Xathrodox86 reviews: "The Harrowing" by Rob Sanders

A new year is upon us and with new opprotunities and challenges. Let's kick it off with a review of a short, but very enjoyable tale, set in the Age of Darkness, during the Horus Heresy.

I'm a huge Heresy buff. While the classic 40K holds less and less interest for me, at least lore wise, the Horus Heresy is a prime example of a fascinating setting, done right. Or at least mostly right, since they've could really ended this series by now. When something takes too long, it can become tiresome and loose track of what it originally was. Still, Games Workshop puts so many resources into 30K, that even with occasional slip or two, it's still vastly superior to its older brother, both rules and lore-wise. Naturally that is only my opinion, but there you have it. Heresy rocks.

It's time to initiate... The Harrowing!
Even tough I originally decided not to spend too much of a time on 30K/40K in 2018, I've played a couple of HH games last weekend, all with a bunch of really cool people. Needless to say, it was awesome. Not only the WH30K is an excellently balanced game, at least much more than the 7th edition of 40K was (it uses the 7th ruleset, but none of its bad parts), it was also incredibly fun to discover all of the wonderful and unique rules and toys, that the Imperium had in store, 10,000 years before Guilliman decided that he was fine all along and decided to start running things for a while.

Anyway, these two games (one against the Death Guard, the other against the IXth Legion - Blood Angels), left me craving for more. I've begun to piece together the rest of my army and I've also returned to listening to 30K audiobooks, something I haven't been doing for the last half a year, at least. Since I collect the Alpha Legion, it was only logical for me to return to Rob Sanders' excellent stories, detailing the modus operandi of the Sons of Alpharius. Among these is "The Harrowing", a short story that is both fantastically written and an excellent insight into the mentality of the XXth Legion.

The Mechanicum freighter Omnissiax carries a lethal cargo of Ordo Reductor's war machines, as well as 500 suits of MKIV power armor, intended for the Sons of Dorn, who are fortifying Terra, awaiting the arrival of the Arch-Traitor Horus. However the Alpha Legion has infiltrated the Ark ship and are sowing discord and chaos, as only they can. On a nearby world of Callistra Mundi in rebellion, time is of the essence. If the XXth Legion forces won't act soon, then the forces loyal to Horus will face defeat. The Mechanicum constructs and weapons must be secured and then the Harrowing will commence, bringing another victory to the Warmaster and another planet into his iron grasp.

This is a classic spec-ops tale of deceit and infiltration. The Alpha Legion is known for using many non-Space Marine operatives. These include Mechanicum's thralls, Titan Princeps and even ordinary lexmechanics. These men and women help the Legionaries secure the victory and make sure that the Serpents will emerge victorious and manage to support Armillus Dynat on Callistra Mundi in his efforts to initiate the Harrowing, a simultaneous assault from every, possible angle on the enemy's positions, a true hallmark of the Alpha Legion.

The Legionaries themselves are shown as professional, efficient assassins, men of few words who get the job done. They are utterly merciless and committed to their cause. Too many people forget that the XXth are still Legiones Astartes, living weapons before whom nothing and no one can stand for long. Coupled with their highly unorthodox penchant for waging war, sowing deception and exploiting their enemy's every, single weakness, it truly makes them formidable and deadly foes. Sanders really puts emphasis on these traits of theirs and it works wonders, showing a force of Space Marines so distant and alien in their ways, to their more conservative and ramrod-like cousins.

"The Harrowing" is a perfect example of a short story done right. It's fast paced, dynamic and fully engages the reader (or listener, since it's also available in the audio format). You can find it in the Horus Heresy anthologies "Sedition's Gate" and "War Without End", and I seriously advice you to give this lovely piece a try.

I've decided to ditch the pros/cons summary, as I felt it to be unneeded and unnecessary. From the tone of my reviews and my praising/bashing of the given book, game or whatever, you'll be able to determine whether it is worth picking up or not.

In the coming posts I will delve more into the grim darkness of the far future, just as I promised that I would, last year. There will be also a lot more stuff about the Great Heresy and maybe even a showcase of my (still largely unpainted) XXth Legio army. Of course this does not mean that I'm abandoning Warhammer Fantasy, far from it. There's a review of a computer game, one set in the Old World, coming very soon. 2018 also means that there will be more interviews, as I have planned a couple of them, but we will see how well this will work out in the end. Anyway, I'm very optimistic about 2018 and I hope that it will be a great year for you folks as well.

Happy infiltrating!
Until next time!



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