Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Heresy & Black Legion chatter in the mail this morning…

Here’s a fun one, in my inbox today. Not sure if serious.

“Is The Master of Mankind about Horus? I heard you want to tie things into your Warmaster Chronicles?”

Firstly, The Warmaster Chronicles isn’t what I call it.  I call it “The Black Legion Series”, or “Rise of the Warmaster”, or “That series I’m likely to spend the next 15 years of my life writing”. The Warmaster Chronicles sounds like a badass newspaper, or a very angry blog. If it’s a play on Bernard Cornwell’s The Warlord Chronicles, then that’s very clever and I love you, as that’s exactly the feel I’m going for (and have said a bunch of times that I love that breed of historical fiction, a la Bernard Cornwell; Steven Pressfield, et al). I may steal this reference and pretend I said it first, so thanks for that.

If it’s not a reference to that, then I guess I hate you. I’m assuming it is a reference, though. I bang on about those books enough at every signing, after all.

However, to business. First, incredulity.

Is that a real question? You’re asking if a novel called The Master of Mankind would be about Horus?

I want to hate you for that, but I’ve only got myself to blame by doing titles like The First Heretic and Betrayer – titles which apply to several characters in the novels they represent. So, okay, you win this round.

But, no.

Jesus, no.

It’d be about the Master of Mankind, as in the Emperor of Man. I mean, seriously, I’m trying to be obvious for once. The idea came from several chats with Alan Merrett, and this ancient piece of art, which is one of my fave 40K images of all time:

EmperorwLegions

But it’s at least a year away, so you’ll have to excuse me not mentioning it as more than a plan, at this point. I know there are lists out there naming Dan and Graham’s next 2-3 HH novels, but I need to sit and nurse this one in dignified silence, as it’d be a beast.

As for tying into my Black Legion series, I’m actually more of the opposite. Part of 40K’s appeal is the inconsistency. The IP folks have explained to me oh-so many times that 40K writing is about every author having their own sandbox, their own sectioned-off corner of the setting, to do with as they please and show their perceptions. It’s not Star Wars, with that same aggressive continuity shrinking the galaxy word by word, annihilating all mystery. Which is why when there’s something like Kharn getting the same voice actor in an HH audio drama and a 40K audio drama, I just don’t really care. My Lorgar isn’t Anthony Reynolds’s Lorgar. My Fabius Bile won’t be Jim Swallow’s Fabius Bile. My Logan Grimnar isn’t Bill King’s Logan Grimnar. And so on. I’m not bound by what they’ve done before, and they’re not bound by what I’ve done.

That’s very much the point of the license as it was explained to me by George Mann, by Alan Merrett, by friendly folks in the IP department. And it’s why 40K is much less “tie-in fiction” than many other licenses. You get the bare bones of a colossal universe, and that’s it. You’re not writing characters that have been on TV for 10 years, bound to their personalities and pasts. There’re degrees of Tie-In, and 40K is at the loosest end of it. The Heresy series is the exception, as it’s very much a different set of rules to usual 40K writing. Continuity matters a great deal because it’s a single storyline with multiple authors, with established beats and immense character crossover. But in 40K, as long as you’re not passing off core lore mistakes as personal style, continuity is very much not the point of the license. Individual perception, from gamer to reader to author, is everything. It’s what you see of the setting. It’s what you bring to it. it’s taking what you like, and throwing it into the mix. Reading the novels is about enjoying other people’s perspectives, and seeing how they match/contrast your own. Not about them feeding you drips of information to be slavishly obeyed.

Marc Gascoigne said it best in an old quote, when he was Head of Black Library:

“Keep in mind Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 are worlds where half truths, lies, propaganda, politics, legends and myths exist. The absolute truth which is implied when you talk about “canonical background” will never be known because of this. Everything we know about these worlds is from the viewpoints of people in them which are as a result incomplete and even sometimes incorrect. The truth is mutable, debatable and lost as the victors write the history…

Here’s our standard line: Yes it’s all official, but remember that we’re reporting back from a time where stories aren’t always true, or at least 100% accurate. if it has the 40K logo on it, it exists in the 40K universe. Or it was a legend that may well have happened. Or a rumour that may or may not have any truth behind it.

