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This book starts with one massacre and ends with another. Bracketed between these two events is a fascinating look at one of the wilder Astartes chapter, the Space Wolves. Nobody calls them that, though.
The Vlka Fenryka (aka The Rout) are seen here through the eyes of Kasper Hawser, the only remembrancer to be granted access to Fenris, following many requests. Except that’s just his cover story and he is really there for other reasons, unknown even to him.
Kasper’s exploration of the 6th legion is also an exploration of his own past. It becomes clear that he is a spy, but Kasper is the last one to realise that. The question is whose spy, and for what reasons? Through Kasper’s eyes we are treated to a deeper look at the Space Wolves than has been seen before. Their philosophy and their sense of place in the Imperium is revealed here and there can be no doubt of their ultimate loyalty. The Vlka Fenryka do what is asked of them; it’s what they are for.
In his past, Kasper was a researcher who dared to ask what caused the Age of Darkness, how did humanity come to slip into chaos? Could it happen again? In the company of Space Wolves he learns more of what they refer to as maleficarum and the threat it poses.
The battle of Prospero is covered in more detail in A Thousand Sons, and this book doesn’t attempt to retreat the same ground. Instead, the story is told in retrospect, with the final unmasking of Kasper Hawser’s ultimate controller.
The Burning of Prospero delivers almost everything we would want from a Horus Heresy book: a detailed look at a chapter, a connection to the wider story, and a glance at some deeper, previously unknown machinations.
rating: 5 golden thrones