Shadowhawk reviews the first five Angels of Death short stories.
“As always with such things, this is a right mix of all sorts of stories and for the most part they were all enjoyable. Great little experiment that I’d like to see repeated at some point.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
Black Library has been putting out digital eShorts for about a year and a half now. These particular eShorts are usually about a 1000-words long, sometimes more. They are a great way to provide some extra little content, either to provide more stories about existing characters and series or to springboard altogether new ones, especially when there’s no discernible “market” for novel-length stories about the same. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed all of these, although there have been a few duds here and there.
The latest in this format is a series of eShorts that are being put out as tie-ins to the upcoming release of the new Codex: Space Marines, which is rumoured to be coming out very soon. I’ve recently started to get back into reading Black Library’s short content and I have to say that reading all these short stories has been really great. They give great snapshots of the universe at large, often fleshing out some new areas.
The second story here is by Andy Smillie, who started writing for Black Library last year with several short stories and even a novella about the Flesh Tearers Space Marines. Now, Smillie is stepping out of that comfort zone and experimenting a little bit, starting with the Executioners here. The Executioners are a fantastic chapter, covered in depth in Forge World’s Badab War books. I’ve experimented with writing some Executioners fiction myself, set during the Badab War itself, and they are a great chapter to write about. Of course, they are an even better chapter to read about as well.
This was a very odd sort of story for several reasons. One, since this is the first time we are seeing the chapter covered in fiction, as far as I can tell, this is very much a world-building story, unlike Codex, which didn’t need to do any of those things since Uriel Ventris has been covered in extreme detail in six novels and various short stories. We get a really good sense of the chapter’s ethics and moralities here, as well as their beliefs. Second, this is a rather dark tale, one that exemplifies the futile nature of the setting. Heroes can be great heroes, especially when they are sacrifices to halt the inevitable. What that means is that this was the perfect kind of story to go with that theme.
The pacing of this 1000-worder is a bit on the fast side, due to the slightly fractured nature of the narrative, and that put me off a bit. All the same, I wouldn’t mind reading something longer about Smillie’s Executioners. Perhaps a Space Marine Battles novella like Flesh of Cretacia. That’d be nice.
eBook Death Speakers (Angels of Death, #2)