The third short story in John French’s burgeoning Horusian Wars series, The Absolution of Swords is pretty much a direct prequel to the novel Resurrection. On the shrine world Dominicus Prime, within and beneath the temples of the Crow Complex, Inquisitor Covenant and his warband hunt down an insidious cult known as the Tenth Path. While Duke Cleander Von Castellan and the soldier Koleg seek to cleanse the taint of Chaos from the darkness beneath the temples, Covenant leads his other followers in search of answers, and the man ultimately responsible for the cult’s dark purpose.
There are similar themes here to the first two Horusian Wars tales (The Purity of Ignorance and The Maiden of the Dream), expanded into a bigger story tying multiple threads together into a satisfying whole. It continues to build familiarisation with Covenant’s warband, introducing new characters and particularly focusing on the Rogue Trader Cleander, but this time it also sets the narrative up for the novel, Resurrection. While it’s perhaps not essential to read this first, it introduces a clear tone and style for the series – expect this to continue into the novel. It’s not a straightforward story, but it’s powerful and well told.