Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Wars Of Words

Not featured in this novel: the Luna Wolves (copyright Games Workshop)
Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

So was Karkasy an expert politician?  Or was Loken a fool?

This is hardly a fair question, of course; not coming from us.  Others will judge the worth of these contributions to 41st Millennium thinking, but for ourselves, we see our role as somewhere between that of an iterator and a remembrancer; we record and contextualise what has taken place, but we do so out of the desire to spread enlightenment in an age sorely lacking in same.  Of course Loken seems foolish and naive to us.

Even so, it is hard to see how any man capable of learning to load a bolter could completely fail to see the paradox in interrupting a man in public to correct him on facts you insist are better discussed in private. Nor is it clear how it never occurred to Loken - who has been turning this issue over in his mind for some time, let us remember - to question why the situation on Davin's moon was important enough to dispatch Erebus to the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet to petition Horus, but not so important as to either interrupt the dealings with the interex, or for the Word Bearers to take action on their own.

But then, what else is one to expect from an Astartes?  That is not intended as sarcasm, but as a genuine question.  The Astartes are bred for two things: loyalty and war.  Political insight was never conceived of as a useful attribute.  The Legions had the Primarchs for that.  Or perhaps it was less by design than by necessity.  The martial limitations of the Space Marines compared to their primogenitors is well-known, but the corresponding gap in mental agility may be no less wide.  Indeed, one might almost wonder which direction causality flows in.  Are the Astartes so blind to deceit and politicing because their creed is so rigid and simplistic?  Or did their operating principles have to be so uncomplicated because there was no reason to believe they could adhere to anything more complex?

Either way, disaster is about to strike.  Not because no-one saw it coming, but because even once it had been seen - explained in the simplest possible terms by a lecherous poet in an expansive yurt - there was simply no way to formulate a plan going forward.  Not for the last time, Loken is presented with evidence that Erebus is plotting something, some event which lies on a scale between untoward and treasonous, and he does nothing.  There is simply no stage two for which he has been prepared, when stage one is the betrayal of a fellow Astartes. We have spoken at length about how the obsession with militarism doomed the Imperium to civil war, one way or another.  The fact of the Heresy was never in any doubt. This new problem of paralysis in the face of mendacity is a similar guarantee, this time of the Heresy's form.

With noble defenders of humanity as blind and passive to everything but direct military assault, the rot was always going to spread deep, and spread quickly. It would only show itself when it was ready.

The moon of Davin is a hollow sphere; a vast, stinking canker at the centre of decades of malicious plotting.  Who could land there and remain uninfected?

Horus' fall is now assured.


What Was

I'm afraid I'm not seeing anything in this chapter that meaningfully leads back to pre-book activities. Sure, Horus reminisces over his conquering of Davin, but there's really not much mileage in that.  We'll come back to the spectres of the past some other time.

What Is

Sindermann is so kind as to engage in some low-level philosophising in this chapter. Are you convinced either by his idea that we're all just one good meal away from collapsing into barbarism, or that we're gradually climbing into an age of enlightenment and equality?

Did the conversation with Sindermann happen before the war council?

I've no idea.

This is getting to be a problem.  Does it get easier as we go?

Er, I think so. I don't really remember.

Encouraging.  Er... I think it'd take more than one meal. Especially if you just haven't bothered getting the shopping in.

What would get to you first?

How do you mean?

I mean what would have to go before you decided you'd need to kill me?  Would you burn me if the electricity failed?

No. Apparently you smell like roast pig when you burn.

Me personally?

I think if the electricity failed the biggest problem would be not being able to read my books at night.  Between that and your snoring I can't believe you'd be long for this world.

Let's move on. What about Sindermann's version of a glowing future.

Umm... no.  There will always be people who will argue and wreck the lovely future for everyone.  You just have to look at global warming deniers.

I certainly agree that global warming deniers will ruin our future. Politics!

