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Hypothetical Horus Heresy Series


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#26
bluntblade

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One thing I would say here is that it's worth remembering that the MCU, which I know people refer to now as the Gold Standard of Everything Being Planned from the start, wasn't actually planned from the very beginning.

 

While there was a clear framework, there's a lot of good improv "yes and" storytelling. I don't mean this is disparagement; Chris Wraight for one did this with Scars. The trouble really comes in with "well actually" responses, or an author just failing to notice that something was set up for them. There is a balance to be struck between adhering to the overall framework and leaving room for authors to run with the ball. Both the Plan and that freedom of manoeuvre have been double-edged swords over the course of the series.

 

On a last, snarky and facetious note. I'd argue that Vulkan's saga served a vital quality-control purpose - with the exception of poor Meduson, it kept Kyme's Leaden Pen of Doom away from all the characters I liked.


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#27
Xisor

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far too much on a buddy buddy culture, and far less a professional hierarchy

BL is the publishing wing of the business, after all, it's not entirely surprising that some of its behaviours may look starkly similar to the behaviours of a publishing business.

 

The book industry isn't especially disciplined and egalitarian, if I've understood it correctly.


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#28
Knockagh

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I think about the stucture and mistakes made during the heresy series a fair bit.... I’m obviously not alone, which is nice to know.

One reason I feel the heresy fatigued many of us was the blinkered aspect the story was told from. The heresy was a galaxy spanning conflict that effected everyone. Not just marines. To tell a story well it needs to cover different angles and different experiences. Particularly if it’s going to be a story of 50 odd books. One angle was always going to cause stagnation.
I’m probably going to be shot for this but I would lay at least a sizeable proportion of this at Laurie Gouldings feet. Laurie at some stage, I can’t remember when became incredibly influential in the direction the heresy was moving. I remember he was interviewed around the midpoint and when he was asked about the lack of human interest books he responded that the heresy was legion business and that was the angle the series should focus on. (I’m paraphrasing It was along time ago!)
I know Laurie himself got disillusioned with the length and other aspects of the heresy and maybe he saw a more compact marine focused series but I doubt BL corporate would have cared what the stories were about and many of the writers seemed to suggest they grew bored with the series. Someone had to be sitting on the series and keeping the focus so narrow even as it grew into the mega beast it became.
Laurie was a super fan and I for one was super excited when he was appointed thinking we had one of our own on the inside. Looking back though I wonder was he out of his depth and inexperience showed through.
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#29
StrangerOrders

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I think about the stucture and mistakes made during the heresy series a fair bit.... I’m obviously not alone, which is nice to know.

One reason I feel the heresy fatigued many of us was the blinkered aspect the story was told from. The heresy was a galaxy spanning conflict that effected everyone. Not just marines. To tell a story well it needs to cover different angles and different experiences. Particularly if it’s going to be a story of 50 odd books. One angle was always going to cause stagnation.
I’m probably going to be shot for this but I would lay at least a sizeable proportion of this at Laurie Gouldings feet. Laurie at some stage, I can’t remember when became incredibly influential in the direction the heresy was moving. I remember he was interviewed around the midpoint and when he was asked about the lack of human interest books he responded that the heresy was legion business and that was the angle the series should focus on. (I’m paraphrasing It was along time ago!)
I know Laurie himself got disillusioned with the length and other aspects of the heresy and maybe he saw a more compact marine focused series but I doubt BL corporate would have cared what the stories were about and many of the writers seemed to suggest they grew bored with the series. Someone had to be sitting on the series and keeping the focus so narrow even as it grew into the mega beast it became.
Laurie was a super fan and I for one was super excited when he was appointed thinking we had one of our own on the inside. Looking back though I wonder was he out of his depth and inexperience showed through.

Funny thing, I always thought that the Astartes show better when contrasted with non-Astartes viewpoints it certainly helps them 'pop' more.

 

Ill be brutally honest though.

 

Alot of the time the humans WERE present and WERE a drag on the narrative rather than an assistance. To give an example, can you give me a good idea of what the comic guy contributed to Fear to Tread?

