Those are good points.
Not my meaning though.
I meant Khayon as a narrator. Of course the characters should speak in absolutes (well, I'd debate Alpha Legion). I mean that I dont think its fair to expect people to pick up on that when there is nothing to contradict their narrative and the book goes out of its way to undermine other positions.
I also dont think highly of those that dismiss critique by grouping in every objection into a summary dismissal. I started by saying I thought his prose were fantastic, he is a good writer after all, but I do not think he excels at the portrayal of the unreliable narrator. And I confess to being tired of how quickly critique of him gets flanderized to being equivalent to the more abusive aspects of the fanbase.
I meant Khayon as a narrator, as well. Where expectations of the reader are concerned, I’m by no means trying to advocate for elitist attitudes, but what Dembski-Bowden did with Khayon has been a staple of fiction for a long, long time. Here’s an example of what I’m thinking:
Unless you read the Dune prequels, objectively speaking there’s no reason to assume the Harkonnens hold any moral high ground over their Atreides rivals. At the same time, it’s contingent on the reader to pick up on the second- and third-order effects of the surviving Atreides son’s quest for vengeance: it’s not Frank Herbert’s fault if I don’t pick up on the fact that justice leads to a galactic jihad, as this is both implied and outright stated in his novel. No, I don’t have the right to be aggressive or condescending with someone if they don’t recognize that the Atreides themselves are becoming something terrible in the name of “species survival”... but pointing out that this theme is reinforced throughout that series of novels isn’t, in and of itself, elitist.
Bringing it back to this discussion, I feel comfortable saying that Khayon’s beliefs with regard to his cause are subjective, and that his competence — as a sorcerer, as a communicator, etc. — doesn’t change this. The Talon of Horus conveys Khayon’s truth, not the objective truth, and the war he has fought is sacred in his eyes — not everyone else’s. I by no means want to come off as looking down my nose at someone when I say this, though. I wholeheartedly agree that a story is better served by the author providing means by which to discern right and wrong: if Herbert never showed the cruelty of the Harkonnens and the malicious glee they experienced during said acts, readers would rightly wonder just why they’re supposed to root for Paul Muad’dib. But the Harkonnen’s deeds do speak for themselves, and so do Khayon’s: he’s an often unapologetic killer and a practitioner of arts whose cost in moral currency is qualified both in that novel and throughout the larger catalogue of the Black Library. We don’t have to assume that this makes the Imperium the “good guys,” but while Khayon is a protagonist in The Talon of Horus, I don’t think it’s fair to say that story presents him as a hero (again, in the “good guy” sense).
Thinking about it further, the one thing I'll say in Prospero Burns defence, is that I think the one-sided showing of the Space Wolves was partly because it was intended to be a companion piece to Thousand Sons. Of course, the issue then is that Thousand Sons still presents the Wolves actions as almost correct, what with all the hand-wringing and declarations of guilt from Magnus.
If we had Prospero Burns showing the Wolves as awesome, and the Thousand Sons as evil incarnate, with Prospero Burns showing the exact reverse, it could be somewhat excusable. Sadly, that's not what we got.
Here’s a genuine question:
Should both primarchs (and their legions) share that kind of self-view? Magnus is genuinely contrite, and he has his reasons for feeling that way. There’s definitely an argument to be made for Russ to be more introspective about the contradiction and hypocrisy inherent in his Rune Priests, but I don’t think it’s really in his character to feel guilty for carrying out his brother’s censure.
Edited by Phoebus, 08 May 2020 - 05:33 PM.