Review: Exocytosis by James Swallow

Posted by DarkChaplain at 2/08/2017
Having long been hounded across the galaxy by the Dark Angels, First Captain Typhon of the Death Guard has limped his fleet to sanctuary in Segmentum Obscurus - as a guest of the separatist Luther of Caliban, no less. On the world of Zaramund, long a symbol of brotherhood amongst the Legions, Typhon begins to suspect that a new form of corruption has followed him out of the wider war. Will he embrace it, or escape into the darkness once more?

It's another step towards what we all know is coming for the Death Guard and Captain Typhon. Is it time that he embraced his destiny as a pawn of the Plague Lord?
Another long-delayed review. Life gets in the way more often than you'd like, doesn't it? Either way, this was coming one day or another. It is another advent story, of course.

The Story:
"Having long been hounded across the galaxy by the Dark Angels, First Captain Typhon of the Death Guard has limped his fleet to sanctuary in Segmentum Obscurus - as a guest of the separatist Luther of Caliban, no less. On the world of Zaramund, long a symbol of brotherhood amongst the Legions, Typhon begins to suspect that a new form of corruption has followed him out of the wider war. Will he embrace it, or escape into the darkness once more?

It's another step towards what we all know is coming for the Death Guard and Captain Typhon. Is it time that he embraced his destiny as a pawn of the Plague Lord?"

The Review:
Exocytosis is yet another neat, character-focused Horus Heresy short story. It is a sequel to Gav Thorpe's Angels of Caliban, continuing on from the novel's epilogue. If you haven't read it prior to this story, I'd recommend that you do. Not only was it pretty good, but the Caliban plotlines and foreshadowing lead right into the situation we've got here.

Calas Typhon, First Captain of the Death Guard, has come to Zaramund, and found Luther of the Dark Angels waiting for him. Typhon and crew have been hounded by loyalist Dark Angels for years now, so tensions with Luther are a given. Only a modicum of courtesy is extended towards the Grand Master, yet materiel and refugee are accepted nonetheless. But the Death Guard, and Typhon in particular, are keeping many secrets here, almost mirroring the Dark Angels themselves. And then Typhon gets confronted with a grim truth that sets him truly on course to become Typhus, the Herald of Nurgle we all know from the 41st Millennium.

To be frank, I was a bit worried about Swallow taking back the Death Guard after all these years. He set a certain tone for the Legion in Flight of the Eisenstein - but that was almost 10 years ago! Since then, he had very little to do with the Death Guard at large, despite his long-running Garro sub-series. In the meantime, many other authors have tackled Mortarion and the Death Guard, from Graham McNeill over Gav Thorpe to Chris Wraight, and I don't think it controversial to say that out of all of the depictions, I am particularly keen on Wraight's. Indeed, this story, along with Wraight's The Path of Heaven, will undoubtedly lead right into the upcoming fall of the Death Guard novel. Needless to say, I was hoping Chris would score the book, but after reading Exocytosis, I am more torn on the matter.

That is to say, I enjoyed this short story a good deal. Typhon takes the center of the stage, though I would have liked to see a little more of Luther, Zahariel and co. The few nuggets of info we get there are worthwhile in my opinion, and show the tensions within the Dark Angels pretty well. But it really is about Typhon, his eventual fate and the beginning of the true turn of the Death Guard from traitors to swollen, pustulent abominations in the service of the god of pestilence.
Swallow offers a few callbacks to ideas he put onto the table back in Eisenstein, which I appreciate greatly, and Typhon feels a bit more nuanced than I thought him in Thorpe's The Lion. The semi-religious themes tackled here also were a nice touch, though I was shaking my head over the one and only Dark Angel who could've had a chance of changing the inevitable.

Overall this isn't great on action or big Legion progression. A lot of it is setup for what is to come, to bring Typhon, an oft-neglected character, back into the spotlight. However, it is good setup with a good character focus that was sorely needed. It is competently written and fits neatly into the current state of the Heresy. If it heralds a return to the Death Guard for Swallow, he is welcome to go ahead with it.

Exocytosis on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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