Let’s put it another way: anything with a 40K logo on it is as official as any Codex… and at least as crammed full of rumours, distorted legends and half-truths.

I think the real problem for me, and I speak for no other, is that the topic as a “big question” doesn’t matter. It’s all as true as everything else, and all just as false/half-remembered/sort-of-true. The answer you are seeking is “Yes and no” or perhaps “Sometimes”. And for me, that’s the end of it.

Now, ask us some specifics, eg can Black Templars spit acid and we can answer that one, and many others. But again note that answer may well be “sometimes” or “it varies” or “depends”.

But is it all true? Yes and no. Even though some of it is plainly contradictory? Yes and no. Do we deliberately contradict, retell with differences? Yes we do. Is the newer the stuff the truer it is? Yes and no. In some cases is it true that the older stuff is the truest? Yes and no. Maybe and sometimes. Depends and it varies.

It’s a decaying universe without GPS and galaxy-wide communication, where precious facts are clung to long after they have been changed out of all recognition. Read A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M Miller, about monks toiling to hold onto facts in the aftermath of a nucelar war; that nails it for me.

The key, of course, is not to outright contradict things too much out of professional respect and personal courtesy. And I do my best there, too. I kept Sahaal as an important part of the Night Lords Legion, but I brought him back down to earth in terms of being as flawed as the rest of the Legionnaires, making sure the other characters noticed the treacherous things he’d done to the Legion, or the things he was incorrect about, which a lot of fans obviously ignored or forgave as we all often do with a cool protagonist. We see a wider picture, but the people living in that universe with a character may not, or may have different perspectives to us. And still, several characters liked him lots, while others disliked him – the same as every Night Lord in authority. I didn’t want to mention him very much because he’s not my guy, but he’s tricky because that novel was written when the license was in a different place, and stuff was published then that really wouldn’t get past the loremasters and IP hounds now. Black Library had… looser standards of adhering to the IP (even a cursory glance will show that’s true), and 40K is a different beast now. Some of the claims made by Sahaal (which are revealed as lies in the end of LotN – as they counteract the established Index Astartes lore even then about how the Legion functioned) would be considered much less believable or true now, compared with the age when that novel offered an incredibly rare and unchallenged first-look at a primarch. I liked LotN, so I made the referential nods, and only contradicted the tiny stuff that no longer flew, license-wise.

But tying stuff really close together is actually something I rarely do, in the 30K to 40K divide, and I’m in no rush to make any references between the Heresy series and the Black Legion series. Obviously, there’ll need to be some for realism, but they’re separate deals, and I like to keep them that way. The only frontloading I’ve done for the Warmaster Chronicles at all is the short story ‘Extinction’, which was me doing something different for a change, and trying to write a trailer of sorts, just for kicks. None of those characters are even in the novel (for obvious reasons) and the main character in the series isn’t even in ‘Extinction’. Nor, incidentally, are any of the other principal characters, with the exception of Abaddon. So you can probably see I’m keeping all Black Legion stuff on the down-low for now. It’ll come when it comes. It doesn’t need frontloading. I don’t need to write about Horus and the Sons of Horus now, to prime the Black Legion series. Trust me, that will carry its own weight. It’s the Traitor Legions fighting each other in Hell, before rising to become the threat we all know them as in 40K. It doesn’t need me capering through the HH series and doing prologue novels: the Black Legion’s prologue is the Heresy itself. That’ll serve nicely.

