The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

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The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Erunanion » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:08 pm

For those interested in the dicussion which led to this thread, please see here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1337

Welcome one and all to the first thread of the Bolthole Horus Heresy Book Club! This coming month (December) those Boltholers who are interested will be reading, or rereading, Dan Abnett's opening salvo in the Horus Heresy series, Horus Rising. Anyone can join or jump in, and discussion can (and hopefully will) range far and wide around the subject. So, let's get started.

I mentioned in one of my posts in the above thread that the pacing change between 40k and 30k books is stark and startling, and its a very good thing. A lot of 40k is unfairly dismissed as being bolter-porn, but we ardent fans can admit that sometimes the deeper aspects of the setting are not given the treatment they might deserve.

*bugger, fire alarm in my building. I'll finish this at home - apologies*
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby kurisawa » Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:40 am

Horus Rising - opening thoughts

Hello fellow clubbers, I've got through a number of chapters already, so wanted to jot down my initial thoughts (which have been sort of rekindled from first reading, anyway).

Firstly, I had forgotten this one was by Dan. It's a different kind of book for him, and an interesting choice of author for the job* (more on that later).

From the opening sequence, 'I was there when Horus slew the Emperor', I felt the thrill of reading something momentus. For long time fans, like me, it is somehow different to know we are starting to embark upon the epic famous events that have shaped the 40k-verse. The "delicious conceit" of this opening chapter is excellent. After reading it for the first time, I couldn't help wondering, 'What if that really was our Terra? What if the 40k Imperium really is based on a different world and a falsehood?'

The whole 'everything you have been told is a lie' meme looked well and truly set to be investigated. Exciting stuff!

I was also intrigued by the whole 'Imperial Truth' aspect, carefully exposited by the Iterators. The idea of this belligerent totalitarian atheism is very different to the Emperor-as-God tone of the 40k-verse, and somehow struck a true chord with me. I really can imagine in the future this kind of idea leading to a purge of all believers in myths and spirits, and religions. That we well know the 40k-verse is in fact infested with supernatural daemons added another dimension.

The marines in 30k are of course, very different to their 40k counterparts in terms of character. One can tell that this is a time when they are at their peak: There is an easy confidence to them. They are much more cheerful, joking away with each other. Dan keeps inserting little allusions to the eventual heresy, with the main character, Loken, musing that in the final battle Horus will ('of course') be standing right there next to the Emperor, facing the enemy.

Though he is a fine character, in the end I remember that I wasn't sure about Loken as POV. I thought this series would have been a good chance to 'get into the head' of a marine who does, in fact, turn against his gene-father. What will have caused this? How would they feel about this betrayal? Loken only witnesses it and fights against it, as a true loyalist 40k marine would. However, I will take time to observe Loken as carefully as possible as a character in this re-reading.

I was put off, at first, by the frequent and gratuitous switches in POV to other minor characters, such as the remembrancers. But as this series is in the mock-epic style, one character could never carry the weight of the narrative, so I'm used to it now.

I was also a little disappointed that 30k marines basically look and fight and are equipped the same way as their 40k counterparts. I was hoping for more 'old' technology; skimmers, beamers, energy fields; all the stuff that is rare and magical tech in the 40k-verse. It seems not much changed in 10,000 years. Oh well.

I also was confused by the role of the 'unofficial' organisations in the legion: The Mournival, the brotherhood thing. I remember that we eventually see that Horus uses these against the official organisational structures, but it struck me that if Horus is Warmaster anyway, the official system would have been blindly loyal to him anyway. I intend to look more carefully at this as the series goes on.

Well, that's all for now. Be back after a few more chapters!


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4. Indoctrination = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3172

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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:42 am

kurisawa wrote:I also was confused by the role of the 'unofficial' organisations in the legion: The Mournival, the brotherhood thing. I remember that we eventually see that Horus uses these against the official organisational structures, but it struck me that if Horus is Warmaster anyway, the official system would have been blindly loyal to him anyway. I intend to look more carefully at this as the series goes on.


The Mournival was never used as a tool to subvert the regular organisational structure of the legion. It was simply Horus' own private advisory body that could and did exist outside that said structure and one that he could often use to further his own objectives. Such as how he did with 63-19 and dispatching Loken and the Tenth to the surface to deal with the insurgents in the Whispering Mountains. It is also a tradition that has been carried on with the earliest days of the legion and from what I gather, was a tradition on Cthonia as well.

