Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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


The First Heretic is the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, for two reasons. Firstly, the storyline is ambitious, and likely to be at least slightly controversial given the fact they – crazily – let the New Guy decide how the greatest war in a massively popular 30-year-old license beloved of fans worldwide actually began. No pressure, then.

But that’s not really why it’s difficult. I just like to mention it once in a while because it’s a delicious conceit. Nope, the reason it’s difficult above anything else I’ve ever written is because it’s a Horus Heresy book, from the series that’s sold over a million copies so far, one of which was the 8th bestselling sci-fi book in the UK of its release year.

And that means it has primarchs in it.

For 20ish years, the primarchs have been these mythical beings to me – the shrouded saint figures that were impossible to ever learn about in detail. Now they’re in the HH books, and I’d be lying if I said every writer depicted them with the gravitas I’d been expecting. It’s easy to describe someone looking amazing. It’s less easy to show how they’re amazing, especially if they’re just standing there.

I could say it’s just as difficult (or even harder) to deal with the Emperor, and I’m sure I will say that here at some point soon. That update will involve a lot more use of the words “Graham” and “McNeill”. Also, maybe “Scottish”. I don’t know, we’ll play it by ear. But let’s deal with the primarchs for now. Like, they’re enough of an issue.

For The First Heretic, I’ve read all of the HH novels again, and in several cases twice (with a couple of exceptions I really just can’t stand – re-reading them again once was punishment enough). The way each novel reveals the primarchs is interesting, sometimes disappointing, and sometimes incredibly daunting in the sense I need to follow in those footsteps. I remember in Horus Rising when we first saw Horus himself. I went back to read the scene again, and then put the book down to make some coffee. I needed a breather after that. I needed to calm down. It was killer. Man, it was beyond killer. It left killer in the dust, and didn’t even look back to laugh.

A Thousand Sons and The Flight of the Eisenstein portrayed their primarchs beautifully, but nothing has quite matched Horus Rising yet. At least some of that has to be because it showed Horus for the first time ever, in his existence as a dutiful son and loyal primarch, rather than a Chaos-bloated [EXPLETIVE DELETED] who drools his way into an early grave because he doesn’t want to get [EXPLETIVE TOTALLY DELETED] by the Ultramarines. But naw, most of it – all credit to Dan – is the writing.

Those of you who came here before Marketing sank its putrescent, soulless claws into my handsomely-shaped skull may remember I dared to use rude words above. Look, Marketing. Look. Watch me jump through your hoops, dancing to your madman’s tune. Watch me sell out, so you can link this accursed post. Watch me think of the children.

We now return you to the Dan Abnett Lovefest, which is a daily ritual here in the Dembski-Bowden household. Don’t judge me. Don’t you dare.

After 20+ years of waiting and wondering what Horus was like, we got this:

—   —   —

Inchoate light, green and dazzling, sputtered into being on the platform in front of his clawing hands. The teleport flare became too bright to behold, and then died, revealing a god standing on the edge of the platform.

The god was a true giant, as large again to any Astartes warrior as an Astartes was to a normal man. His armour was white gold, like the sunlight at dawn, the work of master artificers. Many symbols covered its surfaces, the chief of which was the motif of a single, staring eye fashioned across the breastplate. Robes of white cloth fluttered out behind the terrible, haloed figure.

Aboive the breastplate, the face was bare, grimacing, perfect in every dimension and detail, suffused in radiance. So beautiful. So very beautiful.

For a moment, the god stood there, unflinching, beset by the gale of force, but unmoving, facing it down. Then he raised the storm bolter in his right hand and fired into the tumult.

One shot.

The echo of detonation rolled around the tower. There was a choking scream, half lost in the uproar, and then the uproar itself stilled abruptly.

The wall of force died away. The hurricane faded. Splinters of glass tinkled as they rained back down onto the platform.

‘So will I deal with all tyrants and deceivers,’ rumbled a deep voice.

Loken looked up at the god standing over him. ‘Lupercal…’ he murmured.

The god smiled. ‘Not so formal, please, captain,’ whispered Horus.

—   —   —

I’d like to take a break from what I’m doing right now, which is writing a scene with two primarchs and the Emperor. Every line I write triggers my brainjunk into overdrive. Is this as good as Horus Rising… Is this as good as Horus Rising… Is this as good as Horus Rising…

I’d like to take that break, just to say these words:

“I hate you, Dan.”

