Day two of Black Library’s 2016 Advent Calendar brings us The Maiden of the Dream by John French, the second ‘story of the Horusian Wars’ after The Purity of Ignorance. The titular Maiden is Mylasa, a powerful psyker who, as one of Inquisitor Covenant’s acolytes, uses her gifts to interrogate prisoners of the Inquisition and purge their memories. Can she be trusted, however? Beneath the accumulated memories ripped from the minds of others, is her soul still pure?
In this story French introduces us to the slightly disturbing character of Mylasa, who will presumably feature in the upcoming The Horusian Wars: Resurrection, and gives us a veiled glimpse into her life and her place within Covenant’s warband. He poses those questions of loyalty and purity without giving any black and white answers, but in such a way as to hint at her instantly intriguing backstory. It’s pretty dark stuff, told in a deliberately roundabout manner that slowly builds up a typically bleak 40k story in which Covenant is only an occasional bystander but Preacher Josef once again is painted as the human, compassionate element within the group. It feels very much like scene-setting in advance of the novel, so should be good preparation before Resurrection sees its release in 2017.