Perturabo – master of siegecraft, and the executioner of Olympia. Long has he lived in the shadow of his more favoured primarch brothers, frustrated by the mundane and ignominious duties which regularly fall to his Legion. When Fulgrim offers him the chance to lead an expedition in search of ancient and destructive xenos weaponry, the Iron Warriors and the Emperor’s Children unite and venture deep into the heart of the great star maelstrom that haunts Perturabo’s dreams. Pursued by vengeful survivors from Isstvan V and the revenants of a dead eldar world, they must work quickly if they are to unleash the devastating power of the Angel Exterminatus!
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about writing about the traitor primarchs is delving deeper into why they turned from the Emperor and embraced treachery. To walk alongside Fulgrim as he descended into madness and to have stood beside Magnus as his world burned was incredibly satisfying, but they were primarchs who fell through trying to do the right thing. With those primarchs, I’d taken pains to make them sympathetic and have their falls portrayed in a way that made them tragic rather than simply treacherous.
But with Angel Exterminatus, I had a chance to tell the story of a primarch who’d gone over to Horus without high-minded notions of perfection or raising Mankind to a new psychic awareness. Perturabo willingly embraced betrayal because he couldn’t see a way out of the rut he’d been driven into and the genocide he’d unleashed. Guilt and shame are powerful motivators, and to avoid facing them, the path of least resistance is often the one that takes you deeper into trouble.
When I was planning this book’s outline, I conceived it as a spiritual sequel to Fulgrim, a continuation of the Emperor’s Children’s story, but the more I wrote and the more it opened up to me, the more I realised that it wasn’t their story at all. Sure, they’re major players in the narrative, but this is well and truly Perturabo’s story.
Here was a primarch who found himself allied to the Warmaster without having been plied with the obvious seductions of Chaos or the lures placed before primarchs like Angron and Mortarion. Why did a previously honourable warrior like Perturabo choose to destroy what he had helped to build? That’s what’s at the heart of Angel Exterminatus, where we see portions of the Iron Warriors’ back story emerge over the course of their association with the Emperor’s Children, a slow unveiling of the deep wound in their psyche.
It’s a story that reminds us that just because the Warmaster’s forces are allied, old rivalries and divisions that existed between the legions are still there and are likely only ever going to get worse. And Fulgrim’s willingness to sacrifice his brother for the sake of his own selfish wants are a measure of how thoroughly he’s embraced the Ruinous Powers. The Dark Prince is a demanding master, but the Lord of Iron is well-named.
And now Perturabo has a score to settle.