 

Not even going to mention how Euphratii and Sinderman were so poorly illustrated in most of the books that they seemed considerably less human than the Astartes. 

 

I think that what the books could have used was more diversity in soldier humans.

 

We got more 'Rookies', 'disaffected grizzled types' and poorly-made Abnett-Guard clones than I can shake a stick at. We never got to see through the eyes of the elite regiments though, we never got to see through the eyes of any of the Solar Auxilia Regiments nor through the eyes of the Old Hundred beyond the guys in the one Old Hundred Regiment known for not using people of their own background as officers. 

 

We never really saw 'great crusade soldiers'.

 

It was also frankly stunning how casual and disinterested alot of the humans were. I'm sorry but if your character is telling me that their story isnt interesting, and the narrator is agreeing, why should I give a damn? 

 

The problem is that alot of the writers did that with the Astartes too. Most spent so much time on Astartes that had little to nothing to do or say about their legions that they just started blending together in alot of cases.

 

Its disturbing how many people genuinely believe 'well an Astartes is just like any other Astartes'. Maybe it is because of the stronger writers, maybe it is FW's efforts. But that should be a staggeringly ignorant thing to say. Yet, thanks to alot of writers not really trying to check what had already been done, it can be fairly said. 

 

Its also worth noting that some Legions got zero to do, despite being big players. But we somehow got a ton of books focused on Legions that did next to nothing in the Heresy (coughSalamanderscough). 

 

Its deeply irksome.


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#30
Knockagh

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Euphratii and Sinderman are some of my favourite heresy characters. The roles of imagers, remberancers and iterators were superb additions to the whole 30k setting and contributed to giving 30k a flavour set aside from 40k.
Certainly guard content was a gaping hole in the books. We had that really weird time when the heresy black books were pushing human armies and FW were releasing models but they didn’t even appear in the main series, never mind getting a dedicated book.
A previous poster pointed at Lauries obsession with canon lore and particularly his own take on it as a driving force for him and that certainly comes across in old interviews he did at the time. I’m imagining this could be stifling for authors who, rightly so, are used to getting a good deal of space to operate within.

#31
Xisor

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 To give an example, can you give me a good idea of what the comic guy contributed to Fear to Tread?

To pose a competing question: can you give me a good idea of what Fear to Tread contributed?

 

Spoiler

 

Conversely, I'm not sure I'd want to contemplate the Scars' storylines without Illya Ravallion. Without the extra perspectives, I suspect it'd feel like two-plus-some Marines moping about amidst a French farce.

 

Or perhaps A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns without the humans.

 

Or maybe Nemesis without the humans... or perhaps Legion without humans.

 

Hell, even Horus Rising without humans doesn't exactly work so well. (Or rather: there's a lot of decent stuff in the book that isn't just about Horus, but is enriching because I also strongly felt like Loken's perspective is a window onto the humans of the era - it's a study in contrasts, not that one of them is solely a lens to look at the other and that's all they are.)

 

---

 

A lot of that - I think - is in part because the humans and their stories have been viewed as a means to an end in many places throughout the series. (Or perhaps at least used as a means to an end. And that's not a criticism of the authors, I think, as much as a criticism of the process that decides which pitches and novels get green-lit, and which authors get invited to write more for the series without harassment to 'toe the line'.*)

 

If the series had been more forthright about being about the Horus Heresy, not about a Space Marine civil war and very little else, I think the humans that did get a look in would feel a lot less like "and this episode of Wacky Space Marine Melodramas is told from the perspective of Barry Hughman/Abbie Normal."

 

That's not to say that's how it actually was written, but the impression I come away from the series with is that very few humans had their own stories to live amongst this galactic civil war...


Well, except the likes of Illya, Kasper and Fugging Strabo.

 

 

* The greatest crime of the Horus Heresy is, of course, twofold. One: the dearth of space given for Matt Farrer. Two: the prevalence of baldy white blokes, often with goatees.


