefully temporarily vanished tabletop group (covid-19 and all), I liked being able to fill in a *LOT* of detail from the lore.

Four stars. Strong stories, generally strong writing, and good background lore.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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