That is all.

February 7, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. I hate you because you get to say “I hate you, Dan” and Dan Abnett listens to you while you say it.

    If anyone can handle this, it will be the man who brought us Rage Across the Forum. I don’t say this with any ill intent, as you have always had that ability to captivate your audience and thrill them all the way.

    Next time you have a signing in the states we’ll have to get our drink on, alright?

    Comment by John the Great | February 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. Might I ask what HH-novels you like besides Horus Rising and whichs ones cant you bear reading more than necessary? =)

    Comment by Forkmaster | February 7, 2010 | Reply

    • Out of the 13 released, there have been 4 that I didn’t really enjoy at all, and 2 of those I probably won’t read again, even as research. It’s almost 5, as I don’t like half of Tales of Heresy.

      I think the best three are Legion, The Flight of the Eisenstein, and A Thousand Sons, in that order – though that order changes around as often as the sun rises.

      Legion is the best-written, and I think it’s Dan’s best work – whether the story appeals or not, his prose is on fire. And for me, the story did appeal. I loved the Geno characters, I loved the plot, and I loved the Alpha Legion.

      The Flight of the Eisenstein is Jim’s best work, and in addition to being about one of my fave events in the Heresy, it also reveals a wealth about its subject Legion, which I always hope for.

      A Thousand Sons is Graham’s best work, and is everything a Horus Heresy novel can aspire to be. It has the Legion lore, a famous event everyone will want to know more about, it’s excellently written, and you divide between just whose side you’re on all the way through.

      Beyond those three (and Horus Rising) I also loved Mechanicum. The way it laid bare Mechanicum culture and the cults of Mars was absolutely blinding. It had big lore revelations and Titan fights, but they were the parts I was least interested in, compared to the views of Martian existence and the knights doing their thing.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | February 7, 2010 | Reply

      • I would say Flight of the Eisenstein, Fulgrim and Fallen Angels are my absolut favorites. Mechanicum however I had a hard time getting into, only liked the parts with the maincharacter, she who became the guardian. Tales of the Heresy yeah I liked a few of those stories but some I couldnt stand. Blood games was utterly boring.

        Legion was a bit stiff in the beginning but when Alpharius got out in the light it got much better. Loved the ending and the plot twist.

        And yeah there was some references there I noticed, really cool. I loved Cadian Blood.

        Comment by Forkmaster | February 7, 2010

    • Oh, and seeing Jim’s name just now reminded me. TFotE has the single coolest fight in the entire series so far – Garro and the Lord of the Flies, on the surface of Luna, in low gravity, while Garro’s armour vents air pressure… all under the bright gaze of unreachable Terra.

      This was incidentally one of the first (of many) things I kissed Jim Swallow’s ass over, before showing him that Cadian Blood was splattered throughout with references to Eisenstein.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | February 7, 2010 | Reply

  3. I agree….Horus arriving in Horus Rising was pants-wettingly awesome and made me very angry and upset that he was so awesome because we all knew he was going to become something….well as you so eloqently put it above as I’m too self conscious to repeat it.

    As for your take in Lorgar…..I want him to be a truly appalling character who I hate, loathe and dispies from the first syllabal about him. If you do that Mr. Dembski-Bowden I’ll consider your job done and be happy as I hate the sodding Word Bearers. But if you make me like Lorgar and his ilk I shall hate you forever…and secretly admire your skill for making me hate them a little less though I would never say such a thing.

    So please please please Mr. Dembski-Bowden write the worst Primarch and Legion you possibly can and make me disgusted with every page!

    Ok…that sounded wrong.

    Comment by Xhalax | February 7, 2010 | Reply

    • This is actually something sorta presing on my mind as I write, right now.

      Lorgar was, let’s be fair to him, wildly deluded and possibly unbalanced. Yet he was also intensely charismatic, had incredible strength of purpose, and commanded the second-largest Legion in the emergent Imperium of Man. So he was doing something right, even if he was, well, a something of a mentalist.

      I want him to come across as unlikeable, but not entirely without redeeming features. I hope people will at least see where he’s coming from, but watch as he leads them all down the wrong path, slaved to deluded ideals.

