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Vengeful Spirit (Novel)

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the novel; for the battle barge, see Vengeful Spirit.
Vengeful Spirit
Author Graham McNeill
Performer Gareth Armstrong
Publisher Black Library
Series Horus Heresy Series
Preceded by Scars
Followed by The Damnation of Pythos
Released May 2014
Pages 544
Length 15 hours
Editions 2014 hardcover
ISBN 9781849705950
Cover art

Vengeful Spirit is the 29th novel by Graham McNeill in the Horus Heresy series. It was released on May 3, 2014. It was later included in "The Novels: Volume 6" eBook collection.

Cover Description

Once the brightest star in the Imperium and always first among his primarch brothers, Horus has dragged the Space Marine Legions into the bloodiest conflict that the galaxy has ever seen. While their allies wage war on a thousand different fronts, the XVIth Legion descend upon the Knight world of Molech – home to the ruling House Devine, and a principal stronghold of the Imperial Army. The forces loyal to the Emperor stand ready to defy the Warmaster, but just what could have drawn Horus to attack such a well defended planet, and what might he be willing to sacrifice to fulfill his own dark destiny?

Plot Summary

Part One: Fathers

In the aftermath of the Battle of Dwell, the Sons of Horus have remained on the planet. Horus summons the newly re-formed Mournival and two of his primarch brothers, Mortarion and Fulgrim, to a meeting in the Mausolytic Precinct, where he tells them of a world named Molech he once visited alongside the Emperor but can no longer clearly remember, the Emperor having tampered with his mind. From the preserved memories of Dwell's dead colonists, some of whom originated from Molech, he has learned that the Emperor once visited Molech long before he brought it to compliance as part of the Great Crusade and according to legend gained great powers there. Horus recruits Fulgrim and the Death Guard for an invasion of the planet, but at that moment the gathered traitors come under gunship attack from the forces of Shadrak Meduson and all three primarchs are badly wounded.[1a]

On Molech, Imperial Governor Cyprian Devine, head of Knight House Devine, hunts a rogue beast through the mountains with his son Raeven and a band of retainers. Upon finding the beast Cyprian is hard-pressed and only kills it with Raeven's help, but claims the kill for himself. Finally snapping after years of anger and thwarted ambition, Raeven uses his knight Banelash to kick Cyprian's knight into a chasm, murdering him and taking his place as Imperial Governor of Molech.[1b]

On Terra, Leman Russ obtains Malcador the Sigillite's aid in planning an assault on the Vengeful Spirit, Horus's flagship, and recruits Garviel Loken as the leader of an infiltration team who will mark the ship to guide Russ's later attack. Loken attempts to recruit Severian for the mission, but he rejects it as suicidal. A team of Knights-Errant is assembled, including Loken, Macer Varren, Tylos Rubio, Tubal Cayne, Ares Voitek, Bror Tyrfingr, Rama Karayan, Callion Zaven and Altan Nohai, piloted by mortal woman Banu Rassuah in the stealth-ship Tarnhelm. They stop at a bleak fortress on Titan to collect Iacton Qruze, who arrives fresh from the execution of Solomon Voss and tells Loken someone inside wants to see him. Loken is lead to Mersadie Oliton, who has languished in her cell since the events on board the Eisenstein, and she imparts a final gift to Qruze from Euphrati Keeler before saying a tearful goodbye. Enraged that Qruze knew she was alive and never told him Loken returns to the Tarnhelm and beats Qruze almost to death, but the fight is ended before the arrival of Rogal Dorn who wishes them all luck on their mission.[1c]

On board the Endurance the spirit of Ignatius Grulgor returns from the Warp and Mortarion sacrifices the Deathshroud to allow him to take form. On the Vengeful Spirit Serghar Targost and Maloghurst summon a daemon into the brain-dead body of Ger Geraddon, which reveals itself to be Tormageddon, first of the Luperci. Horus's fleet arrives in-system and Molech's navy launches a provoking attack spearheaded by the Molech's Enlightenment. Horus's fleet reacts as planned and comes within range of the planet's orbital platform guns, but in a strategy devised by Grael Noctua Sons of Horus forces deployed in tomb ships seize the orbital platforms and turn their guns on Molech's fleet. Horus decides to capture the Imperial flagship Guardian of Aquinas where Admiral Brython Semper prepares for a last stand. Breaching the ship with Falkus Kibre and the Justaerin, Horus is attacked by its Ultramarines defenders led by Proximo Tarchon, but overcomes them and takes the bridge, provoking Semper into suicidally attacking him so his legacy is not sullied by surrendering. Aboard the Tarnhelm Loken discovers Severian on the engine deck, having grown tired of waiting for the others to find him.[1d]

