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Hypothetical Horus Heresy Series


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#1
b1soul

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A major complaint faced by the HH series is excessive bloat and a meandering path to the finale.

I think the initial trilogy was a fairly strong opening to the series, but instead of following that thread, the series took some excursions along the way.

I guess a fundamental question is...would the series have benefited from a straightforward chronological approach? And if so, what would be the starting point and how many novels would make for a highly cohesive series?

I think an opening novel covering the last stages of the Ullanor Campaign would've made sense and allowed for a great in-depth exploration of Horus' character and his relationship with the Emperor. If you're going to tackle the HH, no point shying away from the central primarch.

This could be followed by a novel focusing on the Librarius and the different Imperial factions' views of the Warp, culminating with Nikaea.

Then the third novel could've dealt with Horus' corruption.

I think Istvaan III and (especially) Istvaan V could've been saved for later (after the Prospero novel or novels). Istvaan V should've been treated as a massive star-studded "event" (with two novels covering it like how FW splits it into Massacre and Extermination). It rather irks me that we never got a proper Istvaan V novel.

Would be interested in the thoughts of my fellow fraters.
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#2
Kelborn

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Isn't this a whishlisting / what if thread?

 

I mean, sure, there are pros and cons for a straightforward line-up like the Beast Arises series.

 

Think the series' development changed throughout the series. From a straight x numbers of novels, it evolved into a widened dive into the setting itself, adding story arcs, povs and new stuff here and there.

 

I'm rather ok with the series itself. It's more the up and down in terms of quality that keeps me away from reading the entirety of it and instead picking only those "good" ones.


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#3
Bobss

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I've been following the Horus Heresy Series for close to 11 years and I have read some truly wonderful books in that time. There's about ~15 novels I could happily reread tomorrow, and about ~10 of them are superb reading material in general (out of 54 entries this is pretty poor though but whatever). But if there is one thing I/we/Black Library have learnt from this series it's that this format simply doesn't work well. A lot of the problems that have stricken the Horus Heresy Series are not apparent in other long-running series, and the only other series that apes the Horus Heresy Series, the War of the Beast Series, encapsulates these problems even better/worse

 

The Siege of Terra is a microcosm for these problems as well - I can't wait for Chris Wraight to conclude Jaghatai's storyline alongside Shiban Khan and Best 30k Female, Illya Ravallion in his entry, but how much of his book is just going to be handling the previous guys' baggage? One (one) of the things that helped make the Scars-Path storyline so good was that while it fit nicely into the Betrayal/Age of Darkness theatres of the Heresy, it didn't rely on Khârn, Sigismund, Loken, Abaddon or a Perpetual character every other page. There's some links and Easter eggs and tips of the hat here and there but that's it

 

It's all about sandboxes. 30k is a sandbox. 40k is a sandbox. Post-Fall of Cadia is a sandbox. Those barely-explored 10,000 years between 30k and 40k is a sandbox. The Unification Wars are a sandbox that should never be explored. Even the Sabbat Worlds is a sandbox, and while it's chiefly run by Dan Abnett, it's still nice to see other grown up men play in his sandpit once in a while. I feel like ADB has made the Legion Wars his own sandbox as well, but that might be going a bit too far

 

I remember even 10/11 years ago people making lists of their 'perfect Horus Heresy,' but in reality if you encourage the sandbox approach you can have unlimited novels. There's books in post-Fall of Cadia that I'm not interested in like most of the Ultramarines stuff, but there's other series that I'm addicted to like Chris Wraight's Terra works. The sandbox approach means I can pick and choose, and I really only need an entry-level knowledge of what has happened to understand them - if that. Meanwhile in the Horus Heresy Series if I want to pick up Book 51, Slaves to Darkness, and I'm not a fan of Graham McNeill's prose so I skip Angel Exterminatus, I'm going to be like 'why is Fulgrim suddenly a snek?'

 

However... I am talking from the luxury of hindsight. It's easy to say 'Black Library would've been better served following the detailed sandbox opened up by the Forge World supplements' but that simply doesn't check out considering when and how things were released. There simply wasn't a detailed sandbox prior to Horus Rising... or at least there wasn't one that was detailed enough to support a full-fledged series. Funnily enough, I consider the middle-portion of the Horus Heresy Series, which is most often criticised for its bloat, to be the best portion because I feel like authors were free to write whatever they wanted without needing to include Khârn, Sigismund, Loken, Abaddon or a Perpetual character. I can read Path of Heaven, following Shiban Khan's epic rivalry with that Emperor's Children swordmaster because I know Khârn isn't going to explode out of the airlock at any moment; I can become invested in the defence of Calastar as the Emperor of Mankind stuffs the Webway full of ever-more priceless and limitless resources (I cry errytiem) because I know Loken isn't going to teleport in and garrote Drach'nyen on the next page. Same for the Solar System race-against-time thriller in John French's wonderful Praetorian of Dorn etc. Not to be flippant, but these were great stories set in a great sandbox. Yes, you had your fair share of Shattered Legions stories and the infamous Anthologies Without End, but you also had some top-notch fiction in there

