As the seventh limited edition novella in the Horus Heresy range, the release of Gav Thorpe’s Ravenlord will no doubt prove a ripe topic for conversation among Black Library fans regarding cost versus value. Irrespective of price however, the great thing about the Horus Heresy novellas is that they bridge the gap between short stories and full novels, allowing authors to go into more detail on specific characters or engagements than they would be able to otherwise. With Ravenlord we get a second novella featuring Corvus Corax (after Corax : Soulforge), this time focusing on the Raven Guard’s assault on the prison planet of Carandiru.
Things start off at a fast pace, Gav throwing us straight into the action with a teasing introduction before pulling back to give us the build up to what we think we know is going to happen. It can be a hard balance to find in a novella between action and reflection, but here it’s spot on. The story continues with plenty of enjoyable moments of Corax and company dishing out punishment in the way that only the Raven Guard can, as well as quieter scenes that show the way in which he’s trying to convince his warriors, and indeed himself, of the best way they have remaining to them of affecting the outcome of the war. The Raven Guard are very much still struggling with the events of both the Dropsite Massacre as well as the catastrophe at Ravendelve, and here we see the effects that doubt and suspicion can have on even a primarch.
This is a nice tie in to the wider ‘shattered legions’ story arc that seems to be developing in the Heresy series at the moment, and combines the usual Raven Guard themes of freedom and independence with a wider point about the impact even a single legionary can have on a conflict. As mentioned earlier the novella format has given Gav the chance to explore these themes in detail without having to tie things in to too complex a story, and that’s resulted in a focused, streamlined book that’s thoroughly enjoyable and difficult to put down. The usual standard of presentation for these limited edition novellas is maintained once more, and until we get a full novel featuring Corax and the Raven Guard this should keep the die hard collectors nicely satisfied.