Part Two: Sons

The Sons of Horus and Death Guard launch a devastating assault upon Molech. The Sons of Horus land on an isolated promontory in order to retrace the Emperor's steps and are thus forced to fight a beachhead action against part of Molech's massive Imperial Army garrison. Casualties are high on both sides, with the Sons of Horus taking heavier losses than in any battle since Isstvan. Raeven Devine, having been informed by his clairvoyant sister-wife Lyx of a vision wherein a warrior in Banelash turns the tide of the war for Molech, leads ten of his house's Knights into battle and makes what should be a fatal shot on the Warmaster, but the Luperci swarm over his body and absorb the energy beam into the Warp. Horus takes on the ten Knights single-handed and slays several of them including two of Raeven's three sons, after which the rest retreat. Grael Noctua and Kalus Ekaddon lead jump-pack assaults on the Army command bunkers and take out their leaders, deciding the outcome of the battle, but in a moment of hubris Noctua allows the dying Army general a free shot at him, critically underestimating the power of her sidearm and having his primary heart incinerated by her shot, a wound which leaves him weakened for the rest of the campaign. Horus has his Titan engines destroy the town of Avadon.[1e]

The Death Guard take the coastal city of Ophir, but their path west towards Molech's capital Lupercalia is blocked by the vast and impenetrable jungle of Kush. Ignatius Grulgor moves ahead of the Death Guard host alone and unleashes the Life Eater virus contained within him, decaying huge swathes of the jungle at a time and clearing a path for the rest of his legion to advance. The jungle's many predatory beasts stampede west in a panic and come up against the Preceptor Line, an ancient stone wall that marks the eastern edge of civilisation on Molech. Knight House Donar and regiments of Imperial Army defend the wall but take heavy casualties and waste most of their ammunition while slaughtering the beasts, leaving them virtually defenceless when the Death Guard arrive. House Donar is destroyed in a final suicidal charge.[1f]

Albard Devine, Cyprian Devine's firstborn son crippled by a failed attempt to bond with a Knight and kept imprisoned and drugged by his sadistic half-siblings, manages to regain a scrap of sanity and murders his stepmother Cebella when she comes to drain his blood for the depraved rituals of the Serpent Cult to which Lyx and many of Molech's nobility are secretly enthralled. Taking her exo-suit to bolster his wasted body, he sets out to get revenge. Alivia Sureka, a Perpetual living on Molech, leads her adopted family out of the city of Larsa after it is struck by a tidal wave caused by falling debris from the space battle. Horus leads the Justaerin and the Mournival into a cavern in Molech's mountains where the Emperor tampered with his, the Lion's and Jaghatai Khan's memories of the planet. The group is attacked by a psychic guardian in the form of the Emperor which badly wounds Abaddon, Noctua and Aximand and slaughters the Justaerin, but Horus banishes it with a blow from Worldbreaker and with its death remembers everything the Emperor obscured: that Molech houses a Warp Gate which the Emperor passed through epochs ago on his first visit to the planet in order to reach the strongholds of the Chaos Gods whose power he somehow obtained a measure of and used to create the primarchs and the Adeptus Astartes. Horus resolves to enter the Warp Gate and do the same so he can confront his father as an equal when he reaches Terra.[1g]

Refugees fleeing Avadon are harassed by Horus's traitor Titans, but the loyalist Titans of Legio Fortidus sacrifice themselves for a measure of revenge and to distract the enemy machines so the refugees can escape. Raeven Devine takes charge of the massive army/refugee camp growing outside Lupercalia but leaves periodically following a premonition from Lyx that the White Naga, symbol of Molech's Serpent Cult, is waiting for him in the woods. Fulgrim meets him in the woods masquerading as the Naga and tempts him with the pleasures and power of Slaanesh, but Raeven has enough strength of will to see through the illusion and attacks Fulgrim before fleeing. Returning to the camp he collapses from fatigue and poisoning and awakens to find Albard holding him prisoner. Albard admits to killing Raeven and Lyx's last surviving son, has Lyx killed in front of Raeven's eyes and then tortures him to death. Albard takes command of House Devine, but his sanity continues to erode.[1h]