      Some of his choices were made for vengeance, others for ambition, and others for the good of humanity. But his story isn’t a tragedy. It’s a betrayal. He’s the primarch that damns the human race, and his treachery isn’t accidental, or for the result of noble reasons going awry. He chooses his fate willingly, because that’s the man he is.

      And I want that to come through.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | February 7, 2010 | Reply

      • Ah yes, choice…..the most prickly of things to deal with and even if you’re the most awesomest person in the world,one wrong one, for whatever reason…good or ill, by accident or design….people will hate you forever for it.

        With Lorgar, I suspect that he was, at least one some level aware of everything he was doing, be it right or wrong by any moral compass, and did it for a reason and probably delighted in other people doing as he said.

        In truth, I don’t dwell or think much on the Word Bearers as they make me grind my teeth.

        Comment by Xhalax | February 7, 2010

      • Have you had a read of Paradise Lost again? I always think of Milton when I think of the Heresy.

        Don’t stress about it, dude; you’re up to task. Of the three “bad” Horus Heresy novels; you aren’t telling a story that isn’t more appropriate for another legion, you won’t screw up who’s in what squad and the characters aren’t going to be stereotypes. So, the rest is just telling the story you want to tell, in the best way you can.

        Coincidently, the trailer for Solomon Kane has just been on and the baddy looks like some sort of evil priest, with writing tattooed all over his face. It’s a popular look these days…

        Comment by G | February 7, 2010

  4. The god smiled. ‘Not so formal, please, captain,’ whispered Horus.

    I love that bit….

    Comment by James Swallow | February 7, 2010 | Reply

  5. I notice you’ve been rather diplomatic in naming your favourites and keeping silent as to the ones you loathed. I’m one of the strange people that really enjoyed Descent of Angels and found Battle for the Abyss(mal) a painful read where the only advantage of turning the pages was that the book was one page closer to ending. Like you I also loved Fallen Angels and am in the process of writing a review for BSCreview.com but can I ask, did you not find that his characterisation of Johnson seems to lose its lustre in the second half? He also ascribes emotional responses to the Astartes that seem inappropriate.

    I get the feeling that you have very definite ideas about how things should be in the 40K universe (as do I) and that you’re often disappointed by some of your colleagues takes. If that’s the case I would avoid Sons of Dorn.

    Comment by Phillip | February 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Forkmaster mentioned Fallen Angels, yo.

      S’not in my listy-list up there.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | February 8, 2010 | Reply

      • Sorry, my mistake.

        Comment by Phillip | February 8, 2010

  6. Hmm the representations of Lorgar or the Urizen as he is known to his faithful so far I think have been very good.
    Considering the theory that the emperor made a pact of bargained with the ruinous powers, then he is really just following in the footsteps of his father.
    As for the “First heretic” wouldn’t that be “The keeper of the Faith”, Kor Phaeron ?

    Comment by lord Slaanesh | February 8, 2010 | Reply

  7. Aaron, it’s my hope you’re taking a better approach to the Word Bearers than Reynolds or Counter.

    If I could offer anything; the religious aspect of Lorgar was surely based in…*something*. You’ve no doubt considered (and likley rejected) the idea, but I always fancied that Lorgar had ‘some’ of the information regarding the nature of the Imperial Thrones (the Silver Throne in Faith & Fire, the Golden Throne and the other Golden Throne [a.k.a. Akashic Reader]), so that perhaps he thought he was simply pre-empting the Emperor? That, given knowledge of the Thrones, Lorgar was quite confident the Emperor really was gunning for godhood.

    Or something like that. I fancied the idea that Lorgar’s argument (preceeding the middling “Scions of the Storm”) with the Emperor was a rebuke more along the lines of ‘keep your nose out of my business’ (as per the Emperor sending Russ against Magnus, for destroying the webway wards amongst other things).

    Anyway, that’s all beside the point. The loyalty to “Flight” and authorial competency throughout “Cadian Blood” was entirely sufficient to keep me confident in “The First Heretic”.

    Which is to say: Lorgar has to be likeable. Why? Because Dan has Horus describe him as wise or something along those lines! He has to be likeable, but in a very…cultish way. I always wondered if he’d managed to already ‘corrupt’ his Iterators into rebranding the Imperial Truth with overtones of theism.

