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If you have been reading the books in numbered order (not recommended) it has been a while since we checked in on Horus. Books since Galaxy in Flames have shown us the breadth of action, intrigue, betrayal, and heroism around the galaxy. But then, this is the Horus Heresy, so what has Horus been up to?
Vengeful Spirit, the book named after Horus’ flagship, brings the action back to its prime mover. Horus has fixed his eye on an imperial world he visited in years past. After realising that his memories of the place had been blurred somehow, he believes there must be some powerful secret on the planet.
He is right.
The imperial planet is over-garrisoned for such a seemingly normal world, and Horus deploys overwhelming force to ensure that the loyalists are pushed back, and he can access the secret hidden under the planet’s surface. Losses on both sides mount, but the traitors have the numbers, and the power.
This books also sees the return of Garviel Loken, last seen disappearing beneath the rubble in Galaxy in Flames. He has since been rescued and has returned to lead a group of marines cut off from their former chapters, whether loyalist or traitor. Loken is on an infiltration mission to make boarding the Vengeful Spirit easier for Leman Russ in the future.
After battling his former comrades, Loken encounters his former Primarch and must reckon with the choices both he and Horus have made.
Loken is not the main character here though. This book, coming just past the hallway point in the series, examines the question of whether Horus is an ambitious man using chaos to further his own ends, or a champion of chaos bringing ruin to the galaxy. The events of this book firmly answer that question.
rating: 4.5 golden thrones