The Knights-Errant pathfinder team infiltrates the Vengeful Spirit and marks the lower decks with futharc runes to guide the future Space Wolves assault. Knowing they have to risk detection by venturing into more strategically valuable and thus better guarded parts of the ship in order make their mission effective they move upwards but Loken, suffering psychologically from being back on the ship and haunted by apparitions of Tarik Torgaddon, fails to spot a Sons of Horus patrol and a skirmish breaks out in an armoury. The Knights kill all their adversaries but Macer Varren and Callion Zaven are both badly wounded. The team retreat to the ruined bar once frequented by the ship's remembrancers where Altan Nohai works to save the wounded and Tubal Cayne confronts Loken over his unfitness to lead, but the others including a recovered Varren stand up for him and reaffirm their faith that Malcador and Russ chose him to lead because he is the best man for the job. Callion Zaven dies of his injuries.[1i]

Part Three: Ghosts

Horus's army reaches the Lupercalia and a huge battle breaks out, Abaddon leading the First Company on the left flank and Aximand leading the Fifth Company on the right. The large loyalist army is anchored at the centre by Paragon of Terra, an Imperator-class Titan. An orbital platform towed into position by frigates fires on Iron Fist mountain, stronghold of Molech's Titan Legios, leveling it in one apocalyptic blow and crushing the Imperial defences on the left flank. Fifth Company come up against the three companies of Ultramarines garrisoning Molech on the right flank and are driven back by the loyal legion's superior cohesion. The contingent of Blood Angels led by Vitus Salicar also garrisoning Molech make a suicidal charge into the heart of the traitor lines, seeking death in battle to atone for succumbing to the Red Thirst whilst on patrol in the Kushite jungle a month before and massacring a company of Imperial Army troopers. Horus deploys the Red Angel to sway the Blood Angels to Chaos, but they commit mass suicide rather than be corrupted. The Imperial Army commander orders Albard and the Knights of House Devine to engage Horus's reserve forces but Albard, his sanity mostly gone and under delusions that he is the Emperor on his first conquest of Molech, falls under the spell of the Slaaneshi energies left inside Banelash from Raeven's encounter with Fulgrim and leads his Knights in attacking Paragon of Terra, bringing it down with a combined lance-strike to the back from inside its void-shields. The resulting explosion levels a large portion of the battlefield. On the right flank traitor Titans manage to turn the tide for Fifth Company and only thirty Ultramarines survive and manage to retreat. The sheer number of Imperial Army forces continue to be a challenge to Horus until Mortarion arrives with the Death Guard, giving the traitors the edge needed to secure victory.[1j]

With the victorious traitors nearing Lupercalia Alivia Sureka arrives gets her family and some medical staff who helped them onto the Molech's Enlightenment, which has escaped the space battle and returned to the planet at great risk to evacuate refugees. The surviving Ultramarines debate whether or not to abandon Molech and go to the aid of the embattled Five Hundred Worlds, but are forced to stay when their Techmarine destroys their vehicles so they have no choice but to honour their oath to defend Molech. Alivia Sureka arrives and recruits them for her mission, the same mission she has been carrying out for hundreds of years: to keep the secret of Molech's Warp Gate by eliminating anyone who discovers it, a duty given to her by the Emperor himself. The group reach the gate just ahead of Horus and the Ultramarines die trying to hold off the Sons of Horus and Death Guard. Alivia almost succeeds in sealing the Warp Gate but at the last second Horus reaches and kills her. Shattering the gate with Worldbreaker, he steps through into the Warp. Moments pass in which the Sons of Horus are blinded by darkness before Horus reappears, having visibly aged and spent years in the Warp journeying with the Red Angel and campaigning at the head of daemon armies in order to receive the powers of the Chaos Gods.[1k]

