After we finished Requiem Infernal by Peter Fehervari, we had some…backlash. Evidently there are plenty of Black Library fans out there who absolutely love Fehervari and his intertwining Dark Coil theme. Several different people said that if we read his previous Dark Coil works, we would have liked Requiem Infernal more. I wasn’t going to dedicate that much time to the previous literature, but I did agree to at least give Fehervari another chance. And so I picked up two of his short stories, “The Crown of Thorns” and “The Thirteenth Psalm.” We already knew we would be reading his upcoming Angels Resplendent book, The Reverie, so why not dive further into this Chapter’s history?
I read “The Crown of Thorns” first, and I went into it fully expecting it to be too similar to Requiem Infernal in style for me to like. Instead, I was mesmerized.
Glimpse of Fehervari’s Storytelling Without Tropes
“The Crown of Thorns” is not a horror short story, which may be why I liked this story so much. Instead, it’s a tale of longing and regret from an Angel Penitent, not long after the Angels Resplendent Chapter rebranded. Yes, I said rebranded.
Sergeant Montaig has been charged with bringing a neophyte sinner out of the depths of the dungeon to take the Path of Thorns as penance for his sin. On the way to pick up his charge, he reminiscences about the day that the Dying Martyr emerged from the Kanvolis moat. Montaig thinks on what he should have done, and then continues his downward spiral of regret all the way to present day. He should have waited. He should have sided with Athanazias. He shouldn’t have agreed to the new governing body of the Chapter, especially when that body changes everything about what the Angels Resplendent stood for.
As someone who knew nothing about the Angels Resplendent before this short story, other than the fact the young boy Athanazias at the end of Requiem Infernal joins the Chapter, this very short story filled in so many gaps. I’d go as far as to say more happened in this short story than all of Requiem Infernal. I mourned along with Montaig over the loss of his Chapter. I grieved with him as he made his final choices, especially knowing that this time, he didn’t hesitate and he made the right decision in the end.
This leaves me with the question of why couldn’t he have written Requiem Infernal like this? It’s to the point without needless meandering. It doesn’t lean into any overdone tropes.
So I now like ONE thing he’s written.
The Reverie takes place well before “Crown of Thorns,” and I can only hope against hope that that novel is more like this short story than Fehervari’s more recent novel. (I’m only about halfway through The Reverie, so I haven’t given up all hope quite yet.)
So there. I’ve given Fehervari another chance. I’ve seen he can be a good writer with a good narrative. I’m sorry, RI fans, but that book still isn’t either to me.