    (Also, apologies for rambling here. It got away from me a bit…)

    Comment by xisor | February 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Why does Lorgar have to be likeable exactly?

      Comment by Xhalax | February 8, 2010 | Reply

      • He doesn’t really. Xisor claims that he has to be likeable because of something that Horus said, but on the other hand we have Dorn in “The Lightning Tower” musing that Lorgar always had the “foetid whiff of sorcery” about him.

        Horus’ opinion can’t hold all the weight. Let’s not forget that Angron liked him enough to give him Gorefather. On the other hand his deceit is so endemic and convincing that Corax is especially surprised by the betrayal of the Word Bearers post-Istvaan.

        The religious aspect of Lorgar is grounded in Colchis, beign raised in a dogmatic cult and eventually overthrowing it for his own holy vision- A savior coming from the heavens to illuminate Mankind, a true God walking amongst his people.

        Lorgar is deluded, his ideals go against the Imperial Truth, true but he is also dedicated to his ideals. It’s this dedication, this time spent in adoration and misguided enlightenment that eventually causes the Emperor to rebuke him.

        I loved Scions of the Storm and I loved the Word Bearers novels, because they gave us insight into this Legion that simply hadn’t been there before. The First Heretic will show us how the Heresy truly began and from reading Aaron’s previous work (not least “Shadow Knight”) I have tremendous faith in his ability to depict that most glorious of revelations.

        Comment by MalkyDel | February 8, 2010

    • Xisor,

      Ta for the nod to Cadian Blood. Between me and thee, now that Helsreach and Soul Hunter on the edge of release, I feel slightly less awful saying that I’ve always thought Cadian Blood is fairly average compared to how I write, and was written on shaky ground quite a while back. So I tend to be both pleased and queasy that it’s what people judge me by so far.

      Keep meaning to do a blog post on this, so ta for reminding me.

      Anyway. Lorgar. Yeah.

      I think he does – and doesn’t – have to be likeable. I think he needs to be charismatic to a degree, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as likeable, depending on how Lorgar’s charm actually comes across. One guy’s charismatic visionary is another guy’s sleazy madman. But he needs to be justified in his own mind, and that means the story itself has to show he had reasons for believing as he does. (You know this, clearly, I’m just trying to convey that it’s something I’m pretty keen on myself, too.)

      It’s an injustice to just say that he and his Legion knew the “truth” that the Emperor was a god, with no grounding beyond the fact that Lorgar likes to worship things. That’s not compelling, it’s boring. It’s not convincing, it’s lazy writing.

      Lorgar’s reasons for believing as he does are part of what defines him, and that should make him interesting to read about, rather than disliked down to his very character concept. While I’m not going to sit here, there, or anywhere else and directly attack the guys who also work for BL, I will admit at least that I’ve not seen him presented yet in a way I found particularly engaging or convincing.

      (EDIT: Actually, he was killer in A Thousand Sons, just not on-screen for long.)

      With an entire Legion rebuked for failure – for the first ever time in the Great Crusade – I also had a difficult time believing that came up as a short talk at a gathering of Legion captains. The event that turns the Word Bearers on the path to Chaos needs emotional resonance and immense gravity. I feel that’s sort of been lacking, so far. The Word Bearers feel, to me, fairly vague and confused. That was why I wanted to write this book.

      The problem is, you mention something like that and some fans of the current Word Bearers series wail that you’re not including all their fave characters, and taking a big risk by deviating from Reynolds’s version (and vision) of events. And I’m so new at this stage – especially since I was asked to be on the HH team after only my second book – that it worries a lot of people when I have opinions that diverge from the older guys and their work.

      Which brings me back to Cadian Blood. For a lot of people, I suspect it’s difficult to see why a guy who has written one minor Imperial Guard book is suddenly doing this, over a bunch of more established authors. Hopefully, that’ll fade a little when Soul Hunter hits the shelves next month.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | February 8, 2010 | Reply

      • With all this talk of Lorgar and how he should be….there’s one thing that comes to my mind when I think about him.

        TV Evangelical preacher.

        Comment by Xhalax | February 9, 2010

  8. Why did you read all of the books, from a research perspective i’m sure you could have dismissed a couple of them by reading the synopses.