 

A n y w a y, I get what you're saying here and I'm not trying to be awkward. Ullanor works as the best springboard for the series, and Horus Rising even kind of does that (also want to point out that Warhawk of Chogoris also uses Ullanor to springboard the White Scars storyline), with Prospero being a major early event, and Isstvan III would work better with a gradual culture shift in the Legions and some more smoke-and-mirrors as Warmaster Horus manipulates Legion deployments and Mechanicum shipments to his mates. If you're going to build a holistic-but-not-too-fat picture of the Horus Heresy I would still argue 20-25 books though

 

Also, the elephant in the room here is contrasting styles... and quality... of certain authors. The opening trilogy is like full-fat milk, semi-skimmed milk, skimmed milk and the series at large is a big packet of Starburst


Edited by Bobss, 23 April 2020 - 10:16 AM.

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#4
nagashnee

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I dont think it could have been avoided, too many editor/writers championing their own visions and desires, too much leeway given between friends to do the projects they want and not enough oversight.  For good or ill over the years i have gotten the impression that BL runs far too much on a buddy buddy culture, and far less a professional hierarchy . For the HH to ever have a along term goal/plan/intent/message it would require actual oversight and the ability for those in control to enforce it. I just dont think that exists, and neither could it. How can your editor ask you to tow the company line when he is writing a salamanders trilogy? How can the guy in charge of the lore checking stick to it when he is writing short stories with the sole stated intent of solidifying HIS personal view of said lore. How do you control your star authors when they have multiple better sources of income and the clout to walk away?


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#5
b1soul

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I suppose this is like a HH full series structure wishlisting thread

#6
b1soul

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...and I rather disagree that the HH series as a whole couldn't have been much more cohesive.

There's a timeline of major events...simply following it would have made a huge difference. Ullanor (the campaign itself, rather than merely the Triumph) is the springboard.

Pre-Ullanor tales (and tangential post-Ullanor tales like Battle of the Abyss and Damnation of Pythos) could be placed in a Warhammer 30,000 sandbox.

Edited by b1soul, 23 April 2020 - 10:47 AM.


#7
nagashnee

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Theoretical: It could indeed under the right conditions.

Practical: These condition did not exist at that time, and may not even exist at present.


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#8
Noserenda

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Yeah i think a "cohesive story" approach is always going to suffer, i mean it always has in other fandoms and the beast arises or siege of terra are just typical examples, i just think multi author arcs are always going to be too uneven regardless of how well the authors interact or plan together or get editted. 

I think we would also have lost out on some of the best books of the Heresy series which happen out of chronological order to tell their own interesting stories when some of the weaker (but not awful) entries are burdened by trying to drag the series back onto the tracks.

So yeah sticking with it as a setting rather than a track i would have liked to see each legion get a book like some Legions did establishing them in the Crusade and transitioning into the heresy, examining their differences and their characters at least half of whom are not in 40k so we can have some tension as to their fates, weave the amongst the other books moving forward but get them all done before the Age of Darkness is halfway done. 

Some development of the Sisters of Silence would be awesome too,i just feel like there is more there that never got explored.


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#9
Enosh

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my problem with the HH series has never been that it's to expansive, in fact I quite enjoy that it became so big, it makes this galaxy spanning conflict actually feel large like it should be, yes some books were unnecessary (looking you Battle for the Abyss) and some I have no idea why the hell they were never made (some main books focusing on the Army)

I guess they could have gone with a "10 book main plot, read only this if you want to get the core story and don't care about the IW and EC raiding a Eldar planet" and throw all the rest into some "HH side story" book line

my main problem is with the unnecessary, stupid and damaging twist, twist for the sake of twists, twists that :cuss on characters and their motivations, most only done so the writers can feel clever and go "wow gosh didn't we just subvert your expectations!"


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#10
b1soul

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I don't think it would've been hard to stick with the timeline. You could still have multiple arcs by different authours of varying ability, but each novel would follow the other in chronological order. I don't know what conditions would prevent this, other than a lack of desire I suppose

#11
StrangerOrders

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I have a bit of a weird view on this.