The lodge however is something different. The legiones are very much an army to themselves. As such there is a lot of strict hierarchical structures within their make-up. The Luna Wolves lodge was meant to go beyond that and bridge the gap between the senior officers like Abaddon and Tarik, line officers like Falkus Kibre and Kalus Ekaddon and then the lower officers like Nero Vipus and the grunts, the common Astartes. It was also a system that worked well for its on-the-surface purpose, which was to foster strong bonds between all the astartes of the different ranks so that the legion could fight as a more cohesive whole.

The only problem was that the lodges had been instituted in the legiones by the Word Bearers under Lorgar's command (IIRC). If Erebus had not been manipulating the Luna Wolves lodge, then much of what happened in False Gods would never have come to pass, nor would the Mournival ever been broken in two since the return to Davin and Horus' wounding.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby kurisawa » Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:29 am

The only problem was that the lodges had been instituted in the legiones by the Word Bearers under Lorgar's command (IIRC). If Erebus had not been manipulating the Luna Wolves lodge, then much of what happened in False Gods would never have come to pass, nor would the Mournival ever been broken in two since the return to Davin and Horus' wounding.


I will re-read and look at this, but again, I feel that the lodge was not necessary for this: Horus already had the unconditional loyalty of his legion. Now, if Lorgar had wanted to turn particular Luna Wolves against their beloved commander, then it would have been clearer to me. :?

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1. Extraction = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2127
2. Intoxication = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2188
3. Desecration = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2294
4. Indoctrination = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3172

My novel:
BLACK SHIELDS: INCOGNITUS = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1901
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:55 am

Horus did have the unconditional loyalty of the legion, in the same way that Skraal and Tagore were unconditionally loyal to Angron, Saul Tarvitz and Solomon Demeter to Fulgrim, Garro to Mortarion and so on.

But these guys also had a strong loyalty to the Emperor as well. Tagore is of course more controversial here but there is a particular line in The Outcast Dead that pretty much says that he would do what Ehrlen did at Istvaan III if he (Tagore) found out that Angron did turn traitor against the Emperor.

The lodges in all the legions were meant to subvert the regular legion organisational structures and spread the Chaos philosophy through their ranks. That the Primarchs allowed these lodges to exist, against the "Imperial Truth beliefs of the resurgent Humanity under the Emperor" shows how successful the Word Bearers were. This is the kind of subtle ploys that the Alpha Legion is so good at re: The Long Games at Carcharias.

The point of the lodges was never to turn the lodge Astartes against their Primarchs but to aid in the corruption of the Primarchs re: Horus at Davin. Loken, who never really joined, and Tarik were the only lodge members who were against the decision to send Horus to the Serpent Lodge. Is that any surprise? Erebus had delicately maneuvered everyone into that decision. It cannot be said that these two were against seeking a cure for Horus because they were just as emotionally unstable as the rest of the lodge officers re: Loken involved in the embarkation deck massacre after Horus was wounded.

A lot of what the Luna Wolves lodge was supposed to be doesn't really come into play until False Gods which is why it can seem so useless in Horus Rising, but the hints and clues are all there already. Loken's first meeting, and his thoughts before and after, with the lodge pretty much says it all.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Liliedhe » Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:31 am

The Lodges are the idea of Erebus and Kor Phaeron (maybe) - they establish them behind Lorgar's back. Depends on how much Erebus is just the one who does what Kor is plotting, or how much he is the brains of the outfit :P.

Later on, the Word bearer Chaplains do this in bulk among all the legions, with Lorgar's approval, but at the beginning, he wasn't even aware of it.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Pyroriffic » Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:34 am

The point of the Mournival, as Sinderman says is:

Horus Rising wrote:'And their job is to watch over the moral health of the Legion, isn't that so? To guide and shape its philosophy? And, most important of all, to stand beside the commander and be the voices he listens to before any others. To be the comrades and friends he can turn to privately, and talk out his concerns and troubles with freely, before they ever become matters of state or Council.'


Of course, Loken responds with:

Horus Rising wrote:'That is what the Mournival is supposed to do.'

I'd say that Sinderman's take on it is accurate. The Mournival was originally put together as a knot of confidantes in whom Horus could confide. He uses them as a tool on more than one occasion; Loken to suggest warfare when the Warmaster has to appear benign. They are extensions of his own personality and will.