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#32
StrangerOrders

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My problem with the humans is very much my problem with alot of things in Western media.

 

They feel like they are bending over backwards to be 'comfortable' for the reader.

 

We constantly get either soldiers that are bored, cynical or corrupt/apathetic (and no, not the fun kind of corrupt) or fresh-eyed, bushy-tailed and ripe for becoming the former by the end of the book.

 

Why though?

 

They are supposed to be as alien as the Space Marines. Why on earth do we keep seeing soldiers that look like they are made by a movie desperately trying to ape Full-Metal Jacket or Saving Private Ryan instead of actual soldiers? 

 

We know that alot of finest Solar Auxilia were raised from Feral Worlds. I'm sorry but a book about boarding specialists in the most high tech armor available to mortals armed with ray guns but cultural hunter-gatherers should be COOL AS HELL.

 

Heck, I'd kill to hear about the warrior aristocrats from Conquest, whose parents were badasses in heavy armor and are now finally getting their moment to shine.

 

Or heck, even the guys that are pretty 'like us' but came from a world under xenos tyranny or whatever and are 110% sure they want to kill all xenos as payback. 

 

I often use an unfair example. One of the more famous eastern anime is Attack on Titan. Its entirely about humans in a napoleonic-level army fighting giant man-eaters they can't explain or even understand.

 

The soldiers are capable of humanity, humor and envy. But they are all fanatical and disciplined to the point of being trigger-happy, because the they are under miserable and brutal conditions and their lives depend on killing monsters they dont understand. And every possible second they get a (rare) upper hand? They dont start wondering about the nihilism of it all, they are start killing because they just saw their best friend get literally bitten in half and their corpse left out on the street. They snark about their commanders but they are obediant and the commanders are shockingly not usually prioritizing their old-school maneuvers and ambitions over getting eaten.

 

Thats what I dont really like about the Great Crusade era human soldiers we see. They feel wrong, they feel disaffected. Which is jarring in a setting where we know that in many cases they should be coming from places where being hunted by cannibals with flame-throwers, being eaten by orcs or being tortured to death by other abominations without hope of retaliation should be in living memory.

 

Yet seem less intense about it than people I've known who were children at the time of World War Two. Heck, they seem more ambivalent than the children of those people.

 

I respect our serving men and women, although most of the ones in BL seem markedly more cynical and noncommittal to the point that the comparison feels insulting tbh, but how many of them seem ambivalent or laid back about their circumstances is terrifying to me. You'd think most of them would be twitchy because they were raised on stories of their grandmother being eaten by an Ork or something.

 

Its almost inhuman really and its irksome to me.


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#33
A Melancholic Sanguinity

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I think the point StrangerOrders is making isn't a categorical distinction between Astartes/non-Astartes viewpoints being a should/shouldn't inclusion in the grander narrative, it's that all too often the writing and direction itself just wasn't very good.

 

The concept of having mortal viewpoints amid a galaxy-spanning civil war driven by demigod personas is great. The execution was often lacking - and that's hardly a criticism exclusive to the "mere" humans. How many different personalities and characterizations did the likes of Perturabo and Mortarion go through, again? What about the coin toss that is Khârn's portrayal in any given piece between "frothing Rhino-fisting Super Mario" and "only sane voice in his Legion"?


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#34
Kriegsmacht

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I have a question about this hypothetical HH timeline. Would it be necessary for it to last 7 years?

 

I remember that had been brought up years ago when they decided to extend the Civil War. Going by the Index Astartes books the Heresy didn't seem to last that long. It happened with many loyal Legions caught far away because of Horus planning that out. What comes to mind right away is the Space Wolves and Dark Angels rushing back together only for  the Wolves slowing them down trying to rescue planets from Chaos. Did this even come up yet in a novel? All I ever read is that the Dark Angels was at one part of the galaxy and the Wolves were no where near them.

 

I always felt that was the issue with the Imperium Secundus storyline. It came across like "Well we have to figure out a way to keep these legions away from Terra for most of the war. We'll throw this in."