 

I dont think it would have been a benefit necessarily. In the sense that having an 'x has to happen by y' things tends to be narrative cancer.

 

Quite the opposite, alot of the most ham-fisted and sometimes harmful things in the HH has been the direct result of the relatively few things that we knew needed to happen. Looks at Nikea and Abaddon.

 

Alot of the best things in the HH for me at least were the result of the writers having a fair bit of unexplored space to do their own thing (the White Scars content, Ultramarine stuff, etc).

 

In general, the problem with planning in detail and set timelines is that you risk the work becoming a set of events basically reverse engineering how you get to the conclusion. Which can feel rigid, forced and rather unpleasent.

 

The opposite end of the spectrum is letting the characters act on their own set worldviews and objectives and letting it spiral from there with some corrections to keep it towards your end goal. This runs the risk of bloat but can feel much more organic.

 

The HH at its best is honestly more the result of the latter than the former, but it somehow manages to suffer from the faults of both at times.

 

What I think the HH desperately needed was someone knowing when to bloody check the authors and to demand that they are at least aware of the general stuff. We've had countless arguments as a community because authors couldnt be bothered to check who was alive, when certain events happened, when certain gear dates from, etc.

 

I've always been incredulous of the claims that they have these documents that serve as lore bibles, because I cant fathom whats in them from the sheer inconsistency in a number of characters, events, etc. 

 

Its one thing to give a writer freedom, its another thing to let them be destructive to the setting as a whole. Collaborative writing needs both a strong head to reign folks in and for everyone to be a team player, I think the HH's flaws are due to an absence of both (although some writers try, and they try hard, to make up for the selfishness of others).

 

It also needs to be said that they should have picked a lane to begin with, giving yourself 10 small books for 20 legions, the Titans and Mechanicum alone is an obviously bad idea. And only correcting after you've made like four of the things still leaves telling scars on the early books and the coherency of the whole work.


Edited by StrangerOrders, 23 April 2020 - 01:55 PM.

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#12
Noserenda

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Im pretty certain there isnt a central HH lore bible, i think certain authors obsessively collate everything (which GW can do for them on request) and some authors only have a very loose grip on the setting, or consider that granular detail unimportant and the rest run the spectrum between them, with mixed results.


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#13
b1soul

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Collected Visions could serve as a rough outline

#14
b1soul

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Also, did jumping back and forth along the timeline enhance the HH series. I'd say no.

Covering Istvaan then jumping back to some early GC events on Caliban and then jumping forward to Prospero (but still pre-Istvaan).

Yeah...just follow the timeline.

#15
BrainFireBob

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I think three things could have helped.

1) Stronger timeline, maintained by an editor and said editor reading books for a final pass. This is to enable authors to have resources on hand, and then a spotcheck.
2) Letting authors own characters or plots- stop the Mortarian problem. If you want/need him involved, call a meeting with the "voice" owner.
3) Have a core plot series that advances 1 book a year, or 18 months. Let authors release "elsewhere at the same time" books freely between releases.

Edited by BrainFireBob, 23 April 2020 - 03:40 PM.

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#16
Phoebus

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I think the best way to sum up the Horus Heresy series is along the lines its authors and editors tried to describe the Primarchs: as flawed as it was ambitious.

Would the Heresy have benefited from a more straightforward, chronological format? I think the Black Library authors themselves would acknowledge there could be some merit in that, hence the Primarchs imprint. At least two novels in this series — Descent of Angels and Fulgrim — could have easily been included in that side series (the latter minus the Isstvan V chapters, of course). On the other hand, one could argue that entries such as The First Heretic and A Thousand Sons rely heavily on pre-Heresy exposition, and that Legion maybe wouldn’t read as well as the first entry. I think it’s more fair to say that, rather than suffering on account of the chronological order, the Heresy struggles as a series because it lost focus.

 

More specifically, every set of five numbered novels includes some really good stories, but also has at least one “Meanwhile, in another part of the Galaxy” entry. That wouldn’t be such a big issue, except for a couple of things:

  1. Between Vulcan Lives (entry #26) and The Burden of Loyalty (entry #48), the ratio of Heresy to “Meanwhile, ...” skews increasingly toward the latter.
  2. Horus Lupercal and Lorgar Aurelian are the principal leader and architect of the Heresy, respectively, but past Fulgrim we are given very little insight as to what the former’s motivations and considerations are, and past Betrayer we get very few looks at the latter.

