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Graham McNeill

Author of False Gods

175+ Works 6,341 Members 114 Reviews 5 Favorited

About the Author


Works by Graham McNeill

False Gods (2006) 853 copies
Fulgrim (2007) 594 copies
Mechanicum (2008) 439 copies
A Thousand Sons (2010) 385 copies
The Ultramarines Omnibus (2006) 291 copies
The Outcast Dead (2011) 220 copies
Storm of Iron (2002) 219 copies
Angel Exterminatus (2012) 161 copies
Nightbringer [novel] (2002) 146 copies
Vengeful Spirit (2014) 121 copies
The Killing Ground (2008) 113 copies
Heldenhammer (2006) 112 copies
Courage and Honour (2009) 104 copies
Dead Sky, Black Sun [novel] (2004) 98 copies
Ghouls of the Miskatonic (2011) 89 copies
Chapter's Due [novel] (2010) 75 copies
Priests of Mars (2012) 74 copies
The Crimson King (2017) 70 copies
Guardians of the Forest (2005) 70 copies
Defenders of Ulthuan (2007) 67 copies
I, Mengsk (StarCraft) (2008) 66 copies
Forges of Mars Omnibus (2017) 62 copies
Empire (2009) 62 copies
The Ambassador (2003) 51 copies
Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition) (2002) — Author — 50 copies
Ursun's Teeth (2004) 50 copies
Fury of Magnus (2020) 49 copies
Lords of Mars (2013) 48 copies
Codex : Daemonhunters (3rd Edition) (2003) — Author — 48 copies
Sons of the Selenar (2020) 47 copies
The Dark King and The Lightning Tower (2007) — Contributor — 45 copies
God King (2010) 45 copies
The Ambassador Chronicles (2005) 40 copies
Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex) (2003) — Author — 39 copies
Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) (2001) — Author — 36 copies
Gods of Mars (2014) 35 copies
Maledictions (2019) — Contributor — 34 copies
The Swords of Calth (2021) 26 copies
Warhammer Armies : The Empire (7th Edition) (2007) — Author — 25 copies
Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition) (2003) — Author; Author — 19 copies
The Successors (2022) — Contributor — 17 copies
The Seventh Serpent (2014) 16 copies
Index Astartes II (2002) — Author — 15 copies
Lupercal's War (The Horus Heresy) (2022) — Contributor — 12 copies
Chapter Approved: Warhammer 40,000 Annual 2004 (2004) — Author — 11 copies
Index Astartes I (2002) — Author — 11 copies
Thief of Revelations (2013) 10 copies
Iron Warrior 10 copies
Blades Of The Traitor (Horus Heresy) (2015) — Contributor — 9 copies
Kryptos (2012) 9 copies
Index Astartes IV (2005) — Author — 7 copies
Knights of the Imperium (2014) 7 copies
Lords Of The Lance (2024) 6 copies
The Either (2015) 6 copies
Death of a Silversmith (2011) 6 copies
Lupus Daemonis (2021) 5 copies
The Last Church (2009) 5 copies
Eye of Vengeance (2012) 5 copies
The Dark King (2007) 5 copies
The Heraclitus Effect (2008) 4 copies
The Skull Harvest (2009) 4 copies
The Kaban Project (2007) 4 copies
Sword Guardian (2012) 4 copies
Calth That Was (2013) 4 copies
The Lightning Hall (2020) 4 copies
Three Knights (2002) 3 copies
Gods of Flesh and Blood (2012) 3 copies
Apostle's Creed (2010) 3 copies
Obsidian (2013) 3 copies
Echoes of Ruin (The Horus Heresy) (2014) — Author — 3 copies
Warhammer: Lustria (2004) — Author — 3 copies
Leviathan (2003) 3 copies
Chains of Command (2001) 3 copies
The Black Library Anthology 2013/14 (2013) — Contributor — 3 copies
Deathmasque (2011) 3 copies
The Staff of Asclepius (2015) 3 copies
The Two Towers (2006) 3 copies
Consequences (2004) 3 copies
Black Library Events Anthology 2018/19 (2018) — Contributor — 2 copies
Findaz, Keepaz (2015) 2 copies
X Marks da Spot (2015) 2 copies
The Ancient Awaits (2018) 2 copies
Two Kinds of Fool (2014) 2 copies
Let the Great Axe Fall (2012) 2 copies
False Gods (Abridged) (2011) 2 copies
Salvork (2015) 2 copies
The Hound of the Warp (2015) 2 copies
Black Pearl (2015) 1 copy
Blood Price (2015) 1 copy
The Gates of Terra / Kryptos (2012) — Contributor — 1 copy
Death Mark (2015) 1 copy
Space Marines: Terminators (2020) — Author — 1 copy
Dust (2012) 1 copy
Codex (2013) 1 copy
Black Bone Road (2004) 1 copy
Business as Usual (2001) 1 copy
The Silent Death (2015) 1 copy
Eldar {short story} (2015) 1 copy
Index Astartes III (2003) — Author — 1 copy
Payback {short story} (2002) 1 copy