    Comment by Jerry | February 8, 2010 | Reply

  9. See, it’s this sort of conversation that makes me a shade uncomfortable by making me feel that my standards are really low. There’s very few Black Library books I’ve read that I haven’t enjoyed on some level and only a couple that I have nothing good to say about.

    Comment by Xhalax | February 8, 2010 | Reply

    • I like about 1 in 7-8 Black Library books I read, but I still read most of them. Similarly, I like about 1 in 7-8 sci-fi and fantasy books I read, yet I still count myself a fan of the genres above anything else. Hell, I like 1 in 7-8 of all books that I read, as I quite like to dip into contemporary fiction and horror, too.

      Don’t ever feel uncomfortable being judged on what you read. Opinions are so wildly diverse that no one will ever see something exactly the way you do, or get the same things out of it. That could be their loss, your gain, or whatever else is in the equation.

      Think of the people that say Dan’s a bad writer. You know the type; angry people on forums who can’t spell very well. I’m fine with the notion that a novel wasn’t to someone’s expectations or preferences, or a lore issue getting chopped and changed, but these people categorically say he’s a bad writer, as if it was an objective fact.

      So don’t feel uncomfortable. No one will ever completely agree. Having the capacity to see things that rock in most books you read doesn’t make you a pleb or one of the unwashed masses. It makes you a pleasant polar opposite to sneering, bitter scum like Yours Truly.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | February 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Xhalax, you’re like me. I can enjoy almost anything for what it is, and don’t expect everything to be blow-me-away amazing. It’s not a bad thing, we enjoy more, and as such are happier I reckon 🙂

      Comment by Katie | February 8, 2010 | Reply

      • Thanks to both of you.

        Aaron – The feeling if being uncomfortable is solely down to that annoying herding instinct that the human animal has despite generations of society trying to beat the more overt nature of it out of us and replace in with a more subtle and unconscious conformity. So the feeling is like something is going to chew on my spicy brains because I’d metaphoically stood apart makes me go ‘Eeeep!’ and shrink into a corner making me feel even more isolated and vunerable.

        But that’s enough analogies for 7:45am. Plus it doesn’t help that I can’t argue a case against people’s thoughts and opinions….especially when I sometimes find it difficult to properly articulate why I even like something. Definitely made of fail.

        Katie – I agree with you, liking pretty much everything does make you happier. I do things to get at least a small measure of enjoyment and entertainment out of them, so I’m actively looking for things to like and enjoy out of them, no matter how small. It’s all about escapism…..I enjoy leaving the humdrum life of dullness behind and “doing” something fanastical….or in the case of 40K, being exceptionally glad that my life is dull, safe and boring and that they’re having a much worse time than I am.

        Comment by Xhalax | February 9, 2010

  10. When I read ‘Scions…’ in ‘Tales…’ it made me think of Lorgar as a character not too dissimilar to Paul Bettany’s Silas. He goes about his conquests in a diplomatically asserive manner, yet has all the murderous intent and unstability of a character like Hannibal Lecter.
    He is convinced his path is righteous, even when he turns to Chaos. He is blinded by belief.
    He has always made me unsettled when I’ve read of him, because he exudes utter conviction, he is almost gullibly zealous.
    He has all the makings of a suicide bomber, or indeed, a gang-banger straight outta compton.

    Comment by RobAshWhite | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  11. Aaron, (if the world loves me and lets me move/I end up living in Ireland,) I WILL buy you a pint or ten. That was beautiful.

    P.S. I wanna see you and Dan duke it out for “Most Bad-Ass Author.” Don’t worry, I’ll secretly slip one of you a bolter during the match.

    Comment by Dominus Maximus | February 9, 2010 | Reply

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  13. Aaron, did you ever check out the old Black Library forums. There was a rather interesting post on the Emperor’s plans and Lorgar’s decision to turn written by one Brother Lucian and you might find it rather interesting. Here it is below (sorry for the length).

    “We know that belief is power in the wh40k setting, and enough of it can coalescence into a warp entity. Like how it happened for the Eldar at the Fall of the Eldar that ended the Age of Strife

    We know the Emperor was a die hard Atheist and had a very bleak view on religion as evidence in The Last Church. Yet there is a spirit of the god Emperor whom guides the first saint Euphrati Keeler. How can that be?