As a result, by the time I got to The Solar War, I had a very firm grasp on what was happening with Garro, Guilliman, the Lion, Sanguinius, the Shattered Legions, and Vulkan... but far less exposure to the Heresy’s chief actors. Numbered entries like Angel Exterminatus, Scars, Vengeful Spirit, The Path of Heaven, Praetorian of Dorn, The Master of Mankind, and Tallarn, which focused on said actors, felt isolated and disjointed. Numbered entries that collected stories from 1-2 years prior only added to that effect.

 

If it had been my show to run, I think I would have:

  • Put more of the spotlight on the chief actors of the Heresy
  • Nixed Imperium Secundus
  • Used the Ruinstorm as the plot device that keeps the loyal Legions from forming a cohesive defense against the Warmaster
  • Dedicated 1-3 numbered entries to major battles waged by the Traitors as part of their advance on Terra (above and beyond Beta-Garmon, Molech, or Tallarn)
  • Relegated stories that didn’t pertain to the main theaters of operation or the chief actors to anthologies (which would have been released concurrently with the story arcs they were relevant to)
  • Introduced the Primarch series either earlier on or after the Horus Heresy series was over

I realize all the above is easier said than done; that it would have put constraints on authors and what they wanted to write about (e.g., Nick Kyme and the Shattered Legions); and that it would have met with resistance from readers whose factions would have gotten less spotlight.


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#17
DukeLeto69

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I know this thread is just wishlisting but as it is also a bit of BL bashing it is worth saying...

1. There was a debate as to whether HH was a story or a setting!
2. In the beginning I believe BL saw it as a story (prob with around 12 books - Act 1 trilogy we got, Act 2 with 6 books, Act 3 trilogy)
3. The success/sales were beyond their imagination and at corporate level a decision was made to extend the life/scope of HH and turn it into a cash cow so - it became a setting/sandbox.
4. However, as time went on the fan base got increasingly vocal that the “story” was not progressing so they took stock and started process of pulling it back towards (a roughly chronological) story.

Did we ever find out what the colour coded bars on the spines meant? They were abandoned at some point.

FWIW - my wishlist is similar to others:

1. A core story/spine set of books focused on main players following a chronological timeline.
2. In parallel (clearly branded / labelled) a looser set of stories and books covering “other events”

Commercially I expect the second would sell less well then the first.

Edited by DukeLeto69, 23 April 2020 - 05:04 PM.


#18
DarkChaplain

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I think three things could have helped.

1) Stronger timeline, maintained by an editor and said editor reading books for a final pass. This is to enable authors to have resources on hand, and then a spotcheck.
2) Letting authors own characters or plots- stop the Mortarian problem. If you want/need him involved, call a meeting with the "voice" owner.
3) Have a core plot series that advances 1 book a year, or 18 months. Let authors release "elsewhere at the same time" books freely between releases.

 

 

As for point 2, that's indeed a big issue, because Mortarion in particular was kind of avoided outside of side plots since Swallow had some sort of dibs on the character for a long time. We didn't really get to see him much until Scars and Vengeful Spirit, before he defaulted back to Swallow for the climax (because he started it, duh).

Likewise, it seems this is the sort of reasoning they went with for Sanguinius' Primarchs novel, despite the man having professed to not even having a story idea at first - he wrote (the dreadful) Fear to Tread and the ancient Blood Angels series, so of course he should do the Primarchs novel too (despite his Sanguinius being largely regarded as poor and his BAs as uninspired and done better by others).

 

On the other hand, we have Abnett's seeming reluctance to really stick to any one faction or protagonist (outside of his Perpetual baggage). I've called him a firestarter in the past; he tackles a subject and breathes life into it, looking at it from a different angle than before, and others then fan the flames and keep it going. He's done it with the Wolves, the Ultramarines, heck, the Sons of Horus, too. It's just a shame that the Alpha Legion became a one-trick pony after he reinvented them.

 

Haley, meanwhile, is great at picking up the threads others left dangling and tying them together, and doing so in a timely fashion. He's done wonders with the Blood Angels in 40k, playing ball with both the studio writers and upcoming plans, as well as Darius Hinks and his Mephiston stories; he built nicely on the Mortarion / Typhus dynamic in Dark Imperium and created a compelling 40k version of Guilliman based on Abnett's and others' works with him in the Heresy, while putting the modern day spin on him. His Perturabo unifies many of the ideas that others authors were at odds with. While I'm a fan of his original content, like Baneblade or his non-BL works, he is probably one of the best authors to have tie knots of disparate plotlines and character depictions; certainly better than McNeill or Swallow, for example, who tend to just ignore other authors' takes.