 

Edit edit: again sorry but I edited my post to only mention about their trip back to terra when Horus turned. It's in IA: Dark Angels 


Edited by Kriegsmacht, 23 April 2020 - 11:01 PM.

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#35
DarkChaplain

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Hell, even Horus Rising without humans doesn't exactly work so well. (Or rather: there's a lot of decent stuff in the book that isn't just about Horus, but is enriching because I also strongly felt like Loken's perspective is a window onto the humans of the era - it's a study in contrasts, not that one of them is solely a lens to look at the other and that's all they are.)

 

 


Man, you're giving me Vietnam Catachan flashbacks to the abridged audiobooks for the opening trilogy, with almost all human parts stripped from it clumsily. The Remembrancers? Barely in them, or only when they directly interact with Loken and co in a vital scene. It was quite sobering just how strongly it diminished the novels.


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#36
Fedor

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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.

I like Thorpe's work more than some, but Tuchulcha is one of the most dubious introductions into the series. I understand it also played a vital part in his 40k Dark Angels books, which i barely read as i'd lost a lot of interest in Marine stuff around that time so i don't know if it all resolves nicely or not, but its use in the Heresy so far is clunky.



#37
Noserenda

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I have a question about this hypothetical HH timeline. Would it be necessary for it to last 7 years?

 

I remember that had been brought up years ago when they decided to extend the Civil War. Going by the Index Astartes books the Heresy didn't seem to last that long. It happened with many loyal Legions caught far away because of Horus planning that out. What comes to mind right away is the Space Wolves and Dark Angels rushing back together only for  the Wolves slowing them down trying to rescue planets from Chaos. Did this even come up yet in a novel? All I ever read is that the Dark Angels was at one part of the galaxy and the Wolves were no where near them.

 

I always felt that was the issue with the Imperium Secundus storyline. It came across like "Well we have to figure out a way to keep these legions away from Terra for most of the war. We'll throw this in."

 

Edit edit: again sorry but I edited my post to only mention about their trip back to terra when Horus turned. It's in IA: Dark Angels 

They clarified the time taken because they realised it had to take a few years by the nature of the setting (Where Ftl is deeply unreliable and not hugely fast, relatively anyway biggrin.png ) and it gave them room for sandboxes and campaigns to add weight to things rather than it being some madcap sprint.

The Angels and Wolves fleet is now a myth because of it, they just wanted those two legions to be doing different things in the end.

Imperium Secundus had potential but it squandered it hard, involving the Blood Angels was a huge mistake as they were on a timetable to Terra, deus ex-teleporting into Ultramar was a plausible stretch but then they had to split up bizarrely at the end. Replace the Blood Angels with the Space Wolves, have the Lion be the new Emperor (Hey have Luther discover this and have a better reason to rebel against the Lion and go down the dark path rather than being butthurt) and then when the whole thing falls apart (Id say let the Emperor yell through the warp when he mounts the throne and all his sons hear and realise their big mistake) guilt ridden Guilliman is heading to Terra in his usual organised way conquering everything and setting supply lines whilst the Lion and Wolf do their more pell mell charge and have the differences occur mid way that slow them down. All three are the threat to Horus; rear lines that makes him rush at Terra. 

It even sets up some nice conflict in 40k as the Lion and Wolf are both arguably most likely to return and take issue with Guiliman setting up Imperium Tertius msn-wink.gif

Also cuts the Space wolves randomly popping to Terra then running off for equally thin reasons.

Aaaahhh.   


Edited by Noserenda, 24 April 2020 - 12:55 AM.

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#38
Phoebus

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I like Thorpe's work more than some, but Tuchulcha is one of the most dubious introductions into the series. I understand it also played a vital part in his 40k Dark Angels books, which i barely read as i'd lost a lot of interest in Marine stuff around that time so i don't know if it all resolves nicely or not, but its use in the Heresy so far is clunky.

Spoiler


Edited by Phoebus, 24 April 2020 - 01:22 AM.