As for self-references, I usually avoid them. Writing so much Chaos stuff means I’m probably in the easiest position to have that level of crossover between characters who were there at the Heresy and still around in 40K, but that’s not really my angle. Dan was comfortable making Enuncia show up in the Heresy as well as his 40K Inquisitor stuff (and it worked great), but I’m not so keen on tying things that closely together with my own work. I like the distance. I’m already a little uneasy at the fact I’ll need to sneak major Warmaster Chronicles (I really like that term – thanks, dude) characters into the Heresy series, just so they’re shown somewhere in the background, rather than exploding out of the unrealistic tides of nowhere. I might have Telemachon mentioned in a scene where the Emperor’s Children show up, or Inaros with the Thousand Sons. But that’s it, at this stage.

Part of the reason it’s not my angle is that I’m trying to show a greater number of Traitor characters that actually die, that aren’t around in 40K, because from my perspective there’s enough focus on the main 40K Big Bads. If none of the Red Team die in the HH series, then they’d win the war. So the point of a character like Argel Tal is that he’s not around in 40K. He’s a major character in the 30K era, but he dies in the heresy. The Traitor Legions lose, after all. They need to take real casualties.

And another part of the reason is that I just get uncomfortable with too many heavy-handed references, as it makes the universe feel too small. Like how Boba Fett is the “greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy.” Uh. Okay. I’m not really sure if that takes into account the size of a galaxy, and the number of planets in it. I can’t name the greatest soldier/bounty hunter/plumber in one city, let alone a nation, a world, a solar system, a subsector, a segmentum, or a galaxy… but whatever. Showing a spread of warships, and naming one of them as the Covenant of Blood? I like that. That’s real. Having Talos show up in a Heresy-era Night Lords novel would a bit too much for me, similar to having a major Black Legion series character being front and centre in the Heresy series. There are other important characters, tens of thousands of them, that don’t get the airtime. Some of them will rise and shine, too.

December 6, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

42 Comments »

  1. This will be an interesting novel to read about and a major change since youve written mostly Legion based in the HH-series so far! :)

    Comment by Forkmaster | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  2. I understand the desire of not wanting to be heavy handed with throwing in names from previous, and future novels into the HH novels. I guess there is a fine line between plugging your own work and keeping a level of believable continuity. With Talos I get exactly where you are coming from for everything he is becomes you wouldnt say he is anything exceptional up until the end of the Heresy, his story would be no more spectacular than say any front line soldier (actually that might be interesting, some normal tactical marine with no idea whats going on just going, ‘Fuuuuuuuck!’ for an entire novel, you should get on that) however from a fans point of view I would at least like to be aware of names that are going to be relevant in the future. Depending on where the Warmaster novels start I would think any future heroes/anti heroes are at least already out there even if much of what they are and become is not established. Like you have said many of the awesome characters for the traitors have to die, but new ones will rise. I would think at least some of them would not be from obscurity.

    Seeing Steve leader of the 3rd great warband, former Son of Horus, as mentioned leading the 7th grand assault company in HH book X gives a little more, I guess credibility that here’s Steve, he is going to help forge Abaddons forces and rule into the most badass thing in the Galaxy since waffles, you probably haven’t heard of him.

    Comment by Bigyin | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • I think that would actually be a really good way of doing it. Show certains Sons of Horus in the Heresy era (probably not super major characters), who have at least a few strong character beats, and then in the Warmaster series have a lot of them reappear in dramatic ways, or changed dramatically from the people we knew. That might even make it more effective.

      Comment by David (Cover Guy) | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  3. Augh, man. I had no idea Argel Tal bites the dust. I really liked him and his descent into what he became at the end of The First Heretic.

    However, it’s fine that it got spoiled, because it got spoiled by the Author most involved with him.

    Comment by MetsTheMets | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • He finds out how in The First Heretic, and he finds out when in Aurelian.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

      • ofc he finds out about his death in the First Heretic and then Lorgar finds it out in Aurelian BUT it was a vision, I mean visions dont always come true XD would be great to see him in the 40k or at least in a few more stories in the 31K

        Comment by George Antypas | December 6, 2012

      • Argel Tal is in Betrayer quite a lot.

