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Calibandar

Horus Heresy anyone?

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Hey guys,

I hope you don't mind if I drop in here to talk. Personally, I've a big fondness for the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K settings. I've never played the tabletop wargame but I have an affection for the lore in much the same way I read the Warcraft novels but don't play the MMORPG (though I did try it out). I enjoy the William King Slayer novels (though I dropped them), Dan Abnett's novels (Especially Gaunt's Ghosts), as well as the Ciaphas Cain novels--albeit I fell behind on them.

As for the Horus Heresy, I only read up to "Flight of the Eisenstein" because I was interested in the main central plot of the Heresy and was disappointed to discover it was going to be a much-much longer exploration of the Legions rather than a self-contained collection of works which would culminate in the historical confrontation between Horus, the Emperor, and Sanguinus.

Honestly, I think the Warhammer universe is underestimated for its world-building but I got started in roleplaying games before I became a major fan of fantasy so I have a higher tolerance for game-isms than most perhaps. I also think my literary tastes owe a great deal to Warhammer because it's the system that gave us the word "grimdark" and all the wonderful descriptions it makes.

One thing I'd like to note, though is Horus didn't ruin the Imperium. The Imperium was an authoritarian militantly atheist totalitarian violent dictatorship ruled by a master race of genetically engineered Psyker warriors. They're a bunch of scumbags who destroyed innocent cultures, eradicated all Xenos they encountered (the Interax shows coexistence was possible with some), and conquered all humans who resisted the rule of Earth. Horus' rebellion is karmic, IMHO, because it made sure the Emperor of Mankind didn't get away with his mammoth amount of crimes.

Then again, I've never really been a big fan of Leto II God-Emperors.

:)

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Honestly, I think the Warhammer universe is underestimated for its world-building but I got started in roleplaying games before I became a major fan of fantasy so I have a higher tolerance for game-isms than most perhaps. I also think my literary tastes owe a great deal to Warhammer because it's the system that gave us the word "grimdark" and all the wonderful descriptions it makes.

One thing I'd like to note, though is Horus didn't ruin the Imperium. The Imperium was an authoritarian militantly atheist totalitarian violent dictatorship ruled by a master race of genetically engineered Psyker warriors. They're a bunch of scumbags who destroyed innocent cultures, eradicated all Xenos they encountered (the Interax shows coexistence was possible with some), and conquered all humans who resisted the rule of Earth. Horus' rebellion is karmic, IMHO, because it made sure the Emperor of Mankind didn't get away with his mammoth amount of crimes.

 

Not disagreeing with you one bit. The conquering of the human worlds with different beliefs and the way this is done fully shows we are dealing with a tyrannic evil here. I guess the idea though is that in teh future world of Warhammer, the Imperium is still the best of many bad, bad options. Though you can certainly claim the Emperor goes about it in a way that could be less destructive and genocidal.

Agreed on the depth of the setting, obviously, as that is one of the things I really like. And the battle between Horus, The Emperor and Sanguinius confronting first the greater Demon and then Horus are things everyone wants to read. And we may, in 5 years or so.

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Not disagreeing with you one bit. The conquering of the human worlds with different beliefs and the way this is done fully shows we are dealing with a tyrannic evil here. I guess the idea though is that in teh future world of Warhammer, the Imperium is still the best of many bad, bad options. Though you can certainly claim the Emperor goes about it in a way that could be less destructive and genocidal.

Agreed on the depth of the setting, obviously, as that is one of the things I really like. And the battle between Horus, The Emperor and Sanguinius confronting first the greater Demon and then Horus are things everyone wants to read. And we may, in 5 years or so.

Warhammer 40K is a fun setting really for getting into the nuts and bolts of fascism using a fantasy lens. It's on the borderline between pure and entertainment and art but I think of it as every bit as useful as Marvel Comics X-men for talking about a sensitive subject in ways which the reader might be predisposed to have an opinion on that blinds them to undertones. For instance, with the X-men the issue of prejudice.

W40K, for me, is useful as a discussion of how reasonable people might come to believe militarism and xenophobia are justified by showing the comic extremes necessary to "justify" that kind of attitude in setting. By, essentially, making the ultimate grimdark setting, you expose just how hollow a lot of the justifications for unlimited militarism and absolute prejudice are.