    As I wrote in the other thread about Reflections on the Emperor, is that I believe that the initial worship from the Word Bearers, and what wich was seeded through the fledgling imperium through their work through the expedition fleets and spreading the Lectitio Divinatus, created a positive force in the warp. Which the Emperor himself had become the focal point of.

    But as I see it, noone ever connected the dots to that the object of their prayers, and the manifestation of them wasn’t the same thing or being. That Lorgar’s absolute faith helped to fuel the manifestation of the God-Emperor in the warp, but his personal faith was shattered when the Emperor rejected his worship. Lorgar seeing the two beings as the same, and that made his mind snap and become easy prey for Erebus and Kor Phaeron.

    But by then the God-Emperor entity was taking a life of it’s own, gathering faith and steering events in the warp to strenght itself. Perhaps to incubate. And we have seen how it has grown stronger in 40k, now fueled and strenghted by the absolute faith and devotion of the Word Bearer replacement, the Adepta Sororitas. And see what they have been rewarded with, living saints becomming the conduit of the God Emperor’s glory.

    Once the Throne of Terra finally breaks and allows the tortured Emperor to die, that new entity will rise from his husk. And I foresee a quite startling change to come over the Sororitas. Warp Angels?

    Though another thought is that the Emperor allowed it all to happen so that events would come in progress that he might ascend. Which would explain his mildly said erratic behavior with certain persons, like Kelbor-Hal and Angron, if he was trying to steer their resentment to cause certain actions to happen. After all he is a 40.000 year old ancient, mastermind. And I remember a scene where the Emperor spoke that Horus thought he was blocking him, but he was underestimating his sheer power.

    And finally it is my belief that Horus never struck down the Emperor, he became so mortified to see the illusion stripped away that hid the 40.000 year old corpse, that it allowed the Emperor to blast him out of existence. Then he let Dorn install the ‘corpse’ on the throne to act as a focal point of worship and let him dream his dreams again. And in current day, that the cascade of failures is prepared to let the Emperor free again, fully charged.

    I think people is not giving enough credit to the Big E, with his endless planning and scheming through the history of the human race. If it is just a grand and incomphrensible plan to lift himself to godhood, nurturing and guarding the fledgling human race to fuel and power his ascent in a distant future. His plans spanning aeons.

    Just look at how he sowed the seed for the Mechanicum and their culture by sowing the dreaming dragon on Mars. If he defeated the dragon in the dark ages, it was a plan that wouldnt come to fruition for near thirty thousand years in the future.

    So many have seen the perfect and cultured air and attitude he have cultivated to draw in and woo the masses, but some gifted people have looked behind the mask and seen the terrible being lurking there. Like John Grammaticus and the last Priest. Everyone and everything is just a tool to him, he is guarding the human race for one single reason, to use them as a reservoir of faith and devotion.

    To that end he have to shatter all notions of individualistic freedom, his way will be the only one. He stirs and brews the Age of Stife, shattering humanity close to extinction in the Age of Strife. Making them call and plead for a Savior to come. And his legions does. But he craves more. To regain the glory and power of a distant past, so he have to temper and forge the human race even further. At the heights of glory, he cruelly sets in motion and orchestrates events that will cause the most bitter and absolute rift in human history. The Horus Heresy.

    Turning half of his genesons against him to bring about that war that would sink the human race into utter despair, when the paradise had been so near and was lost. He predicted that about half of the space marine legions would turn their face from him. Though some legions that should have turned traitor stayed loyal (Dark Angels). Whereas expected loyals turned from him. (Alpha Legion)

    Even his bid for the webway was halted as events unfolded too fast, but it was just something he could pick up another time, he knew he could seal the gate if need be.

    Lorgar had proven quite efficient in spreading the tenets about the imperial creed among the expedition fleets and seeded the potential worship through the fledgling imperium. But he wanted to worship and too early, so he was expendable, and the perfect tool to start the war which would tailor the human psyche to his desires.

