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  1. #1

    Default Horus Heresy: The Seventh Serpent, by Graham McNeil

    So this is one of the limited edition/hidden books in the series, as it does not show up in the HH book list, which is unfortunate because if you read it LATE in the series (as I did), the events in the book are stale old news, and more recent events supersede this book, and take away a lot of the punch of the story.
    And it's more of a novella/short story than a full blown book, only topping out at 125 pages.
    It follows the 'Shattered Legion' survivors of Isstvan, namely a group of Iron hands with one Raven Guard and one Salamander in attendance.
    The Iron Hands are Cadmus Tyro, Captain Ulrach Branthan, IronWrought Frater Thammatica, Vermana Cybus, Septus Thoic, Ignatius Numen and Iron Father Sabik Wayland (no idea about the differentiation between Ironwrought and Iron Father, as they both play techmarine roles). We then have Nykona Sharrowkyn (Raven guard, and UBER ninja: this guy has beat Lucius the Eternal, twice!), and Atesh Tarsa, Salamander Apothecary.
    No spoilers yet, as it's all over the book cover: but this story heavily features the Alpha Legion, one of my personal faves, as they did not turn to chaos, but to a third party interested in the whole mess.

    ************************SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS****************************************** ************************************************** **********

    Ok, so while not a huge impactful story, McNeil does a good job capturing the deceitful nature of the Alpha Legion, with wheels within wheels always turning towards new plans.

    The story follows our splinter of the broken legions, barely limping away from some battle at Iydris(sp?). There is plenty of contrived deus ex to help the story along: they have an alien hybrid device called a Kryptos (which we have never heard of before or after, I believe) which is a code-cracking organism, and Captain Branthus is more injured than most marines eligible for internment in a Dread but kept alive by something called 'The Iron Heart' (also which we have never heard before or after). So the Kryptos decrypts a coded Alpha Legion message, and the Iron Hands aboard the Sisypheum go to attack and strip the enemy ship bare for supplies. They succeed, only to find out ANOTHER Alpha Legion ship is coming in to the system. Well, they just took one enemy cruiser with ease and killed all on could they POSSIBLY do it again on their own after such an easy victory the first time? Behold, summon last second help from an unseen benefactor: Shadrak Meduson (some huge Iron hands hero not seen since Isstvan) aboard the Iron heart (not the same thing keeping Cptn Branthus alive), and POOF, second enemy cruiser goes boom. Now, key point here: two Iron Hands had boarded the first enemy cruiser to steal the flight logs and any last supplies, when the Sisypheum starts to totally destroy the ship in order to mask their signature from the second alpha legion ship. Septus Thoic is most likely killed by friendly fire, but, when Shadrak appears, Septus is alive! Just beat up real bad, but luckily Shadrak was able to save him when Thoic got blasted clear of the explosion...... Bull$#!T meters should be going off, and they do, for Nykona (the Raven guard). BUT, his voice doesn't count on an Iron Hands vessel, and his suspicions are completely ignored. The way Shadrak is written and introduced, my personal BS meter went off the chart!

    So, lo and behold: sure as $#!T Shadrak turns out to be Alpharius in disguise! And -SUPER-MEGAZORD-DOUBLECROSS- Septus Thoic was indeed killed and replaced on the first Alpha Legion cruiser by -this is where things get kinda cool - an Alpha Legion legate named Chaitan Seyhan (the naming and who's who for the Alpha legion gets somewhat confusing, and I may have this part wrong as I am doing this from memory), who is still loyal to the Big E and makes an attempt on Alpharius's life, but waaaaaaaay too late in the story.

    So again, random contrived thingy: before the ruse is made known, Shadrak convinces them that they can put a big hurt on the Alpha Legion by destroying a Bespin-style cloud-based refinery orbital above a planet that sounds suspiciously like Jupiter -but don't worry it's not Jupiter- in the upper atmosphere, the AL is harvesting raw promethium and converting it to usable fuel. Shadrak wants to blow the place up.

    The story ensues.

    THE TWIST: this was a genuine shocker to me, as it was not expected of the Alpha Legion, but part of the Alpha Legion did not side with Alpharius with he made the pact with the Cabal (it is somewhat implied that the AL act as one mind, almost, due to their indoctrination and brain washing, so when Alpharius sided with the Cabal, it is implied the entire AL did as well), and has broken away. Alpharius in disguise as Shadrak uses the shattered legion to help destroy Alpha Legion loyalists! A small hint to this is earlier in the book when the Iron Hands attack the fist AL cruiser, and the AL defenders are shouting 'For the Emperor!' as they try to defend, which confuses the Iron hands.

    So i guess the purpose of this book was to take away any chance of Alpha Legion loyalists making it back to Terra.....but just imagine what the Horus Heresy would have been like had they made it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Her Majesty's United Kingdom


    Well that is interesting, I'd not considered loyalist Alpha Legion either. This is a very helpful synopsis as I've not read this one. I must confess to avoiding Iron Hands stuff as I find them irritatingly whinny after Istvaan which is a shame as this is an interesting nuance to the story line.
    Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit
    Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

  3. #3


    Indeed, I too have low tolerance for the Iron hands, but as a shattered legion they are usually accompanied by total [email protected]$$es like Sharrowkyn.
    I just think the Hands are too one-dimensional: they always be blunt, headstrong and never look for alternatives, and fall for the same trap over and over again.

    Thanks for the reply, Grimmas!
    If you liked this review, check out my review for Black Legion: The Talon of Horus. I HIGHLY recommend that you read it.



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