Even then, the books do a good job of showing the justification of the Imperium is often hollow. Gaunt's Ghosts are cannon fodder despite the fact they're the most elite, talented, and intelligent group of scouts in the Sabbat Crusade. They're used wastefully and all of their hopes are destroyed in the meat grinder of its corrupt leadership. Ciaphas Cain hates himself for being a coward and a fraud but he's in a society which does not revere common sense or preserving the lives of your troops. "Cowardice" in the Imperium is courage to any sensible army.

The Imperium is better than the alternative, which is extinction, but if the better is being a bunch of Theocratic Space Nazi Feudalists (a trifecta of everything working class Brits hate) then how much better is it really?

It's why, cartoony as it is, I consider W40K to be art.

Like the X-men.

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One thing I'd like to note, though is Horus didn't ruin the Imperium. The Imperium was an authoritarian militantly atheist totalitarian violent dictatorship ruled by a master race of genetically engineered Psyker warriors. They're a bunch of scumbags who destroyed innocent cultures, eradicated all Xenos they encountered (the Interax shows coexistence was possible with some), and conquered all humans who resisted the rule of Earth. Horus' rebellion is karmic, IMHO, because it made sure the Emperor of Mankind didn't get away with his mammoth amount of crimes.

No, it's the aftermath of the Heresy that "ruined" it. As bad and universally genocidal as the Imperium was during the Great Crusade, it was still much better than the oppressive theocracy that it has become by M41. It's also better than what would have happened if Horus had won, obviously.

 

The Imperium as it was during the Great Crusade was also a means to an end: unite humanity long enough to safely oversee the full development of the species' psychic potential. Given the treatment of psykers in the modern day Imperium, that backfired ever so slightly.

 

There were also degrees of awfulness. Some legions were just brutal conquerors, others were much more reasonable. There was a world of difference between the treatment meted out to newly discovered worlds by the World Eaters and the Thousand Sons, for example.

Ciaphas Cain hates himself for being a coward and a fraud but he's in a society which does not revere common sense or preserving the lives of your troops. "Cowardice" in the Imperium is courage to any sensible army.

Cain is probably often being a bit harsh on himself. He's not the shining hero that Imperial propaganda portrays him as, but it's not like he spends all his time cowering in a corner somewhere. He even has brief moments of genuine heroism that he's incapable of explaining away.

His most despicable qualities are the ones he doesn't reflect on at all. For all his pragmatism, he's still as violently xenophobic as any good Imperial citizen, even towards aliens that are currently acting as his allies, for example.

The Imperium is better than the alternative, which is extinction, but if the better is being a bunch of Theocratic Space Nazi Feudalists (a trifecta of everything working class Brits hate) then how much better is it really?

That's not quite what the alternative is, though. First comes a fairly long time, possibly generations, of all humans everywhere in the galaxy effectively living in hell, as the influence of Chaos grows and turns every planet into a Demon World. If it leads to extinction in the long term, the path to get there is utterly horrifying, even compared to many of the Imperium's methods.

And not all worlds in the Imperium are created equal. Life in Ultramar is pretty great, whereas hive worlds like Necromunda or Armageddon can get pretty terrible. And then there's the death worlds, and particularly insane places like Cadia or Krieg.

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Well, we're getting into specifics rather than generalities. Also, I can't speak to my perfect experience as I grew frustrated with the Horus Heresy and stopped when I realized the books weren't going to be getting to Earth and the confrontation with the Emperor anytime soon. I may have to pick up the books again but I'm not sure I'm interested in many of the series versus the greater narrative.

Any books I SHOULD read if I wanted to pick this back up?

As for the Emperor, I think the Horus Heresy (and the Horus Heresy companion book which I *DID* read) does a good job of deconstructing the God-Emperor of Mankind's frailties. It's very easy to put everything on Horus and say that he ruined the God-Emperor's master plan and that everything would have been alright if they'd all stuck to the plan. The thing is, I'm not sure the God-Emperor could have pulled it off.

