The First Heretic (long text)

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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby LordLucan » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:49 am

MC Warhammer, I thought your response there was brilliant. I agree that 40K/30K books shouldn't have characters that reflect our values to a certain extent. Even the heroes should be pretty 'off' to us,as they are part of rather abhorrent cultures, and are themselves products of this.*

I always find complains about Lorgar being overly emphasised as a paragon of all that is good and perfect strange, as this is an in-universe story point as you say. Lorgar has deliberately surrounded himself with a Legion that adores him, and Cyrene seems to be saved because she is weak and adoring of his Legion. The Word Bearers' actions are not those of a perfect legion, and it is not inconsistant writing, as it is the whole point of ADB's narrative; they think they are blameless and perfect, therefore the Emperor must be wrong, because they can't conceive of themselves not being. They believe their own hype.

Cyrene isn't a sexist steroetype imo either, as the very qualities that make her seem weak and adoring of Lorgar were given justification in the text; she is a broken woman, who has been saved from hell by the son of her god. Of course she'll be in awe and not exactly be a strong female force in the narrative.
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Flashgordon » Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:43 pm

LordLucan wrote:The Word Bearers' actions are not those of a perfect legion, and it is not inconsistant writing, as it is the whole point of ADB's narrative; they think they are blameless and perfect, therefore the Emperor must be wrong, because they can't conceive of themselves not being. They believe their own hype.


Exactely, the very epitomy of fanatic thinking. Another reason to believe that Lorgar and his legion was doomed from the beginning.
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby MC Warhammer » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:59 pm

Ogun and Lordlucan, you've both said what I've been trying to...only much bettererer.

rer

Ogun, you've perfectly summed up how Cyrene works for me. In regards to beefing up her role, you've touched on another point too; I think a few of the criticisms leveled at TFH actually come from the fact that the story is simply too short for its themes and characters to be explored as thoroughly as it deserves. The fall of the Word Bearers could easily fill a trilogy in the same way as the Lunar Wolves did.

LL, that is how I feel. To give an example from TFH of heroes being 'pretty off', you just have to look at Aquillon. I'm sure most readers nodded along with every action and word the man made right up until he killed "the traitorous whore'.
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby revelation » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:45 am

I've been wanting to reread The First Heretic for a while. It's a brilliant book and it's also one of those books that leaves readers with some nagging doubts and questions. It definitely did for me.

The big ones imo:

1) Were Argel Tal and the other Word Bearers physically in The Emperor's gene labs and did Argel Tal actually destroy the gellar field protecting the infant Primarchs from the warp and chaos, or was this merely a very powerful vision?

2) More importantly, was the demon Ingethel's claim that the Emperor made a pact with Chaos in order to create the Primarch's true or was this just a lie designed to reaffirm the path already being taken by the Word Bearers?

Obviously ADB left things a little open ended and I've seen discussions elsewhere about the above. The impression I got is that the opinion as to wether Argel Tal and the other Word Bearers were physically in the Emp's gene labs as opposed to it being a vision or hallucination is about split down the middle. Personally, I find it somewhat believable that Chaos could manufacture this kind of time bending plot, especially considering they were in the Eye of Terror at the time. Even if it was just a vision, it was obviously rendered convincingly enough that Argel Tal and his fellow Word Bearers fell hook line and sinker.

As for the demon's claim that the Emperor made a pact with Chaos to create the Primarchs; I find this a lot less believable. Why would the Chaos gods help the one being in the galaxy powerful enough to defy them? They would have been providing the Emperor with the very means he needed to not only dominate the stars, but to oppose Chaos on some level. On the flip side, why would the Emperor make a pact with the very force that he's anathema to? Why would he lay the foundations for the very event that would bring down his vision for Humanity, the Horus Heresy? Why would the Emperor protect the infant Primarchs with a powerful gellar field during their creation?

I think it makes much more sense that Chaos needed an agent in Lorgar and the Word Bearers in order to scatter the infant Primarchs across the galaxy and thus put their designs for the Horus Heresy into motion. By the time Ingethel takes the Word Bearers into the Eye, they are already emotionally and psychologically primed to be manipulated. All the pieces fall together so nicely for Lorgar. All the answers he sought and thus his "redemption" were layed out for him in an easy to consume package. In Lorgar, Chaos found the most willing and perfect vessel.