The pathfinder team continues through the Vengeful Spirit and discovers a lodge-meeting headed by Serghar Targost, who brings in Proximo Tarchon as a prisoner. Rama Karayan assassinates Targost with a sniper shot and the others butcher his mortal followers, but Targost's remains suddenly reanimate, possessed by the daemon Samus, and tear out Tubal Cayne's throat. The Knights fight to kill Samus and eventually succeed when Proximo Tarchon recovers and kills it with his gladius, but then Grael Noctua and Tormageddon drop from the rafters with an assault squad and take them prisoner, Tormageddon having slit Rama Karayan's throat and used his rifle to shoot Altan Nohai through the head. Loken, Qruze, Severian, Rubio, Varren, Tyrfingr, Voitek and Tarchon are brought before Horus in Lupercal's Court, where Horus tries to sway Loken into rejoining the legion. Tyrfingr prepares to kill Loken if he accepts, but Loken defies his primarch and a fight breaks out. Several of the Luperci including Tormageddon's host body are killed, but Voitek takes multiple bolter hits and Loken and Varren are both badly wounded fighting Horus Aximand. Horus impales Iacton Qruze with his gauntlet and in that moment Loken's last shred of connection with his primarch is severed. He swears an oath to defy the Warmaster wherever he goes just as Banu Rassuah arrives and shoots out the window, sucking the pathfinder team into space. Gathered up into the Tarnhelm the team escape and Varren, Tarchon and Voitek are put into healing comas while Tyrfingr and Severian convince Loken that the mission was not a complete failure and that the things that went wrong were not his fault.[1l]

Aboard the Molech's Enlightenment Alivia Sureka's adopted daughters huddle together afraid for the future. They are overjoyed when Alivia appears alive and offers to read them a story.[1m]

Dramatis Personae

The Primarchs

The XVI Legion Sons of Horus

The XIV Legion Death Guard

The XIII Legion Ultramarines, Battle Group II (25th Chapter)

The IX Legion Blood Angels

Legio Crucius

Legio Fortidus

Imperial Personae

The Chosen of Malcador

Non-Imperial Personae

See also


  • 1: Vengeful Spirit
    • 1a: chapters 1-2
    • 1b: chapter 3
    • 1c: chapters 3-8
    • 1d: chapters 8-10
    • 1e: chapters 11-13
    • 1f: chapters 11, 14, 17
    • 1g: chapters 14-15
    • 1h: chapters 14, 17, 18
    • 1i: chapters 16, 17, 19
    • 1j: chapter 20
    • 1k: chapters 21-23
    • 1l: chapters 21-25
    • 1m: chapter 25
  • 2: Black Library

