Valedor

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Valedor

Postby Lord of the Night » Sat May 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Well I finished Valedor and have quite a few thoughts after having done so. Most of these can be read in the review I wrote for it on Talk Wargaming, but in depth;

The key criticism I have is that certain parts of this book are too upbeat to strike the right tone for the Eldar. Best case is Taec Silvereye's death, and how just before he is taken by Slaanesh he is able to see the entire skein, all of it unfiltered. And through that he sees the future of the Eldar race, and the text says "his soul sparkled with joy." Now this seems to be of the opinion that the Eldar will resurge once day and will be renewed, no vagaries or possibilities. A definitive statement that the Eldar's time will come again. I do not like this. Nor did I fully enjoy the view this book take that Ynnead is 100% real and is going to kill Slaanesh no matter what, no hints that Ynnead may not be real, no possibility that Iyanna Arienal is just nuts. Ynnead is real and is going to save the Eldar. Again I didn't really like that. I think both of these things need to be possibilities rather than assured events, that way they strike the right tone for the ultimately tragic but hopeful Eldar, the chance that they could save themselves is better than the promise that they will save themselves.

Also I found the end of Ariadien and Neidaria's story slightly confusing in that I didn't fully get what Kelmon was doing. He makes it clear that if he chooses to leave the Wraithknight Ariadien will not see Neidaria again, but what did he mean by that?? Did he mean he wouldn't allow Neidaria to be put in the Infinity Circuit or did he mean that being in a Wraithknight was the only way that Ariadien could truly be around her anymore?? I don't think that Kelmon could get away with keeping an Eldar soul out of the Infinity Circuit, the Spiritseers would destroy him for that, but I think that in that scene emotional blackmail would have been better than ambiguous blackmail. It would have added a more tragic element to the story, the idea that Ariadien cannot live without his other half and that his only real option is to give up his life and live inside the Wraithknight with a remnant of his beloved sister, to me that is more interesting than the idea that Kelmon is just forcing them to do it.

And Lelith Hesperax's ending was just confusing as well. Why on earth is she having the Haemonculi combine the Kraken and Leviathan strands?? Well actually I suppose she would want to fight the resulting Super-Tyranids, just for the hell of it. So the real question is, why the hell didn't the Harlequins stop her?! If the merging of Kraken and Leviathan was such a big threat why would the Harlequin King and Sylandri Veilwalker allow Hesperax to even try and do such a thing, the end result could be catastrophic and it makes no sense for the Harlequins whose goal is the preservation of all Eldar life to allow Hesperax to do something that could result in an apocalypse for the Dark City.

But other then those complaints I did quite enjoy the book. Haley has the same talent for writing Eldar and Dark Eldar that Gav Thorpe and Andy Chambers have. In fact my favourite character of this book, Lord Sarnak, can be best summed up as "Evil Motley". He was hilarious on every page he was on in a delightfully devilish way, a very Harlequin-like sense of humour but with the clear sadism and self-interest of the Dark Eldar. The rest of my thoughts are here;

http://talkwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/201 ... ledor.html


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Re: Valedor

Postby Fenris » Fri May 23, 2014 9:53 pm

One thing i would have liked to see was the meeting of the two avatars.

I mean,it's a thing that must happen from time to time (as seen here different eldar warhost fight togheter with their avatar in tow) but as far as i recall it has never been shown

That said,the Biel-tan avatar puts to shame all the other ones :lol:
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"And to the glory of Him on Earth!" his brothers bellowed in response
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Re: Valedor

Postby Lord of the Night » Sun May 25, 2014 7:42 pm

Fenris wrote:One thing I would have liked to see was the meeting of the two Avatars.

I mean, it's a thing that must happen from time to time (as seen here different Eldar warhosts fight togeether with their Avatar in tow) but as far as I recall it has never been shown.

That said, the Biel-Tan Avatar puts to shame all the other ones. :lol:

That would have been interesting. Perhaps the presence of two shards of Khaine would have caused them both to become more powerful by proximity. Definitely something that could have been explored.