Thoughts?
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Liliedhe » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:19 am

Just a short note, got no time to elaborate in greater length right now, sorry.

I felt it was just a vision, but Ingethel sure intended for Argel and Co to feel it was not. Main reason I believe it was just a vision, a holodeck scenario if you wish, is that Ingethel was counting down to the Geller field failure. If they were really there, if they were really killing the field, why do a countdown so they hit an exact moment? She was counting down, because they had to move in the same moment when the failure was occurring in the recorded scenario they saw. So they would believe that it was real.

Same with Horus vision in False Gods. First of all, if they were really there, Horus would have had to see them. And second, Horus kills Valdor there - but the guy is still around, so obviously he did not die 200 years in the past.
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Xisor » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:02 pm

My thoughts are that it is indeed a vision, but the rough depiction of things is true. A 'lance' of the warp is delivered into the Lab which jiggles the Gellar Field. As Lilidhe suggests, like a Holodeck scenario. This time it was Argel Tal & chums, when someone else sees it, it's them. The lesson, IMO, is the glimpse into the laboratories. The truths, for example, will surely be an exact description of the interior of the labs; information that you couldn't get without having been there (e.g. secrecy). But they weren't actually there, but that's what makes it so compelling and alluring.

As for the Emperor's Pact, I don't think it was an 'agreement' as such, but that the Emperor had to draw on warpy powers, making use of ostensibly sorcerous rituals and dark means to actually create the Primarchs. That is: he dabbled. He 'stole' power from the Chaos Gods. In many respects then, the 'scattered of the Primarchs', in 40k Roleplay Terms, could just be Psychic Phenomena which rolled Perils of the Warp.

With the above in context, it's then kinda sensible to 'reinforce reality' by having a Gellar field there.

===

As it happens, the 'power' the Emperor stole is, I think, the remains/fragments/scraps of the Eldar/Old One/Ancient Pantheon: scraps of Vaul and Khaine and Isha 'plucked' from the 'guts' of the Chaos Gods. Then reforged Frankenstein-style into a monstrous assembly known as a 'primarch', not exact copies of the 'ancient gods', not even properly constructed ones (one'd have Vaul's arms and Kurnous' feet and Khaine's brain, another'd have prosthetic innards and the body of Qah).

Much in the same way that, IIRC (but can't find the source!), the pre-Emperor shamans had inherited their 'power' from the death of ancient gods. Then, when they sacrificed themselves, they created the Emperor. So the Emperor's a 'rebuild' of an ancient god(s). (I think the Emperor's a bit of a rehash of Vaul, myself, hence the ongoing saga with the Dragon.)

So with Vaul back as the Emperor, sortof, and the other gods hauled back from oblivion and knit together into mad monsters, they're ready to wage war again...but the whole thing falls to pieces again, the Horus Heresy is an echo/aftermath/continuation of the War in Heaven. The Emperor's 'pact' with the Chaos Gods could be no more/no less than agreeing to a cosmic 'rematch'. :twisted:
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby revelation » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:57 pm

Don't got much time here, almost have one foot out the door... but one could say that the warp was involved in the creation of the Primarchs, but only in the same sense that a psycher or a librarian "dabbles" in the warp (granted this was on a much grander scale) and in Chaos's hubris they make the leap that all things warp influenced or touched are their creations, thus the spin they put on their "story" they wove for Argel Tal and the Word Bearers. Thank you Xisor, your theory makes a lot of sense to me.

Liliedhe, thank you for reminding me of those important details from False Gods. It's been so long since I read that novel.
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Ogun » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:05 pm

Been kind of torn on this issue really. Two details stand out to me from False Gods and TFH. First, that Argel Tal hears Horus shouting out, just as they are plucked away. Second, that the warp vortex seizing the primarchs does occur apparently at random in False Gods, surely the Emperor would have had the Primarchs protected by a Gellar field, it makes perfect sense, its failure does not if not for Argel Tal et al. I am kind of inclined at present to think to a degree that it was somekind of time travel. But having said that it would be a deeply awesome twist if we find out around the Siege of Terra that there has been a high ranking traitor in the Imperial Palace for a very long time, who in reality did shut down the Gellar field. That would kind of fit in with the ambiguous ending to Nemesis where a traitor is hinted.

