Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dark Hollows Of Memory

The Dark Hollows of Memory by David Annandale. A Legion of the Damned short story, originally published by The Black Library, October 2013. Approx. 28 pages.

Winter has come to the Imperial world of Mnemosyne. Seems innocent enough; most planets inhabitable by humans have a winter cycle. But winters here are a bit different. On Mnemosyne, a thick fog envelopes the land during those months, forcing a sort of limbo among the citizenry. But the center of Mnemosyne's importance to the Imperium lies in the records kept in a monstrous Librarium.

One scribe out of many, a deaf man named Gosta, senses something is coming to Mnemosyne. Something will be happening soon.

Actually, more than one thing will be happening. One arrival not prophesied is that of the Company of Misery, here to bring their truth through agony and purge the Imperial lies from the cavernous Librarium. But arrive they do, and they soon begin the work of slaughtering the massed congregation as they search out scribes to give them access to the records.

Being as though this story falls in the Legion of the Damned series, it is no big surprise which direction this story is heading. The big question is just how well does the author present it?

Dark Hollows has some real strengths solidifying it as a good story; those being an atmospheric setting, bone-crunching violence, and a decent portrayal of the Legion.

Annandale crafts a real horror-film vibe for Dark Hollows, and it works to the overall betterment of the tale. The fog which envelopes Mnemosyne is a proverbial pea soup, and it stresses the tone of not having a safe haven. If this is to be looked at as a horror piece, than the Company of Misery play the slashers. Their captain, Akror, gleefully chews scenery as he theatrically massacres the innocents. However, beyond the flying gobbets of Imperial citizens, the Company offer little more than posturing and meanness. Their most clever attribute is that their armor is festooned with images of flames, a mirror of sorts to those that stand in the way of the delivery of their message.

Which brings us to the Legion. In Dark Hollows, the Legion act as specters opposing the Company's murderous rampage. Annandale does a great job describing their physicality; how their spectral flames play all across their armor, and the workings of their ghostly weaponry. He does not give them the same gift of gab the Goulding did (much appreciated), but pens for them a sort of collective thought pattern. It is well done and pretty creepy. Another interesting point is that in this story, members of the Legion are not completely invincible. Good way to up the ante by taking them off of God mode.

Where Dark Hollows falls a little short is in characters. The Imperial characters are interesting enough; deaf scribe Gosta and Imperial Commander Keremon. But after a decent introduction, they are relegated to the duty of running around with Death chasing on their heels. The ending is done nicely enough though. There are no Legion protagonists this time out, and as mentioned, Akror is more about catchy soundbites than anything else.

Again, you don't need great characterization to make an effective story. Dark Hollows of Memory offers creepy scenery, a good choice of a traitor Chapter, and some epic, bone-crunching, blood and viscera flying, action. And sometimes that is really all you need.

Here's what it is:
A Traitor Company ends up biting off more than they can chew when they invade a world full of Imperial records. One of the better depictions of the Legion of the Damned in action.

Final Score:


Cover Score:

Same as the others, now in a weak orange.

Cover Final Score:


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