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Lightbringer

Musings on Horus

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Back to Horus. We have to also recognise the religious view. The fall of Horus would make a better story by a preachers standard. They are preaching the horror of Chaos and they tell how no on is resistant. They speak of the that nothing good can come out of joining Chaos. If Horus was a badguy from the beginning then we would have a different story. What's the morale of the story there? Maybe, don't trust Chaos, it will betray you.

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Actually, I think the HH novels missed a trick with Lorgar too.

What if Lorgar wasn't motivated by a feeling of being rejected by the Emperor? What if the thing that REALLY upset him was the Emperor's rejection of his own divinity? What if Lorgar wanted to prove to the Emperor that he (the Emperor) was divine, despite his protestations to the contrary?

Wouldn't it be fun if, in parallel to "Wicked Horus' " schemes, Lorgar was running a complex plan of his own...but not for the reasons set out in the HH novels.

What if Lorgar was trying to convince the Emperor that he was God... by creating the Devil?

 

In this model, the "Insane Loyal Lorgar" interpretation, the whole Horus Heresy was manipulated by Lorgar to ensure that an "archenemy" arose, a being powerful enough and evil enough to challenge the Emperor directly, forcing him to accept his divinity; either Lorgar himself or, as it happened, Horus. 

 

This means that ultimately Lorgar's objective was not to drag the Imperium into Chaos (as he is portrayed in the HH novels) but instead his sole aim was to ensure that the Emperor ascended to Godhood. 

 

If this was Lorgar's objective all along, it makes his journey all the more interesting and, by his own standards, makes him a success. Ultimately at the end of the Horus Heresy the Emperor ascended to the Golden Throne and became a god in the eyes of his followers...exactly what Lorgar planned to achieve all along.

 

With this interpretation, Lorgar was, when feigning worship of the Chaos powers, all along prepared to sacrifice himself; the ultimate act of worship. Lorgar in this interpretation is mad...but loyally mad.

 

(Plus, I always felt it's a shame that all but three of the traitor Primarchs (if you count Alpharius as two)ended up as Daemons. Anyone familiar with the old Slaves to Darkness/Lost and the Damned books knows that Ascension to Daemonhood is the rarest outcome for Chaos champions. Death and spawnhood are far more common. Horus and Alpharius die..Omegon vanishes....everyone else ends up as a Daemon. Wouldn't it be fitting/ironic if Lorgar ended up as chaos spawn rather than a daemon? Chaos Spawn that is still worshipped by his Legion...but chaos spawn nontheless. But canonically he becomes a Daemon...which is another missed opportunity for an interesting aproach, I think.)  

This.... Blew my mind...

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This.... Blew my mind... Ansalagon said this.

 

If that was true then it must have blown Lorgar's mind as well.

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Ascension to Daemonhood is the rarest outcome for Chaos champions.

 

True, but Primarchs are not exactly 'normal' champions of chaos. The kind of acts of one-in-a-million awesomeness that attract the attention of the gods (say, punching an Avatar of Khaine to death, matching raw physical strength with a scout titan, and conquering entire fortress worlds with a handful of warriors) is something they refer to as "you know....that was actually mildly challenging for a change".

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Ascension to Daemonhood is the rarest outcome for Chaos champions.

 

True, but Primarchs are not exactly 'normal' champions of chaos. The kind of acts of one-in-a-million awesomeness that attract the attention of the gods (say, punching an Avatar of Khaine to death, matching raw physical strength with a scout titan, and conquering entire fortress worlds with a handful of warriors) is something they refer to as "you know....that was actually mildly challenging for a change".

 

 

You're correct, of course. Given how powerful Primarchs are, it's arguably likely that they would end up as Daemon Princes if they convert to chaos.  

 

My point really is that Lorgar becoming a Chaos Spawn would be a more interesting and surprising outcome than the canon one. It would be a fun twist, and the high points of the series so far (Legion, for my money) involve surprising twists.

 

In order for there to be drama there has to be risk. Part of the reason Game of Thrones is so successful as a piece of drama is because GRRM is ready willing and able to kill off major characters left right and centre. No character is safe.

 

The Horus Heresy books, in contrast, lack that element of surprise. We all know that certain Primarchs (Ferrous Manus, Sanguinius, one of the Alpha twins, Horus, Kurze) end up dead, and we pretty much know how they die. This massively reduces the interest one can sustain in HH series books that don't feature your favourite Primarchs. Of course there are non-Astartes characters in the series too, but of them only Grammaticus, Malcador and Olle Perrson really interest me so far.

 

I would regard the next Game of Thrones book as an essential, because I want to know who dies next. A book like "Vengeful Spirit" (which I haven't read) seems far less essential to me. Do I need to buy it to see what happens in the series next? Not really. Horus will start the book, do some stuff, then the book will end. He won't die. The march to Terra continues.

 

This is part of the reason why I think the HH authors need to start killing off a few Primarchs. I have a few candidates in mind, too.

 

Canonically, a number of the loyalist Primarchs "vanish" after the heresy, off pursuing various secret missions, with a sort of "one day I will return, loyal vassals" wave to their astartes followers. I'm thinking Russ, Khan, Vulkan (OK, I know where he ends up following "The Unremembered Empire", but there's still time) and Corax.