As for the Emperor's Pact, I don't think it was an 'agreement' as such, but that the Emperor had to draw on warpy powers, making use of ostensibly sorcerous rituals and dark means to actually create the Primarchs. That is: he dabbled. He 'stole' power from the Chaos Gods. In many respects then, the 'scattered of the Primarchs', in 40k Roleplay Terms, could just be Psychic Phenomena which rolled Perils of the Warp.


That makes a lot of sense!
I think the running theme here is half-truths. Okay, assuming both visions are actually 'true', I think Horus' 'vision' does raise the interesting point that the Emperor was capable of stopping the stealing of the Primarchs but made a concious choice not to (if of course it was true? :roll: ). In each of the two 'visions' Horus and the Word Bearers are only shown a section of what is happening without the context of the other half.
How would the Word Bearers have reacted if they had seen the Emperor apparently casually defy the Warp gods? They would suddenly seem slightly less all powerful and in that way therefore false.
If Horus had seen Space Marines breaking the gellar field he would both have been less impressed by the warp' gods power and more concious of how he was being manipulated. Just as with Horus's vision of the 40k era, he is merely being shown a selective image and being given a half-truth.

Of course on the other hand, the Emperor and Valdor's failure to go 'Now wait a minute, you sure look familiar...' to Horus when they meet him, does naturally make this problematic! :? One could get a headache from this...
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:08 pm

Oh my, did I neglect to mention that one of the upcoming, unannounced Garro audio dramas will be about looking for traitors within the Imperial Palace?

My bad! :twisted:
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Ogun » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:36 pm

Tantalising....

For your tardy admission you have just averted an eternity of suffering at the hands of Rebecca Black's 'Friday', stuck forever on repeat and with no hope of escape... Such is the fate of all who withold exciting HH information!

I wonder if The Outcast Dead will give any hints?
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Liliedhe » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:55 pm

shadowhawk2008 wrote:Oh my, did I neglect to mention that one of the upcoming, unannounced Garro audio dramas will be about looking for traitors within the Imperial Palace?

My bad! :twisted:


:P Bastard. How dare you keep this from us?
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Xisor » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:20 am

Good shouts, Ogun. That's certainly compelling on behalf of the pro-Time Travel lot.

That said, the Gellar Field failure could be precisely that: failure. The beginning of Mechanicum is how long after/before the disappearance of the Primarchs, for example?

All this 'make Horus think he had a hand in it' and 'make the Word Bearers think they're capable of foiling the Emperor' could simply be Chaos capitalising on the fact that something went hilariously wrong.

Also, Garro in the Palace will hopefully see us seeing his Apothecary buddy again. Moreover, I don't get the 'implied traitor' ending for Nemesis. It seems, to me, prudent that Horus would start sending out proxies. He can't be everywhere at once, but if he can make people believe he is...

Erebus is already a step ahead of the game (cref: Spear). Typhon's already a step ahead (cref: killing the navigators). Guilliman's already a step ahead (cref: Imperium Secundus). It's not unthinkable that Horus is simply a step ahead with the regards to not plopping himself in the firing line of assassins.

If it is supposed to imply there's a traitor, it's almost as bad as Cestus' belief that Macragge is the only possible target and Zadkiel's belief that "three times now we've given the game away, what could possibly go wrong" shenanigans from Battle for the Abyss.

It leaves the room open. But then there could have been a Traitor there for ages beforehand. Or afterwards. Or never. The same sequence of events can happen regardless of there being a traitor in the palace because we know (excepting his little immediately-post-dream-sequence silliness) that Horus isn't stupid.

(Also he might have told himself from the future. :roll: )
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Gaius Marius » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:51 am

Xisor wrote:G

If it is supposed to imply there's a traitor, it's almost as bad as Cestus' belief that Macragge is the only possible target and Zadkiel's belief that "three times now we've given the game away, what could possibly go wrong" shenanigans from Battle for the Abyss.

It leaves the room open. But then there could have been a Traitor there for ages beforehand. Or afterwards. Or never. The same sequence of events can happen regardless of there being a traitor in the palace because we know (excepting his little immediately-post-dream-sequence silliness) that Horus isn't stupid.

(Also he might have told himself from the future. :roll: )


There's a hint from a Thousand Sons

Spoiler: Magnus 'sees' Valdor essentially goading Russ into going full on slaughter.

