|The battle for High City (copyright Games Workshop)|
It is in hindsight ironic that of the three warriors we can identify as being present at the death of the false Emperor, it was only Garviel Loken who we know saw what the ruler of High City had planned. Ekaddon and - to the extent our cogitators can determine - Horus himself did not forsee the 'Emperor's' treachery. Only Loken went in with his eyes open wide enough.
Contrast this with later events, on the surface of Davin and the orbit of Istvaan III. There, it was Loken who once more stood alone, but this time because he failed to see the treachery of an Emperor.
So the deranged Horus would claim, at any rate. Perhaps then we should say Garviel's position was the same each time, it was simply the circumstances that had changed. It was, after all, an unwillingness to change that led Garviel to his fate in the Istvaan system, and which both led to his greatest hour and his inevitable fall.
Such contradictions are to be expected when considering Loken, of course. After all, it was in this moment, amid the howling artificial inds atop a shuddering tower in a dying city, that the Primarch of XVI Legion saved Loken's life, radically changing the destiny of the whole galaxy. Indeed, so momentous was Garviel's rescue, one might be forgiven for failing to notice a far more important development. The hope and violence to spring from Garviel's later actions should not be understated, but his deliverance pales in comparison when one considers another development.
Because atop that tower, Horus gained a taste for killing Emperors.
I think it likely that Abnett introduced the idea of Remembrancers to provide the reader with a human's view of the Astartes that are the focal point of the series. That, indeed, might be why this second chapter is bookmarked with Mersadie Oliton. Did that work for you? Did it give you any clearer a picture of the Astartes and their organisation? And, for that matter, is it clear who the Remembrancers are themselves?
I assumed Remembrancers might have the role of remembering the battle dead, but it seems like they're more general storytellers/historians. I at least have an idea of what the Astartes look like now. Presumably they've been altered to become elite soldiers, though I don't know how (I'm still thinking maybe a chemical from that planet (Cthonia)). They clearly think of themselves as superior to us. I think the Remembrancer thinks of them as abominations, though.
Have you changed your mind on living in a constantly shaded rotating building now you've learnt they're health and safety nightmares?
Yes. I'm not at all keen on having to go to the bathroom in the night if it means risking a fall through a giant hole in the middle of the tower.
I'd hope the apartments in this hypothetical building would have their own bathrooms.
Maybe. Or maybe the giant hole is the bathroom.
Ick. Did it occur to you that Garviel and Ekaddon were unknowingly leading Horus into a trap?
Well, Horus or Abaddon, yeah. It seemed a bit easy for the old guy to be the 'Emperor'. Actually, I was expecting the 'Emperor' to be a bit cooler than just some invisible dude. I thought he might be a computer. But do we even know that the guy on the throne was the 'Emperor'? I mean, they'd pulled the fake ruler ruse once...
I asked you last time about your first impressions of Garviel. This time the obvious question is: what strikes you about Horus?
He's a god, basically. So maybe that makes the Astartes are demigods - Garviel does call Mersadie a mortal. Maybe the Mournival are gods too. I think maybe they start out as human, but then ascend in some way. Maybe that's why Loken is touchy about Mersadie calling the Warmaster 'Horus'; it's a reminder of his former life. Horus clearly has human emotions, what with having a favourite in Sejanus, and because he still tried to make peace after Sejanus died.
Of course, as Mersadie says, if he'd really wanted to give them a chance, Horus could've just left them all alone. Maybe though once they'd revealed themselves they had to strike quickly, because otherwise the 'Emperor' might have made Astartes of his own.
That's something I wanted to talk about, actually: Mersadie asks quite an important question at the end of the chapter, that Garviel brushes off immediately. Why is it so difficult for him to imagine leaving the false Imperium alone, do you think?
I think it's just that he has his religion, and he's sure it's correct. Their aim is to reunite mankind, so they can't really leave any isolated pockets, especially one so technologically advanced.
What Will Be
Now that the 'Emperor' is dead - and not, unfortunately, a Frank Baum character (Fliss: "He was hiding behind a screen") - and Horus himself has killed him, some of your predictions have already received their answers. So... what's next?
Well, as I say, I'm not convinced that really was the real fake Emperor. I'm also wondering why Loken has had to repeat his story so much. Was it just to amuse people, or has there been an investigation into what's happened. Maybe the real Emperor isn't too keen on the idea of Emperors getting shot. Beyond that, my prediction is: WAR!