 

What if one or two of these Primarchs actually died during the Heresy, and their followers covered it up so as not to damage morale? What if, say, Khan's heroics at the siege of Terra were in fact carried out by one of his lieutenants wearing his armour? A sort of Patroclus in Achilles' armour sort of thing? 

 

What if Russ was mortally wounded during his battle with Magnus? And maybe entombed in a dreadnought under a false name?

 

What if Corax (always a gloomy sort) commmitted suicide immmediately after the Heresy? And his Legion (or certain officers within his Legion) covered it up, crafting a legend around his return?

 

I think there's room within the canon for the HH writers to pull these kind of surprises out of the hat. In fact, I think they should get braver and start doing this. Good drama requires you to "kill your darlings" and the story of the Primarchs risks becoming a little stale. We've known what the general shape of the Heresy is for a good 10 years or so (since the White Dwarf series early last decade setting out their full histories) so to keep up the interest of long term readers it's becoming necessary to "shake it up" a bit.  

 

Of course, it has to be done well. Suddenly revealing that the Emperor is actually a talking dog isn't going to work. I mean clever twists and surprises than are canon-compatible, but which put a new slant on things. "All you have been told is a lie" sort of covers it, but what I would like to see are new ways of presenting old characters and conflicts. It can be done; after all, look at "Batman Begins": a character with a canon reaching back decades can still have his story retold in interesting new ways if it's done skillfully and with genuine ambition.  

Edited by Lightbringer

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The Horus Heresy novels are already taking quite a bit of artistic liberty from previously established material, starting with the "power level" of the Primarchs. I think it's safe to say that the reason we don't get to see a grittier portrayal is because either the authors or the owners of the IP would consider it unpopular with the fans.

 

The standard bolter porn seems to sell nice enough, and if you look at how the portrayal of Space Marines has "evolved" over the past 10, 20 years in novels and Codex fluff alike - away from hyperviolent brutes, towards honourable space knights in shiny armour slaying terrible monsters - then I suspect that expectations to something more complex might be misplaced in this franchise.

 

At least with a flagship product like the HH novels. I could easily imagine them allowing an author to experiment on something smaller where there's less interference from an oversight committee. In fact, I have a feeling ADB is doing just that with his other stories.

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Hmmm. I don't know about expectations of complexity...it's more a hope for a certain level of QUALITY. The HH series has at times sunk to bolter porn, but equally it's had some great moments, usually where they're squeezing something innovative between the walls of the canon.

I worry though that something about the team writing system they're using seems to mitigate against genuine surprise and innovation. Each writer seems to be producing a part of the overall narrative with relatively little flexibility.

I've worried that a kind of collective timidity seems to be the order of the day with the HH novels, a fear of trying something new for fear of contradicting the canon. Like I say, the best HH novels are ones that contain genuine surprises; if the existing canon is constraining the writers from trusting themselves and trying to step beyond"honourable space knights" then that's a pity. I'd rather see them take risks and fail than plod wearily towards Terra in a predictable manner.

It's interesting to contrast the novel series with the Forgeworld series. I think the Forgeworld series is uniformly excellent whereas the HH Novels are a bit of a "curate's egg": good in parts. Perhaps something about the pseudo-historical tone of the Forgeworld books lends itself to the Horus Heresy in a way that suits it better than a straight novel...or perhaps it's that there's a single author (the ever-excellent Alan Bligh) who has more control over his part of the narrative as he's not bound to canon as strongly as the HH novelists...I dunno.

Edited by Lightbringer

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Aaron Dembski-Bowden himself, one of the authors on the HH series, said there is no canon.

 

What could be constraining the writers is the idea of supply and demand coupled with the assumption that the fanbase simply prefers the current portrayal. Whether this is true or not is difficult to gauge, but it's hard to deny that Marines have been getting more and more heroic, and their popularity only seems to increase further.

 

Now, this could just be an effect of GW also focusing its marketing on this one army rather than people buying their stories and liking them, but I can certainly see how whoever is responsible for GW's licensing and marketing could arrive at this opinion. Equally possible is that it's simply the majority of the authors preferring to write things this way, and the rest has to fall in line (as unlike with other Black Library products, there is a certain degree of consistency and coordination between the different Horus Heresy novels, as ADB explained).

 

Anyways, imagine the outrage of a section of the fans if suddenly you drop a book that tells them their favourite Legion's Primarch actually and unexpectedly gets killed.  ;)

I really don't see this going over so well. Some readers might be thrilled to see 40k novels daringly venture into this direction, but ... I have a feeling a lot would end up really, really disliking those books for "messing with their hero".

 

It's just not the right franchise. The fans as a group are coddled by getting catered to with epic stories of awesomeness that read like a superhero comic, and it shows in background debates. A GoT-style revelation would be almost like worlds colliding.