The fact there are four of them (each one representing a different phase of the moon) fits in with the recurring theme of humours. At any given time, each one of the Mournival can represent the four humours(sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic) in the manner of their speech. By their powers combined (sorry, couldn't resist), they are a single entity with a voice strong enough to match that of the Warmaster's own.

They also represent an early suggestion as to the 'underground' Lodge movement and Little Horus states that the Mournival is little more than a cut down and modifided version of that; a place where people (in this case Horus himself) can speak their mind without fear of repercussion or retribution.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby MalkyDel » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:07 am

Ah, Horus Rising. How you take me back.

I loved how the beginning is set up to be a proper culture shock; not only in terms of transitioning from 40k to 30k, but in the way the Imperium works. Further, we're immediately on the back foot with talk of being there when "Horus slew the Emperor" in a system with nine planets and a yellow sun; a dreadful symmetry emerging far too soon.

I always saw the Mournival as having more been suborned into a tool; he takes their advice piecemeal, sure, but every time they meet it's like...They know their parts, it's rehearsed; expected. This makes the urging for Loken to act as a "naysmith" all the more pertinant; he has to be a voice of dissent, potentially even when his part doesn't allow for it.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Athelassan » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:00 pm

One of the implications that comes across quite strongly from the Mournival is the idea of balance between the humours: this is one of the reasons Loken is moved to replace Sejanus rather than, say, Sedirae. Abaddon is choleric; Aximand is melancholic; Torgaddon is sanguine.

In more modern theories of the humours, phlegm is recognised as the best-balanced; Kant in fact defines it as the absence of humour. This means that Loken is in fact not just one of the four elements of the Mournival: inasmuch as they represent the voices of the Warmaster's temperament, he is really the most important of the group. By extension, so was Sejanus, the man he replaced. Looking at things through this lens, is the cause of a lot of it actually Loken's failings over the course of the novel (and opening trilogy) to act as his humourist position demands?

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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:14 pm

Athelassan wrote:One of the implications that comes across quite strongly from the Mournival is the idea of balance between the humours: this is one of the reasons Loken is moved to replace Sejanus rather than, say, Sedirae. Abaddon is choleric; Aximand is melancholic; Torgaddon is sanguine.

In more modern theories of the humours, phlegm is recognised as the best-balanced; Kant in fact defines it as the absence of humour. This means that Loken is in fact not just one of the four elements of the Mournival: inasmuch as they represent the voices of the Warmaster's temperament, he is really the most important of the group. By extension, so was Sejanus, the man he replaced. Looking at things through this lens, is the cause of a lot of it actually Loken's failings over the course of the novel (and opening trilogy) to act as his humourist position demands?

Ath

Pretty much, I'll have to reread the trilogy but I'm sure there was a bit where someone tells Loken that it's important that he tells people how he sees it as he has the "objective" view of the outsider to the discussions. It may have been that if Sejanus hadn't died or died much earlier there'd have been a more confident and assured member in that humourist position than Loken ended up being and things may have turned out better. By which I mean I agree from memory that allot of it is Loken's failings but that circumstances weren't kind to him and to a degree his failings are excusable/understandable even if they did end up DOOMING THE GALAXY!
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Erunanion » Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:52 pm

I read through a big ol' chunk of HR last night, covering the whole Murder war and the introduction of Tarvitz (woo!) and Lucius (boo!). I felt that this was a weak section of the novel so far - the jumping back and forth in time did the pacing no favours, and at times felt unnecessarily clunky.

The introduction of the Luna Wolves to the situation was nice, however, as was the welcome appearance of Sanguinius (who through a feat of will I have learnt to pronounce in my head as Sang-guin-ee-us, rather than Sang-wine-us). The Mournival used as a tool to smack down the Blood Angels equerry and Lord Eidolon lacked some nuance - although I think it was more a case of explaining everything, rather than letting the reader figure out how Horus employs the Mournival that soured that bit for me - but was otherwise great.

The explanation of the lodge system to Loken is a curious collection of scenes, particularly as it is brilliantly bookended by Loken speaking with Euphrati Keeler after he finds the creepy picts of daemon-Jubal. Loken allowing himself to accept that things in the shadows may not be wholly bad is an important step into the grey for Loken, especially when challenged afterwards by Keeler - "You are so used to closing ranks and keeping secrets; when would the secret be too great to keep?" (I am paraphrasing, sorry).