Although Prospero Burns also brings up the fact that

Spoiler: Anyone could be a fragment of Chaos (probably Tzeentch) and no one could tell. 'Amon' interrogated Kasper and fought space wolves in the same damn room as the Emperor.

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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby revelation » Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:46 am

I'm not all that well informed when it comes to the nature of the warp and Chaos, but my current understanding is that the warp itself is not literally Chaos, but rather the immaterial universe where beings such as the Chaos "gods" can exist. Thus, the warp is just a vessel or a source of "power" for whomever can wield it or control it. The other option being, consummation with the Chaos "gods" and them serving as a proxy. In short, though Chaos and the warp are symbiotic, one doesn't necessarily beget the other. Put another way, and I know this is trite and simplistic so I apologize, but a "light" and a "dark" side of the warp.

I guess I'm just trying to rationalize in my own head the Emperor's possible use of "warpy" powers to create the Primarchs, which of course makes sense considering the Emperor himself is the penultimate human psycher and custodian/master of all things warp related.

I think I'm just rephrasing what Xisor already stated. :lol:
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Liliedhe » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:53 am

It's probably time for a tinfoil hat for me, but to me the end of Nemesis seemed to imply that

Spoiler: The Emperor himself had warned Horus. They are both making clear it has to end with them facing each other, and both seem to have taken efforts to ensure this...

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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby revelation » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:01 am

I think Ogun hit the nail on the head when he wrote: "I think the running theme here is half-truths."

I find it extremely interesting that in the universe that is 30k/40k things are never quite black and white and even when they are, the strands of thought that require one to reach a clean dichotomy are nuanced and challenging.
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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:41 am

Ogun wrote:Tantalising....

For your tardy admission you have just averted an eternity of suffering at the hands of Rebecca Black's 'Friday', stuck forever on repeat and with no hope of escape... Such is the fate of all who withold exciting HH information!

I wonder if The Outcast Dead will give any hints?


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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Ogun » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:48 pm

It's not unthinkable that Horus is simply a step ahead with the regards to not plopping himself in the firing line of assassins. All this 'make Horus think he had a hand in it' and 'make the Word Bearers think they're capable of foiling the Emperor' could simply be Chaos capitalising on the fact that something went hilariously wrong.


Very true! Maybe the Emperor's pet dog got in the lab and piddled on the cable (cue image of the Master of Mankind standing amidst the ruins of his great work as Snuffles the Immortal Dog Emperor cheerfully wags his tail :lol: )
In fact it seems Horus is noticeably gun shy since the events on Davin, he never puts himself in harms way, having finally learnt exactly what the Mournival had been telling him all along. The way it is flagged up though is either a red herring on James Swallow's part or a hint. Of course it might mean that the Horus merely has a direct line to the Chaos gods who gave him advanced warning, further explaining Erebus being a bit put out.
I expect we may see a lot more on the whole traitor front coming up though, it being a running theme of the series. :)
That said, the Gellar Field failure could be precisely that: failure. The beginning of Mechanicum is how long after/before the disappearance of the Primarchs, for example?

Absolutely, on the other hand, Gellar field technology has been around and used with a fair amount of reliability for something like 10,000 years (need to check Lexicanum! :) ). Even if they remain a bit hazy on its workings, I'm pretty sure the Emperor will know exactly how the thing works and would have been keeping careful tabs on it. Of course, perhaps he intended it to eventually fail and wanted the Primarchs scattered?

There's a hint from a Thousand Sons

Spoiler:

Spoiler: Magnus 'sees' Valdor essentially goading Russ into going full on slaughter.



I was wondering about that bit as well.

Spoiler: The fact that Prospero Burns doesn't actually address that does make me wonder if they are saving up something on that point. I'm not sure though if Ahriman actually knows about what Magnus ended up doing in the Terran dungeons as Magnus goes into seclusion straight afterwards. Valdor's 'sinister urgings' may simply be him saying to Russ 'be ruthless, I've seen what Magnus did and looked like when he wrecked the Emperor's work.' To Ahriman, that would be pretty sinister!

