OMG OMG OMG! Another book about the Sabbat Worlds crusade! Wait, let me back up. So about a year ago, Dan Abnett was writing like 30 books at the same time (the dude writes a BUNCH!), and it turned out he was sick. He wen't to the doctors and found out, in his words, that it was, "just epilepsy" his schedule slipped a bit. Prospero Burns, which was supposed to come out at the same time as A Thousand Sons, is now coming out this coming January. Also, the thirteenth Ghosts book (13, really?!) had its deadline missed. So in order to tide over all the 40k nerds, they decided to put this anthology together, so here it is.
The first story is called Apostle's Creed, by Graham McNeill. This story is an after-story from Double Eagle, which in my opinion is one of the best 40k books out there! We follow a squadron of Thunderbolt pilots that are the best of the best. The story here is not overly complecated, and I had figured out the plot in the first 5-10 pages. That being said, this was an excellent story! The combat was seat-of-your-pants good and the time in between the combat was very well paced. This was pretty much the best kinds of 40k short story. Brutal, fast, and didn't make me think too much (and I totally mean that as a complement).
Next up, we have The Headstone and the Hammerstone Kings by Matthew Ferrer. Now I have commented on how much I liked Mr. Ferrer's Arbitor book, but I did have a hard time reading his story in Fear the Alien, so I was a bit worried about reading this story. Unfortunately, my fears were founded. I believe this story, like Faces from Fear the Alien, was too smart for me. I just really couldn't get behind it. After sitting working for three nights in a row trying to force myself through the 30 pages of this story, I had to give up. I just couldn't finish this story. I really feel as if its a good story, but its just not what I want from my 40k. I want to read to relax, not read to exercise my brain.
The third story in this anthology is Regicide by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. So after trying for three days to read THatHK, I read all 28 pages of this story in one night. Aaron D-B does an excellent job with this story. It is a story that takes place about fifteen years before the current Ghosts timeline. A Guard soldier has been captured the archenemy right after the great victory at Balhaut. His captors are trying to get him to tell them about the death of Warmaster Slaydo. Finally he does, and we get a very first hand account of the death of the Warmaster. Aaron D-B does a very good job of jumping back and forth, and while most of the story is the retelling of the story, we also learn about Commodus Ryland. What a good good story!
Iron Star is a Ghosts story by Dan Abnett. This story takes place right after the end of Only in Death, and delves into what happened to Gaunt immediately after he is rescued in Only in Death. The story is a bit vague, but for a reason. It is a bit confusing, for a reason. In the end it is a decent story. I don't think it was supposed to be a surprise, but I figured the story out very early in to it. It wasn't bad at all, but not the best in the book.
After Dan Abnett's story is his wife's first 40k story, Cell, by Nik Vincent. This story tells of an underground resistance on an archenemy-held world. I really liked the build-up of the story. Vincent does a good job of getting us to buy into a lot of the main characters. The story moved along at a very good pace and I started feeling and rooting for the characters. Until the end of the story. At the end of the story, all of the action takes place. Now it may be because I read as I'm laying in bed right before I go to sleep, but I found it very hard to follow. I was literally sitting there saying to myself, "how did that happen? What is HE doing? What? Hes dead? Hold it, HES dead too? Where did he come from? I didn't even know he was even there!" That being said, I thought it was a pretty good story.
Next came another gem of this anthology, Blueblood by Nick Kyme. I have not been a big fan of Mr. Kyme, but this story is awesome. It tells a story about Royal Volpone, known as the Bloodbloods. The main character is Major Regara. He has been punished and sent to a backwater worlds named Sagorrah. He has being punished for writing a commendation for the Ghosts for actions that take place in chapter Blood Oath in the book, Ghostmaker. The reason I like this story is that Kyme makes us like the Bloodbloods and then makes us hate them, and then makes us like them again. That up and down of the story is really what I liked about it.
The next story is A Good Man by Sandy Mitchell. I really like Sandy Mitchell (hurry up and write another Cain book!). This is a story about a munitorium scribe on the recently pacified planet of Vergast, sight of the book Necropolis. This story is about a man trying to find his buddy, and what happens when he gets himself into a situation he is in no way capable to handle. There is very little action in this story, but Mitchell is very good at the character interaction. I really enjoyed it.
Lastly, we have Of Their Lives in the Ruins of Their Cities (whats up with these long-old names?) by Dan Abnett. This is another Ghosts story to wrap up the whole sh-bang, and what a way to end it. This is an awesome story for no other reason than it takes place not too long after the Ghosts were founded. This means two things, first, we get to see some of the Ghosts that have past. It was great to see Corbec and Bragg again. Second we see what it was like when everyone hated Gaunt almost as much as Rawne did/does. I thought both of these were very well done in the story. One of the other things I thought was kind of nice was the "foreshadowing" (I guess that is what you call it when the story takes place earlier in the continuity, but was actually written after the things it is referencing) that is all over the place. Gaunt notices the Domor has, "quick eyes," there is a comment about how Feygor has a smooth voice, and Gaunt playfully (sorta) threatens to amputate Larken's foot. I think some people may say that he does this too much, but for me each one triggered a memory about that person, some of whom are no longer with the Ghosts, so I didn't have a problem with it.
And thats the book. There were some really good stories in it, and some not very good ones. But the good was really good, and that bad wasn't terrible. Plus the good stories outweighed the bad. I was afraid I was going to have to give a bad, or mediocre rating for this book, but the last story really pulled it out for me. My only other complaint is that the book seems a little small for an anthology, eight stories seems a bit light for me. I remember the days of Let the Galaxy Burn with its 38 stories, and this one just seems to be a bit of a lightweight for me.
Based purely on quality, and not the quantity, I give this book four sightings of the Sabbat beti, out of five.