Atlas Infernal

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Atlas Infernal

Postby Duke_Leto » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:23 pm

I know this book came out several years back now but I only just finished it. I don't mean it has taken me that long to read lol. I bought it when published. I was really looking forward to it for several reasons:

1. Redemption Corps was really good and showed Rob Sanders to be a talent to watch.
2. It had been a while since we got a novel set away from the front line and battles of space marines and imperial guard etc.
3. I love, no let me just say I LOVE stories about Inquisitors and it was through the Eisenhorn omnibus that I rediscovered my love of W40k having been off the scene since the mid 90s (when I stopped playing the game). In 2006 Having been bitterly disappointed by the Dune books written by Brian Herbert I was looking for "something" that fitted my Sci Fi aesthetic and bang, I saw the Eisenhorn omnibus in a quite large BL section in Waterstones and it opened (reopened) a whole new world of grim dark to me.
4. However, in 2011 it was some years since the Eisenhorn and Ravenor books (I confess these are my favourite BL books) Bequin was just wishful thinking at this stage and it was clear Sandy Mitchell would likely never finish the Dark Heresy series (such a crying shame)...
5. And then Atlas Infernal comes out with blurb and premise that sounded very cool (if perhaps a bit of a copy of the Ian Watson book Inquisitor/Draco).

So. I read it but only managed 50 or so pages. I just could not get into it despite trying. So it went back on my shelf until this week. However, something made me determined to pick it up (actually I think it is the curiosity around Ahriman and that my next target set of books are those by John French).

I have now finished AI and...I have mixed feelings.

I couldn't quite put my finger on it until today but in summary:

1. It felt very episodic. Probably would work better as a serialised story in a Hammer and Bolter type anthology.
2. Czevak always ALWAYS had the answers to solve a problem or challenge.
3. Strangely it didn't feel grim dark to me?
4. Klute continues to act like Czevak's acolyte despite having been a fully fledged Inquisitor for a long time (wasn't sure how long but a long time). They were not acting like peers! Just don't see Ravenor giving Eisenhorn that kind of reverence!
5. Perhaps because my mindset and view of Inquisitors has been set by reading the Abnett and Mitchell books, (and Watson) Czevak just did not fit my minds eye view of an Inquisitor in fact...

The book felt more like a Doctor Who story!

And then it hit me why this book doesn't work FOR ME...Czevak reads like a pompous smart ass who never quite tells anyone what is going on but always seems to know the solution to everything. Just like Doctor Who. It is all so convenient.

And therein lies a problem for me, if I just do not like the lead character then I cannot feel the book. I HATED Czevak really hated him and so I didn't really care about what happened to him!
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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby MalkyDel » Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:56 pm

If there's anything that confirms that Czevak is the Doctor it's "Shadowplay"
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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby Duke_Leto » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:11 pm

MalkyDel wrote:If there's anything that confirms that Czevak is the Doctor it's "Shadowplay"


Just read the synopsis on Lexicanum and all I can say is ... Yeeucchhh!!! I know some have really liked the Czevak stories and I will say that I really like most of Rob Sanders work (looking forward to Skitarius in paperback). But I will not be reading anything Czevak again...maybe cos I have never been a big Dr Who fan anyway or because I don't like smart arses or as I said before for some reason he just doesn't fit with MY notion of an Inquisitor.

I know the Webway is established lore in 40k but in the context of the Czevak story it is too convenient and almost a Deus Ex Machina!

Actually THAT is another point to add to my opening post about why I didn't like the book. It is actually littered with Deus Ex Machina as a way of getting out of a squeeze. Hmmm let me see...need to get to a world on the other side of the Eye of Terror, jump into the Webway and be there in minutes! Hmmm having to face down a squad of the Emperors most deadly warriors (The Grey Knights), happen to know and locate the perfect device containing an Omega Minus pariah embryo!. Sure there are others.

As I said just all too convenient.

One of the things *I* love about the 40k setting is just how bloody difficult it is to do anything. Warp travel isn't simply hyperdrive at the flick of a switch. Your successful journey relies on being able to navigate the eddies and flow of emotions that means the direct route to any destination is likely not possible and, well you are all schooled on Warp travel in 40k...it is anything but convenient.
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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby Therion » Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:04 am

Visit Nurgle planet, hide in a rotten carcass. Don't get ill.

I wish BL authors would think for a moment about what sort of stuff they include in their books.
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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby Xisor » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:04 pm

'I will leave this galaxy a better place than the spiritual cesspool into which I was born, percolating in its own self-righteous stagnation.'

---

Just started a reread of it - very much enjoying it again. I do think, though, that *for my tastes*, the above comments all don't resonate with me. That said they're probably accurate - they just slide past me (heaven knows, I'm not an objective type).