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012

  4. This why I didn’t enjoy Grahams Angel Exterminatus, every single main character re-appears in Storm of Iron. I find that very hard to believe.

    Comment by Rupert Ebery | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • I dunno. I mean, it’s a personal preference (and one I’ve been touting for about 5 years now) but doing it the other way is wildly popular with fans, and I don’t think either way is right or wrong. If I thought Graham sucked, f’rex, I’d just say so (and indeed email him, and ladle my opinion in his direction, as we’re pals). For every argument that prefers it one way, you’ll get an equally good angle explaining the benefits of the other.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • I think Graham is probably the greatest proponent of character crossover within the Black Library stable. Particularly when it comes to his Iron Warriors…

      Comment by Greebs | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • not really. time sucks in the warp, and the IW haven’t exactly been crusading 100% of the time. It makes sense that these characters could conceivably still be alive in 40k

      Comment by TheSGC | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  5. “And another part of the reason is that I just get uncomfortable with too many heavy-handed references, as it makes the universe feel too small.”

    This is a big part of why I have a hard time enjoying a lot of the HH series. Not that I think they’re done wrong, but it just feels too small and cramped for my tastes. In *my* 40k the Horus Heresy was one of many, now barely remembered galaxy-spanning conflicts, and not something that will determine the fate of the universe, or even the galaxy.

    The same sort of reasoning goes for things like regicide, caffeine or sacra. The scale feels completely off when apparently everyone within 10 000 years and 3 000 000 square parsecs can’t come up with a little more diverse entertainment and beverages than those. Give me ostrich-riding guardsmen that get high from the sting of space wasps surgically implanted in their brains. Or something equally weird.

    Anyway, thanks for your stories and it’s certainly appreciated that you consider these sort of things.

    Comment by ADS | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Part of the problem is the fandom, if I’m being absolutely honest. The HH series really lacks scale, in terms of the galactic civil war. We’re doing a massive injustice on that score, and it’s a real shame.

      But writing anything even remotely considered to be away from the main storyline is a surefire way to mediocre reviews, shitty feedback, and endless complaints that we’re padding it out, writing filler, or simply missing the point about what’s interesting: i.e. the main characters with their main storyline.

      So we get a small scale because of that. It’s hard to risk expanding the conflict, when all you get is whined at.

      On the flip side, the wider war is perfect territory for Forge World, which is why their books are so perfect.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

      • hmmm interesting. I don;t get the feeling of it being “small” at all. Most recently we have spanned masses of galactic area with Know No Fear and Fear To Tread. IF the HH series had continued to focus very squarely on Horus and followed on from the opening trilogy then THAT might have felt smaller to me.

        Comment by Duke_Leto | December 7, 2012

  6. I really enjoy and appreciate how prepared you are to discuss your work and thinking behond it.

    Looking forward to the future books.

    I lol’d at your comments about lots of the bad guys needing to bite it in the coming episodes of the HH – picturing you as Billy from Predator, looking back at Argel Tal, Sevatar et al and grunting “We’re all going to die!”

    Comment by Aegnor | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  7. What you say about casualties on the traitor’s side is true. So many loyalists die and yet so many traitors live, but there are factors that affect this. I don’t think you can keep a lot of named characters alive on the traitors side and point to all the nameless redarmor marines that fought for Horus who die as casualties because their loss does not affect the reader as much as Argel Tal, Sevatar or Phosis T’kar dying will/did. But at the same time so many traitors from the Heresy are still alive, all their major named characters are veteran survivors, so you’ve got to leave a fair amount of characters around but at the same time have characters who die. One of the things that I think makes it harder is that Sevatar and Argel Tal are awesome and most of us would gladly trade Kor Phaeron and Barban Falk’s survival for their’s any day. Because the characters you’ve written are so cool, we don’t want them to die but they are destined to die, but we’d rather see other less cool characters kick it and these two survive.

