Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Horus Rising: The Deceived (IV)

The Mournival (copyright Aerion the Faithful)
Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

It has already become clear that the origins of the Horus Heresy are too many and complex for any single observation to suffice as to why events unravelled the way they did. Nevertheless, were one so crass as to try, one could far worse than this: the Heresy came about because of critical failures in the chain of command.

Well of course it was.  The point's very accuracy renders it banal.  The second most powerful man in the galaxy stops taking orders from the only man who can give him orders? Of course that's a failure in the chain of command.  Even so, it is worth pursuing, because the nature of command across the Sixty-Third Expeditionary was more complicated than it might first appear.

There were two organisations which cut across the standard tree of authority by which the Luna Wolves were structured.  "Cut across" is an apposite term, not just for the damage they ended up causing, but because whilst the chain of command is generally considered to be vertical, these groups ran horizontally, supposedly existing without rank or superiority.  The first of these, the Warrior Lodge, we shall consider later.  For now we shall focus on the second: the Mournival.

The Mournival, for those unaware, was a grouping of four company captains, who acted as advisers to Horus himself, their relative seniority forgotten entirely in the pursuit of counselling and defending their primarch.  Such was the aim, at least.  In practise, like any group that considers itself indispensable and which survives for centuries, the Mournival became arcane and ritualistic, a role which became important by dint of its existence, rather than its utility.

Garviel Loken almost grasped this, the night he was inducted, but his pride at being nominated and his relief at being able to address Ezekyle Abaddon on equal terms distracted him at the crucial moment.  Even so, he might have had some success in seeing the trees in the forest - rather than the moon in the sunken garden - had his suspicions not been focused upon the Warrior Lodge instead.

It's interesting, in fact, that Loken simultaneously held such suspicions over the Lodge, but embraced the Mournival so totally.  Of course, it's not difficult to list the differences: the Mournival exists in the open, the difference in ranks is negligible, and its stated purpose has obvious utility.  None of that, though, is what truly separated the two in Loken's mind.  Loken framed his fears in terms of the dictates of Imperial Truth, but really, his fear was more fundamental: so tight-knit an organisation sooner or later starts to drift apart from what surrounds them.

Because the idea of a horizontal structure eliminating differences only goes so far.  There are still two layers; those within and, beneath them, those without.  To Loken, outside the Lodge, this was a concern.  It never occurred to him that the same problem could lay dormant within a group he observed from the inside.

Once again, in the lantern-lit darkness of the ruined garden of some nameless citizen of Sixty-Three Nineteen, Captain Loken was so close to understanding.  When his new brothers assured him the rituals he was witnessing were mere pantomime, the immediate thought should have occurred: does that include those aspects that are supposed to mean something?

For Garviel Loken was the last member of Horus' private retinue to be asked to swear loyalty to the primarch and to the Emperor both.  Like so much else in the Mournival, the oaths to the Emperor had become a ritual, something one simply did, thought about no more than the painting of the moon upon a new initiate's helmet.  A horizontal arrangement of men, even Astartes and even primarchs, cannot include the Emperor.

So Loken was right, in a sense, when he looked askance at the Warrior Lodge.  He diagnosed the problem, after all.  It was merely the location of the infection that escaped him.

Until Davin.  Until it was all too late.


What Was

This chapter mentions primarchs, and a few morsels regarding how the Astartes come about.  How clear/amusing is your conception of the Astartes at this point?

I am now under the impression that the modification of the Astartes is linked with Horus - some part of him is put into them: they're GMed using his own... something.  The primarchs must be next in line after the Emperor - they call them gods.  And they say they're not born; so they must be test-tube babies.  Literal test-tubes, in this case.  There was a lot here about humans being weak and afraid of the Astartes.

What Is

Why do you think Loken is so keen on offering an exclusive to Oliton after she pissed him off so completely earlier?  Where do you see their relationship going?

The same direction I've thought it's been going for quite some time.  She's a part of his conscience.  He obviously has questions, and if she's asking the same ones, he knows he's not alone in wanting answers. Like how lecturers say that if anyone asks a question, there'll be ten more people who wanted to ask it, but were afraid to.

How reasonable do you think Loken is with his objections to the Mournival ceremony?  Is he mistaking tradition for superstition, or has he put his finger on a legitimate problem?

It's probably a logical concern, given they say their whole faith is based around the idea that superstition shouldn't exist. If that's true, then being inducted into one of the greatest available roles through superstition invalidates that.  There was a phrase used in the ceremony which may prove useful if Loken ends up battling against the Imperium and/or the primarchs; that he could use to justify his actions.  It said something about protecting the Imperium from all evils, foreign and domestic, basically.  That sets him up for fighting against superiors who he thinks are corrupt.

Also, I'm a bit suspicious about the naming in the ceremony.  They say the oath can only be broken by death, but I'm wondering if some of them started asking too many questions, and got killed for it. I also thought: "thirteen, unlucky for some".  Tarik does mention luck quite a lot.

Abnett's description of a night in the ruined garden is his first opportunity to give us some descriptive prose without it needing to be shackled to either action scenes or to exposition.  Are you enjoying his style?

Yeah, it's alright. This concludes my analysis of Abnett's prose.

I worked out that the p value of the same two people out of four surviving nine deaths in the Mournival is 0.012, allowing us to discard the null hypothesis that Mournival members have equal chances of being killed at any given point.  Have you any ideas as to what's being this disparity, and are you regretting shacking up with a probability geek?

See my previous answer; also, I want to see those calculations.  Did you do a continuity correction?

Why the hell would I need to do that? Think about the basic nature of -

No, it all comes down to what test you use.

(This goes on for some time.)

What Will Be

Four chapters into this first part, who do you think are "The Deceived", and what bearing will they have on what's coming?

I think this section will end with someone - maybe or maybe not Loken - realising they've been deceived by Horus. Maybe Mersadie will help Loken work it out, something to do with using her weird head stuff.  Maybe Abaddon and Torgaddon turn out to not really have been in the Mournival since the very beginning.  Also, the other two remembrancers might be involved, though I could just be hoping that so that something nasty might happen to the obnoxious one (Karkasy).

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