The God-Emperor is very-very capable but we see a lot of his decisions and how they fed into the anger, hatred, and resentment of the Primarchs who rebelled. Likewise, as talented as the God-Emperor is, he's faced against Tzeentch and you can't beat Tzeentch at conspiracy anymore than you can beat the House in Vegas.

Even the Emperor's anti-clericism may have been a mistake. I subscribe to the theory, personally, the God-Emperor was actually against religion as part of a plan to weaken the Chaos Gods. The thing was the Chaos Gods don't NEED religion to become all-powerful. They feed just fine on war, disease, hope (ouch), and lust (double ouch). The God-Emperor goes after Chaos like he's going after any other enemy and that just feeds the monster.

Not that Chaos is his only enemy, really. Chaos will corrupt and destroy what it touches but Orks, Tyranids, and Necrons will just kill you.

Edit:

Hell, want to be completely crazy? Given the way the Warhammer 40K universe runs on belief (ever since the Eye of Terror was created at least), it's possible the God Emperor of Mankind is MORE useful than he was while alive. Faith and miracles can now occur across the Imperium thanks to belief in the God-Emperor. Belief can also be used to ward off chaos. The Starchild may just be the collective lunacy of a bunch of weirdo cultists but Saint Sabbat cleansed a world of chaos in Gaunt's Ghosts because so many people BELIEVE in the Emperor's order.

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Well, we're getting into specifics rather than generalities. Also, I can't speak to my perfect experience as I grew frustrated with the Horus Heresy and stopped when I realized the books weren't going to be getting to Earth and the confrontation with the Emperor anytime soon. I may have to pick up the books again but I'm not sure I'm interested in many of the series versus the greater narrative.

Any books I SHOULD read if I wanted to pick this back up?

I gave my opinion on a few earlier in the thread. Not sure how many I skipped, but I don't think I left any out that are really good.

As for the Emperor, I think the Horus Heresy (and the Horus Heresy companion book which I *DID* read) does a good job of deconstructing the God-Emperor of Mankind's frailties. It's very easy to put everything on Horus and say that he ruined the God-Emperor's master plan and that everything would have been alright if they'd all stuck to the plan. The thing is, I'm not sure the God-Emperor could have pulled it off.

Oh, the Emperor made some really strange decisions, particularly considering he's supposed to be a forty thousand year old psychic genius.

Hell, want to be completely crazy? Given the way the Warhammer 40K universe runs on belief (ever since the Eye of Terror was created at least), it's possible the God Emperor of Mankind is MORE useful than he was while alive. Faith and miracles can now occur across the Imperium thanks to belief in the God-Emperor. Belief can also be used to ward off chaos. The Starchild may just be the collective lunacy of a bunch of weirdo cultists but Saint Sabbat cleansed a world of chaos in Gaunt's Ghosts because so many people BELIEVE in the Emperor's order.

There's a popular theory that everything actually went exactly as the Emperor had foreseen. Maybe he knew he couldn't save humanity through enlightenment, and he couldn't beat Chaos even with the Primarchs fully on board, but maybe he saw a chance of protecting humanity long enough to ensure its continued survival if he became a god by virtue of being worshipped throughout the galaxy.

If that was the goal, he took a really convoluted and painful path of getting there, though.

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New novels released and announced!

Just released- Pharos by Guy Haley- Night Lords attack Imperium Secundus

War without End- Anthology

March- Eye of Terra- Anthology of early Heresy/Great Crusade stories

April- Path of Heaven by Chris Wraight, sequel to Scars

May-The Silent War

June- Angels of Caliban- Gav Thorpe.

Expected in the last few months of the year:

The Crimson King= McNeill

The Master of Mankind- ADB

Praetorian of Dorn-John French

 

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 Not familiar with the novels, but I have to say that the first Warhammer kits that came out had some really entertaining little stories attached to the various sets that were printed on the backs of the boxes. The Gob-Lobber stands out as a good example...

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The first book in the series, Horus Rising, is one of the best pieces of WH40K-related fiction ever made. It's quite good even compared to much fiction not based on WH40K. Unfortunately, as suggested by others here, the rest is quite a mixed bag.

Outside of the HH series, the shorter series on inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn is quite good as well.

 

 

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