    As for references I think that you are right, it’s all down to preference. I enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces in Angel Exterminatus, but I don’t think that that alone can make a good novel. Personally I prefer C.L Werner’s style of referencing, include throwaway lines or little mentions that you have to actually be paying attention to catch and understand. Those always make me smile, and I think they are a nice reminder that all these stories take place in the same universe no matter how distant they seem. Like your crossover with Kyme’s Salamanders, both of those series feel so different from one another yet they occur in the same rough time period. So you can think, “When Talos and co were fighting on Tsagualsa, were Dak’ir and Tsu’gan fighting on Nocturne??” Just a cool thing to ponder really.

    That last paragraph, I remember you saying the same thing to me on the bolthole. It’s also the reason that I don’t believe Decimus is the son of Octavia and Septimus. Because it’s such a big universe with so many planets, cultures and what-have-you, my question is simple. How the hell does one traitor marine whose just lost his legs find two slaves whose real names he doesn’t even know who also have a head-start on him and he doesn’t know where to start looking??

    And loving the new reveals on The Warmaster Chronicles, that should be it’s name indeed. Perhaps The Chronicles of Ezekyle Abaddon. Hehehe. But in seriousness I am looking forward to this series for the new era it will show, and I like the mentions of the characters you’ve made and the groups that they could be shown with. Perhaps a true Chaos Undivided group might finally be shown, one where each marine can choose who to worship whoever the hell he likes.

    Great post ADB. Looking foward to hearing more about your upcoming works/projects/etc.

    Comment by Lord of the Night | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • You weren’t satisfied with ‘He caught those stupid humans because Variel is a fucking post-human killing machine with an extra science-purchased million years of evolution?’

      You can’t keep a bad man down.

      Comment by Achilles | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • *grins* What in the warp are you talking about? Sev’s not dead….

      Comment by Marius the Black | December 6, 2012 | Reply

      • man, Sev will die…one of the Night Haunter’s gifts is that he can forsee the future of one. he saw Sevatar’s. and Sev dies. wasnt glad to learn it either

        Comment by George Antypas | December 6, 2012

  8. Trilogy should be called Abaddon Teabags the Universe, bunnies are harmed.

    Comment by Bigyin | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • I would totally buy that trilogy. . .several times, just for that title.

      Comment by Khestra the Unbeheld | December 7, 2012 | Reply

      • And that’s why I want to see a 40K model box with “Pissed-Off Looking Dudes With Swords” as the title.

        Comment by Svartmetall | December 11, 2012

  9. @ Aaron

    This is a personal pet peeve of mine from the Heresy books, however I do feel that the Anthology books and audio dramas that you guys are releasing are helping a great deal to emphasise the scale of the Heresy. The Anthology books especially, stories like “The Iron Within” really help to create a broader picture of the Horus Heresy for me and only help to further enhance my reading experience rather than degrade it with thoughts of; “Ugh, filler.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get a sense of frustration from your post, as if there is alot you want to write about in the Heresy that you can’t write about without internet uproar, which to be quite frank, as you say, is a great shame.

    However, I do think the Heresy is in great need of more books not foccusing on characters that do not survive the Heresy, otherwise the rate things are going it’s going to appear like every man and his dog survived the Heresy. I can understand the drive to please the fans by foccusing on these characters, and having the odd book written from their perspective is no bad thing, but I think the series needs more books from the perspectives such as; “Argel Tal, Venatus and Tarvitz” who will not survive the Heresy, otherwise the sheer horror of the war just won’t come though. I’am of the opinion that more characters dying that we, as the reader, get to know and love will help bring across the scale of the war.