The focus on the Imperial Truth as an ideal is one which has not been fully explored yet, or at least not in my memory (I am sure False Gods and Galaxy in Flames continues this thread). It is founded on that truly fascistic conceit of humankind's supremacy and ultimate rightness which precedes the 40k philosophies we know and understand. I think that this is something which is sometimes lost - the Great Crusade era is often talked about as a period of enlightenment and understanding, ignoring the fact that this species-supremacy ideology runs all the way through the universe, and that the nature of the Warp - the greatest truth of the galaxy - is still concealed behind walls of lies.

Anyway, the introduction of the interex is interesting, and I've only just got there, so I shall stop this meandering and plough on.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby flick » Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:32 am

One of the great little details, that I loved, was when ever Abbadon spoke into a vox, his voice was so low, that it would distort it.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby MC Warhammer » Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:35 am

Erunanion wrote:I read through a big ol' chunk of HR last night, covering the whole Murder war and the introduction of Tarvitz (woo!) and Lucius (boo!). I felt that this was a weak section of the novel so far - the jumping back and forth in time did the pacing no favours, and at times felt unnecessarily clunky.


Personally, I love this kind of thing. It gives a feeling of grand scope, letting me know that this story and its events are bigger than just the Luna Wolves and the present moment.

Game of Thrones manages something similar.

Whereas Flight of the Eisenstein felt small in comparison.

Erunanion wrote: The Mournival used as a tool to smack down the Blood Angels equerry and Lord Eidolon lacked some nuance


I used to think so too, but on a second (closer) reading, I found that Tarvitz attributed past quotes or actions to Eidolon which made his character seem fuller than what we saw in the book. More depth is alluded to, if not shown.

And speaking of depth, did anyone else think this was the only time Saul and Lucius' relationship was shown to have any? Every other time, it was a simple dichotomy of "selfless vs selfish", but here we see the real struggle between the two to be friends, despite their differences and to truly learn from one another. This is the only time I've seen Lucius with a real three dimensional personality too.

Galaxy in Flames really dropped the ball on this, their dynamic as presented in Horus Rising would have made fascinating reading during the events of Isstvaan III.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby kurisawa » Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:08 am

Turning Points

So I finished part 1 of Horus Rising - entitled "The Deceived". I've been racing on to the events at Murder, but at this point I wanted to pause and take stock.

Like a good student at school Eng. Lit classes, I remember we had to look out for key dialogues and actions as the key turning points of stories. The signposts for the plots. I think there is one of these at the end of The Deceived; the conversation between Loken and Horus.

By now we have established Horus' utter loyalty and love for Emperor, and in turn the loyalty of his legion. We have established that the Emperor utterly rejects the idea of people worshipping him as a god, despite the attempts of the Divinatus people.

From page 200, Horus reveals to Loken that there are daemons in the warp. He is happy to use this term. He also tells us that the Emperor took him (Horus) aside at Ullanor and explained why he was returning to Earth. Horus tells Loken that the Emperor has "more important" work to do, and explained to him that was why he was making him Warmaster. Horus has guessed that this important work revolves around taming the secrets of the warp. Loken reads a little pain in Horus' face that the Emperor did not fully go into this work - but Horus is a Primarch and loving son and has strong faith that the Emperor is doing the right thing.

I am interested in watching now how Horus goes from this loyal son who understands that there are entities in the warp (as explained by his father) and understands that there is important secret work that his father is undertaking on Terra... to... I hate my father and I want to kill him!

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My short stories:
1. Extraction = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2127
2. Intoxication = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2188
3. Desecration = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2294
4. Indoctrination = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3172

My novel:
BLACK SHIELDS: INCOGNITUS = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1901
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Erunanion » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:34 pm

kurisawa wrote:Turning Points
From page 200, Horus reveals to Loken that there are daemons in the warp. He is happy to use this term. He also tells us that the Emperor took him (Horus) aside at Ullanor and explained why he was returning to Earth. Horus tells Loken that the Emperor has "more important" work to do, and explained to him that was why he was making him Warmaster. Horus has guessed that this important work revolves around taming the secrets of the warp. Loken reads a little pain in Horus' face that the Emperor did not fully go into this work - but Horus is a Primarch and loving son and has strong faith that the Emperor is doing the right thing.

I am interested in watching now how Horus goes from this loyal son who understands that there are entities in the warp (as explained by his father) and understands that there is important secret work that his father is undertaking on Terra... to... I hate my father and I want to kill him!

