I’ve been reading a couple of Dark Angels novels lately, and thought I’d ramble on a little about them both here!
First on the list is Angels of Darkness, a classic Dark Angels tale of the Interrogator-Chaplain, Boreas, both during one of his interrogations of the Fallen Angel Astlean, and later during a linked attempt to discover more Fallen. While some parts felt a bit odd and contrived, in the main I quite liked it as a general sort of space marine story. For me, the best part of this was ‘the tale of Boreas’ segments, dealing with the events in the Piscina system, rather than the interrogation parts. There were some interesting moments to be had here, of course, particularly during the later moments, where the balance of whether the Fallen were right or not to go against Lion El’Jonson – in fact, there was an interesting idea floated about why Horus turned against the Emperor. I’ll leave it at that, but I thought it was an interesting idea. The only thing that bummed me out about this story was that it suggests Boreas ends the tale agreeing with the Fallen – as an Interrogator-Chaplain, he should be above this of course, and while conflict is always assumed to make for a better story, sometimes I’d like to see someone stay true to their calling…
Descent of Angels is the sixth Horus Heresy novel, and chronologically takes place well before Horus Rising, showing the origins of the Dark Angels Legion on Caliban. Reading this pretty swiftly on the heels of the last, it was kinda interesting to see Caliban as it was, with the knightly orders and so forth. However, well over half of this book takes place in something of a sword-and-sorcery environment, as we’re introduced to the Dark Angels (at first, just called the Order) as knights of Caliban, who wield proto-chainswords and ride destriers into battle against weird beasts of the Warp.
We follow Zahariel and Nemiel as they are inducted into the Order, a sort of proto-Legion, and take part in Lion El’Jonson’s crusade against the beasts, which have been preying on the citizens of Caliban for centuries. Jonson intends to hunt these beasts to extinction, and the Order pursues them into the wild and untamed Northwilds, which brings them into conflict with a rival order of knights, who are defending the beasts. The battle ends in the decimation of the rival order, and discovery of a vast library of forbidden knowledge.
The first Legion arrives on Caliban, discovers Lion El’Jonson, and soon the Emperor arrives to formally absorb the planet into the Imperium. An immense sea-change occurs where suddenly the knights are now space marines, and assist the White Scars with the compliance of Sarosh. The change occurs way too fast for my liking, given the pacing of the earlier scenes. Overall it’s a decent enough book, but for me it comes at entirely the wrong time in the Horus Heresy timeline, having pretty much no connection to the previous storyline that felt a bit too jarring for me.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for Descent of Angels, I managed to read it in just a couple of days, thanks to an ongoing bout of insomnia. It was really interesting to read it coming so close behind Angels of Darkness, too, after the talk of the Heresy era in the other novel. Of course, it doesn’t help that it comes immediately prior to Legion in the timeline, which is a novel I’m especially looking forward to getting round to, due to my ongoing project to paint the Betrayal at Calth up as Alpha Legion!
But that’ll be another blog…