    And the great Heresy tore newborn Imperium apart, but it wasnt enough yet. Paradise had to be beyond reach, hope had to die for mankind. So the Emperor faced Horus and showed him the truth of what he was, and that blew the Primarch’s mind apart, and the Emperor’s ‘corpse’ collapsed to the ground, his true form, an ancient forty thousand year corpse. Which his loyal son Rogal Dorn installed on the throne of Terra. Now he could dream his dreams again and plan and plot. His imperium had taken a life of its own, and would continue without his direct intervention.

    And it was such a toll to the human psyche, from being within the glory of paradise to have it all snatched away. The official story being of the Emperor sacrificing himself to save the realm of man from his errant son, and living on, enduring a life in death for their sake. And so the psychic influence of the Emperor grew, all while the now discarded loyal primarchs grew disgusted with what the imperium was become. So far from the vision they had grown up with and dreamt about would come to pass.

    Now the imperial creed spread, citizens praying to him to protect him. He was their only hope in a wartorn galaxy that only waited to pounce on a weakened human race. Now they had nothing else, but the faith in their emperor. Faith getting cultured to be so pure, Gorge Vandire coaxed into forming the new legion that would be his warriors of faith eventually. The Brides of the Emperor was tested and tried, and at the absolute moment, the Emperor called them to his side, Vandire had served his purpose and was no longer useful. Alicia Dominica was swayed with a potion of his might and thusly the seed was laid for his comming Warp angels. Their faith building into shining saints that would coalesence and direct the devotion of the endless hordes of man. A glimmer of hope.

    Yet the saints would burn out fast, but there was always that hope that an Emperor touched invidual would arrive again to focus the masses. And the aeons passed, the imperium crumbling and eroding from the inside as the call for a savior grew stronger and stronger. Just as he had foreseen, and as he planned it a hundred centuries ago, faults would develop in the throne so his indomitable spirit could be released. He knew man would not willingly letting their savior die. Now, the final betrayal would be their undying emperor passing away. After a hundred centuries it would be a soul crushing blow to the human spirit……and the hope, insane pleas and prayers would catapult him into the heavens when everyone would be thinking of what would happen now and hoping, hoping so fervently for him. And he would answer…..and it would feed on itself when his will would touch the entire human race, he would be a true god and blowing away the four powers that dared to stand in his way and toy with his toys.

    That is what I could believe could be the Emperor’s great and awful plan for the human race.

    In continuation of my earlier post about the Emperor’s motives. I am wondering. Do we truly know what passed between him and Lorgar at their final meeting?

    For a long time the Word Bearers had struggled to be acknowledged as the heralds of the imperial faith, the belief in the divine imperator repeatedly struck down by Him as it did not fit into his atheist belief and plans to sculp the human psyche.

    Lorgar is at a loss of what to think and believe as it seems like his father is not wanting him. So at first Lorgar is feeling overjoyed when he hears the Emperor describe to him the tenets of his plan to ascend as a warp power. It was the vindication of all what he had believed in, but the Emperor silenced him and informed that there was more.

    To ensure that the human psyche would be ultimately receptive for the idea of the savior god-emperor, two things would have to happen. One that he had to be removed from the direct goings and happenings of the human race, and two, that a dire betrayal would happen that would shatter hope forever in the race of man, where He alone was presented as saving the race of man through his own sacrifice. And only by tenously clinging to that they would hang onto existence.

    Within reach and sight of paradise, Man would loose almost everything, hope would die. There would only be the path of the Emperor left as salvation for the human race. He would be the only hope for man in a grim and dark future with enemies pressing on all sides, hungry for the riches of the newborn, and highly vulnerable Imperium.

    Without him, Mankind would be nothing, and only by tenously clinging to the memmory of paradise lost, would the cumulation of faith happen that would propel the Emperor into the heavens in a distant future when the accumulated faith had reached critical mass. And then, he would be able to cancel out the four powers when he became Supreme and would at lastgive man it’s rightful destiny. But until then, the race had to be tempered and shaped.

    Lorgar was highly intrigued by this, the Primarch easilly seeing the teeming masses of humanity as tools used for the glory of his imperial father. But horror came on his face when his father told that he needed a Judas, and noone else was more suited than one whose’s faith and dedication was perverted and striving to undo everything he had been striving to make. Only by having a bitter enemy dedicated to undoing all what he represented, the race of man would have someone to hate, and unite against. Basically creating a foe to keep the race of man on their toes and ensuring his people didnt fall to complacency and mainaining that desperately focused faith and prayers he would require for his aposteosis.