    – On the Tarvitz note, please don’t bring him back. (I’m referring to Black Libary in general rather than yourself btw :) ) I have to say I wasn’t a fan on Loken’s survival when I first found out about it, but as long as he is the one and only survivor of Istvaan III I’m fine with it. Bringing Rylanor, Tarvitz and co. back will just ruin the original trilogy in my honest opinion, some things need to left untouched.

    Comment by Will | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  10. Why I beleive ADB is mostly WRONG…
    While the universe is a large place it is shrinking! The hiatory and present are being solidified more and more each day, each supplement, each book. There are key figures in this history and present and have impacted events that have or continue to shape the universe. And while authors should have freedom to weave the tail they want, staying true to a much written about character say Logan Grimnar or Abaddon should be paramount in the authors thoughts. The notion to say the traitor legions have sat around for 10,000 years is futile cause in the warp time has no meaning.To show major artition of what were once key figures of the beresy is acknowledging that major blocks of time has passed for them which is contradictory to the pre established concept of the effects of the warp.

    With that said we have all read are fair share of scloch from the black libary. What people/readers want are coherent stories and to see there favorite character treated with respect as many of them have been around for nearly 20 years. Rember the up roar over Star Wars when George Lucas twice went back and altered his own film. And then a third time trying to make it 3d? Did Lucas write ep 3 with Vader being Lukes father? Or the cocept of the siblings? NO, but we as fans let it slip as we all kinda knew that NO ONE expected a sequel or 5.
    There is actualy a character brief for Vader for just A New Hope that is no longer correct, invalidated by ep 4. So some freedom is allowed but can only go so far.

    As many of you I have read the famous Kharn fan fiction and it alone cemented Kharn and Angron characters for me any many readers. The same is true about others and new characters introduced into the universe like Logar and Talos and many many more.

    The point to all this sad to say we want more of our beloved characters as they are regardless of writers who seek to change things for the sake of change. That is not to say we wouldnt welcome a good fleshing out of the character who was in the past written poorly or snubed in favor of a new character, IE Loken. Many of us wish that many of the other Black Libary writer were half as good as ADB and want the core characters to not only survive the story but to be fleshed out in a ADB way.

    Comment by keith | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • You can’t apply Star Wars rules to the 40K license. You’re essentially doing this: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/9/6/

      Also, I didn’t mention the attrition of the Long War. I’m talking about the Horus Heresy. The Traitors need more casualties, because they’re supposed to be the ones that lose. They have to have more major characters die, to preserve the integrity of the series. The 10,000 years after the Heresy is tangential to my point.

      “Staying true” to characters has no impact. My Logan Grimnar has nothing to do with Bill King’s or Mike Lee’s or Lee Lightner’s. Did I not “stay true” to the character? Plenty of reviews suggest I did. Essentially, you’re taking this to extremes and indulging in hyperbole. Staying true to a character is about the character, not adhering to the minutiae of that character’s existence in several other authors’ works. It’s not Star Wars, no matter how much you wish it worked that way, and insist it should.

      Here’s the deal. This isn’t my opinion. I’m explaining how it is, not how I see it.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  11. Ahhhh Phosis T’kar. I think he has to be up there with one of my favourite Heresy Marines (by which I mean traitor marines who’s span exist within the heresy) so far, along with Argel Tal, Julius Kaerson and of course, poor old Sheed Ranko (did he really have to die in a short story? ;_;)

    I totally agree with you about the crossovers, with of course the exception of the big bads who have survived all the way to the 41st millennium. In the case of those dudes, I actually think that the more background material published on them, the better. I’m looking forward to seeing Lucius go from arrogant upstart to perverse maniac, same with Kharn, Ahriman and Typhus.