 

Different authors are good at different things (shocked_pikachu.jpg), and often it is better to pass the torch along, which is also inevitable when plotlines inevitably converge. The problem is more down to changing expectations and styles throughout the series' runtime, along with authors being absent and out of the loop for a long time and thus not adapting to that changing style (see: McNeill's move to the USA to write for Riot Games as his day job and taking half a decade to get anywhere with The Crimson King), and shifts in editorial oversight, including weaker oversight in numerous places.

 

Had they known the scope they'd end up with from the start, much of the series would've been different. But they didn't. They didn't target 60 books, they targeted a trilogy. Then a few more, because they sold well. Then they realized "oh hells, this is way more popular than anything we might have expected", and tried to refocus the series onto a different trajectory, all while more books were either already written or in the process of being written.

 

Black Library as a whole has suffering from A LOT of on the fly adjustments to their publishing tactics. From the whole hardback->large paperback->legacy trade paperback stuff with the Heresy over dropping entire branding styles, or coming up with new brands just to use them once or twice and never again, switching limited edition styles, dropping cover artists (I miss Sullivan for Space Marine Battles and Time of Legends, the man was a genius) mid-trilogy, branding novels with Codex-style covers/backgrounds and generic titles, causing them to hugely undersell... This company has not been led with a clear creative vision for the past 15 years. There's been so much interference from GW proper for a while, even the Heresy suffered for it. It's not a strongly led part of the wider GW company. More than anything, I think that is one of the root causes to look at for how the series here turned out - the same company canceled novels in the works, trilogy-finishers and the likes, or sat on short stories and novellas for years without publishing them, or barely letting the authors know when they did.

 

While it's easy to say that the Heresy and many big characters suffered from the whole too-many-cooks problem, the same is invariably true for the publisher itself, and it has only been exacerbated by ForgeWorld's sweeping retcons in recent years. The framework never had a chance to properly settle while the series was running, and even if it had, it'd have been changed and knocked over many times while things were still going ahead according to the old plans.


Edited by DarkChaplain, 23 April 2020 - 05:20 PM.

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#19
StrangerOrders

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I think three things could have helped.

1) Stronger timeline, maintained by an editor and said editor reading books for a final pass. This is to enable authors to have resources on hand, and then a spotcheck.
2) Letting authors own characters or plots- stop the Mortarian problem. If you want/need him involved, call a meeting with the "voice" owner.
3) Have a core plot series that advances 1 book a year, or 18 months. Let authors release "elsewhere at the same time" books freely between releases.

 

 

As for point 2, that's indeed a big issue, because Mortarion in particular was kind of avoided outside of side plots since Swallow had some sort of dibs on the character for a long time. We didn't really get to see him much until Scars and Vengeful Spirit, before he defaulted back to Swallow for the climax (because he started it, duh).

Likewise, it seems this is the sort of reasoning they went with for Sanguinius' Primarchs novel, despite the man having professed to not even having a story idea at first - he wrote (the dreadful) Fear to Tread and the ancient Blood Angels series, so of course he should do the Primarchs novel too (despite his Sanguinius being largely regarded as poor and his BAs as uninspired and done better by others).

 

On the other hand, we have Abnett's seeming reluctance to really stick to any one faction or protagonist (outside of his Perpetual baggage). I've called him a firestarter in the past; he tackles a subject and breathes life into it, looking at it from a different angle than before, and others then fan the flames and keep it going. He's done it with the Wolves, the Ultramarines, heck, the Sons of Horus, too. It's just a shame that the Alpha Legion became a one-trick pony after he reinvented them.

 

Haley, meanwhile, is great at picking up the threads others left dangling and tying them together, and doing so in a timely fashion. He's done wonders with the Blood Angels in 40k, playing ball with both the studio writers and upcoming plans, as well as Darius Hinks and his Mephiston stories; he built nicely on the Mortarion / Typhus dynamic in Dark Imperium and created a compelling 40k version of Guilliman based on Abnett's and others' works with him in the Heresy, while putting the modern day spin on him. His Perturabo unifies many of the ideas that others authors were at odds with. While I'm a fan of his original content, like Baneblade or his non-BL works, he is probably one of the best authors to have tie knots of disparate plotlines and character depictions; certainly better than McNeill or Swallow, for example, who tend to just ignore other authors' takes.

 

Different authors are good at different things (shocked_pikachu.jpg), and often it is better to pass the torch along, which is also inevitable when plotlines inevitably converge. The problem is more down to changing expectations and styles throughout the series' runtime, along with authors being absent and out of the loop for a long time and thus not adapting to that changing style (see: McNeill's move to the USA to write for Riot Games as his day job and taking half a decade to get anywhere with The Crimson King), and shifts in editorial oversight, including weaker oversight in numerous places.