Associated Works

Tales of Heresy (2009) — Contributor — 359 copies
Age of Darkness (2011) — Contributor — 250 copies
The Primarchs (2012) — Contributor — 195 copies
Shadows of Treachery (2012) — Contributor — 157 copies
Let the Galaxy Burn (2006) — Contributor — 137 copies
Mark of Calth (2013) — Contributor — 136 copies
Heroes of the Space Marines (2009) — Author — 91 copies
Deathwing [2001 anthology] (2001) — Contributor — 86 copies
Legends of the Space Marines (2010) — Contributor — 82 copies
Legacies of Betrayal (2014) — Contributor — 81 copies
Sabbat Worlds (2010) — Contributor — 77 copies
Warhammer Rulebook (6th Edition) (2000) — Contributor — 75 copies
War Without End (2016) — Contributor — 73 copies
The Silent War (2016) — Author - Wolf Hunt, Luna Mendax — 72 copies
Shattered Legions (2017) — Contributor — 70 copies
Eye of Terra (2016) — Contributor — 68 copies
Warhammer 40,000 4th Edition Rulebook (2004) — Contributor — 59 copies
Tales of the Old World (2007) — Contributor — 59 copies
Planetkill (2008) — Contributor — 48 copies
Words of Blood (2002) — Contributor — 45 copies
Codex: Tyranids (3rd Edition) (2001) — Contributor — 44 copies
Tales From the Dark Millennium (2006) — Contributor — 43 copies
Sabbat War (Warhammer 40,000) (2021) — Contributor — 28 copies
Sons of the Emperor: An Anthology (2018) — Contributor — 28 copies
Warhammer Armies : Orcs & Goblins (6th Edition) (2000) — Contributor — 25 copies
Blood of the Emperor: An Anthology (2021) — Contributor — 22 copies
The Cold Hand of Betrayal (2006) — Contributor — 22 copies
There Is Only War (Warhammer 40,000) (2013) — Contributor — 19 copies
No Good Men (2020) — Contributor — 17 copies
MECH: Age of Steel (2017) — Contributor — 16 copies
Grimdark Magazine #1 (2014) — Contributor — 14 copies
God-Machines (Warhammer 40,000) (2023) — Contributor — 10 copies
The Vorbis Conspiracy (Warhammer 40,000) (2022) — Contributor — 10 copies
The Imperial Truth (2013) — Contributor — 8 copies
Heirs of the Emperor: An Anthology (2022) — Contributor — 8 copies
Storm of Chaos (2004) — Contributor — 8 copies
White Dwarf 289 (2004) — Contributor — 7 copies
Black Library Games Day Anthology 2011/12 (2011) — Contributor — 7 copies
Black Library 15th Birthday Collection (2012) — Contributor — 6 copies
Meduson: The Ultimate Edition (The Horus Heresy Series) (2016) — Contributor — 6 copies
Meduson [2015 anthology] (2015) — Contributor — 5 copies
Renegades of the Dark Millennium (2014) — Contributor — 5 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 13 (2011) — Contributor — 5 copies
Index Chaotica: Apocrypha (2016) — Contributor — 4 copies
Treachery and Betrayal: The Horus Heresy (2021) — Author — 3 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 24 (2012) — Contributor — 3 copies
The Scripts: Volume I (2012) — Contributor — 3 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 17 (2012) — Contributor — 3 copies
Endless War: The Horus Heresy (2021) — Contributor — 2 copies
White Dwarf 257 (2001) — Contributor — 2 copies
White Dwarf 260 (2001) — Contributor — 2 copies
White Dwarf 452 (2020) — Contributor — 2 copies
White Dwarf 308 (2005) — Contributor, some editions — 2 copies
White Dwarf 275 (2002) — Contributor — 2 copies
White Dwarf 250 (2000) — Contributor — 2 copies
Space Marines: Angels of Death (2013) — Contributor — 2 copies
White Dwarf 290 (2004) — Contributor, some editions — 2 copies
White Dwarf 249 (2000) — Contributor — 2 copies
White Dwarf 288 (2003) — Contributor, some editions — 2 copies
White Dwarf 263 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 262 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 265 (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 261 (2001) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 259 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 266 (2002) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 270 (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 264 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 280 (2003) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
Raus Untoten (Volume 1) (2013) — Contributor - "Links Oder Rechts" — 1 copy
White Dwarf 252 (2000) — Contributor — 1 copy
Inferno! issue 24; May/June 2001 (2001) — Story: Business as Usual — 1 copy
White Dwarf 277 (2003) — Contributor — 1 copy
Classics Collection II: A Warhammer eBundle (2023) — Contributor — 1 copy
Tyranids eBundle 2014 (Warhammer 40,000) (2014) — Contributor — 1 copy
Warhammer 40,000: The Essentials eBundle (2014) — Contributor — 1 copy
The Horus Heresy Starter Collection 2 (2023) — Contributor — 1 copy
Inferno! Issue 29: Tales of Fantasy & Adventure (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
The Horus Heresy Starter Collection 1 (2023) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 254 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 255 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 256 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
Ultramarines Collection I (2023) — Contributor — 1 copy
Tales of the Tech-Priests (2017) — Contributor — 1 copy
Nine Traitor Primarchs (The Horus Heresy) (2017) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 258 (2001) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 322 (2006) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 301 (2005) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 313 (2006) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 311 (2005) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 310 (2005) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 309 (2005) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 306 (2005) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 303 (2005) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 302 (2005) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 295 (2004) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 315 (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 293 (2004) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 291 (2004) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 279 (2003) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 287 (2003) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 286 (2003) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 284 (2003) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 283 (2003) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 282 (2003) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 314 (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 316 (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 312 (2005) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 273 (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
Honour of the Space Marines (2014) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 281 (2003) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 323 (2006) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 268 (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 271 (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 272 (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
Black Library Weekender: Volume One (2012) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 300 (2004) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf July 2019 (2019) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 317 (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 304 (2005) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 274 (2002) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 462 (2021) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 276 (2002) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 321 (2006) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 320 (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 278 (2003) — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy
White Dwarf 318 (2006) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 319 (2006) — Contributor — 1 copy


