It’s hard to believe that I’m already at book 29 in this series. I think this book, Vengeful Spirit by Graham McNeill, is where Jen dropped out of the Horus Heresy. Maybe I’ll have some insights as to what to add to her Hater’s Guide to the Horus Heresy, but if Vengeful Spirit is any indication, the answer is probably not. As insightful as this book was, and as much as it hit me emotionally with a certain death, it’s definitely a filler episode.
Previously on the Vengeful Spirit…
The last time we had any inkling into Horus was when he sent Sanguinius to Signus Prime to die. (And then he skinned Erebus’ face, which was probably the best part.) A lot has happened since then, such as Angel Exterminatus and Betrayer. So what has the Warmaster been up to? Evidently a few years have passed, and he hasn’t really done anything. In that time, Garro has been recruiting additional members of his future Grey Knights, including Loken of the Sons of Horus. Thank you so much, dear listener/reader, who told me to listen to James Swallow’s audio dramas about Garro finding Loken. I would have been very confused without that context, especially since most of the book is about Loken’s mission on Horus’ flagship.
The rest of the book is about the assault on Molech, which has its own…weirdness. I really can’t think of another way to explain it. That said, though, a lot of it gets dropped as quickly as it’s introduced.
Too Much on Molech
A few of the HH books suffer from introducing multiple moving parts and only following a few through to the end. Perhaps that’s due to editing, but even if that’s the reason, the end product still suffers. (I went through this ad nauseum in our last voxcast.) Molech is a key planet for both the Imperium and the traitors, simply because it’s a planet of Knight families. Knight Armatures are pretty vital for ground warfare, and naturally, the Imperium is not keen on Horus getting his talons on the noble houses.
The weirdness comes from the odd dynamic of the main Knight House, Devine. House Devine has all of the elements of House Lannister, but with a serpentine cult in the mix. So while the current head of House Devine is somewhat part of the cult—his wife/twin sister and mother definitely are—he’s still loyal to the Imperium. Even when Fulgrim appears as his serpentine god, Raeven Devine knows when to NOPE out. However, his mentally unstable half-brother has no problems embracing the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll that Fulgrim offers. When this half-brother leads the Knights into taking down an Ultramarine Titan, the battle obviously turns, but then we never hear about the Knights again.
The story then immediately moves to Horus trying to find what the Emperor made him forget: a portal into the Dark Gods’ realm. So while commandeering the Knights is nice, that isn’t his true goal. I assume this is when he ascends to godhood and accepts the Dark Gods into his heart. The book suggests it but doesn’t come straight out and say so, like past books did with Fulgrim and Angron.
And then this experience is also never mentioned again in the book.
Perpetuals for the Sake of Having Perpetuals
I know I’ve commented in the past that in several instances so far in the HH, the perpetuals serve literally no purpose other than reminding the reader that they’re a thing.
This book’s perpetual-of-the-month offers absolutely nothing to the book. Her mission is to seal the portal from Horus, but Horus “kills” her before she gets the chance to complete it. She sacrifices an entire Ultramarine squad in the process as well. She reappears at the very end to be with her “family.”
What, in the name of all that is holy about Terra, the point of her existence? To get this Ultramarine squad killed? To show that perpetuals can have feelings too? At least it wasn’t John Grammaticus this time, but naturally, she mentioned him in her thoughts. If a perpetual doesn’t mention John, can they really be a perpetual? According to my Magic 8 Ball, “all signs point to no.”
The next book is David Annandale’s first book, The Damnation of Pythos. I expect plenty of horror elements, which could be fun. However, I’m also skeptical about how the rest of this story goes. Another book on survivors of Istvaan V? Do we really have nothing else going on until the Siege of Terra?
Twenty-nine books down, 25 books to go.
Horus Hearsay is dedicated to Keri’s journey through the Horus Heresy saga. The chronicling of the Horus Heresy began over ten years ago, with currently 54 books in total, not counting The Primarchs series or the various short stories. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.