Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

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Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Lord of the Night » Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:35 pm

Finished Archaon today, reviewed on Talk Wargaming, and enjoyed it immensely. The book reveals a lot of truths about Archaon, first and most shocking of all.

He never wanted to fall.

Archaon's true story is that he was born of the rape of a fisherman's wife by a Varg marauder, she died in childbirth and the family refused to keep him but they wouldn't kill him either. A midwife left him on the doors of a monastery where he was raised by Father Hieronymus Dagobert who gave him the name Diederick. When Diederick turned 13 he wanted to be a knight so Dagobert got him a page position with a knight called Kastner, who was a drunken womanizer who sired bastards like some men breathe. Kastner eventually died in the Drakwald and Diederick went to the man's wife who was a genuinely good person and made up a story about being his bastard, the wife often sponsored his bastards and let them carry the Kastner name. Never said whether she really believed him or not but she let him become Diederick Kastner and helped him enter the Order of the Twin-Tailed Orb.

After some time Kastner fights against a small warherd and takes a shard of warpstone to the eye, which begins to change him. He also saves Giselle Dantziger who is fleeing the destruction of Hammerfall, a depository of forbidden lore, and is carrying Liber Caelestior, or The Celestine Book of Divination by Battista Gaspar Necrodomo. On the way to return the book they are attacked by a group of Knights of the Fiery Heart who claim the Grand Theoginist has sent them to end Kastner who is the prophesised Lord of the End Times. Before they can do so a group of winged Chaos Knights arrive and help Kastner, Giselle and Dagobert escape to the Gruber Marches, Kastner's home but find that everyone there has been killed by the Fiery Heart, including Angelika Kastner who was the original Kastner's wife. Kastner doesn't want to believe that he is going to be evil, so he goes to Altdorf and sneaks into the Grand Temple of Sigmar to confront the Theoginist. The priest reveals that the true Archaon is the one who will come in search of his name, which Kastner has done. Kastner prays for Sigmar to help him, but gets no answer and after realising that no answer is coming, curses Sigmar and says that he will destroy the Empire and Sigmar's people in revenge for Sigmar's refusal to help his loyal son.

Kastner escapes Altdorf with the help of the winged knights who return for him, and with them and Dagobert and Giselle in tow he heads for the Wastes, and accepts the name Archaon.

So that is how Archaon was made. Very surprising stuff and a departure from what we thought happened. He did read the prophecies of Necrodomo but they didn't drive him insane and he wasn't the one who murdered his family, although he did torch the home when he left for the Wastes. I imagine the Twin-Tailed Orb would see to it that his membership was stricken from all historical record, and the Empire made up a version that didn't make them look bad. Not surprising, when you think about it.

Archaon's wish to not fall was very surprising though. He wanted to be a loyal Sigmarite, he even begged Sigmar to help him fight against the destiny being imposed on him, and all the denials he made about being evil and wanting to be good really was not what I expected from the future Lord of the End Times. It's weird to think of Archaon as a victim but he is, he never chose to fall, he had it forced on him by the Gods. Eventually he did become evil but that was more going along with the flow rather than an actual decision made with free will, he was going to become Archaon no matter what and when Sigmar does not answer his prayers he decides to destroy Sigmar and all the Gods, and if he has to be the Everchosen to do that, then so be it. Archaon isn't just a destructive monster, he's an Omnicidal Maniac who wants to destroy everything until only oblivion is left, that is what the Lord of the End Times is truly meant to do in his mind. Scary.

What's truly surprising though is the amount of times Archaon dies in the book, and every time Be'lakor either reverses time or tweaks something to change events, not sure yet (Asked Rob, hopefully he can shed light on that) but it shows how much Be'lakor has messed with events to make sure Archaon survives and follows the correct path. His deaths include;

-Never being conceived as before the Varg can rape his mother her husband kills him. Be'lakor changes things and the shrine bells don't ring in the attack, so the fishermen are not alerted and the husband doesn't return in time.
-Being killed at birth when his mother gives birth on the beach and gives the child to the sea. Not sure how Be'lakor tweaks things this time but he does.
-Dying of a plague at age nine, Be'lakor twists it so he never got sick.
-Getting kicked in the head by a horse at age 13, not sure how Be'lakor fixes that but he does.
-Dying of the wounds he sustained killing Beastmen, I think Be'lakor made it so that the attempted treatment didn't kill him.
-Hanging himself rather than become Archaon, I think Be'lakor gives him a little more will to keep going to prevent that.
-Being poisoned by Dravin Vayne and his sorceress lover Sularii, not sure how Be'lakor tweaked that or what exactly happened in that few chapters (I've asked Rob about it.)
-And being eaten by Flamefang without anything to protect him, Be'lakor actually forces him to keep going.