And yes. The Avatar of Biel-Tan is the most badass of all the Avatars. Anything that can survive weeks alone on a planet infested by TWO Tyranid Hive Fleets is definitely deserving of being called badass. How Haley portrayed the Avatar here is exactly how it should always be portrayed, as a piece of the God of War, Hate, Murder and Death; the kind of enemy that most would run screaming from. Not invincible, I have no problem with the fate of the Iyanden Avatar in the Kraken Invasion, or Fulgrim defeating one by drawing on the power of Slaanesh, and Marneus Calgar defeating one isn't awful though it could use some background. But the Avatar is a piece of 40k lore that is sadly looked down on like Abaddon was/is.

Hopefully that will change.

One scene I really liked was the evacuation and the side-notes. Dark Eldar Scourges airlifting Biel-Tan Guardians out of the hot zones, Raiders ferrying both kinds of Eldar out, both sides helping each other to escape. Perhaps the Dark Eldar aren't entirely beyond the notion of racial loyalty. And of course the Razorwings who came back to make sure the final blow was struck, damn brave of them especially considering that the Dark Eldar didn't consider the merging of Far-Ranging Hunger and Starving Dragon to be their problem.


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Re: Valedor

Postby Xisor » Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:25 pm

Intriguing. I've only just gotten around to it - and it works fantastically. It's also spoiled in the opening chapters of "The Fracture of Biel-Tan", so I was keen to read it. I basically threw TFOBT away until I'd finished this.

I'm extraordinarily glad I did.

I think, once upon a time, I'd have concurred with your dissatisfaction with the "truth" of Ynnead, Lord of the Night, or at least been very sympathetic.

Now, I wonder if they've actually hit on something wonderful. More, how much did Guy know of what was to come?

Specifically:
1- this is Sylandri Veilwalker, who's cropped up in the Fall of Cadia and "Fabius Bile: Primogenitor" (amongst other places?).
2- I've always had a fond/tentative suspicion that the Harlequins aren't actually friends to the Eldar species. They *might* be keen on killing the Eldar off entirely. (LOL?) Just like the scions of Slaanesh. They might be keen on making things worse (trolling). There might be any number of variations. I'm rather hoping that theirs is actually an earnest creed (laughter being appropriate if, in the Great Game the only way to win is not to play), tweaking the noses of all gods all equally.
3- we're forgetting the old allegation that the Deceiver and the Laughing God (and Tzeentch?) Might all be one and the same.

All that sort of thing.

Forget at one's peril (especially given the seeming earnestness of all Eldar in the story [there was one Biel-Tanian autarch who openly seemed in it for herself, and Sunspear or Taec or whoever chafed at that]) - there's nothing surer than the glitter of gold or the treachery of elves.

They're a fickle bunch, so there's aslo a huge deal of problems with their reliability as narrators. If you substitute Thanquol for Taec and Boneripper for Kelmon, you could write a very convincing parody that is, functionally, not that distinct from the plot of story at hand. Think Ogres invading the Under-Empire rather than Tyranids in the Webway. You get the idea.

Of course, the beauty of elf and Eldar stories (and the pretty coherent satire that's inherent in skaven stories) is that they work on several levels: notably the ones where the protagonists are all genuine *and quite compatibly* also where they're willfully self-deluded, deluded in their arrogance. And, for all that, they're also pretty damn brilliant and super-competent too.

It's a pretty masterful tragedy setup to have characters continually be super-heroes and tragic and internally *and* externally consistent all at once. Both Gav, Guy and Andy Chambers manage this expertly, for my tastes. (Chris, Nick and Clint all did excellent work in their three prongs of the War of Vengeance too - and Gav, David Guymer, Josh & Nick have run riot with good dwarf stories too).

But that's at the core here: Iyanna's God can be real and the Harlequins can be screwing it up and helping, all at once.

More than any of that: there's a very strong possibility that Iyanna is 'basically' kin to the Red Woman from A Song of Ice & Fire. There's a huge depth there (though it bugged me that two of the only three main women had such extraordinary space devoted to their extraordinary beauty, whilst nobody else got much in the way of an amorous look in description-wise. Perhaps the only major flaw?). Well, the depth being that Iyanna is a weak link and accidentally or intentionally beguiling people to her supposed God.

It involves conspiratorial reading between the lines, but it can be done...

---

The book itself had some utterly fantastic stuff in it too. I noted on twitter that I'm soulscorched by it -it felt so... visual and visceral in places. The mythic but real bits of it got right into me, it seems.

