Monday, June 4, 2007

REVIEW: Tales from the Dark Millennium

Tales from the Dark Millennium. Edited by Marc Gascoigne and Christian Dunn. Approximately 250 pages.

This is a collection of 8 Warhammer 40,000 short stories set in the Pyrus sector, based upon the setting of Sabertooth Games' Dark Millennium collectable card game. I'll run through the stories one by one and then give my overall score at the end.
  1. The Falls of Marakross by Steve Parker. The Dark Angels hunt one of the Fallen but are hampered by an Inquisitor who is trying to uncover the Dark Angels secret. Packed with incident and manages to convincingly convey the Dark Angels dilemma of following the Emperor and hiding their secret.
  2. Vindicare by CS Goto. A vindicare assassin patiently waits for the resolution of an Eldar attack so she can fire one decisive bullet. This unsatisfying short short feels like an extended colour text from a codex.
  3. The Prisoner by Graham McNeill. Erebus of the Word Bearers allows himself to be captured in order to lure an Inquisitor to him. Excellent setting, good characters and a solid read as usual from Graham.
  4. The Invitation by Dan Abnett. Sisters of Battle hunt a corrupted sister. An odd tone and unexpected ending make this feel like an experimental piece from Mr Abnett.
  5. A Balance of Faith by Darren-Jon Ashmore. A sister-hospitaller has a crisis of faith during a gruelling siege. An interesting take on the psychology and motivations of Imperial servants facing impossible odds.
  6. Gate of Souls by Mike Lee. Erebus uncovers a Chaos monolith in the face of stiff opposition from the Inquisition. Reads like a write-up of a battle report.
  7. Fates Masters, Destiny's Servants by Matt Keefe. Ultramarines accidentally travel back through time and continually choose to fulfil their duty despite becoming trapped forever. Builds up some suspense but I'm not sure this type of time-travel caper belongs in the 40k universe.
  8. Tears of Blood by CS Goto. An Eldar child seer becomes embroiled in craftworld politics. This opaque story feels like a segment from an ongoing narrative and is therefore confusing and disappointing.
This is a worthwhile collection of stories but hardly essential reading. I suppose there may be added value to the book if you are familiar with the background to the CCG, but I'm not. I've therefore reviewed the stories as they present themselves, which is surely how most readers will encounter them.

The strongest contribution is by Graham McNeill, mainly due to the vivid setting, while the weakest are by CS Goto and Matt Keefe.

If you are looking for a batch of 40k short stories then I would recommend Let the Galaxy Burn which is much better value for money than this (it contains 38 short stories), but if you have already exhausted that anthology then you could do worse than dip into this collection.

Overall, I'd give this book 5 out of 10.


All of my reviews end in a score out of ten for the product. The table below explains what that score means.

  • 10/10 Perfect, absolutely nothing better
  • 9/10 Excellent, highly recommended
  • 8/10 Very good, recommended
  • 7/10 Good
  • 6/10 Above average, some problems
  • 5/10 Average, some good points some bad points
  • 4/10 Below average, some redeeming features
  • 3/10 Poor, major flaws
  • 2/10 Very poor, avoid if possible
  • 1/10 Absolutely appalling

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