Be'lakor seems to be able to affect the flow of time and he keeps changing things to make sure that Archaon lives and becomes the Everchosen, so that Be'lakor can have his body obviously. Makes for a very interesting narrative as Archaon dies and you wonder "what the hell?" only for the next page to be Be'lakor narrating and explaining the cause and effect theory, destiny and offering commentary on what Archaon has done or has had done to him. And the next chapter, titled the same as before, continues as if the death and what caused it did not happen. Really interesting aspect which made things unpredictable.

One thing this novel had that I really enjoy in all BL works is a lot of names, the names of Chaos warriors and their armies that evoke imaginative images and lots of insane ideas. Examples;

-Mother Fecund and her Maggot-Men
-Fengshen Ku and the Dreaded Wo
-The Bronze Company
-The Brothers Spasskov and the Fleshstorm
-Dravin Vayne and his Slaaneshi Corsairs
-Escoffier the Mad Bretonnian
-The Great Spleen and the Ravening
-Ogvaldr the Aesling and the Daemon Blade Snaga
-Nikitia and the Annointed
-Bhlorgl the Obscene
-Grastlana le Faux

And many more. I like the variety and images that these names evoke, each one is distinct from the others and creates the idea of a vast horde of entire different armies that are marshaled together by the will of a singular individual like Archaon.

And the Swords of Chaos who never speak and so Archaon names them Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier and Fünf. Despite never speaking or having personalities, these five do make for interesting characters by their actions and the small little things that give glimpses into who they might have been once. Their naming was very amusing, especially that Archaon drew numbers on their heads to tell them apart. And when Vier fist-bumped Archaon's shoulder before going to fight Flamefang despite the mutations that have near-crippled him, that moment made me laugh in a nice way. Vier was a hell of a bodyguard then, and that was the most personality that any of them showed in the entire book. Very glad he survived.

Best antagonist in the book: Flamefang. The Yien-la-long. The Terror of Grand Cathay. A true Daemon-Dragon. Flamefang's spawn-flame was very devastating but what made him truly memorable was his appearance, a dragon made of stolen flesh. Everyone he eats gets added to his body and makes him bigger, his skin covered in protruding eyes and faces that wail, his insides the same. And I LOVED the reference to Alien when Flamefang lets out a second head from inside his mouth.. and then a third one. Very disgusting image, made for great reading. :D

I also really liked the Southern Wastes, never knew they existed before this. The darker side of the world where no-one goes, where only Daemons and degenerate monsters live to prey on each other forever, where Chaos truly takes form in that no-one exists to bring sanity there, and that another doorway exists there and that if one goes through it, one will arrive at the Northern Wastes. So ultimately as bad as the Northern Wastes are, the Southern Wastes make them look like paradise.


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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Fenris » Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:46 am

Must...resist...reading...spoilers....Must...wait....for...the book...... :D
Thrusting his thunder hammer into the sky, he shouted—so that all could hear "Primarch.Progenitor, to your glory!"
"And to the glory of Him on Earth!" his brothers bellowed in response
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Gaius Marius » Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:29 pm

Wait, why can't I find this on BLs website?
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Fenris » Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:46 pm

Late April release that was also pre-released at BL-Live

That means it will show on the site at best next week

I want it now :cry:
Thrusting his thunder hammer into the sky, he shouted—so that all could hear "Primarch.Progenitor, to your glory!"
"And to the glory of Him on Earth!" his brothers bellowed in response
-
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Kasrkin » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:26 am

Almost at the end now, and really enjoyed it so far. Just a couple of things though, because I'm annoying like that:

  • I swear you could make a drinking game out of how many times Archaon gets referred to in the narration as "the dark templar" and "the Chaos warrior". It seems like it's happening every paragraph.
  • I'm finding it increasingly difficult to take the parts with Giselle seriously since I realised where I remember the name from.
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Xisor » Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:22 pm

The dark templar/the Chaos warrior was fairly recurrent, but as Archaon so thoroughly held the narrative (in contrast to the similar nature of the story/meta-story told widely across the Horus Heresy, notably in Vengwful Spirit, Chaos hasn't felt so loathsome or monstrous or compellingly competent in a very long time), it's understandable that any design Ripton would stand out (or be faced with the attempt of infinite but not laughable variety).

It's certainly not as jarring as the wet leopard growl!