That I recall offhand:
- Taec's walk to find Kelmon through Iyanden
- Sunspear's walk to the Amphitheatre
- Iyanna's walk in the Webway
(A lot of walking...)
- The Avatar being bundled into the Wave Serpent by the patient warlock
- Iyanna's relationship with her Exarchlord buddy.
- the deployment of the Eldar troops from Vaul's Caress whilst the planet is blowing up
- the evacuation
- Lelith's little cameo and outrage at the Eldar being breached.
- the weird horror at the idea of the Hive Mind getting into the Webway. Especially the little note at the end of the chapter about the Wayseers leaving the door open.
- Yriel's 'beach' daydreams/visions. I think I'm haunted by them.
- actually, Yriel overall. Guy brilliantly had me caring about the idea of this guy going through Frodo's journey in Lord of the Rings, but in a really compelling way (unlike Frodo, boring git).
- the contrasting depictions of Biel-Tan and Iyanden
- the gut-horror I felt as Sunspear saw the Hive Ship still feeding, after everything.
- the overwhelming relief at the flight of Dark Eldar saving the day.
- the wry, somehow inevitable (and sinking horror) insight that Lelith & the Harleking still precipitate the bonding of the Hive Feets anyway!

Well, to put it mildly: it felt like a hell of a ride.

I'm extraordinarily chuffed that Jain Zar is just around the corner. I'd also be very keen for Guy, Gav & Andy to do some Gathering Storm stories.
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Re: Valedor

Postby Lord of the Night » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:27 am

Xisor wrote:Intriguing. I've only just gotten around to it - and it works fantastically. It's also spoiled in the opening chapters of "The Fracture of Biel-Tan", so I was keen to read it. I basically threw TFOBT away until I'd finished this.

I'm extraordinarily glad I did.

I think, once upon a time, I'd have concurred with your dissatisfaction with the "truth" of Ynnead, Lord of the Night, or at least been very sympathetic.

Reading thoughts from nearly three years ago really makes you aware of how your feelings can shift. I've really enjoyed Fracture of Biel-Tan's lore and the emergence of Ynnead into 40k was a really great move, but I still think that Valedor would have been better served with ambiguity rather than all but confirming the truth. The question of whether Ynnead is real or not, whether the belief in him is a grimdark last hope for a dying race or just a elaborate suicide cult, and overall whether the Eldar as a race actually have something to hope for or whether their doom is assured, was better when the answer wasn't known at the time.

That way when Ynnead bursts out and shows just how real he is makes it even more awesome and more of a HOLY SH*T!!! moment.

Xisor wrote:Now, I wonder if they've actually hit on something wonderful. More, how much did Guy know of what was to come?

That is a question i've asked myself a lot regarding BL works. I think the authors are privy to a lot more future information than we think they are. At BLL when I was at the Q&As with Annandale and McNeill Graeme Lyon was there as well and he told us that when he joined Black Library in 2011 his very first meeting was about The Beast Arises, a series that didn't publish until five years later, and that the Primarchs series has been in development since 2012. Now given those kinds of timescales, it seems perfectly plausible that the Gathering Storm has been in development long enough that Haley could have been aware of it and written the hint of it into Valedor, maybe. But we can't be sure.

Xisor wrote:Specifically:
1- this is Sylandri Veilwalker, who's cropped up in the Fall of Cadia and "Fabius Bile: Primogenitor" (amongst other places?).

I'm pretty sure she's appeared before those in other stories as well. A character to watch out for, she's definitely the Harlequins most active agent in the 41st millennium.

Xisor wrote:2- I've always had a fond/tentative suspicion that the Harlequins aren't actually friends to the Eldar species. They *might* be keen on killing the Eldar off entirely. (LOL?) Just like the scions of Slaanesh. They might be keen on making things worse (trolling). There might be any number of variations. I'm rather hoping that theirs is actually an earnest creed (laughter being appropriate if, in the Great Game the only way to win is not to play), tweaking the noses of all gods all equally.

