The Account of a Lifetime

October 15, 2013

Barry of Espandor

Filed under: Uncategorized — xisor @ 10:46 pm
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I recently caved and acquired Mark of Calth (or Barry of Espandor as I know it), the Horus Heresy anthology released earlier this year. It hits a wonderful array of notes with a very pleasingly coherent thread (well, many threads: a rope?) running throughout its stories. Kudos, I think, to Laurie Goudling on putting together a rather smashing anthology. (Though with one totie, teeny misgiving amidst it.)

First up was Shards of Erebus, by Guy Hayley. It’s largely the first of his I’d read, except for some very short-shorts (though I acquired “Death of Integrity” at the same time as “Mark of Calth”).

It had, I felt,  stilted and strange prose. Bolthole forumite, Rob P, mentioned on twitter, it can also be seen as really… austere writing. Stripped down. I think, and I might be wrong, it’s what I really aspire to. I’d only really encountered it in the old hard-boiled noir-y PI books. Bare-bones writing, really cool; definitely how I’d want to be able to ‘switch on’ writing (compared to the long-winded drivel I vomit forth now!).

In that regard, I found it a bit jarring to read, but I think I liked it a lot. Conceptually it had some great little nuggets in it, and in contrast to what followed immediately after, I think it was a very astute move: meant that Guy seemed to focus much more on ideas and characters than on doling out words on a page. (more…)


June 20, 2012

Traitors & the Ruinous Powers

Filed under: Books & Media,Cogitations,Horus Heresy — xisor @ 7:56 pm

Rahzbad, in light of The Butcher’s Nails opened this little thought which precipitated a bit of speculation and thought on my part.

“Revealing no spoilers in the event that others have not listened, how much do you think the Traitor Legions/Primarchs know about their new found warp allies?” – Rahzbad

My response is thus to run through them in this regard:

Varying Knowledge

Angron & World Eaters:
I think he knows very little, I can’t imagine his legion are well clued up. But could they be fast learners? I think that might be a safe bet. It’s, of course, not necessarily the case. We know Angron’s getting a bit more canny and a bit more focussed, how much of his slide to Khorne is to be predestination, how much is self-determination and how much is… coercion by his brothers?

Mortarion & Death Guard:
Mortarion himself, probably very little. He may suspect a lot and become increasingly anxious/heel-dragging. We know, by contrast, that Typhon is reasonably ‘front line’ in his dabblings and devotions. Quite where the rest of the Legion sit is unclear – it could be a rather Night Haunter-style situation wherein the boss is the last one to ‘properly’ turn bad. (Excluding, of course, Herr Garro & Co.)

Alpharius & the Alpha Legion:
I think they know a fair bit more, but it’s tentative and their knowledge is always filtered through the prism of, in my esteem, Ch7 of Legion – they care only for one singular end: Humanity’s survival. That’s what they optimise against, perhaps in different directions and attempting different angles of attack (e.g. the whole are they traitors? are they loyalists? How could we tell?), so they’re likely learning much of their allies with a mind to slowing the decline of the species.

On the otherhand, they’re also likely to be happy enough (err, happier?) to set it aside when they realise they’re in too deep. In Inquisitorial terms, they’re radicals, at very least. Framing their knowledge that way seems fairly sensible.

Magnus & Thousand Sons:
I think he surely knows a hell of a lot. Especially after Prospero and his chat with Lorgar in Aurelian. That said, he’s also not necessarily fully invested in the Heresy itself. He’s got a schism going on within his legion with Ahriman and, indeed, it’s noted that at least by Battle of the Fang-era, his sorcerers are actually a bit rubbish/unambitious compared with those who left with Ahriman.

That said, he surely still knows more. His tragedy and fall is enhanced if his awareness of exactly how almost wrong or right he was. The curse of his knowledge is that he can see the stupidity of his failures all the more clearly? With that in mind, perhaps he can see even some of the ‘untruths’ that Lorgar is being fed/making true? Moreover, it’s perhaps likely that he’s unable to communicate his insight clearly to others? Alone in an ivory tower…

Lorgar & Word Bearers:
They’re the peak, the top. Surely. Erebus and Kor Phaeron ‘know’, but they’re learning from Lorgar’s revelations. Whilst it comes ‘divinely’ to Lorgar, Erebus & Kor Phaeron (like Typhon?) have to fight for every scrap, to wrestle with reality and unreality to make sure it works. Fortunately, they’re the most faithful too, so that’s alright. Obviously, all this is perhaps coloured by things that Chaos doesn’t want its servants to know/believe in, perhaps that Magnus might have been right, just not right enough, stuff like that.

Horus & the Sons thereof:
It’s a difficult one here. On one hand I think Horus & Abaddon are surely learning intimately as they go (contrast to the opening of False Gods where they have to fight at every turn with the Imperium – they’re ‘free of their chains’ now and able to ascend to the heights they should’ve been achieving during the Crusade?). In that regard, I can see them both learning and knowing the boundaries, perhaps without such vision and support as Lorgar, or clarity as Magnus, but with a more practical and… pragmatic touch than those two bookish types? It accounts for why Horus & Abaddon would be the best ‘vassals’ or ‘figureheads’ for Chaos – they’re not too concerned with the why, but the how.

Fulgrim & the Emperor’s Children:
In a counterpoint to Magnus, I think Fulgrim likely has even more profound insight, but he’s even more distanced with how to convey it. He can impart it, reveal it, but he can’t (or rather… wouldn’t?) teach it or translate it so formally. That would account for why the Emperor’s Children do as they do at the Siege: they’ve learned enough about Chaos that they see it’s not actually about winning? That’s not what the daemons, the gods are after…

Night Haunter & the Night Lords:
I think the case for them not caring is really rather profound, and well explored in both Lord of the Night and ADB’s books, without really being touched on explicitly. Their interests are already inherently chaotic and… devolved, counterproductive, it really doesn’t matter what the details of why they do what they do, only what they do and that they do it at all? A certain nihilism or solipsism in it, but I’m sure tons can still be said on them.

Perutrabo & the Iron Warriors:
Frankly, I really don’t know. I’ve a suspicion it might be a half-way between Lorgar & Night Haunter – a ‘well what have you done for me lately?’ contract. They delve ever deeper, but at a reasonably sedate pace, always trying to get the best cost-benefit ratio out of their Dark Pacts?


 Space Marine Supremacists & the Ruinous Powers

One of the points that grabbed Rahzbad particularly was the methods used by the Space Marine side of the equation. Whilst for Lorgar, Fulgrim and Mortarion (and perhaps Horus to an extent), they have very plot-centric reasons for learning, we have the Space Marine characters themselves who drive the quest in a very Magnus-style, but aren’t hamstrung by Magnus’ fate.

That is: Ahriman (think Rubric), Erebus (think Know No Fear, Nemesis, False Gods), Kor Phaeron (think Battle for the Abyss, Know No Fear), Typhon (The Lion) and so forth.

There’s an inherently… scientific (or perhaps rigorous?) approach here. They’re not approaching it as ‘true believers’ in an oddly subservient sense, they’re ambitious, frighteningly so. They’re shackling it, and gambling with it and really fighting for every scrap they seem to be getting.

If the Emperor and Chaos are at war with one another, I think the scientific ‘competition’ for knowledge of Chaos, for insight and access to power is really quite a startling point. Is it possible that the Space Marine vassals are not really doing anything that less ambitious than the Emperor, just with less inherent skill/advantage and with relatively bigger challenges facing them?

We think we know a lot about these characters, but what do we really know about their motivations, their ambitions, their worries and the cautions they take?

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