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The lies are truths and the truths are lies, and Garviel Loken’s previous faiths are shaken. When the Warmaster is lured into single combat and grievously wounded, Loken attempts to avert disaster. The powers of the warp have been active for some time and have their own designs on the Warmaster. Loken finds himself helpless before a foe that he doesn’t understand, and few of his compatriots even believe in.
The character of Horus and the wars he fights take a darker turn. At the start of the book he is struggling under the weight of his rank, and views warfare as a last resort. After his near-death and recovery, he is happy to start wars for no reason.
Euphrati Keeler delves deeper into her own faith, and when a creature of the warp manifests on the Vengeful Spirit, she confronts it armed only with belief in the Emperor.
The lies are truths and the truths are lies. The ‘great crusade’ has sought to spread the light of knowledge, technology, and atheism throughout the human worlds of the galaxy. Now, the crusade is undone by the scheming gods of the warp. But even witnesses to Euphrati’s power don’t want to believe what they have seen, and Loken finds no allies when he tries to warn of the dangers of the warp. The Emperor has insisted there are no gods, no higher powers, but this is wrong. Witnesses to Euphrati’s ‘miracle’ believe the Emperor to be such a power. Other powers exist, and they are moving against the Emperor.
By the end of this book Horus has moved from a loyal, burdened administrator to a traitor marshalling his forces, gathering allies, and moving his enemies to positions of misfortune. The pieces are being set for a board we cannot yet see.
Rating: 4 golden thrones