    But really, that should be it. As you said, there are a million stories that need to be told, as their story ends during the Heresy with their deaths. Also, there are a million stories yet to be told. People forget that a Chaos Warlord in the 41st million could have simply been brother 1,063 of the 282nd company of whatever legion. Not a particularly impressive history, but what is impressive is how the aforementioned Marine has not only survived 10000 years but also killed/manipulated/intimidated his way to the top of his own Warband. That is the cool thing about Chaos for me – it breaks the restrictions of the Loyalist ways of progression, so that suddenly any old rank and file warrior (provided he has the ambition) can rise to the top. The Heresy is merely a massive catalyst, providing the means for these yet unknown arch traitors to ‘step up’. By which I mean start along their path to greatness/ruination, not participate a terrible film about to rival street dancing factions.

    Also bro, do yourself a favour, stop watching Lost. You will literally cry with annoyance when you watch the last episode. It’s awful. As in one of the most awful pieces of TV ever produced. I had friends that had religiously watched all 6 series in anticipation for the ending, and they were enraged when they discovered just where all that time invested watching the show had led to.

    Alternative, just skip the bulk of the episodes and watch the last episode and laugh your arse off.

    Comment by Dan K | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • I dont think Ahriman ever turned a ”perverse maniac” as you say XD I mean the guy is probably most powerful than Magnus himself now. one simply cant challenge Ahriman now. Kharn, Typhus, Lucius…I mean they cant touch him. what I know is that he pursues knowledge and power. most people think he is just a heretic. I dont believe he is one. he is just rolling his own trying to enter the Black Library and probably make himself a God.

      Comment by George Antypas | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  12. It’s funny that sometimes the less satisfying an ending, the more discussion and obsession it causes.

    Isn’t that, in a way, a success in and of itself?

    Comment by Achilles | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  13. That totally depends on how you define success ;)

    Comment by Dan K | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  14. Performance over time. :) I don’t hear a lot of people still discussing ‘Who shot JR?’…

    Comment by Achilles | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  15. > But in 40K, as long as you’re not passing off core lore mistakes as personal style
    *coughmultilaserscough*

    Comment by Mike | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  16. it’s really nice to hear you like the sense of ‘distance’ in the 30k/40k worlds. You do that incredibly well, sir. Considering the tens-to-hundreds of thousands of legionaries per legion, new protagonists place the importance of a story on the story itself, and not on lengthy backstory—something that can kill the structure of a story on its own.. so Cheers! enjoy taking your time with your BL series, and I can check out the warlord chronicles while i wait…

    Comment by sunil | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  17. Personally I love a few easter eggs thrown in. Some nice scene stealing performances from the Big Bads who we know are still going to be around when all the HH shouting is done. But then focus on new characters so that we do not know what their fate is, so we care about them (either in a positive or negative way) and want to go on the journey with them and discover their fate.

    I’d like to see some linkages between the HH and the Warmaster Chronicles (I too love that name) but nothing too overt. Just a bit of scene setting and “aha moments” (btw I don’t mean a Norwegian 80s pop band).

    Comment by Duke_Leto | December 7, 2012 | Reply

  18. I have to disagree with ADB as well when it comes to continuity. GW may put everything in sandboxes but they also stop things from going to print when they go against what 40K is meant to be. They don’t just let anyone write anything just because they’re in a sandbox. At least, that’s my experience.

    Comment by AlphaBlu | December 9, 2012 | Reply

    • That isn’t disagreeing with me, because I never said that. I specifically said the opposite: there are rules to follow, but continuity in the sense of a license like Star Wars doesn’t apply. That doesn’t mean you can “do anything” in a sandbox. It just means you’re not behold to what came before. The quote specifically states that there are rules about stuff like Black Templars not spitting acid, etc. that no one can really contradict (and it’s not a virtue to pass off actual mistakes under the policy of this loose canon).

      This is exactly the issue with the topic. I explain it exactly, but people take slices of it, assume I mean something else, and the myth carries on.