    Lorgar was even more shocked to be told that the four powers even then was controlling elements in the legions that was trying to steer them towards a conflict aimed to tear apart the newborn Imperium, and that he was allowing it. For what the powers didnt realize, what that it all fit into his aeons long plan, subtle nudges here and there among the primarchs would fuel hatred and dissent and letting them fall into the hands of the four powers and make them easilly manipulated and misdirected. It was better to prepare the battlefield himself and make the rules which the powers would play with, even as they thought they were getting the better of him. Instead of having the four powes shape it and maybe getting dangerously close to undermine all of the space marine legions.

    But then Lorgar laughed, claiming that his father’s plan was worth that of a god’s design, and if the Word Bearers was to be sacrificed to ensure that this future would come to be, then so be it. He would willingly take the role as his father’s most ardent foe to bring this vision into reality. And thusly the primarch knelt before his father to have certain memmories erased and altered, and it was a crying and shocked primarch that stumbled out from the Emperor’s warded chambers. Fervently believing that he had been cast aside, that his absolute faith was worth nothing to his father. When it was his ultimate faith that had allowed all this to be set in motion.”

    Comment by Lucifer216 | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  14. I should add that personally, I really hope you pull it off well and without making the Emperor look like he badly needs parenting lessons!

    Comment by Lucifer216 | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  15. I’m very interested to see what you do with Lorgar. Your comments (both about the variation in quality among the previous HH novels and wanting to develop the primarchs’ motivations in a believable manner) inspire great confidence that you will give these stories the immensity and depth they deserve.

    I wish you, Dan, Graham and Jim had written the screenplays for the Star Wars prequels, Indiana Jones 4 (*shudder*) and Transformers (although the directors would probably still have ruined them). The sad fact is that these atrocious films, that destroy so many of the things I thought were cool as a child, seem to be very successful. If only ‘they’ would realise that films don’t have to be dumbed down to be successful.

    The fall of Anakin was particularly inept, IMHO, and could have been done so much better. I would have preferred to see him enjoying the freedom that he had always craved, having cast off the restrictions of the Jedi Order. I imagine something similar will happen with some of the traitor primarchs – hopefully handled properly!

    I think that’s one of the reasons I love GW so much – the ‘cute’ character has inevitably been shot in the head in the first scene (Jar Jar I’m looking at you) …or ends up possessed! Keep it Grimdark (TM) – I can take it.

    Comment by Ilmarinen | February 10, 2010 | Reply

  16. I have all the confidence you will make First heretic a novel to kill for ! After reading Cadian Blood, I expect you to be up to it.

    I’m a big fan of the word bearers novels of Reynolds, but I didn’t like the ones of Ben Counter.

    It’s okay if you make your own Word Bearers, as long as they don’t contradict to the ones in the novels of Reynolds in a way that is not possible : off course, they can be very different, since now they are still loyal and in 30 k, the others in 40 k and badass traitors.
    But it is irrtitating and sad when things contradict and then make one ( or both ) of them unbelievable.

    As it is written …………..

    Comment by Bastiaan Vergoossen | February 21, 2010 | Reply

  17. I have to say my favorite of the books is definitely Galaxy in Flames. That was an emotional roller coaster unlike any BL has ever published. You know how the siege ends and yet you still have this hope that the heroes will prevail. And then that hope is crushed. Crushed more thoroughly than Loken under the foot of Dies Irae.

    I’m a major 40k fan (double eagle tattoo) but I’ve taken a breather for the past year or so. I think it’s time to return now that there is all this fresh new talent. P.s. Your love affair with Dan is adorable 😛

    Comment by Nick Sharps | April 23, 2010 | Reply

  18. I would like to ask, why the appearance of Magnus differs in the books Heretic and A Thousand Sons?

    to clarify.. in a thousand sons it says, the spot where his eye should be is plain and smooth, like there never had been an opening..

    yet in heretic, it´s a scarred appearance


    Comment by Stefan | October 27, 2010 | Reply

  19. I agree and strongly disagree with your perception of horus rising. The book was filled with great moments like what you quoted above but, it was strung along by not so shinning onez as well.

    Comment by keith | May 15, 2011 | Reply

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