K.

I imagine this arc was one of the things most discussed at the initial authors meetings for the HH - how to realistically turn the brightest star of the burgeoning into the man who would bring it to the brink of ruin? I think Horus Rising is an excellent set-up for this arc, particularly due to the scene you identify kurisawa. This is particularly important because it also marks a significant point in Loken's journey into the grey; a key scene to get right, which I think Dan does. The immense presence of a primarch is nowhere more brilliantly captured, IMO, than when Horus is sitting with Loken explaining the truth of the universe (as he knows it).
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby sam vimes » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:23 pm

*puts thinking hat on* right in the space of a week I'm up to flight of the Eisenstein so if I get details wrong then I'm sorry right here goes:

Right at the start those words "I was their the day Horus slew the Emperor" hooked me and as the story progressed I found my self just plain enjoying the roller coaster of the opening book, Horus as you can expect really shone seeing him so strong and so loyal to his father that his fall to chaos in later books really was a bitter pill to swallow (hope the keeler image is an actual art work as well as a book) although one complaint I do have with Horus is the fact he's bloody bald lol petty I know but I prefer my heroes to have hair, you can blame dbz for that one lol.

Now we come to arguably some of if not the biggest group pf characters in HH I'm talking about the mournival, Tarvitz (fist pumps and shouts result!) and that spoiled brat Lucius and my personal favorite and fist GK Garro those guys really do shape the heresy, yes the primarchs do but thats the whole point of primarchs, for normal marines to shove the primarchs out of the spotlight is a real good sign that Dan is far from losing his touch, although the next time he gets into his head to kill off a loved character could you guys at bl jump on his head or something lol getting tired of getting attached to characters and he bloody kills them Tarik is his latest causality -_-

Loken is a character that much like Tarvitz and Garro watched as everything he held dear and all the bonds that tied him to legion and primarch were sundered one by one until all they had was their oath to the emperor to hold onto and that much to some people's chagrin was enough to keep Loken alive, mentally it breaks him which is understandable as a salamander in age of darkness that survived the DSP (drop site massacre) was mentally broken.

And I'm gonna stop here me and the house mates are debating Tau and how much the imperuim lost ship wise in the damocles crusade back later.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:35 pm

Sam, just to be clear, this thread is specifically about the first novel but some deviation is fine. :)

The threads for the other novels will go up as the 'club' collectively moves on to them.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Mossy Toes » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:53 pm

I would participate, but all of my Heresy novels are in a box in storage. Sorry.
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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:55 pm

Mossy Toes wrote:I would participate, but all of my Heresy novels are in a box in storage. Sorry.


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Re: The Bolthole HH Book Club: 'Horus Rising'

Postby Xisor » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:25 pm

To chime in on the hem of Kuri. I have a double edged comment, both reolving onw aht could be read as derived or tangential points from *that* scene.

Firstly, FG, as a novel makes some early attempts to display Horus' exasperation with the setup. These will be nice when we get to them, but we know that dreaded thing that's to come, the scene which single handedly flips everything: the Horus/Erebus/Nagnus dream sequence. More on that in another thread, but as Kuri's accurately notedl this's a singularly poignant thread set up early in the series...but demolished only a book later. A future hypothesis: Graham jumped the gun.

Secondly, the beautiful/endearing wit of Horus here: "I came here looking for spirits," laughed the Warmaster, "but all I found was wine."

Contrast this to the almost petulant sarcasm or venemous wit of the Emperor as Revelation in "The Last Church":
"Blasphemy," laughed Revelation, "is a victimless crime"
And
"At last", said Revelation [raising glass of impossibly ancient whisky], "a spirit I can believe in."

I think these are pretty significant draws from this early section of the book. Not quite design but, I think, evidence of how prominently Dan Abnett has been a 'trend setter' in the Heresy.

(Which is what fuels my belief that the bulk of the shared ideas in the Heresy duology came from Abnett. This could be read two ways: Abnett is cool. Or Cool Abnett does not play with (or acknowledge) othes' toys [cref Horus/Russ not being in PB and thus the result in TOD: GM exasperated with so-called 'cooperation'? [/tabloid Xisor])
"When my housemate puts his bike in the middle of the living room floor, I find that inordinately jarring, annoying and rude, but for me to refer to it as "genocide" would be incorrect." -Ath
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