We break down the Books of Sorrow, a massive volume of lore from Destiny’s latest expansion that explains the origins of Oryx, the Hive, the Ahamkara, and more.
When Destiny was first released, it was criticized for its lack of story, but fans soon discovered that Destiny’s deepest story content could actually be found in the Grimoire cards, unlocked in-game and available to be read on Bungie.net.
With The Taken King, Bungie vastly improved its storytelling over what fans experienced in the game’s first year, but the expansion also brought more Grimoire to be unlocked, and it is no less substantial. In fact, the lore contained within the Grimoire cards provides context to the events of the main game.
More specifically, The Taken King introduced a set of Grimoire cards called the Books of Sorrow, which unlocked by finding Calcified Fragments. This lengthy prose provides a history of the Hive, the Ahamkara, the Darkness, the Vex, and more.
Here is a summary of the Books of Sorrow, the first part of two articles here on Game Rant, walking through this important collection of lore.
The History of the Hive
The Books of Sorrow start in an ancient time of the universe, long before the events of the game and the history of the Earth’s Golden Age and the Collapse by introducing the race that would become the Hive, a two-legged, two-armed, three-eyed species that live on the giant planet known as Fundament. Fundament is covered in water, and the living creatures on the world live on floating landmasses. The precursor Hive race live among many other species, and are called “the smallest things” on the planet.
The lifespan of a member of this race is ten years, but they are able to “breed and adapt quickly.” The exception to this short lifespan is the members of the race that become “mothers,” who are said to live much longer, but an exact lifespan is not provided. The story of the Books of Sorrow zooms in to focus on a specific nation of these aliens, known as the Osmium Kingdom, as that is the specific kingdom from which Oryx originated.
Oryx’s original name is Aurash, a daughter (yes, Oryx was originally a female) and princess of the Osmium King. She has two other sisters, Xi Ro and Sathona. Xi Ro, the youngest sister, wanted to grow to be a warrior knight while Sathona is said to be clever and desires to be a mother. Aurash, the oldest princess, is called the “navigator child;” she is curious, a dreamer, and an explorer.
The princesses’ father, the Osmium King is ten, at the end of his lifespan, and is said to be mad. At this time, he studies ancient texts and raves about a coming cataclysmic wave caused by the alignment of the moons around Fundament. He also has a creature called a “familiar,” a dead white worm from the deep sea of Fundament that he keeps in glass that “he tends to […] and neglects his duties as king.”
Taox, the queen, looks at the Osmium King and believes he and the princesses are unfit to rule the Osmium Kingdom, so she tips off a rival nation, the Helium Drinkers, and tells them to invade the Osmium Kingdom and kill the king and princesses. The Helium Drinkers invade, but are only able to kill the king. The princesses flee.
Aurash, Xi Ro, and Sathona take a blood oath that they will avenge their father, kill Taox, and regain control of their kingdom. Aurash remembers her father talking about the cataclysmic wave, a “God-Wave,” that would be caused by the moons of Fundament aligning to pull up the ocean into a bulge. Once the moons moved, the bulge would be released, causing a wave big enough to wipe out the entire Osmium Kingdom and species.
Aurash wants desperately to save her race from this devastation. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Sathona came into possession of her father’s familiar, the worm, which starts to influence Sathona and her thoughts, and she begins to tell her sisters that the answer to their problems can be found at the bottom of the Fundament’s sea.
The sisters find a wrecked ship that can dive under the sea, which they spend two years fixing and then begin a voyage to the planet’s core. As they grow older, five years at this point, they desire to find a way to live longer so they can accomplish their objective. Aurash believes a great secret lies in Fundament’s core.
As the Osmium princesses dive through the sea in their ship, they come across a giant creature known as the Leviathan. This creature tells the sisters,
You must turn back
Save yourselves from the deep
Save the world from yourselves
You must turn back
Aurash responds to the Leviathan saying that only death awaits them back on the surface. She tells the Leviathan to let them continue down so they “may discover truth” and avenge themselves and save their race. The ancient Leviathan says that their race’s death is the natural way of the universe, warning them that if they continue downward they will become world-killers and will live as death and devastation. The sisters ignore the Leviathan’s warnings and they listen to the whisper of the worm that is leading them into the deep.
The Ahamkara and the Worms
After the princesses leave the Leviathan behind, they reach Fundament’s core. There in the deep is a group of Ahamkara, called Worms in the Books of Sorrow. In a stunning display of power, one Ahamkara protects Aurash and keeps her alive as she walks out on the hull of the ship.
The Ahamkara reveal that the Leviathan has trapped them in the planet’s core, and they have been waiting for someone to come to them. He offers help to the princesses, saying that if they take the Ahamkaras’ larvae into their bodies, they will live forever and have limitless power. The catch: the worms will hunger and they must be fed or they will consume the sister in whom they live.
The Ahamkara says that the sisters must never cease to obey their nature: Aurash must explore and inquire, Xi Ro must always test her strength, and Sathona must never abandon her cunning. The sisters each allow the symbiotic worms into their bodies, making them immortal and giving them power. The trio boards their ship and take with them worm larvae to take back to their species, which transforms their entire race into the Hive.
At this point, each of the sisters take a “morph,” which changes them into other forms. Aurash takes the king morph and becomes Auryx (Oryx), thus becoming a male. Sathona takes the mother morph, and becomes Savathûn. Xi Ro takes the knight morph and becomes Xivu Arath. They pursue Taox across the planet, committing genocide, wiping out every species in their path. They discover that Taox has fled to one of the moons around Fundament and gains refuge with a space-faring race known as the Ammonites.
It is during this time that suddenly another moon appears among Fundament’s natural 52 moons. It is the Traveler, and it is what caused the moons to align and sent the God-Wave. Auryx, Xivu Arath, and Savathûn stage a campaign against the Ammonites, but cannot defeat them because the Traveler is helping the Ammonites, much in the same way that the Traveler advanced earth’s civilization in the Golden Age.
The Ahamkara (who communicate telepathically across the universe many times with Auryx throughout the Books of Sorrow) tell Auryx that he can overcome the Traveler’s power with rituals of the Darkness. Auryx takes his sword and kills a hundred of his children, and his power grows. This is the birth of the Hive’s rituals and signs that are seen in Destiny.
The campaign against the Ammonites continues as the Hive battle them on the moons of Fundamnet. In the hunt for Taox, Auryx meets with the Ammonites to bargain for Taox. But Savathûn views this as mercy and weakness so she kills her brother Auryx.
Find out Auryx’s fate, as well as the origin of Hive’s Ascendant Realms, the Vex, and Crota in Part 2, coming soon.
The Books of Sorrow can be read in their entirety here.
What do you think of Destiny‘s lore? Does knowing it make you enjoy playing the game more?