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Common Knowledge



My son gave me this to read.....he is a HUGE Warhammer fan...he paints and collects the models, plays the game, etc. and I've always been interested in the lore....especially after paging through some of his codex books. He isn't a big reader and listened to the first book on audio book...which I'm not a fan of....so, he filled me in and gave me this to start.

I actually really enjoyed this. Not being a fan of the game, it did take a little bit to familiarize myself with some of the wording used exclusively in the Warhammer universe. There's also a huge cast of characters to remember.

Overall, I think this is a series that anyone that appreciates fantasy, futuristic and/or militant type books would enjoy....even those not familiar with the game. I will definitely read some of the other books in this series.
… (more)
Jfranklin592262 | 18 other reviews | Mar 21, 2024 |
Giving this a reread I was surprised by how good it is. I don't remember it being this good. Normally with Space Marine novels the opposite is the problem! Decent characterisation, a tragic plot arc, some wonderful naivety, lots of foreshadowing, great action. The novel is long, but doesn't need a good editing (which is wonderful). Definitely one of the best in the series so far
elahrairah | 8 other reviews | Feb 18, 2024 |
I read this as part of Horus Heresy Omnibus Project reading guide Omnibus III: The Burning of Prospero
(https://www.heresyomnibus.com/omnibus/iii-the-burning-of-prospero) as part of my Oath of Moment to complete the series.