      There’s nothing to disagree with. This isn’t my opinion. This is how 40K works.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 9, 2012 | Reply

  19. If I may leave the main discussion for a bit and point to the awesome picture that accompanies this post. The first time I saw it was 21 years ago, leafing through my newly acquired “Warhammer 40,000 Compilation”. There was a picture of the Blood Angels on the front destroying genestealers that had immediately marked this publication as something I needed to buy – I had never seen anything remotely as cool before. It is easy to be drawn to things when you are 13 years old.

    I gobbled up the lore contained in this book quickly, although at the time, some of it did not make a whole lot of sense until I found out more about the GW games. So much cool stuff was in there, the Space Marines/Terminators, Eldar, Commissars, Genestealers etc.

    The picture of the majestic leader whom I later realised was the Emperor really imprinted itself on my consciousness. I was hooked – and have been ever since. Thanks for reminding me of it, I had to go and dig out the compilation again. The pages are falling off it and it is smudgy now, but I still get a thrill looking through it.

    In short, bring on “The Master of Mankind”, and all of the other sagas, adventures, half-truths and tall stories that can be mustered from the galaxy and be made into glorious HH/WH40K fiction. It is probably from another galaxy far, far away that just looks a bit like ours – and who knows if it all really happened? ;)

    It is of course only my opinion, but I can live with basic facts and archetype traits defining characters between books written by different authors, as long as it means that the WH40K universe lives on.

    Comment by Carnivara | December 9, 2012 | Reply

  20. ADB dude, looking forward to Betrayer & really really looking forward to the Black Legion series – there are so many options open to where you could take the story arc with this so I am happy to wait verrrrrrry patiently!

    I like your post in the sense, like so many before it over the last couple of years, you talk about ‘fandom’ ‘canon’ ‘you said X about this dude whilst this author said Y about him’ when regarding the IP. Like yourself & everyone else sure, my view of 40K is different from everyone else’s – that’s the point. It’s a big frickin universe and story-wise, we will never get past the tip of the iceberg (at least not in my lifetime).

    You made this comment to an above post which struck a chord in me:

    But writing anything even remotely considered to be away from the main storyline is a surefire way to mediocre reviews, shitty feedback, and endless complaints that we’re padding it out, writing filler, or simply missing the point about what’s interesting: i.e. the main characters with their main storyline.
    So we get a small scale because of that. It’s hard to risk expanding the conflict, when all you get is whined at.

    Do you personally ever want to see/write stories away from the grand scale of things that expand life in the forty first millenium? I would love to read a 40K story about a PDF regiment or a space opera (like BSG) or even a story about a mercenary crew of smugglers who gets up to all sorts & have many run in’s with evading the Imperial Navy – that sort of thing. The every day stuff away from Orks & Necrons etc. It is not something that will ever happen I know but the 40Kverse is huge & if it would be cool to see the other side of life.

    Comment by Matt | December 9, 2012 | Reply

    • “Do you personally ever want to see/write stories…that expand life in the forty-first millennium?”

      That’s actually why I thought “Traitor General” was so awesome; prior to the hijinks on Gereon we’d never seen what day-to-day life was like on a Chaos-held world, and it was utterly fascinating as a result. Filling in the cracks can be just as interesting as broadening the canvas.

      Comment by Svartmetall | December 11, 2012 | Reply

  21. Reblogged this on zweischneid.

    Comment by Zweischneid | December 10, 2012 | Reply

  22. Hey ADB. I’m excited to see you will write about the Black Legion. I’m interested to see how you portray Abbadon… That’s quite a complex character to deal with over a series of novels.

    Comment by BBF | December 30, 2012 | Reply

  23. Hey ADB, I have to ask, are any of the BL writers interested in writing a book set during the Dark Age of Technology? Just a thought.

    Comment by Albert | March 2, 2013 | Reply

  24. can we please have the f-ing emperor come out and play for a mopment before getting malled by horus? just a quicky–have him get off his pretty chair, go outside and kick some serious ass, then go kill his kid. just saying, it would be nice to see him in action

    Comment by john Trudeau | October 5, 2013 | Reply


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