I'm intrigued though. Well see how it goes. 5% in and massively enjoying it.

Not a 'normal' novel, that's true.
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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby Xisor » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:48 am

I think I've got a handle on the implied unreality now.

That is: the interregna are 'real', whilst the main story is deliberately presented* as if it is the allegorical, stylised story being related by Harlequins (hence Vespasi-hann being in the background at the end of the market scene).

In that regard, it would be why the main story is the more action-packed, hitchikers-guide-y, quippy story with Czevak getting the cool lines.

That's not to say it's not the real story and the interregna aren't there to 'reassure the audience', but I think it nails down the differences between the two - one is more 'real' to 40k, the other is more 'real' to this story.

---

I say the interregnum isn't action packed - blimey! I could read an entire novel of just that, without all the other oddness. I'd forgotten a huge amount of the detail presented in both strands.

---

I've also noticed a couple of other things.

1- there's quite a lot of boob plate and breasts going on in here. (Even the daemonship...) Generally, I don't mind, but it felt just a touch conspicuous that both Joaqhuine, Torres and the Sister of the Eternal Candle all had conspicuous armour. (And Epiphani is obsessed with being dressed up.)
1.b. An offset of this, at least, is that Czevak had his frills/cummerbund described in the interregnum. I'd be happier if that treatment was given to everyone more broadly, e.g. A real passion for the fashions of every character, but it's only a moderate gripe here.

2- it's not so much that Czevak always has the answer, but sometimes I think the narration is tipping it's hand in a slightly unsatisfying way. I think there's arguments for it (e.g. The Hitchikers Guide style of information aside/notes/interruption), and especially if the above conjecture on the split between interregna and main story is the case, but a lot of the time characters seem to be able to make logical or epistemological leaps that should really be beyond them. Or at least feel a bit that way. If it's been portrayed by Shadowseer, then it's just an unusual thing, but if we take the book as 'just a book', then it's a little jarring and unsatisfying.

That said, that it's even a topic to remark upon at all is something I find quite fascinating, and consequently also something I feel very tolerant of. (E.g. It feels like curiously deliberate choices, not mistakes.)

---

I also *love* the creativity of the whole thing. Mad as a box of frogs doesn't begin to do it justice.

In some respects though, part of me would love to see the more normal 'interregna'-style story played out with the likes of Fidus Kryptmann or Inquisitor Horst (Gothic War). Hell, even a Coteaz or Karamazov or that one that's in dialogue with Trazyn...

Well, or more Czevak. Always!
"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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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby Duke_Leto » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:22 pm

Xisor glad you enjoying it (again) horses for courses and all that. Your description and analysis is far more eloquent than anything I could muster (damn I even needed a dictionary and I am a pretty smart guy lol). But as is evident above I simply HATE this book. Maybe it is trying to be too clever I don't know but it simply doesn't work for me.

No problem with weird and wonderful, one of my fav w40k books remains to this day Inquisitor (aka Draco) by Ian Watson. Doesn't get much weirder!

You may be right about it being a stylistic choice (very likely as Rob Sanders is a talented author and I have liked pretty much all his other work) but it grates on me...especially having a lead character that I loathe... And again too much like Dr Who.

But that's me!!!!
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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby Xisor » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:51 pm

Well then there's no pleasing you! :lol:

I wouldn't worry about being eloquent about it -I'm just waxing lyrical and finding myself unusually buoyed by the book. But it reminds me of something I'd heard recently:

In dating models (e.g. analytical, not supermodels), the idea is that you're generally more 'attractive' and 'successful' if you divide opinion - some love a quirk or feature, some are really turned off by it. And that's a better thing than being close to the ideal of a general standard of attractiveness/success - many people will be intimidated by that, or find themselves writing the other off with daft talk of 'out of my league'.

To that end, what I'm praising seems very close to being particular to my interests - my kinks, if you will.

(I wonder if that's why The Outcast Dead, Angel Exterminatus and Vengeful Spirit rile me up so much too? No - they're just atrocious, that must be it...!)

My vague point being - I don't think there is (or should be) much, I'd say it's fine to hate it even purely on the basis of the character ruling you up all wrong (and any other quirks or genuine flaws [abominate or not...!]).

---

That said, on the stylistic front, I do find Rob's prose on the Matt Farrer side of not being an 'easy' read. I don't know if it's a degree of colourfulness, or odd structures in paragraphs or what, but more than many books, I find if my mind wanders at all, I start to lose track of what's going on very quickly.

In that respect, it makes sitting down to the book a bit more of a challenge - not quite a casual read. (Contrast to Legion of the Dammed, which I thought flowed incredibly easily from page to brain.)