When I think of the Horus Heresy series, especially before starting this endeavor, the Burning of Prospero, encompassing the Council of Nikaea, Magnus' folly, and the razing of Tizca, is the second thing that comes to mind, after the Rise and Fall of Horus that leads to Isstvan, so I have been absolutely gagging to get back to the epic duology that starts here (trilogy if you include Battle of the Fang that continues the story from Prospero Burns a cool 10,000 years later [and the Hunt for Magnus and John French's Ahriman series]).

I believe this was my third time reading this book, with the first being upon release and the second being a handful of years later, so it's been a long time. I had a bizarre time that was definitely borne of expectations and familiarity of re-reading, having read a lot more, in general, Warhammer, and Horus Heresy, and just how heavily invested in and sympathetic to the Word Bearers and Lorgar (never ever Erebus or Kor Phaeron) with Argal Tal and Kurtha Sedd being two of my favourite characters in the whole series. I think I was hoping to feel a powerful connection with an event, aspect, or character early that would really get me invested, as sheer trauma and shame in the razing of Monarchia for the XVII and the utter devastation and betrayal with the Battle of Calth for the Ultramarines. I definitely got there, but this book is a slow starter that becomes a Juggernaut (of Khorne stolen and being joyridden by pink and blue horrors) of momentum by the end.

*Vague outline of the plot that could be considered spoilers*

The first part of the book sees the Thousand Sons and Space Wolves deployed together to bring down the hammer of the Emperor on a world that refused colonisation and adoption of complete Imperial hegemony aka Compliance. Magnus is far more interested in an ancient Aeldari temple that guards something both intriguing and portentous, ultimately leading to awakening the temples defences and pitched battle. Later in the same campaign Magnus witnesses must how destructive the VI are and makes a stand in front of a library to protect it from the murder-make. What should he a simple 'guys, chill. I just want to check some books out before you Wolf Smash', but it becomes a whole thing because in the Dark Millennia if two groups have a reason for hating each other, half the time they already hate each other anyway. Ahriman, the Thousand Sons Chief Librarian, and, the Rune Priest, Wyrdmake, strike up an unlikely friendship, bonding over being Space Wizards. We also get introduced to the Remembrancers with the XV, who all have some kind of psychic ability.

The second part covers the Council of Nikaea aka Everybody Hates Magnus, where the the level and amount of psykers in his Legion, the powers they have, and the entire concept of whether the Imperium even wants proto human armoured Space Battle Wizards at all takes place. Lots of opinions, accusations, and heartfelt statements are made...it's a whole thing.

The third part sees Magnus emulating Nick Fury and having a vision of Horus and the future leading him to do big magic to go have a word, which is where we see him appearing in False Gods when Horus is being 'treated' for getting shanked with the Athame, and even biggerer, darker magic to fax himself to the Emperor to let him know. To which the Emperor replies, "You got a problem, son. I'm on the motherfucker. Go back in there, chill them Tizcas out and wait for the Wolf, who should be coming directly.'

**Less vague discussion that may contain spoilers**

I really struggled with the opening of this because I found it rather boring, which is at least somewhat on me. I remember the first time reading it being absolutely wrapt by seeing he Wraithbone statues because I had not really seen any Eldar stuff on books before, which isn't actually very interesting because there's very little detail or discussion until it really kicks off. This time though I didn't have the impact of seeing the big ole thing for the first time, and I'd been around the Thousand Sons for a while, without really getting a feel for them or caring about them enough to really feel any engagement or peril from the battle. There is the intriguing thing in the temple, furtive work of magnus, and his Astartes being disconcerted, but the crumbs were too small for me to really be tantalised.

I think the thing I struggled with most about the opening section is the rather weak characterisation and introduction of a new trio of Remembrancers that give this whole part a feel of a weaker Horus Rising re-tread. A bit like how Marvel went through a whole period of just remaking Iron Man with different characters. It's not helped by how not dissimilar they are to Keeler, Oliton, and Karkasy, with Karkasy's analogue seemingly a more polite version of him with less talent and providing McNeill a male perspective on the two women he's friends with and one of a number of just fucking weird and gross old dudebro misogyny and embarrassing bits of narration that show just how alien the idea of gender politics, and women as a whole gender, are to him. For example the narration around this Remembrancer uses the word "deflower" when describing how a lot of guys fancy a grown arse woman and "things a gentleman shouldn't see" when, presumably, menstrual products fall out of one of the women's bags as she is literally having a fit. Alas, this is par for the course with Black Library, but especially McNeill, and I just have to roll my eyes and highlight how fucked up and not OK this is when I review his books. Shattersong and with it Fulgrim creeps ever closer for his most virulent expressions of misogyny and bioessentialism.