What leapt out at me was the number of times Archaon grabbed people's wrists! :lol:

---

All told, I loved this novel. As LotN picked up, the odd decision to have Eins-Funf be largely characterless and unexplained was dealt with very neatly and simply. That fist-shoulder bump sat very nicely with me. For all of e everything in the novel, the motivation and slide of Archaon and his companions really felt about right. I think I'd normally more swiftly devour a book that's more characterful and varied, but the very conceit of this story is admirably portrayed to allow characters to move inexorably and almost predictably, but without feeling as if forced by an author who is not quite up to the skill the story demands.

Rather, it's quite the contrast, the awful will and design of the Dark Master feels deft but inescapable through the story.

To that end, sorry LotN, but I must fiercely disagree. The real 'best antagonist' of the book is that selfsame Dark Master, the ultimate author involved who edits with such horrible, evilly petty yet profoundly despicable intent: Be'lakor.
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Lord of the Night » Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:17 pm

Xisor wrote:To that end, sorry LotN, but I must fiercely disagree. The real 'best antagonist' of the book is that selfsame Dark Master, the ultimate author involved who edits with such horrible, evilly petty yet profoundly despicable intent: Be'lakor.

I agree that Be'lakor is a very interesting character, and that his influence is felt in a great deal of the book even when his contributions are so small. But I consider him the puppet-master of this book, a narrator and architect of events rather than an outright villain. Flamefang though. Now he is the real villain of the book in my opinion because at this moment Be'lakor is more an ally to Archaon because he wants his success.

Flamefang on the other hand wants to destroy everything. One of the best things about the book is that Flamefang felt like a force of nature in how powerful and destructive he was. Dragons in Warhammer aren't portrayed as very powerful when most lore sections say that they are very very powerful. Flamefang felt like a Godzilla type monster, something that the protagonist and other characters couldn't just confront and deal with head-on, like G&F and Skjalandir, or Brunner and Malok, no the Yien-Ya-Long (Love the name) felt like a real monster.


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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Xisor » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:09 pm

Lord of the Night wrote:Flamefang on the other hand wants to destroy everything.


He's not so different to Archaon, then. ;) Were one not a terrifying entity of unparalleled destruction and the other not a Chaos dragon, perhaps they could have been friends? :lol:

Lord of the Night wrote:Flamefang though. <snip> Flamefang felt like a Godzilla


Well, I certainly agree. But that force-of-nature, that Kaiju isn't something villainous, it's just powerful and threatening. But (as Warhammer is an inherently dark place with few, if any, truly neutral things going on - in the portion where Archaon finally presents himself at the Altar of Ultimate Darkness, we see that the other gods are represented, the ones that nevertheless hoodwink mortals into their service, presumably including the 'natural', neutral gods like Taal and Manaan and Rhya), whilst we know Chaos is inherently destructive and contemptuous of things ongoing, corrupting and odious, it's still in itself not really a villain, wouldn't you say? Monstrous, perhaps, but not actually up to any... villainy. Simply opposing or obstructing heroes, I'd argue, isn't really enough to qualify you as anything more than an obstacle.

Be'lakor, on the otherhand, he's actually villainous. Wandering about murdering (not animalistically consuming) and plotting and scheming to cause untold misery. It's a bit more terrible, no, than something purely destructive.

There's also, I think, a somewhat romanticised view on monsters that I'd never really thought I identified very strongly with, but nevertheless apparently do (see image below). In the same way as Nagash and Vanhal, Archaon is hell-bent on ending suffering. To do that, he's got to cause a lot more suffering, but they all view that as... paying off a debt early so as to pay off a smaller amount. If 'life is suffering' stands against scrutiny, surely it's better to all die than to thieve our bit of happiness and necessitate that even greater numbers of others' suffer?

I digress though, they're 'relatable villains' a bit like Ahriman in HH/40k: they've got so obsessed with their own notion of the 'greatest, most noble goal', they'll stop at nothing, and inflict anything on anyone to achieve it. It's a subtly different viewpoint from that espoused by Czevak, but it's not a far cry away and its certainly plausible that that's what Malcador and the Emperor tell each other and themselves to justify what they do.

Now, with 'pure' monstrous monsters, we've got the classic one in 'modern' fiction: Frankenstein's Monster. (Though, unsurprisingly, Victor Frankenstein himself is, afterall, easily argued to be the real monster! :P ) He's a terrible thing, a major foe to the protagonist of the story and hell-bent on inflicting destruction. But, he's not the author of that monstrousness, he's just his own thing. Victor, on the otherhand, he's the one making terrible mistakes and setting the various balls rolling whilst forgetting to keep some plates spinning.

To summarise: I'd argue there's a pretty big difference between what makes a thing a villain/baddie and a monster.