And now to continue vague notes/commentary:
Xisor wrote:1- there's quite a lot of boob plate and breasts going on in here. (Even the daemonship...) Generally, I don't mind, but it felt just a touch conspicuous that both Joaqhuine, Torres and the Sister of the Eternal Candle all had conspicuous armour. (And Epiphani is obsessed with being dressed up.)
1.b. An offset of this, at least, is that Czevak had his frills/cummerbund described in the interregnum. I'd be happier if that treatment was given to everyone more broadly, e.g. A real passion for the fashions of every character, but it's only a moderate gripe here.


I should be careful what I wish for... I was shortly thereafter treated to Czevak getting dressed in front of everyone and a detailed description of his getup (including megaripped physique).

That was then followed by more fashion turns from Epiphani and the rather grotesque sequence with the Cannibal Queen.

---

The whole sequence on Ablutra also highlights something I myself enjoyed but that I can see very strongly in folks criticisms - the twist (that the balloon captain has the coin) *feels* immensely like a shaggy dog story. Technically, it isn't. And, in execution I found it more interesting than most shaggy dog stories (they're more fun to tell than to listen to, obviously).

But it definitely comes across as an episode in the odd episodic form of the whole thing. 'Gather some stuff', it's a difficult framework to not annoy people with when they recognise it.

---

This point also brings out Therion's complaint too: all that time on a Nurgle hive world and nobody gets sick?

As an aside, this was something I really enjoyed in the Necromunda Omnibus 1 - Matt Farrer, Andy Chambers and CS Goto between them managed to paint the picture of the Hive being a dangerous place. A whole ecosystem of its own, with different 'common sense' and different 'basic hygiene' by necessity.

It's a regular thing that authors often don't quite get Hive Worlds right. I think Rob did great here (a 9/10 on the Hive Worlda test), but the oversight of the 'public health' our heroes should have been exposed to (especially given the lovely note with Klute and his immunisation at the very beginning!) seems like a dropped ball. Not game ruining, but just enough to steal from a clean sweep.

Of course, then you introduce the Nurgle aspect. There's protection for Epiphani and Hessian and Czevak, but I somewhat feel the lack of concern for Klute and Torqhuil, or at least mention of 'dealing with it', is a bit of an oversight. (I can imagine it being cut, even as an idea, as public health medicine vs sewage might be too tough a sell for some editors, but in the final product, it's still a touch much to leave out.)

---

Nevertheless, lots good stuff in there too. Probably the most pedestrian (literally and metaphorically) section of the book, but there we are!
"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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Re: Atlas Infernal

Postby Xisor » Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:54 am

Jaq *flipping* Draco. Has to be. Surely? How did I not remember that, or fixate on it first time around?

Well, nevertheless. Lovely. Absurd.

Xisor wrote:I think I've got a handle on the implied unreality now.

That is: the interregna are 'real', whilst the main story is deliberately presented* as if it is the allegorical, stylised story being related by Harlequins (hence Vespasi-hann being in the background at the end of the market scene).

In that regard, it would be why the main story is the more action-packed, hitchikers-guide-y, quippy story with Czevak getting the cool lines.

That's not to say it's not the real story and the interregna aren't there to 'reassure the audience', but I think it nails down the differences between the two - one is more 'real' to 40k, the other is more 'real' to this story.


Don't listen to a word I say. Except some of them.

---

Turns out I'd forgotten almost an entire third of the book, in various places.

The points (and they are many, complimentary, contradictory and superimposed), are that, select all that apply:
- the Interregna *happened*, that's the real story. The Harlequins are relating it to the Black Council as a recap, and an as-it-happens.
- the whole book is the performance, but the interregna is the bit being related 'breaking news' to the council.
- the performance is a telling of the future, by the people who will be there to see it happen.
- so the performance could be a prediction.
- the performance could be the prediction *and* the execution, allegorical or exact, it's both foretold and as it is described in the novel - fated.
- it might be allegorical, with the performance having been vague and the story being what actually happened
- the 'real life' escaped Czevak might achieve similar things, vaguely assisted by Vespasi-hann & co., as predicted, but it's not meant to be exact.
- all of it might be allegory for what happened to Czevak after the prologue, a metaphor for humanity.

But the basic one, I think, is:
- the interregna are real
- the main story is what was being presented by the Harlequins, an indication of a future as-yet unlived, but foretold in Harlequin style, e.g. with preposterous flourishes and questionable amounts of just-so coincidences and wit. (But then they could be manipulated to happen, Harlequin form...)

So, I suppose, you can't really have more Czevak stories continuing the story, as it'd force a settlement on what happened in this one, and settling down into one explanation would close off the tantalising what-ifs of the others.

But you could have *earlier* stories...
"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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