 

Had they known the scope they'd end up with from the start, much of the series would've been different. But they didn't. They didn't target 60 books, they targeted a trilogy. Then a few more, because they sold well. Then they realized "oh hells, this is way more popular than anything we might have expected", and tried to refocus the series onto a different trajectory, all while more books were either already written or in the process of being written.

 

Black Library as a whole has suffering from A LOT of on the fly adjustments to their publishing tactics. From the whole hardback->large paperback->legacy trade paperback stuff with the Heresy over dropping entire branding styles, or coming up with new brands just to use them once or twice and never again, switching limited edition styles, dropping cover artists (I miss Sullivan for Space Marine Battles and Time of Legends, the man was a genius) mid-trilogy, branding novels with Codex-style covers/backgrounds and generic titles, causing them to hugely undersell... This company has not been led with a clear creative vision for the past 15 years. There's been so much interference from GW proper for a while, even the Heresy suffered for it. It's not a strongly led part of the wider GW company. More than anything, I think that is one of the root causes to look at for how the series here turned out - the same company canceled novels in the works, trilogy-finishers and the likes, or sat on short stories and novellas for years without publishing them, or barely letting the authors know when they did.

 

While it's easy to say that the Heresy and many big characters suffered from the whole too-many-cooks problem, the same is invariably true for the publisher itself, and it has only been exacerbated by ForgeWorld's sweeping retcons in recent years. The framework never had a chance to properly settle while the series was running, and even if it had, it'd have been changed and knocked over many times while things were still going ahead according to the old plans.

 

I tend to agree with your points save one of the last.

 

The Forgeworld bit.

 

The thing is that Forgeworld did three key things that I think did wonders for the setting if not the series.

 

1. They tried to leave room to develop and introduce more characters. Expanding the Legions was a key marketing point yes, but it also created vast amounts of room to flesh out legions and to introduce new characters (to potentially develop and kill). This firstly made the setting slightly more credible and allowed for the Heresy to continue without you wondering hoe yhe legions werent extinct yet with all the hyperbole about casualties the authors like. The authors utterly wasted this one as they continued to just dredge up named characters from 40k and Terrans, resulting in this setting about the bleak and distorted future having hysterically accurate records ten millennia later with just about every named traitor still running around. I think this both harmed the series as it created insane amounts of plot armor even by 40k standards and robbed lead to traitor-centered books having next to no tension.

 

2. It cleaned up (or at least tried to) the mess the authors littered everywhere in timelines, titles, life/death, etc. To say nothing of the actual HISTORY of the crusade, which authors still screw up (glares at McNeill saying the Noosphere was only just used in 005 and then showing it in wide use 140 years beforehand in the Magnus book). 

 

3. It actually made the Heresy feel like a series of wars and not like three or four guys sending limitless waves of endless goons at each other. It also tried to make the Primarchs and commanders more credible across the board by actually lending some credence to their military records and legion cultures. It also made the battles and campaigns more interesting in alot of cases.

 

Its kinda sad I found Signus Prime more interesting and learned more about the BAngels in a 30-ish page blurb in Malevolence than in the sum of Fear To Tread (just the campaign, not even covering the Legion index).

 

Honestly, the Authors need a timeline.

 

No, not a timeline for the books. A timeline for the Crusade, because they dont seem to have a good grasp on time. Some writers overdate Astartes by five centuries while others introduce a tech and then the same author have it used centuries beforehand, they are small things individually but as you read more of the setting (or sometimes even the same book), the lack of willingness to accept that you are working with an established setting can be irritating. 

 

If not the authors, at the very least the editors should bother to know this stuff with the prices we are willing to pay.


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#20
Roomsky

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So I have two possible timelines for my wishlist.

 

The first is, despite his not writing my absolute favourite entries, is for a 20 semi-linear book series by Abnett only. I don’t believe a more linear multi-author series would have turned out any better than what we got, just look at the mess the first 5 books represent. Abnett has proven himself competent in a more long-form regard with Gaunt’s Ghosts, Anarch was one of the best payoffs I’ve ever read. Abnett also has the best grasp on personable characters, and on making 30k feel distinct from 40k.

 

I'd say 20 books: 1 for each legion, 1 for the Machanicum, and 1 for the Emperor and support staff. Several long-form threads could run all the way through, such as Imperial Guard and remembrancer characters. Arcs wouldn’t be aborted, and characters would remain consistent.

 

My second ideal Heresy, which I prefer to the first, is running with the post-Gathering Storm model. Trilogies / series with a single author each, making a tapestry that covers the Heresy that doesn’t need to pretend it’s one through-line. Single authors get the narrative core for single legions, and it has the added bonus of following the strands you like while ignoring those you don’t without massive gaps in the lore.

