Horus Heresy Book Review: Vengeful Spirit, by Graham McNeill

VengefulSpirit-Art[4]Edit – Originally written for a zine that never surfaced last year, and just released in paperback, I thought this would be a good time to dredge it up, and serve as a preview to an upcoming blog piece by Dieter with regards to the series

Over 8 years, a mountain of novels, short stories and audio dramas later, we finally get to see the man himself in action again. Horus Heresy, it’s named after the Warmaster, it’s his name above the door, so it’s about time we see him on the ground, taking names and showing everyone why he was, once, the Emperor’s favoured son and chosen leader in the field before it all went to hell.

A lot has happened in those years, we originally read about his exploits in the Great Crusade, what went down on Davin, and how he watched over the betrayal, massacre and extermination in the Isstvan system, but what has he been doing? He’s popped up meeting his fellow traitor Primarchs, setting them tasks, then later musing how he’s been left with the “broken monsters”¬†and the scheming Erebus. No longer will Horus be a tool of the Chaos gods and their pawns, and this book is about him taking control and trying to put himself on an even footing

We find the Sons Of Horus making war on the planet Dwell, and McNeill introduces us to a new Mournival, although not the one you may fondly remember, as Isstvan changed all that. Horus is looking for information and stumbles upon the past schemes of the Emperor, which gives some fascinating insight into the origins of the Primarchs, and Horus wants this power for his inevitable showdown with Daddy. We also see the the Shattered Legions in action, and doing their best to cause rearguard mayhem against the traitors.

The beauty of this book, just like The Unremembered Empire, is that it draws from plots from all manner of killer Black Library novels, and short stories you may have deemed filler at the time, and the author threads them together beautifully, driving the story arc forward to Terra. The aforementioned Shattered Legion dudes were in action in the 2011 short story Little Horus, but their origins where shown in Scars. That’s some serious planning and editing going on there. We see the Knights Errant promoted from skulking in the shadows of audio dramas into the prime time, at the behest of Malcador and a Primarch last seen licking his wounds in Scars. Imperial Knights also feature heavily once we get to Molech, which dovetailed nicely with the new models being released.

The battle for Molech itself is of epic proportions, which takes your average bolter porn and ramps it up to 11. We get garrisons of loyalist marines, knight households, Mortarion & his boys, Fulgrim in full-on ascension mode, tanks, super heavies and more. which the author handles with cinematic aplomb. As always, the book will leave you with more questions than answers, and have you hungry for more, as we enter previously uncharted territory of the Horus Heresy

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About Chris

Husband, father, procrastinator and record label mug. Living in Nottingham, but originally from Milford Haven. Back in the hobby after a decade of self-enforced exile, thanks to my fellow Corehammer punks. Sharp-minded, cynical, bitter and taken for granted. A true Iron Warrior