#39
b1soul

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@ Phoebus: If by nix Imperium Secundus, you mean heavily modify/overhaul the concept, yeah...I wouldn't mind. As written, it has always sat ill with me as a very awkward interlude and frankly a bit of a reach. How you would you have handled Guilliman, the Lion, and Sanguinius?


Also,the SW returning to Terra then leaving to embark on the Magical Spear fiasco was a horrible creative decision IMO. Added nothing good to the story.

I think the decision to make the HH a multi-year campaign (including an Age of Darkness) was a solid one. Cash grab? Maybe. But look at what gold FW has been able to produce based on a longer Heresy. I also think it's a bit more realistic for Horus to seek to expand his power base before striking Sol and its neighboring systems. It probably makes sense to absorb weaker outposts more on the periphery before moving on the inner citadels of iron. The Ruinstorm is also a solid idea.

I don't think a planned HH series would mean a micromanaged HH series where every detial is set in stone before the authours get to writing. Man, just a rough outline of major publishing milestones following in-universe chronology...y'know, like how any professional team would tackle a project. You need to erect a structural foundation (i.e. the steel bones) for that ambitious skyscraper. There was no foundation for the existing series. It was the opening trilogy and then everyone just did their thing.

#40
bluntblade

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One thing I would say with the notion that we have to go from Horus Rising straight to Nikaea is that it wouldn't make much dramatic sense. I think it works much better as seen in both the Wolves and the Thousand Sons' own stories, where it serves the drama in both their stories.

Otherwise it's just some big thing that hadn't really been set up.

I don't think "more linear" should mean "totally linear", basically. And for me, it's kind of miraculous that as much of the Heresy works as it does.

Additionally, I think that with each Primarch and other major characters, there should have been proper consideration of what each one's deal is. Some Primarchs are pretty solid on this - Russ, Magnus, Jaghatai, Perturabo, Lorgar - but there are one or two like the Lion who've flipped between versions. Even if in his case they'd committed to the take I don't like (Mr Isn't It Nice To Have Secrets) there would be greater consistency from the cast who really drive the narrative.

Edited by bluntblade, 24 April 2020 - 02:58 PM.

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#41
b1soul

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Total linearity would be impossible as some events would overlap, but certain major beats should be linearly presented IMO.

A Nikaea novel (sandwiched between Ullanor and Horus' fall) could be a less action-oriented novel, instead focusing on political maneuvering and dialogue.

It could also introduce a large number of Primarchs along with the pro-Librarius and anti-Librarius schism, with Magnus and Russ receiving significant spotlight. This should serve to set up their later conflict.

I don't think the story of Nikaea would have to be rolled into the Propsero novel.

So going back to structure:
Book 1: Monarchia/Lorgar (legion and primarch building, Horus is teased but not centre stage)
Book 2: Ullanor/Horus (we get Horus in his full glory, legion and primarch building)
Book 3: Nikaea (the stage is broadened, certain lines are drawn, and Prospero is set up)

*Primarch anthology covering Russ and Magnus (character exploration)*

Book 4: Prospero
Book 5: The corruption of Horus and the traitor alliance is formed
*Traitor Primarch anthology to build up to Istvaan III, covering Fulgrim, Mortarion, and Angron being the more obvious choices*
Book 6: Istvaan III
*A second Traitor Primarch anthology exploring Perturabo, Curze, and Alpharius (the Traitor Primarch anthologies would explore their characters and justify why they would side with Horus against the Emperor)*
*The first Loyalist Primarch anthology covering Corax, Manus, and Vulkan*
Book 7: Istvaan V (this should be properly epic)
Book 8: Signus Prime (kinda running parallel with the events surrounding Istvaan V)

Novels set during the Age of Darkness
- need to give this more thought but tentatively...