 

Of course I know the mere idea only exists with hindsight, but this is wishlisting after all.

 

It’s also a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ll flesh out that dream Heresy later when I have time.


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#21
bluntblade

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I think the sheer sprawl would have defeated a very linear series. Perhaps we needed more demarcation between the novel strands and the shorts, however. Making some things clear peripheral stories beside the main events.

But I'm sceptical of that too.

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#22
b1soul

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I think if the BL authours and editors stuck with presenting the HH in a roughly linear chronological order (starting from Ullanor), that alone would have done wonders for the series. Dream team would be Abnett, Wraight, ADB, and French but I realise quite a few of these guys joined a few years after 2006. So I think we'd still get a few entries by the likes of McNeill and Counter.

The side-stories could simply be placed under a Warhammer 30,000 label. I think stuff like Imperium Secundus and Vulkan's Odyssey could easily fit here. Stuff like Nemesis and Damnation of Pythos could be saved for after the end of the HH series. Other stuff like Imperium Secundus could be interspersed among the main series as chronologically as possible.

Ullanor, Nikaea, Prospero, Horus' corruption, Istvaan III, Istvaan V ought to be presented in chronological order, woth Istvaan V getting special treatment as the biggest climax prior to the finale between Horus and the Emperor.

EDIT: Come to think of it...would probably make more sense for the series to kick off with a book focusing on Monarchia and Lorgar, followed by one on Ullanor and Horus

Edited by b1soul, 23 April 2020 - 06:45 PM.


#23
BrainFireBob

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I have some time, so I’m elaborating.

A timeline should have been created of Unification, the Great Crusade, the Heresy, and the Primarchs. It shouldn’t micromanage, but it should scope out the key events and some details about the Legions. As authors want to introduce elements, have at least two meetings with the IP responsible editor- treat it like DnD character creation.  Figure out where it fits in the timeline. The editor can then add the notes and the author can cut loose. This is also the planning stage where the author can identify plug points that need to be worked out with other authors.  Then another when the work is complete.

The fundamental issue is that creatives work different ways. You don’t want to constrain that, but you do want them to land on the coordination points. I think they ended converging on what I see as the most effective solution.

Look at the Heresy and break it into chunks. Create a “central” series- say, whatever Horus is doing. Index events or time periods. Plan regular updates; mainly annual. Don’t let side stories get ahead of the “main” narrative.

Assign “topics” to authors- one guy gets Dark Angels, one guy gets Blood Angels, one guy gets Mechanicum. This doesn’t mean that they are the only ones who write in that pool, but they’re responsible for voice of the faction.

Have an annual alignment meeting to pitch ideas for the next “wave” and review any brainstorms anyone had.

Authors have a big pool to play in, there’s tight control over scope, you get a “core” series that can call on any surrounding material other authors have come up with.

Personally, I like the idea- true or not- that the Sangprimus Portum was always where the Shattered Legions plot was intended to go. In the end, they had a win, regardless of whether they could see it.

Instead, each author acted- and possibly treated by the studio- like each book had to stand on its own merits. That can’t happen with something this big. You eventually hit a point where the book might be outstanding in context, but is a bit blegh on its own as a singular novel- see Feast for Crows/Dance with Dragons, Crossroads of Twilight, Soul of the Fire etc.. Butcher’s latest book he split into two because he “couldn’t make it work, there was too much there.” I think of them as rectification novels; they tie your disparate timelines together and re-weave your threads for your final act.


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#24
Roomsky

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I think if the BL authours and editors stuck with presenting the HH in a roughly linear chronological order (starting from Ullanor), that alone would have done wonders for the series. Dream team would be Abnett, Wraight, ADB, and French but I realise quite a few of these guys joined a few years after 2006. So I think we'd still get a few entries by the likes of McNeill and Counter.

The side-stories could simply be placed under a Warhammer 30,000 label. I think stuff like Imperium Secundus and Vulkan's Odyssey could easily fit here. Stuff like Nemesis and Damnation of Pythos could be saved for after the end of the HH series. Other stuff like Imperium Secundus could be interspersed among the main series as chronologically as possible.

Ullanor, Nikaea, Prospero, Horus' corruption, Istvaan III, Istvaan V ought to be presented in chronological order, woth Istvaan V getting special treatment as the biggest climax prior to the finale between Horus and the Emperor.

EDIT: Come to think of it...would probably make more sense for the series to kick off with a book focusing on Monarchia and Lorgar, followed by one on Ullanor and Horus

 

 

I don’t think that model would be as simple as you think.

