Vulcan Lives!(?)

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Re: Vulcan Lives!(?)

Postby Lord of the Night » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:45 pm

You Naughty Monsters wrote:I don't agree that its a simple matter of keeping the meaning but changing the word though. Its important to give a legion its own flavour borne out of their history and culture. In the Raven Guard's case, surely it would be better to underline their history of being inmates on a prison/mining planet. Where's the prison culture - prison gangs, language, cell-life, humour. Wheres the 'hiding in the shadows and not drawing attention to yourself' culture that gave rise to their philosophy of fighting. Having been unarmed prisoners do they have a martial art that lends itself to using lightning claws. Has life in the mines affected them in such a way that they only feel secure in dark places? As cell-mates do they use slang and code phrases, how does their shared experiences through adversity as prisoners bond them together and make them a unique faction? I would argue things like this provide a legion with a unique flavour, instead of simply inventing uninspiring names to attach to them as above.

I agree that would be cool, but it'd be kinda jarring if the Raven Guard were more in-depthly portrayed than the Salamanders whose novel this is. Interesting ideas definitely, but they should be used for a RG novel rather than expected in a Salamanders novel that had two one actual RG character and one that was just a projection of Vulkan's memory, which since he isn't in Corax's head would be as Vulkan sees him and not as he actually is.


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Re: Vulcan Lives!(?)

Postby You Naughty Monsters » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:21 pm

Yup, I didn't mean that all this should be covered in VL, more a critique of how the RG have been portrayed generally in the HH to date. The RG aren't alone in this either, other Legions could also benefit greatly from being fleshed out by a more cerebral in-depth look at their cultural nuances, personality and motivations.

They are all from different planets after all, so its not unreasonable to expect the diversity of the Legions to throw up as many differences as there are similarities.
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Re: Vulcan Lives!(?)

Postby Xisor » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:07 pm

Nonsense. :P ;)

(For reference, this cropped up in my head as I was musing on all this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_of_Solomon an old-timey bit of pseudo-history and occult themed 'magic book'.)

Giving the RG more development doesn't necessitate overshadowing the Salamanders. The Salamanders' naming conventions (sorry, flame conventions) could have been developed at the same time. Calling a spaceship, say, "Passion of the Cosmos" rather than "The Fire Ark" could do that just nicely. You can weave a whole narrative with slightly off-beat or more nuanced names. There's a glory in those little details. Sanders spoke at length about the fun and reward of spending a good chunk of time dedicated to choosing just the right word. It shines through.

Or, to put it another way, connotation and evocation, symbolism and innuendo. Little things like that can run really deep indeed. If the Salamanders had a reputation for being blunt and unimaginative, things like the Fire Ark would make delicious sense. But they've got a reputation for the seamless blending in functional artistry and deliberate, considered decision making. The Raven Guard are notoriously shrewd and practical chappies, more concerned with functional freedoms than principled freedoms. The fetishisation of the Raven iconography with the Raven Guard especially has always felt exceedingly hollow in the fiction. 'Off to sleep with the birds' or whatever. It's fairly tedious.

Similarly, the point with the Word Bearers isn't to do with scale or focus, it's to do with the actual explosion of esoteric naming, of the mystery of things. If the 'fiction' of religion and the occult has turned out to be real (in-universe), how come the reality is so much more boring (8 walls, 8 slaves, 8 times 8, 8 temples, 8 blades, 8! EIGHT!) than the fiction? Even 'significant numbers' have to be sought and chased... they don't just fall off the page in on an unending ticker-tape repeating the same thing over and over.

Look at the 'three' of Christianity, the trinity. It's not exactly life in the Three Testaments or the Three Gospels or the Three Apostles or the Three Points of the Crucifix or the Three Types of Angel or the Three Names of God or anything tedious like that.

A bit of creativity, it'd be lovely to behold. (Abnett usually manages this too; creative and weird little details. 8 still features, of course, but it's usually done well enough. A Thousand Sons was a pleasingly decent effort from Graham McNeill in that regard [more couched in historical references and gags, but still].)

Then again, this has been a perennial complaint for me with regards to Nick's Salamanders (which is annoying, as I largely loved his characterisation of the 40k array of characters [Iagon, perhaps, excepted] within the Legion, his development of Nocturne itself, the nice touches to Prometheus and so forth) and the trend from a few years back to have things be excruciatingly Blood Wolf Knights. (Cref: Wolf McWolfsons wielding wolfmade Wolfaxe in Wolfarmour with Wolfpelt atop Wolf riding off to fight [like a wolf] in the Wolftime. Or the Bloodmissiles.)

---

As it happens, and as I mentioned with the nod to Deliverance Lost in my earlier post: Gav didn't quite 'nail down' the Raven Guard either. Lots of fairly ripe and easy sources for 'deeper explorations' of known reference tend to get very easily overlooked in 40k. Gav's Dark Angels and Raven Guard are, for me, a bit too dry and 'unadorned'. Were it not for what we already knew of them, they might as well be featureless blanks in places. But this applies widely to many authors, so, again, I don't mean to single them out as much as wish that they'd all bloody spend a wee ten-minutes here or there going through and teasing out more (and more interesting) detail. Fashion, tradition, legacy. Even with stubborn traditionalists, the march of time is inexorable.

(This ties into my complaint about the HH and 40k Legion/Chapters being near-enough the same. Even for superhumans, you're looking at generational shifts, obliterations of swathes of their personality in catastrophic accidents. If they've managed to stay the same then that in itself is worthy of discussion! As it stands, it feels a bit... lazy. Well, maybe more an oversight. A choice of focus. But, to me at least, it's really glaring.)