*Second Loyalist Primarch anthology covering Guilliman, the Lion, the Khan*
Book 9: Shadow Crusade
Book 10: Thramas Crusade
Book 11: White Scars survive Traitor attempts to envelope and break for Terra

*Primarchs anthology covering Horus, Sanguinius, and Dorn*

Siege of Terra miniseries

*Lorgar novella covering his days on Colchis and his first meeting with the Emperor, bringing the series full circle (I think this respects the character as even though it's called the Horus Heresy, it's just as much the Aurelian Heresy)

Note: I'm thinking the Primarch anthologies could be a separately labeled, interspersed Primarch novel series. Novellas don't seem to be sufficent in some cases.
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#42
Phoebus

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This is a challenging topic!

I think it’s worth considering that not every event requires a novel, and that providing the reader pertinent context via flashbacks is a valid tool. In my humble opinion, this series could have benefited from tighter, pre-planned narrative arcs with ongoing coordination between authors. Each arc of, say, four to six numbered entries, should have covered a milestone event (which would likely happen in the climactic final novel of the arc), distributed the buildup to said event and context that informed why everything is happening across three other numbered entries, and wrapped things up with an anthology entry that included the various novellas, short stories, e-shorts, etc. (all of which should be peripheral and not driving key events — e.g., Mortarion shouldn’t decide to do a character reversal with regard to sorcery in a short story), associated with the arc.

 

As a very rough example:

  • Entries 1-5: focused on Isstvan III; include the background history that featured in Fulgrim and The First Heretic; ends with the Eisenstein fleeing into the Warp to an uncertain fate and an epilogue of Horus laying out what is to come to his brothers and lieutenants
  • Entries 6-10: focused on Prospero; include the events of A Thousand Sons, The Crimson King, Master of Mankind, Prospero Burns, and The Outcast Dead, but with a re-worked chronology
  • Entries 11-15: focused on Isstvan V; include the bulk of what was shown in Flight of the Eisenstein, the background history shown in Legion, and introduces similar back-stories for the Iron Warriors and the Night Lords
  • Entries 16-20: focuses on the I, V, IX, and XIII Legions being isolated and attacked piecemeal; include the events shown in Fear to Tread, Know No Fear, Scars and The Wolf King, a Thramas novel; culminates with the Ruinstorm effectively cutting all three off from the rest of an embattled Imperium
  • Entries 21-25: the Warmaster on the offensive; include the events shown in Betrayer, Tallarn, and Vengeful Spirit, and a key Forge World battle
  • Entries 26-30: the Loyalists desperately try to regroup; include the events shown in Deliverance Lost, Old Earth, Path of Heaven, Ruinstorm (but with just Sanguinius), and a novel where the Lion and Russ fail to get back to Terra (incorporating the climactic events of Wolfsbane)
  • Entries 31-35: penultimate arc; include the events of Beta Garmon (expanded to more than Titandeath), Praetorian of Dorn, Slaves to Darkness (expanded with flashbacks to events detailed in Angel Exterminatus), The Buried Dagger
  • The Siege of Terra

There are obviously other events that could be included in there — the Forge World studio showed that many more campaigns could be introduced and fleshed out. The likes of Garro, the Shattered Legions, and secondary factions, as well as the efforts Dorn, Malcador, or the Emperor take (that relate to the events described in that given arc or coincide with them, but don’t directly affect those stories) would be captured in the Anthology entry of each arc.


Edited by Phoebus, 24 April 2020 - 11:42 PM.

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#43
mc warhammer

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i'd make a side series starring ferrus' decapitated head

 

imagine all the whack stuff he's seen


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'WHEN WE CONFRONTED THE CORRUPTED, HOMICIDAL HORUS WHO ONCE USED TO SHINE LIKE THE BRIGHTEST STAR, WHO USED TO BE OUR BELOVED FAVOURITE – WHEN THE FATE OF THE GALAXY HUNG BY A THREAD – WERE WE NOT COMPELLED TO EXPEL ALL COMPASSION? ALL LOVE? ALL JOY? THOSE WENT AWAY. HOW ELSE COULD WE HAVE ARMOURED OURSELVES? EXISTENCE IS TORMENT, A TORMENT THAT MUST NOURISH US. EVIDENTLY WE MUST STRIVE TO BE THE FIERCE REDEEMER OF MAN, YET WHAT WILL REDEEM US?’

