Angels of Caliban by Gav Thorpe serves as a prime reminder to not judge a book by its cover. I assumed, from the cover, that this title was about the Lion hunting down Konrad Curze in the Ultramar system. While yes, the book is indeed about that, only half of it is. The other half takes place on Caliban itself. Do I really need to say how excited and happy this made me? I shouldn’t.
I read the book in about three days. And I ATE IT ALL UP AND SQUEALED FOR MORE. Now I’m getting more in our current book club book, The Lion: Son of the Forest. My timing on reading this HH book could not have been more perfect.
So, how did I love thee? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS. (Don’t worry, I won’t count all the ways, because I could fill a two-hour podcast with my love for this book.)
Whose side is Cypher on?
In the last HH book, John French wrote a short story about the Watchers in the Dark and an unnamed Dark Angel helping Iacton Qruze and Loken escape Caliban. Angels of Caliban makes me strongly suspect that this unnamed Dark Angel is Cypher. A bit ironic considering that we have no idea who Cypher is. Even when Zahariel unmasks him at the end, we never find out who Cypher is.
So, if it is Cypher who helped the Grey Knights, what is his angle? The Horus Heresy has greatly emphasized that Cypher constantly has Luther’s ear, and that it’s Cypher’s counsel that has helped lead Luther astray. When Belath (last seen in Tales of Heresy helping Astelan get kicked to the curb) and his Dark Angels appear, Cypher doesn’t warn them of what is going to happen and warn them to tell the Lion what is going on. He never advises Luther to give the Lion everything he needs. When Cypher tries to kill Zahariel at the end, he claims it’s because he’s protecting Caliban. The power Zahariel is tapping into from the planet is from some great evil buried within that must stay buried and never be released. But if that was true, then why do the Watchers in the Dark abandon Cypher at the end? If anybody are the true protectors of Caliban, it’s the Watchers in the Dark.
We don’t even know what fully happens to Cypher at the end. Zahariel crushes him and tells his Mystai followers to “make sure the body is not found.” Zahariel becomes the next Cypher, and yet, this doesn’t mean he’s the Cypher running around the world of 40k. It very well could be the original Cypher. Brilliantly done, Mr. Thorpe.
Letters from the Lion
Angels of Caliban is stuffed full of the Lion’s self-reflection, which was like eating fine chocolate for me. I could not get enough of it. The Lion would snap at Guilliman and push him too far, but then reflect on how that was probably way too harsh and he didn’t mean it the way Guilliman took it.
And who could really use some shared feelings? His father, brother, and best friend, Luther. Like he would have appreciated knowing this:
Exiling Luther and the others had been an act of leadership, a response to events that sent a message to Luther, but it had been misheard. Had he intended punishment? Perhaps, but the words of trust, of placing the future of the Legion in the hands of Luther, had been meant as spoken.
It was a regret that he had never returned to Caliban after joining the Great Crusade, but there had been so much to do and so little of it would have been achieved away from the fighting. In truth Caliban brought out mixed feelings in him, of estrangement and belonging at the same time. There were two Calibans, one the dark forests and the other the cities of the Imperium. He was not sure that he belonged wholly to either, and it had been so much easier to concertrate on conquest after conquest, leaving the domestic concerns to others far more capable.
Silly Lion. You could have said some of this to Luther at Zaramund instead of leaving him to sulk with his buddy Typhon. Maybe then he wouldn’t have been so welcoming to Typhon when his Death Guard blundered into the Caliban system.
I love the Lion, but darn it if half the Dark Angels’ problems aren’t his fault. Now that he’s back in the present day Imperium, I look forward to learning what he does with his broken Angels of Caliban.
Next up is Praetorians of Dorn by John French. I’m afraid of this one. I’m not a fan of the Imperial Fists, and I don’t like John French as a novel writer. I’m afraid this will be painful.
Thirty-eight books down, 16 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.