Was Sindermann implying the Emperor uses magic? He seems to be defending the "wise men" of the past who Loken calls warlocks.  When he talks about the Emperor understanding so much, is that an excuse?  And if Loken finds out the Emperor is messing with the Warp without really knowing what he's doing, is he going to rebel?

I think Sindermann is researching what previous generations thought about the Warp.  Maybe to understand the Warp better, maybe to expose the Emperor.

Why would he want to do that?  He's dedicated his life to spreading the Emperor's words.

What better reason to get mad when he finds out the Emperor is using the Warp somehow?

Apparently a lot of Loken's hostility to Erebus comes from the First Chaplain now being the only person Horus listens to.  How has that happened, and what is Erebus whispering into Horus' ear?

I thought Loken was trying too hard to insist his distrust wasn't over jealousy.

Yes, too himself no less.  I don't believe it for a second.

Erebus is obviously telling Horus no-one else can be trusted. It's all getting a bit... Rasputin? Is that who I mean?

You'd be right, but I think you're actually thinking of Grima Wormtongue.

Yes I am!

(My girlfriend, ladies and gentlemen.)

I want to know what Erebus actually said to Loken in that conversation Loken mentioned.  I think a lot of things will make more sense after that.

What do you think is going on between Abaddon and Erebus? Why isn't the First Captain as pissed off about Erebus shouldering the Mournival out of the way as Loken is?

I wonder if Abaddon is still pissed off about Horus giving him crap last book.  Maybe he's perfectly happy not hanging out with him any more. In fact - if Horus is murdered, does Abaddon become Primarch.

No, it's more than a title. He would end up in charge of the Legion.  But if Abaddon is plotting Horus' downfall, why hang out with the Warmaster's new bestest friend of all timey-times?

Because Erebus wants the same thing.  He's the inside man.

And what about the silver coin?

I assume it's a Lodge membership coin. Have they welcomed Erebus in? Though that'd be odd for a Word Bearer; to join something the Emperor has expressly forbidden.

I think he'd take a dim view of stealing cursed alien swords as well.

Fair point.

On a scale of one to ten, where does Erebus' plan lie in terms of sneakiness?  Does Karkasy deserve credit for being so observant, or is Loken simply embarrassingly obtuse?

I don't think Karkasy deserves credit. I'm sure any human could have seen it, if they'd been looking for it.  Or maybe they all did, but only Karkasy had an Astartes he could go talk to about it.  I don't think Loken was stupid.  He was just...

Out of his wheelhouse?

Yeah. It's just something beyond his understanding.

What about Horus, though?  He's supposed to be a pretty savvy politician.

We know his state of mind isn't where it should be, though.  After all those things he thinks have gone wrong, it's not a surprise he's desperate to take action where he can.  He's not interested in the pesky details.

What Will Be
What awaits Horus' spear-tip on the moon of Davin? How much of Erebus' tale is going to prove to be true?

The cursed sword is going to get used.  Or maybe they'll blow up the moon.  Can you blow up a moon?

Not with a cursed sword.  But I'm sure there's a way to do it.

Would it be easier than blowing up a planet?

Yes. By definition.


Moons are smaller.

But they could have other stuff going on.  Other materials.

OK, fine. Almost by definition.

Jupiter is made of gas.

That doesn't mean it'd be easy to blow up.

But it might be easier than a moon made of rock.

I'll ask around.

Why didn't Erebus tell Horus about Davin earlier? Wouldn't a planet sliding away from compliance be more important than a bunch of space hippies with magic swords?

Are you asking why Erebus waited to mention Davin, or why no-one else has thought to wonder about it?

The latter.

I figure it's the same old problem.  No-one amongst the Astartes can conceive of asking questions like that.

Has Erebus done something to Lorgar? Maybe even killed him?  Or has Lorgar approved Erebus' mission? Does Horus end up killing Lorgar?

No comments, obviously.

Dammit! When do I start getting answers?

In an opening trilogy?  Take a guess.

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