Edited by Lynata

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The reason I like the Horus Heresy is the human characters, not many but most are interesting and unique. In fact some of the characters have links with real life. The writer who writes poems against the Space Marines and gets killed for it. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany killing trouble makers. The sculpture who is so busy with his work he doesn't see the corruption and when shows his marble Emperor it is already too late. The artist who uses blood and faeces in her paintings but repents and commits suicide when she finds out the sculptor is dead. These characters draw me in, sometimes I put down a book with no humans in it(unless they are Alpha Legion) and try find one that does. I like Malcador because he hold strong psychic power yet all the Primarches regard him as weak and not worth to be the Emperors right hand man.

 

The Horus Heresy books are supposed to be a series of books but in cases it is better to not read it as a series. As Lightbringer said the time setting of each book is usually messed up, but Lynata is right about the fanbase, not as how I portray Space Marines(after reading countless betrayal books I don't see them as Happy-Do-Good heroes).

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Ascension to Daemonhood is the rarest outcome for Chaos champions.

 

True, but Primarchs are not exactly 'normal' champions of chaos. The kind of acts of one-in-a-million awesomeness that attract the attention of the gods (say, punching an Avatar of Khaine to death, matching raw physical strength with a scout titan, and conquering entire fortress worlds with a handful of warriors) is something they refer to as "you know....that was actually mildly challenging for a change".

 

 

You're correct, of course. Given how powerful Primarchs are, it's arguably likely that they would end up as Daemon Princes if they convert to chaos.  

 

My point really is that Lorgar becoming a Chaos Spawn would be a more interesting and surprising outcome than the canon one. It would be a fun twist, and the high points of the series so far (Legion, for my money) involve surprising twists.

 

In order for there to be drama there has to be risk. Part of the reason Game of Thrones is so successful as a piece of drama is because GRRM is ready willing and able to kill off major characters left right and centre. No character is safe.

 

The Horus Heresy books, in contrast, lack that element of surprise. We all know that certain Primarchs (Ferrous Manus, Sanguinius, one of the Alpha twins, Horus, Kurze) end up dead, and we pretty much know how they die. This massively reduces the interest one can sustain in HH series books that don't feature your favourite Primarchs. Of course there are non-Astartes characters in the series too, but of them only Grammaticus, Malcador and Olle Perrson really interest me so far.

 

I would regard the next Game of Thrones book as an essential, because I want to know who dies next. A book like "Vengeful Spirit" (which I haven't read) seems far less essential to me. Do I need to buy it to see what happens in the series next? Not really. Horus will start the book, do some stuff, then the book will end. He won't die. The march to Terra continues.

 

This is part of the reason why I think the HH authors need to start killing off a few Primarchs. I have a few candidates in mind, too.

 

Canonically, a number of the loyalist Primarchs "vanish" after the heresy, off pursuing various secret missions, with a sort of "one day I will return, loyal vassals" wave to their astartes followers. I'm thinking Russ, Khan, Vulkan (OK, I know where he ends up following "The Unremembered Empire", but there's still time) and Corax.

 

What if one or two of these Primarchs actually died during the Heresy, and their followers covered it up so as not to damage morale? What if, say, Khan's heroics at the siege of Terra were in fact carried out by one of his lieutenants wearing his armour? A sort of Patroclus in Achilles' armour sort of thing? 

 

What if Russ was mortally wounded during his battle with Magnus? And maybe entombed in a dreadnought under a false name?

 

What if Corax (always a gloomy sort) commmitted suicide immmediately after the Heresy? And his Legion (or certain officers within his Legion) covered it up, crafting a legend around his return?

 

I think there's room within the canon for the HH writers to pull these kind of surprises out of the hat. In fact, I think they should get braver and start doing this. Good drama requires you to "kill your darlings" and the story of the Primarchs risks becoming a little stale. We've known what the general shape of the Heresy is for a good 10 years or so (since the White Dwarf series early last decade setting out their full histories) so to keep up the interest of long term readers it's becoming necessary to "shake it up" a bit.  

 

Of course, it has to be done well. Suddenly revealing that the Emperor is actually a talking dog isn't going to work. I mean clever twists and surprises than are canon-compatible, but which put a new slant on things. "All you have been told is a lie" sort of covers it, but what I would like to see are new ways of presenting old characters and conflicts. It can be done; after all, look at "Batman Begins": a character with a canon reaching back decades can still have his story retold in interesting new ways if it's done skillfully and with genuine ambition.  

 

 

 

This is why many of the books focus on Not-The-Primarchs. There is a reasonable coterie of legion characters whose fate, post-heresy, is unknown. The 'Knights Errant' and the 'Shattered Legions' are good examples of this, and make for some of the tensest stories as a result. Argal Tal of the word bearers is another. We may know that Magnus and Ahriman survive the events of Prospero - the key is making you give a **** about the other thousand sons, who might not.

 

And even then, there's still some flexibility; Sharrakyn's duel against Lucius is a good case in point.

 

 

And to underline my point: the Vengeful Spirit novel - at least, those bits set on the Vengeful Spirit - is mostly a novel about the Knights Errant - Garro, Rubio, etc. And without spoiling who ends up getting theres, I can assure you that the authors are quite happy to kill off normally plot-armoured 'main' characters.

 

Oh . and apparently, "The Next Primarch To Die" has already been planned/written, at least according to the black library open day.

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