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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Lord of the Night » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:37 pm

Xisor wrote:He's not so different to Archaon, then. ;) Were one not a terrifying entity of unparalleled destruction and the other not a Chaos dragon, perhaps they could have been friends? :lol:

Maybe. If Archaon hadn't killed him they could have gone carousing together, destroying stuff here and there and above all, having good fun. :lol:

Xisor wrote:Well, I certainly agree. But that force-of-nature, that Kaiju isn't something villainous, it's just powerful and threatening. Simply opposing or obstructing heroes, I'd argue, isn't really enough to qualify you as anything more than an obstacle.

Not normally no, but Flamefang doesn't fall in that category. He isn't a poor creature taken from it's home and placed in an environment ill-suited for it like King Kong or simply too powerful for his own good like Godzilla. He is a Daemon, something that relishes suffering and pain, maybe a more beastial Daemon that favours raw destruction over those two things but it is still a Daemon and therefore would be an inherently sadistic creature. Sheerian remembers him as the Terror of Grand Cathay, likely Flamefang butchered hundreds of thousands to get that reputation. To me he isn't just an obstruction to the heroes, he is an evil monster in his own right and while in this book he doesn't get to be that kind of monster it's mainly because he isn't eating anyone we'd shed tears over. (Bar Giselle. But she got better.)

Xisor wrote:There's also, I think, a somewhat romanticised view on monsters that I'd never really thought I identified very strongly with, but nevertheless apparently do (see image below). In the same way as Nagash and Vanhal, Archaon is hell-bent on ending suffering. To do that, he's got to cause a lot more suffering, but they all view that as... paying off a debt early so as to pay off a smaller amount. If 'life is suffering' stands against scrutiny, surely it's better to all die than to thieve our bit of happiness and necessitate that even greater numbers of others' suffer?

I do agree that there are spectrums of villains, far more than there are for heroes which is one of the reasons I find villains much more compelling than heroes, though I think that Archaon, Vanhal and Nagash are very different from each other and while their end goal may have the same effect (ending suffering) their motives, means and actual end goal are wildly different. Nagash was a power-mad tyrant who only cared about making the world dead so that he could rule over it, unchanging and still. He didn't give a damn about suffering and that it would have ended would have been an accidental result. Vanhal did want to end suffering out of a twisted compassion and a genuine belief that life only brought misery, he actually did care. Archaon wants to end all life but not because he cares about suffering, it's about hate and revenge. The Gods used him as their puppet and humans turned on him for things that were out of his control. He wants to kill them all for that.

Xisor wrote:I digress though, they're 'relatable villains' a bit like Ahriman in HH/40k: they've got so obsessed with their own notion of the 'greatest, most noble goal', they'll stop at nothing, and inflict anything on anyone to achieve it. It's a subtly different viewpoint from that espoused by Czevak, but it's not a far cry away and its certainly plausible that that's what Malcador and the Emperor tell each other and themselves to justify what they do.

I don't think that two of the villains cited above fall under pursuit of a noble goal, though Vanhal and Ahriman do. Though I think that the Ahriman of 40k is not the same Ahriman we see in Exile and the coming novel Sorcerer, ten thousand years of pillaging lore and becoming a god-in-genesis will have changed him a great deal. I see Ahriman of 999.M41 as a being who doesn't care about anything except ascending to godhood on his own terms and becoming answerable to nobody. But maybe i'm wrong. I can definitely see the Emperor justifying his actions as a greater good, Malcador even more so, though in their case it may be that their goal actually is worth all the suffering they inflict. A Chaos-free universe. A beautiful dream... loyalist scum.

Xisor wrote:Now, with 'pure' monstrous monsters, we've got the classic one in 'modern' fiction: Frankenstein's Monster. (Though, unsurprisingly, Victor Frankenstein himself is, afterall, easily argued to be the real monster! :P ) He's a terrible thing, a major foe to the protagonist of the story and hell-bent on inflicting destruction. But, he's not the author of that monstrousness, he's just his own thing. Victor, on the otherhand, he's the one making terrible mistakes and setting the various balls rolling whilst forgetting to keep some plates spinning.

I agree here that a monster and a villain aren't necessarily the same though, although you don't see a lot of that type of monster in literature anymore.

Xisor wrote:To summarise: I'd argue there's a pretty big difference between what makes a thing a villain/baddie and a monster.

Indeed, though I do think that Flamefang is a villainous monster rather than just a "Frankenstein/Kaiju" type monster.