 

If there was a distinct label for inessential 30k stories, it wouldn’t allow for any overlap with the core series. Using an example from the actual series: the Thousand Sons. Nikea and Prospero (A Thousand Sons) are core stories, fine enough. So too are they at Terra, which would doubtlessly be covered in the main series. The Crimson King doesn’t have any core series relevance, but is a bridge in the arcs of Magnus, Ahriman, etc. So either the peripheral work The Crimson King must be brought into the core series, despite having relevance to no one but the Thousand Sons, or no character development can occur in The Crimson King, because the readers of the core series need to get all the pertinent info from those books alone.

 

And if you argue things would be structured too differently for that comparison in our fantasy series, let’s look at Corax. Besides their legion’s presence at Isstvan, they aren’t really pertinent outside of their own sphere, so they would presumably be covered outside of the core series. Fair enough, but Corax visits Terra to get his gene-tech. So now his interactions with Rogal and the Emperor cannot have any significance for anyone but Corax, else those key players would be getting development and ideas unexplained in the core stories.

 

The traitors who are written to be at Terra but don’t have significant contributions otherwise can’t be written about peripherally for the reasons outlined above. Post-Isstvan, you can’t have any stories about the Word Bearers, Alpha Legion, World Eaters, Thousand Sons, Emperor’s Children, or Night Lords that have ANY impact on who they are at the Siege.

 

I’m not saying these issues aren’t already present in the series we have, but it’s a big problem that needs looking at in our ideal Heresy.


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#25
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This is nothing more than conjecture on my part, but I think a linear, multi-author series would have been possible given sufficient planning and coordination.

 

A lot of the discrepancies and inconsistencies we’re discussing here are a product of authors creating a story from what would amount to a 2-3 page bullet background paper, so there was a lot of uncharted territory to work with. You almost have to come up with a defined chronological record of the conflict in advance, and define how Event A affects B through Z in advance. If D’s author comes up with a better idea but it affects E through Z, then that probably needs to be coordinated, and authors already working on subsequent events need to be part of that discussion.

 

Did that happen, and if so to what extent? I have no idea.

 

I think if the BL authours and editors stuck with presenting the HH in a roughly linear chronological order (starting from Ullanor), that alone would have done wonders for the series. Dream team would be Abnett, Wraight, ADB, and French but I realise quite a few of these guys joined a few years after 2006. So I think we'd still get a few entries by the likes of McNeill and Counter.

The side-stories could simply be placed under a Warhammer 30,000 label. I think stuff like Imperium Secundus and Vulkan's Odyssey could easily fit here. Stuff like Nemesis and Damnation of Pythos could be saved for after the end of the HH series. Other stuff like Imperium Secundus could be interspersed among the main series as chronologically as possible.

Ullanor, Nikaea, Prospero, Horus' corruption, Istvaan III, Istvaan V ought to be presented in chronological order, woth Istvaan V getting special treatment as the biggest climax prior to the finale between Horus and the Emperor.

I proposed axing Imperium Secundus because it’s an incredibly contrived storyline. It’s predicated on the Lion playing along with Guilliman’s plan because going to Terra and verifying whether or not the Emperor is, in fact, alive would require him to reveal that he has a Tuchulcha Ex Machina device, and we can’t have that now, can we?

 

I mean, Guilliman’s project ended on the strength of the Lion arguing that “TEH EMPEROR CANNOT DESPATCH THIS ASSASSIN IF HE IS DEAD! IF CURZE IS TELLING TEH TRUTH, TEH EMPEROR IS ALIVE!” That’s not an exaggeration; all I’ve done is switch “the” with “teh” and turned Caps Lock on. Otherwise, that’s literally how a super-genius demigod warlord went about convincing two other super-genius demigod warlords to try to get back in the war. Conveniently, none of them thought there was sufficient strategic value in the Lion bringing Sanguinius back to Terra directly. Nor was using the Tuchulcha Ex Machina device to conduct invaluable reconnaissance (remember, the Imperium was effectively blind during the Ruinstorm) or to enable loyalist fleets and forces to fight Horus before he got to Terra’s doorway deemed juicy enough.

 

And hey, I get it — maybe the writing team didn’t want to introduce this logical chain of events to the storyline. That’s fine, but if that’s the case perhaps they shouldn’t have introduced a plot device that enables a Primarch to do all those things... but never does... leaving a reader wondering why.

 

Beyond that, I’m not opposed to the inclusion of Vulkan’s saga. My issue is that it got a disproportionate amount of coverage relative to the Heresy series as a whole and its impact on the story being told.


Edited by Phoebus, 23 April 2020 - 07:40 PM.





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