My thoughts on them are that the Harlequins are friends to the Eldar. The old Eldar. The true Eldar that Yvraine is the closest example to in 40k. In 40k none of the Eldar racial aspects can be considered complete: the Craftworld Eldar have the discipline and order of the ancients but have repressed their darker sides into non-existance whereas the Dark Eldar have embraced the wildness and chaotic nature of their darker impulses, but have lost the ability to control themselves in a meaningful way. The Craftworlds are order without passion, and the Dark Eldar are passion without structure. And the Exodites have the humility of those ancients who were prepared to admit how badly they screwed up, but have lost the pride of their race to become dirt-farming peasants afraid of their power.

The Harlequins want to heal the fractured racial soul of the Eldar. That means uniting all the aspects of the species into one again, which is what the Ynnari are the beginning of in my opinion. A unified Eldar people, the wildness and passion of the Dark Eldar with the discipline and wisdom of the Craftworlds, and perhaps even the restraint and self-awareness of the Exodites. And what makes the Harlequins dangerous to even the Eldar is that they don't give a damn about the ways of life on the Craftworlds or Commorragh because they view them as flawed and incomplete, they'd sacrifice both of them to bring back the proper Eldar.


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Re: Valedor

Postby Xisor » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:18 pm

Fascinating responses, LotN!

I broadly concur with the lore points, though I think I'm a much bigger fan of the factioning and schisms that arise from the ambiguity. In that respect, I think Fracture simply needs a *touch* of backpeddling on its more egregious points. (This happens often, so is hardly unexpected to look for as salvation.)

The points in question would be:
1- is this the real Ynnead? (Or more akin to the Star Child/Omnissiah/Void Dragon runaways of the Immortal God-Emperor?)
2- Valedor put huge pains into the mischief-making malevolence of the Hive Mind - Given the proximity of those strains to the start of the whole problem, is there scope for the Hive Mind to cause havoc? (Couple this with Sotha and Macragge and you get + ??? )
3- It's only really the Midnight Sorrow who have been driving this wholly; what have the rest of the Harlequins & Cegorach to say? Is the Laughing God a reliable ally?
4- there's a certain kinship of pose between the Deceiver and the Yncarne...
5- what of the Immortal God-Emperor, what of the Star Child?
6- The Haemonculi are specifically exempted from the Ynnari - they are the 'truest' of the old Aeldari because they *are* the old Aeldari... I could foresee them f8bding ways to undo the acts of gods. If there's one endearing aspect of the Dark Eldar, it's their unbridled arrogance - I'd be happy to see a bit of god-killing on the go.

---

Back to Valedor, there's a couple of points that are roundly undone by FoBT. And they're perhaps the ones I'm most miffed about.

Foremost, the prospect of Iyanna's Exarch buddy coming back - I find that exciting in the extreme. Far more than 'waking a god'; I'm intrigued by the Eldar *making* a god. The Deus ex Machina of Ynnead and Yvraine et al still bugs me - they didn't have a hand in any of it they're ciphers and pawns for...???

It's an unsatisfactory aspect that felt more compelling as a result of Iyanna's faith. (And I agree - if there was a stronger hint of danger to her creed, a genuine sense she might be damning everyone with her daft fanaticism... well, that's just more compelling.)

With Yriel, we also have a problem.

At the end of Valedor he's whisked off to who know's where with Sylandri. In Fracture of Biel-Tan (which I assume has to happen in the lead in to ~001M41, so only barely a year or two after the fight on Valedor and the mass extinctions in Octarius, so only eight years after the Doom of Iyanden) - we're already back to Iyanden and Biel-Tan having forgotten all about that and being back at 'relatively normal' operations, respectively. (There's also no mention of the assault on the Black Library by Ahriman a few years earlier.)

Worse than all that, we have the dual nature of the Spear of Twilight - is it an artefact of Khaine and/or a Morai-Heg's finger in disguise? Both? The end of Valedor was magnificent in that respect, but we skip straight on to Yriel "simply" being at the head of a force of Corsairs and Iyanden's fleets again.

In that respect, I'm just a bit sad about it - the coolest aspects of Valedor, the ones that really fire the mind, and left neatly open as the epilogue, are the ones most roundly disregarded or set aside in favour of seemingly less interesting versions.

I'm pretty sure they can be forced to line up with each other, but perhaps not before more reset buttons are pushed elsewhere.

---

Nevertheless, this is all a lot of fun stuff. Very intrigued nevertheless.
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