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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby Athelassan » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:20 pm

I wonder whether, from hearing what Aaron and Chris and Matt have had to say about their work (I confess I haven't read/heard much from Rob Sanders) that they're approaching the fiction from the direction of the "super-fan" rather than "author who writes in this universe". Although it's to over-generalise massively, so I won't do it for all the authors, I've felt for a number of years that they can be divided into a number of broad schools of writing:

Some of them are successful authors and accomplished SF/fantasy storytellers outside the WH universes - a tendency here is to present a somewhat fresh perspective on the subject but occasionally the impression is given that they don't quite "get" it. They also seem pretty ready to change things they don't like. Another broad-brush group are the "studio" authors who cleave to the established background and write stories the essence of which is familiar to everyone and easy to grasp for those with only a basic understanding of the universe such as that they might glean from the rulebooks. Then there are the authors who are utterly comfortable and at home in the universe, have probably grown up as fans of it, and are interested not so much in describing what we already know as pushing beyond the accepted picture, taking up philosophical points and arguments, and detailing areas so far only covered with broad brush-strokes.

The HH series encompasses books - and sometimes elements of books - that are all three. Battle for the Abyss and Galaxy in Flames were pretty procedural. Horus Rising, Prospero Burns and Legion gave us some fresh weirdness that no-one really anticipated. The First Heretic and A Thousand Sons are something a bit different - they're authoritatively rooted within 40K lore, but they're less interested in telling us what's going on and who's doing it, but rather how and why.

Each of these will appeal to an extent to different reader groups. I can see why people might dislike The First Heretic just as I hope people can see why I have a problem with Nagash or Darkblade. As someone who has long since moved beyond the simple "what's written" stage of WH background analysis and have spent so long filling in my own details of the WHF world in particular that I forget sometimes what's mine and what's GW's, I will devour everything that ADB, Chris Wraight, Matt Farrer and so on put my way, but that's my personal view, of course.

On matters of storytelling, to be honest, Vivia, I disagree with most of what you say, although I do think it's an interesting topic for discussion all the same. I think Lorgar made quite a compelling character - not always a sympathetic one, but they don't have to be one and the same. I think his childish petulance was a large part of the point - and it's something that many of the authors have been trying to cram into our heads for years now, that the Marines (especially the naive ones of 30K) and the Primarchs in particular, are basically big kids. They're moody teenagers who've been given superhuman bodies, superweapons and told to go out and conquer the galaxy. Occasionally we're going to see moments of supreme childishness and immaturity - but that's the point. This is why the IG make more compelling characters, on the whole - they have room for cynicism, and doubt, and are arguably more heroic because of it.

Difficulties with the setting - well, I am not as up on my HH/40K lore as I used to be, but I didn't find anything to gripe about in terms of compatibility with existing (good) material... but is your problem with elements of the setting itself? In which case they're by no means invalid but it seems harsh to lay them at the author's door.

Unrealistic dialogue wasn't something I noticed, but maybe some of it was a little stilted. However I do think there's a degree to which Marines should speak "strangely" and in a rather more formal style than day-to-day humans. These are beings of monumental self-importance, after all.

The female character basically being a cypher - well, there you have a point, and it's one that carries across most of BL fiction, and, in fact, most of Sci-Fi/fantasy. In this case I didn't think it was too bad mainly because the desexualisation of the Marines meant there wasn't the opportunity to make her a token woman in the fullest sense that has been done in a couple of other series I could name. Here I think the idea was that she was the token "human" and that she was a woman was largely irrelevant. It doesn't invalidate your problem with it, but to be totally realistic about it, a setting where there are giant superhuman warriors defending humanity who are all but worshipped as gods and who are all men is always going to have at least an overtone of misogyny.This is unfortunate but unavoidable unless we're going to get into female space marine territory and it's probably best for everyone if we don't.

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Re: The First Heretic (long text)

Postby revelation » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:25 am

Athelassan, really nice analysis.


Just to touch on your last thought...

a setting where there are giant superhuman warriors defending humanity who are all but worshipped as gods and who are all men is always going to have at least an overtone of misogyny.This is unfortunate but unavoidable unless we're going to get into female space marine territory and it's probably best for everyone if we don't.



I've always found the Adepta Sororitas interesting and a worthy female counterpoint to the Astartes even if they aren't peers in terms of status and significance in the 30k/40k universe. I also think that women being represented in almost all ranks of the Imperial Guard is a definite positive.
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