What? That about sums up my feeling towards Honour of the Third by Gav Thorpe. Confusingly this tells the story of Belial of the Dark Angels and one of the conflicts that propel him to the role of Grand Master. And if it sounds like this pivotal moment needs more than 1,000 words, you’d be correct. There feels like there’s a wider story here, one that deserves more time and care like the treatment Dante got for his novel. But that isn’t what we’ve got.
Belial confronts the Chaos Lord Furion and his armies. The Dark Angel’s foes have steadily destroyed his company and all eyes turn to Belial. This is seemingly framed as a great sacrifice by Belial but since this is an incredibly short story, the lack of build-up means we don’t have a reason to care. And it could easily have been the opposite. This is a last-ditch stand not dissimilar from Helsreach and it could have formed an interesting story. As it stands none of the sacrifice or death is felt by the reader as we only met these characters a few words ago.
Another limitation of this short word count is that Furion doesn’t get any setup. He’s meant to be a Chaos Lord of Khorne and has several titles that are meant to make him seem fearsome. However, the time from when we meet him and he’s defeated is far too short. One moment, he’s shouting a battle cry then next he’s dead. It leads to the story feeling flat and inconsequential. If this has been expanded into a larger story or full-length novel then we could have had the time to develop Furion into more than a guy with a war axe. This would have meant the way he is defeated would have felt earnt rather than a haphazard chance.
This is another story that only causes confusion if read as part of Crusade and Other Stories. You don’t have any time to understand the consequences of the events that take place, who the characters are or why you should care. Unfortunately, even extracted from that anthology you really have to know your stuff to get the most out of this story. And even then it’s a whiz-bang that could have been an epic saga. That being said, it’s 1,000 words and if you’re a Dark Angels fan who wants more of your favourite chapter then you can spare a few minutes to see them shoot a few bolter rounds.
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