 

#44
bluntblade

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i'd make a side series starring ferrus' decapitated head

imagine all the whack stuff he's seen

He's seen nothing, his eyes were gouged out.

Come to think of it, I feel like Meduson's end was an author failing to "yes and" off the back of the material he was left (or that the direction he did build in felt wrong to me in the context of how it was responded to). Unless Kyme just really preferred what Grahan McNeill wrote about Tybalt Marr, it feels like Mortarion levels of whiplash.

Edited by bluntblade, 25 April 2020 - 08:25 AM.

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#45
b1soul

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I felt like Meduson could've benefited from an earlier novella justifying his huge reputation

#46
Xisor

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I think you've all circled a point that could be condensed a touch: a focussed sprawl.

Like a too-night narrative is CHALLENGING, and a big sprawling narrative like A Song of Ice and Fire is manageable, but keeping a tight narrative across many authors, whilst also keeping it creative, dramatic, and moving with the times?

In that respect, you're wanting to hit "key points" and have sockets that thematically link one novel to the next, building stakes and arcs md themes, but also so that each novel can sortof stand alone, without closing off too many paths for other people.


E.g. like Chris Wraight getting lovely novels out of "why do the White Scars seem to do nothing until they're on Terra?", or "what does everyone that's not a Space Wolf or Thousand Son think happened at Prospero? What is their response?", thereby giving some good exploration to the Great Crusade, to Ullanor, to the Chondax campaign?, to razing of Prospero and to the interior structure of what happens - and why! - during the Heresy, and how all the pieces move to where they are, nearing Terra I'm a tense, all-stakes race, not a "these are the details, playing out inexorably because of predestination".

Actually, my boiled down approach could be scathingly summed up as "write Heresy like Wraight, and unlike McNeill" - which is unnecessarily brutal, but does capture the point.

McNeill's tremendously readable, and turns in great characters and stories.

But his stories largely close doors on plot points, rather than open them. Isstvan V being basically done as a quickly skipped through setpiece in "Fulgrim" encapsulates this, but so does the work of "Vengeful Spirit" (why show any development or progress of Horus when instead you can have a magic door?), "False Gods" ("Erebus is lying to you" - *finds out Erebus was lying* "Oh well, at least he didn't betray the word of my Father to warn me. I'll side with Erebus, Magnus, and betray my Father. I guess I'm evil now? Hooray, Chaos!") and "Crimson King" (what if we re-tell the story that is already written in the Ahriman trilogy with less coherency, long before its relevant, and with TONS more Sisypheum Crew & Lucius the Eternal for no reason at all?)

Hell, "Fulgrim" managed to close the door on Ferrus Manus' entire story, without actually telling any of it.

On the upside, for all that I moan about False Gods, for example, he was also the only writer to really touch on Horus' grievance with Malcador, the Council of Terra and the too-early efforts at transitioning to "this is an empire that exists forever", when there is still huge threats out there.

It took until "Slaves to Darkness" for French to pick up that thread again by perhaps implying that a lot of Horus' effectivess was enabled and realised more by Maloghurst tempering and translating for him. Horus is a brilliant mind, but he wasn't a spider orchestrating all the boring espionage threads - so someone like Malcador would always have been point some contention. Being able to fob off a lot of Malcador's nonsense onto Maloghurst would have freed Horus to get on with stuff... But none of that was explored in much detail or characterisation, and Regulus & Erebus inherited the "meddlesome puppet master ambassador" role, until they were themselves sidelined, and only at the very penultimate book in the series did Maloghurst come back with vengeance.

In that respect, we'd need more of the "oh, I see how Maloghurst fits into things, that's a fun thing to explore", and some discipline around not being too tightly focussed on telling the entire story all in one go?

Like a slower paced, or at least slightly more focused level to the story works - it allows for more sprawling.

Look at "Know No Fear" - it's a story that essentially launched a quarter of the Heresy by breathing life into Ultramar. (Well, "Betrayer" maybe precedes that.)