---

LotN: you mentioned Corax's 'in Vulkan's head' motif. You rekindled a thought (and by the sound of it, it sounds like you might've happened to remark on it too): Vulkan was more or less aware of Corax's invisibility. Or his capacity for it. That struck me as odd, given Raven's Flight.

(Again, another 'aside': wouldn't it be nice to see some slightly [or blatantly] jarring changes of characters from PoV shifts. So the Corax Vulkan plausibly imagines to 'feel real' with help of the Davinites would be starkly different [but not necessarily so much so that we, the readers, are left scratching our heads so much as thinking: "Nick's take on Corax... what the hell's going on here?!"] from the Corax[s] we see elsewhere. Similarly, even with the same author subtle little shifts like that would be nice to see. Were I a capable writer, I'd love to be able to execute that sort of detail.)
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Re: Vulcan Lives!(?)

Postby Liliedhe » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:48 am

I have to admit that at the end of the book, I felt angry I had evne bothered. Not that it's bad. In fact, it's brilliant. But I get emotionally invested in characters and here, that wasn't even a gut punch. It was completely useless.

Everybody dies. Oh, cool. How properly grimdark. :roll: So, Erebus wins. I don't mind. Aside from one major little setback he always does. Numeon and everyone else dies. Even Elias dies. Everybody I liked in this book dies. It makes me angry I liked them in the first place.

That said, the mystery of Vulkan and Curze is cleverly constructed. Very clever. So Vulkan is Antaeus? Obviously not literally as he would be dead then already. But enough that at the end, in the flashforward/vision/whatever he is falling upwards. Leaving the atmosphere and dying (I am only referring to the part in Italics).

Curze is caught in the terrible consequence of double predestination. While that has been hinted at, quite often, it is the first time it was spoken about so nakedly. I don't think he follows Horus because he wants to. He follows because he must. Vulkan's analysis in part was pretty good, in other parts it was beside the point, but I don't think he bothered - he tried to get a rise out of him and succeeded very well.

"It is also a hammer." When I was spoilered and heard about this and the context, I grinned. I thought it would feel glorious. It didn't. It made me sad. And yet, I think it led to Vulkan realising the real difference between him and Curze: Not that Curze wants to kill and he doesn't. But that he can choose not to act on this desire and Curze cannot.
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Re: Vulcan Lives!(?)

Postby Phoebus » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:07 am

Xisor, Monsters,

I agree completely regarding Kyme's naming conventions. I disagree with the opposing view, which holds that all Legions are like that. Far from it. Abnett and Wright took two of the most thematically telegraphed Legions out there - the White Scars and Space Wolves - and wrote them in such a way where I dare anyone to assert that they are anywhere near as heavy-handed in the presentation of their themes. Wright's greatest victory, I thought, was that he really didn't veer that far from stereotypical Mongol concepts and themes, but was subtle enough in their use to ensure they didn't become bland.

I had three other complaints about 'Vulkan Lives' - a novel I was prepared to be disappointed by (given the repetitive themes of Kyme's other Salamanders stories), but ultimately enjoyed:

1. Grammaticus' story felt less like the second point of view of a cohesive novel and more like its own novella. It felt like it was there to lead into 'The Unremembered Empire' more than anything else.

2. Kyme was handed a delicious hook from precious stories... Perturabo gifting Curze his ancient Terran labyrinth to imprison another Primarch. Almost all of Vulkan's travails take place on the mundane portion of Curze's warship, though. I felt an opportunity to tell a gripping story of hunter versus hunted inside a horrific maze, replete with with claustrophobic overtones, was simply wasted. The labyrinth itself received minimal treatment and description.

3. Curze's attempts to equate his own sadism and desire to inflict fear with the regrettable position Vulkan found himself in against an Eldar youth who had just murdered his battle-brothers and civilians alike was lame and contrived. If the point was for Curze to equate his overt monster, which he reveled in, to Vulkan's inner monster, which he strove to keep under control, then it was poorly executed. It undermined one of the main elements of the story, which was Curze's need to psychologically break Vulkan absent any means of actually killing him.
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Re: Vulcan Lives!(?)

Postby David Earle » Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:38 pm

Phoebus wrote:3. Curze's attempts to equate his own sadism and desire to inflict fear with the regrettable position Vulkan found himself in against an Eldar youth who had just murdered his battle-brothers and civilians alike was lame and contrived. If the point was for Curze to equate his overt monster, which he reveled in, to Vulkan's inner monster, which he strove to keep under control, then it was poorly executed. It undermined one of the main elements of the story, which was Curze's need to psychologically break Vulkan absent any means of actually killing him.


I think that may have been deliberate. Vulkan doesn't really have many psychological hooks for Curze to manipulate. The fact that Vulkan's great failing was something most Space Marines would shrug at speaks highly of his character.
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Re: Vulcan Lives!(?)

Postby Phoebus » Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:35 am

We may have to agree to disagree on this. :)

On the one hand, I find it hard to believe that Curze would be so disingenuous as to try to equivocate between his horrific deeds and Vulkan's "transgression." In fact, I think Kyme's intent was to show that Vulkan did, in fact, had a "beast within" that he sought to suppress... but the example used to showcase this was simply underwhelming.

And, on the other hand, I find it equally hard to believe that the event Curze seizes on would have such a profound impact on Vulkan to begin with. Such an event only works in a vacuum, to reinforce whatever concepts the author wishes to shoehorn into the character. Vulkan was both the architect of dozens of devastating wars against people who often simply wanted to remain free. Additionally, he was a front-line fighter for the better part of two centuries before the events of this novel. If the event in question genuinely affected Vulkan despite these facts, then there's no way in hell that it would be unique - he would have been plagued by a countless number of equally (if not more so) traumatic episodes. In that light, it's perhaps even more silly that Curze would have seized on the event he did; he would have had a cavalcade of atrocities to recount and torture Vulkan with! :(
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