Horus Heresy Series
Novels I Horus RisingII False GodsIII Galaxy in FlamesIV The Flight of the EisensteinV FulgrimVI Descent of AngelsVII LegionVIII Battle for the AbyssIX MechanicumX Tales of HeresyXI Fallen AngelsXII A Thousand SonsXIII NemesisXIV The First HereticXV Prospero BurnsXVI Age of DarknessXVII The Outcast DeadXVIII Deliverance LostXIX Know No FearXX The PrimarchsXXI Fear to TreadXXII Shadows of TreacheryXXIII Angel ExterminatusXXIV BetrayerXXV Mark of CalthXXVI Vulkan LivesXXVII The Unremembered EmpireXXVIII ScarsXXIX Vengeful SpiritXXX The Damnation of PythosXXXI Legacies of BetrayalXXXII DeathfireXXXIII War Without EndXXXIV PharosXXXV Eye of TerraXXXVI The Path of HeavenXXXVII The Silent WarXXXVIII Angels of CalibanXXXIX Praetorian of DornXL CoraxXLI The Master of MankindXLII GarroXLIII Shattered LegionsXLIV The Crimson KingXLV TallarnXLVI RuinstormXLVII Old EarthXLVIII The Burden of LoyaltyXLIX WolfsbaneL Born of FlameLI Slaves to DarknessLII Heralds of the SiegeLIII TitandeathLIV The Buried Dagger
Siege of Terra I The Solar WarII The Lost and the DamnedIII The First WallSons of the SelenarIV SaturnineFury of MagnusV MortisVI WarhawkVII Echoes of EternityGarro: Knight of GreyVIII The End and the Death (Volume IVolume IIVolume III)
The Primarchs Roboute Guilliman: Lord of UltramarLeman Russ: The Great WolfMagnus the Red: Master of ProsperoPerturabo: The Hammer of OlympiaLorgar: Bearer of the WordFulgrim: The Palatine PhoenixFerrus Manus: Gorgon of MedusaGrandfather's GiftPerturabo: Stone and IronMalcador: First Lord of the ImperiumKonrad Curze: A Lesson in DarknessJaghatai Khan: Warhawk of ChogorisVulkan: Lord of DrakesSons of the EmperorCorax: Lord of ShadowsAngron: Slave of NuceriaScions of the Emperor Konrad Curze: The Night HaunterGhost of NuceriaThe Passing of AngelsThe Abyssal EdgeMercy of the DragonLion El'Jonson: Lord of the FirstIllyriumThe Revelation of the WordMorningstarWill of the LegionEmbers of ExtinctionAlpharius: Head of the HydraBlood of the EmperorLoyal SonsMortarion: The Pale KingRogal Dorn: The Emperor's CrusaderSanguinius: The Great AngelHeirs of The Emperor
Horus Heresy Characters Valdor: Birth of the ImperiumLuther: First of the FallenSigismund: The Eternal CrusaderEidolon: The Auric Hammer
Novellas Promethean SunAurelianBrotherhood of the StormThe Reflection Crack'dFeat of IronThe LionThe Serpent BeneathCorax: SoulforgeScorched EarthTallarn: ExecutionerPrince of CrowsThe Crimson FistThe PurgeRavenlordThe Seventh SerpentTallarn: IroncladCyberneticaWolf KingThe HonouredThe UnburdenedGarro: Vow of FaithSons of the ForgeDreadwingSpear of Ultramar
Collections AngronThe Imperial TruthSedition's GateEchoes of RuinDeath and DefianceBlades of the TraitorMedusonBetrayal at CalthEchoes of the ImperiumVirtues of the Sons/Sins of the FatherEchoes of RevelationLupercal's WarCthonia's Reckoning
Short Stories The Lightning TowerThe Dark KingArmy of OneKryptosDistant Echoes of Old NightLost SonsDeath of a SilversmithThe Divine WordThe Kaban ProjectThe Gates of TerraLord of the Red SandsSerpentLuna MendaxRivenBjorn: Lone WolfThe Wolf of Ash and FireHeart of the ConquerorChild of NightThe ShadowmastersThe Devine AdoratriceDaemonologySins of the FatherThe Final Compliance of Sixty-Three FourteenVoraxThe Value of FearBrotherhood of the MoonVirtues of the SonsImperfectHowl of the HearthworldA Safe and Shadowed PlaceGunsightBlack OculusWolf MotherTwistedChirurgeonTallarn: WitnessIronfireHands of the EmperorBy the Lion's CommandAll That RemainsThe PhoenicianArtefactsGhosts Speak NotPatienceInheritorTallarn: SirenBlackshieldMyriadInto ExileThe Grey RavenThe Painted CountExocytosisThe Last Son of ProsperoOrdo SinisterThe Ember WolvesRestorerThe Laurel of DefianceImmortal DutyDuty WaitsMagisteriumNow Peals MidnightDreams of UnityThe Board is SetThe Atonement of FireA Lesson in IronMassacreTwo Metaphysical BladesPrologue to NikaeaOld Wounds, New ScarsAbyssalThe Last CouncilA Rose Watered with BloodBringer of SorrowLantern's LightThe Serpent's DanceThe Lightning HallEater of DreamsBloodhowlAmor FatiThe Fields of AbundanceThe Shel'tain AffairPrimacyThe NineVisageThe Last Loyalist
Audio Dramas Raven's FlightGarro: Oath of MomentGarro: Legion of OneButcher's NailsGrey AngelBurden of DutyGarro: Sword of TruthWarmasterStrike and FadeVeritas FerrumThe SigilliteHonour to the DeadWolf HuntCensureThief of RevelationsKhârn: The Eightfold PathLucius: The Eternal BlademasterCypher: Guardian of OrderHunter's MoonWolf's ClawTemplarGarro: Shield of LiesMaster of the FirstThe Long NightStratagemHerald of SanguiniusThe WatcherThe Eagle's TalonIron CorpsesGarro: Ashes of FealtyRaptorGrey TalonRed-MarkedThe EitherThe Heart of the PharosThe Thirteenth WolfChildren of SicarusPerpetualThe Soul, SeveredValeriusThe Binary SuccessionDark ComplianceBlackshields: The False WarBlackshields: The Red FiefHubris of MonarchiaNightfaneBlackshields: The Broken Chain
Artbooks Visions of Heresy (2013)Visions of Heresy (2018)Art of the Horus Heresy
Script Books Horus Heresy: The Scripts: Volume IHorus Heresy: The Scripts: Volume II
Graphic Novels Macragge's Honour