Horus Heresy: The Devine Adoratrice (Short Story Review)

In recent years, Black Library has taken to the short story and novella formats with abundant enthusiasm, as evidence by their fiction release schedules since 2012. Bit by bit, the publisher has shifted focus from the mainstream novel format to the shorter ones, and while I don’t find that to be a healthy change at all, we have at least seen quite a lot of good stuff in both these formats, which is good enough for me, for now. It does mean however that my reading lists have gotten bigger and bigger, but that’s something to be managed in time

In an effort to catch up with the vast volume of short stories and novellas released by Black Library in the last couple years, I’ve recently started moving through them one at a time. The most recent short story I’ve read from them is The Devine Adoratrice, which first appeared in the event-exclusive anthology Horus Heresy: Imperial Truth and was then released as a digital download. It is a prologue to Graham McNeill’s latest Horus Heresy novel, Vengeful Spirit, and it focuses on mortal character that go on to become important characters in the novel. My first reaction to the short story, when I was done with it, was rather lukewarm but going through the audiobook of Vengeful Spirit right now, details are popping out at me, and my appreciation has risen significantly.

The-Devine-Adoratrice

Molech is one of the worlds that was made compliant by the vast space-faring armies of the Emperor over a century ago from the current Horus Heresy timeline, and it is ruled by a Knight House. In the Horus Heresy, Knight Houses existed on several worlds of the nascent Imperium and the core concept of them was that the nobles of the world in question commanded Knight-frame mecha-units, maintained by dedicated servants of the Cult Mechanicus. In The Devine Adoratrice, we are witness to the bonding ceremony, the Becoming, of the two heirs of Cyprian Devine of Molech, Raeven and Abelard, and the treachery that mars their ascension. As sons of Cyprian, who is Molech’s Imperial Governor, Raeven and his elder brother Abelard, are part of a grand celebration to mark this momentous event, and their role in the eventual Horus Heresy is what Graham McNeill explores in this short story.

At first, I thought this was a somewhat boring story since it didn’t deal with Primarchs or the Legiones Astartes or anything. In fact, it had little to do with the Heresy itself, and seemed a really odd precursor. But then I learned that it was a prequel story to Graham’s Vengeful Spirit, and that’s when I decided to go through the novel soon after finishing the short story. The experience entire, so it were. And indeed, The Devine Adoratrice gains more significance once you read through Vengeful Spirit for the short story does indeed the set stage for a massive, epic battle as Horus Lupercal brings the Sons of Horus to the world of Molech in order to gain yet another advantage over the Emperor.

The Devine Adoratrice focuses primarily on Raeven Devine and we see that he is quite the deviant son of Cyprian Devine, and that he doesn’t necessarily feel in tune with either his father or his elder brother. He is ambitious, dangerously so, and he wants to be the Imperial Governor more than anything. He is quite a fun character really, and it is quite obvious from both this short story and the novel that Graham really enjoyed writing him. I’m not too far along Vengeful Spirit but he is already standing out as quite a pivotal character, and I like what Graham did with him in The Devine Adoratrice in hindsight.

One of the things that Graham explores in this short story is the canker of heresy that hides beneath the veneer of Molech’s nobility. What Cyprian and his sons and others believe to be true isn’t necessarily so, and the twist at the end of the novel is indeed quite a major twist that makes this very plain. I certainly didn’t expect anything like it, and that ending made the experience of reading through the short story well worth it.

There is lots of great action in the story, and also a fair amount of character development, and in the end, I think it is a fairly good story after all. I wouldn’t recommend reading it by itself, especially not since Vengeful Spirit is already out. The two are a complete experience I feel, so that’s my recommendation. It does something different with the larger series, focusing on a tiny moment in comparison, and while it doesn’t come across so well initially, you have to be patient of it, I think. That’s the key.

Rating: 8/10

More Horus Heresy: Angel Exerminatus, Butcher’s Nails, Fear To Tread, Garro: Burden of Duty, Garro: Oath of Moment, Garro: Legion of One, Grey AngelPromethean Sun, Shadows of Treachery, The Outcast Dead, The Primarchs, The Raven’s Flight, Thief of Revelations, Vulkan Lives, Mark of Calth, Templar, Censure, Honour To The Dead, Know No Fear.

11 thoughts on “Horus Heresy: The Devine Adoratrice (Short Story Review)

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