Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • An anthology of seven stories
  • Part of the Warhammer Crime range
  • Published by Black Library in 2022
  • SF Crime
  • 346 pages

When a collision in orbit brings a vessel crashing to the ground, the district of Korsk is all but destroyed. Picking over the ruins, lawkeepers and criminals alike soon discover that there is more to this incident than meets the eye . . .

The Vorbis Conspiracy marks the ninth entry in the Warhammer Crime range. Up to this point, things have been fairly self-contained. Each of the novels is essentially a standalone, though Baggit and Clodde also get an audio drama with their name on it, and the probators also feature in short stories. But each story, be it short, novel, or audio, can function perfectly fine of read on its own. The Vorbis Conspiracy changes that. The seven short stories in this collection (although at about fifty pages each, they’re far from short) each showcases a different character, some familiar and some new, but running through the collection is a single common thread.

The opening story, Jude Reid’s ‘The Bones of the Martyrs’ sows the first seeds of the conspiracy. A ship crashes out of orbit, levelling an entire section of the city, but it soon becomes apparent that this is not the simple accident the authorities claim. From this story onwards, a sense of paranoia pervades the stories assembled herein. You’re never quite sure what anyone’s agenda is, nor who can trust who with what.

‘Against Entropy’ is Guy Haley’s contribution to the anthology, and my favourite story in the book. While I’m still holding out hope for a second Noctis and Lux novel, I will gladly take any short story about the pair. Especially as this one is told from the perspective of Lux. Some of science fiction’s best characters are those who are not quite human, and Lux is no exception. I’m particularly fond of the fact that here we have a servant of the Mechanicus who is transitioning away from humanity, rather than a machine longing to be human. This story offers a lovely (if grim) insight into the workings of the Mechanicus, and the way they adopt more and more augmetic body parts. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Lux, or her missing companion.

There’s not a dud in the collection, and each story holds something special. But the overall unravelling of the titular conspiracy can only be seen in hindsight. each story holds only a piece of the puzzle, and it’s not until the very end that we see the full picture. And it’s here that I have my one minor issue with this anthology. Not because of what it does, but because of what it represents. You see, the end of the conspiracy provides a fertile bed of names that I’m sure will be explored in future books. What it also means is that the Warhammer Crime range now has something approaching an overarching story. If this is the route Black Library decides to take, I’m sure they’ll execute it well. But the easy to access, standalone nature of the stories thus far is the big appeal of the Crime range. I’m just not sure that Varangantua needs a larger story, because as four anthologies have now shown, there are plenty of smaller ones waiting to be told.

All that is in the future, however. For the time being, The Vorbis Conspiracy is yet another success story from Black Library’s most interesting little corner.

If you enjoyed this book, you might also like:
No Good Men
Broken City
Sanction & Sin

And you can find all my Warhammer 40,000 reviews by clicking here

2 responses to “BOOK REVIEW: The Vorbis Conspiracy”

  1. MONTHLY ROUNDUP: November 2022 – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] The Vorbis Conspiracy, by various authors […]


  2. BOUNDY AWARDS 2022 – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] The Vorbis Conspiracy, by various authors – This anthology of Warhammer Crime short stories is both a great collection of independent stories and a unified narrative arc for the city of Varangantua. A rare case of a dozen similar stories working well side-by-side rather than crowding one another. […]


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