But the downside is that the "focus" on those stories lost momentum, between KNF and Unremembered Empire, it's an awkward wealth of Imperium Secundus stories and Calth-adjacent plots. (See also Vulkan Lives, Deathfire, Old Earth - Guy Haley and Nick Kyme managed about as much in a few short stories about the Salamanders as were "relevantly" achieved in three novels and a few novellas. In that respect, it's almost a "discipline" thing - refraining from telling the stories that *could* be told, and instead focusing on what *should* as aspects of the series?)

But then looking at a tighter thread, the quick run of Pharos/Angels of Caliban/Ruinstorm actually ties things really well.

(Actually, "Ruinstorm" itself would almost work best as a direct follow-on to KNF - just a skip of "some story happened here that's REALLY INTERESTING" but we'll tell you about that later. And that's despite me quite enjoying UE, Aoc and Pharos! With a bit more )

But you get the idea - you don't want things to be TOO tight and rigid (otherwise you get the Calth duology and essentially no Heresy for a year), but equally just commissioning novels for box ticking purposes doesn't exactly work either.

"Buried Dagger" being one of the stories that - for me - felt SO divorced from the rest of he Heresy. In terms of opening and closing doors for other stories, it's lucky that it was the last in the series before the Siege. It's ambivalence towards what else is going on in the series seemed quite... Acute.

---

But to circle back: it's a focussed sprawl. You want readers and authors to be engaged in the stories, and to be excited about seeing where characters and stories and world-building is going... But you don't want it to be so aimless that people get disaffected with it, or disengaged from the process.

(It's easy for me to point at McNeill's entries as somehow "out of step" - but I've absolutely, categorically no understanding of the mechanisms behind all this. For all the difference it makes, I could be finding patterns in clouds.

Writing and collaborating on novels might just not work that way, and the disciplined sprawling focus I'm suggestion might not be a thing that's practically "pursuable" by design.

But it interests me nevertheless! (And desperately makes me want to reread the whole lot!)
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#47
bluntblade

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I felt like Meduson could've benefited from an earlier novella justifying his huge reputation

That is also a fair point. The Meduson novella is good, but we could've done with some bits where he actually is shown doing damage and feuding properly with Marr.


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#48
Fedor

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I wonder if McNeill having Alpharius impersonating Meduson wasn't actually genuinely intended as him being dead at the time. I remember when that limited novella came out there were numerous complaints that Graham had squandered a character with potential to be expanded on.

 

Then it got quietly ignored. Given McNeill's track record in the series i find it hard to imagine it was all "as planned". It worked ok and not a big deal, but just something that came back to mind there.

 

Also, wish Marr was still alive. His character still had potential as the former overlooked line captain finally coming to greater prominence just as the legion is falling apart.


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#49
Phoebus

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Xisor,

 

You make so many great points!

The Maloghurst issue ties back to the series not apportioning the right amount of attention to the key players of the Heresy. At the risk of beating a dead horse even further, following Galaxy in Flames, there just two (!) novels that focus on the Sons of Horus and their leaders. So of course we’re not going to get a good idea of what helps make Horus tick, or how his genius drives the larger campaign.

 

I do want to offer a counterpoint, however:

 

The very nature of this forum limits the extent to which people can describe what they would like from a hypothetically different Horus Heresy series. I understand the concerns about there being too much control over the telling, and the stifling of creativity, but the general vibe I’m getting from this thread (and others) is that (some) readers wish the authors would have spoken to each other more when picking up the ball from a previous novel — or when writing novels that will affect each other concurrently. Or, if you prefer, that there had been more proactive top-down coordination on the part of the editors ensuring this was done.


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#50
bluntblade

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I would've liked a bit more of a commitment to showing the changes wrought on the Legions from an earlier stage. It was cool to see French bring in the Newborn and to have new commanders climb the ladder, but it feels like we should've seen this shift across the board as in A Storm of Swords 2 and A Feast for Crows.
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