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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby flick » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:59 am

Surely though, when you're reading about Archaon being the ultimate chosen one of total evil...you can't remembering that his final campaign was a damn squig in the end? Sure, it wasn't his fault, it was the disorder players, but it must spoil the book a tiny bit?
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Kasrkin » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:58 am

flick wrote:Surely though, when you're reading about Archaon being the ultimate chosen one of total evil...you can't remembering that his final campaign was a damn squig in the end? Sure, it wasn't his fault, it was the disorder players, but it must spoil the book a tiny bit?


I was under the impression that GW had done an Eye of Terror on the Storm of Chaos campaign, and rolled back the timeline so that it never actually took place but is nonetheless imminent or has only just started.
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby flick » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:55 pm

Hmm, I hope so in this case (unlike 40k) Storm of chaos was so..meh?
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Fenris » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:59 pm

Yes,both EoT and SoC have been squatted

SoC actually still survives as part of the G&F timeline but it's a thing that they glossed over with a 20 year timeskip around orcslayer (yep,Gotrek & felix adventure from there on are actually set in the future of the current fantasy universe)
Thrusting his thunder hammer into the sky, he shouted—so that all could hear "Primarch.Progenitor, to your glory!"
"And to the glory of Him on Earth!" his brothers bellowed in response
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby flick » Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:47 am

They do that sometimes, doesn't Sandy Mitchell have his female inquisitor character talking about Cain's exploits in the 13th crusade?
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Lord of the Night » Tue Apr 01, 2014 4:43 pm

flick wrote:They do that sometimes, doesn't Sandy Mitchell have his female inquisitor character talking about Cain's exploits in the 13th crusade?

Yeah, though I think they asked him to stop doing that.


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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Fenris » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:32 pm

It's finally up on preorder...On the new GW site only >.>

And only the hardback,no digital yet.

I just wish they'd hurry up to add it to the BL site proper
Thrusting his thunder hammer into the sky, he shouted—so that all could hear "Primarch.Progenitor, to your glory!"
"And to the glory of Him on Earth!" his brothers bellowed in response
-
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Fenris » Fri May 02, 2014 5:03 pm

Done reading,i can finally read the spoilers and comment :D

First thing first,the book is great.Coming from Van Horstann i can't say which one is "better",but i loved both

-Being poisoned by Dravin Vayne and his sorceress lover Sularii, not sure how Be'lakor tweaked that or what exactly happened in that few chapters (I've asked Rob about it.)

I think that's the first point where Be'lakor did nothing

if you think about it,when he comments on the event that's the point where he's not commenting on Archaon but on what he himself has done up to that point,and wonders if someone else is playing his game behind his back

Cue the discovery that Archaon is alive because of *multiple* backstabs pushed on by the 4 chaos gods through their single champions,all aimed at Archaon himself and so disrupting each other.

I also really liked the Southern Wastes, never knew they existed before this.

The south wastes have always been around but there has never been much about them bar "the second polar gate of the Old Ones is there,broken as the north pole one"

Makes sense too that it's an unknown to the rest of the world since it's a mirror of the Antartica



Be'lakor is great.I'm still asking myself how much of "meta-humor" the line "Your.God.Is.a.Lie" was intended to be :D
But also the various "time rewinds" comments or the "Don't seeee meeeeee" at the end :lol:
Thrusting his thunder hammer into the sky, he shouted—so that all could hear "Primarch.Progenitor, to your glory!"
"And to the glory of Him on Earth!" his brothers bellowed in response
-
A knight is sworn to valor. His heart knows only virtue. His blade defends the helpless. His word speaks only truth. His wrath undoes the wicked
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Fenris » Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:18 am

And back to it...I just made this connection out of the blue...


Archaon is the "new" Malal of the setting

Malal,the god of chaos in his truer form,chaos destroying itself because...it's chaos.

Archaon,the everchosen that,with the support of chaos undivided, wants to win the world for chaos so that everything will end.Including chaos itself

:shock:
Thrusting his thunder hammer into the sky, he shouted—so that all could hear "Primarch.Progenitor, to your glory!"
"And to the glory of Him on Earth!" his brothers bellowed in response
-
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Re: Archaon: Everchosen Discussion (Heavy Spoilers)

Postby Xisor » Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:08 am

Threadomancy, I know - but I often think back on this book and muse on how much I admire it. Now in the ultimate part of the End Times, I can't help but wonder - how was this all planned? Where did it deviate from the 'one minute to midnight' part and move on to being an actual effort at utterly wrecking the setting and doing something ostensibly new?

In amongst it all, I wonder, did perhaps Rob's prose get under the skin of someone and precipitate their own journey akin to Diederick's? Where did the warpstone mote that entered the Powers That Be's eye come from?

Did Rob know the End was coming? It's fascinating to think on.
"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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