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Everything is going wrong for Garviel Loken. His Astartes legion fights whoever the Warmaster wants, and no longer cares for noble conflicts. His influence in his own legion is gone. His skill in battle matters little when the entire legion is against him. Once he was part of the Mournival, the inner circle advising the Warmaster Horus. Now, the Mournival is no more and Horus actively plots against the Emperor he once served.
The Warmaster is gathering allies to his side. Fulgrim of the Emperor’s Children is with him, as is Lorgar of the Word Bearers, Mortarion of the Death Guard and Angron of the World Eaters. Before striking at the wider galaxy, the traitors must purge the loyalists from their own legions.
Garviel Loken is surprised and honoured to be asked to lead an attack on the rebellious world of Isstvan III. It’s a joint attack of four legions, but the deployment involves seemingly random squads and companies, rather than the usual ordered deployment.
As victory come near, the Astartes fall victim to a sudden bombardment… from their own side. Astartes are hard to kill though, and on a planet scoured of other life they fight on, shouting their defiance at their former brothers. The four members of the Mournival meet in the ruins of Isstvan, two fighting for the Warmaster, and two against.
Horus is also done with the Remembrancers. After having them witness the slaughter on Isstvan III, his Astartes turn their guns on the unarmed poets, photographers, and historians.
We learn that Isstvan III wasn’t only a trap for the loyalists in the now-traitor legions. Word of the massacre is allowed to leak out, drawing other loyal legions that Horus cannot sway into a still-deadlier trap.
The ‘great crusade’ is over. The Horus Heresy has begun.
Rating: 4 golden thrones