Anyways, I found the first part boring and off-putting, but written well and containing promise, so it felt like making sure you eat your sexist vegetables so you can have pudding.

The second part with the Council of Nikaea is infinitely more interesting and actually heartbreaking with some intimate moments between Magnus and his closest sons, foreboding visions, and some truly heinous and heartfelt statements, as well as a truly shocking and brutal end to proceedings that I'm not going to get into because spoilers. Sometimes it's hard to talk about good stuff without giving to much away, but I do want to make the point that, for me, this is where I feel like the book really starts and I actually start to really get invested.

I also like the classic tradition of the Warhammer galaxy being filled with riffs on historical events and aspects of, primarily, Abrahamic religions, coming into play here. The Council of Nikaea explicitly evokes the First Council of Nicaea where a lot of Christian law and the biblical canon was decided upon. I don't know a huge amount about this, but in a cursory search I saw some Christian people pushing back on the latter point with the argument that it's just a conspiracy to say that only the wealthy and powerful held sway over the biblical canon and the way the various churches operate. I absolutely respect anyone's faith that isn't causing them to harm others. It is not religiously intolerant to find the idea the hierarchal structures of organised religion aren't predominantly influenced by money and power absolutely hilarious and fundamentally not true--this isn't a criticism of any one faith or anyone's individual beliefs to be explicit.


The third part is really the beating hearts of this story where secrets are revealed or kept and more lies told, characters are so naive and egotistical they damn themselves and everyone around them, father's and sons are not just angry or disappointed, they're both, and heatbroken, oh, and an absolutely ridiculously epic and terribly sad battle takes place.

(taking a break to come back to this another time, as this has already taken ages - and we're back!)

The last act or this book contains so many significant moments with ramifications for the Thousand Sons, Magnus, the Space Wolves, Horus, the Emperor, and the entire course of the Horus Heresy, the Imperium, and the Dark Millennium, and this doesn't even include the Council and Edict of Nikaea and their ramifications. I am unsure if there is an agreed upon word for a group of Epochs, so I'm going to go with mu gut.

This book, particularly the last act, is an absolute clusterfuck of Epochs.

***Endeavouring to stay within a reasonable level and long established in Warhammer 40K lore to avoid too much, but potentially SPOILERS from now on - Honestly, it's kinda baffling the idea of someone getting this far in the series, let alone this review, without having some prior knowledge of the Darker Red vs Lighter Blue cousins to the more traditional pallete of the Word Bearers and Ultramarines***

It was at this point I realised the narrative of this story and the tragedy of Magnus and his Thousand Sons was something rather different to the Luna Wolves/ Sons of Horus, the Word Bearers, and the Ultramarines. This story is more of a slow burn, though I don't believe this excuses how bland I personally find much of the first act, and the tragedy is less of getting to know and love characters who are devastated by the actions of others, Nikaea notwithstanding, and fall to darkness through internal conflict, despair, and/ or specifically being done dirty by the Emperor; the sin of the XV and their Crimson King is hubris. Like the Emperor's Children, ego is the core of their damnation, but while Fulgrim and his sons believe themselves to martial and aesthetic perfection, the Sons of Prospero are self-assured in their command of knowledge and the abilites of the warp to not become the become the quantum curiosity of Schrodinger's cat, which is kinda apropos when you think about how Rubric Marines can be seen as both dead and alive, but the answer becomes definitive if you open their armour up. These are not traits thar create likeable characters (on an emotional level), but they are fascinating, and when their fall comes, as brutally and tragically as it does for Prospero (and how insidiously creeping for the Phoenician and his sons), liking them is irrelevant. In fact, my surprise at feeling so unsympathetic to Magnus for the majority of this book and not really connecting with Ahriman for a long time actually made the crescendo of their true intentions and intense emotions shock and hit me all the harder.

One or the things that I most cherish about the Horus Heresy is the allusions to mythology, historic figures and events, and the legendary archetypes it employs, retelling, conglomerating, and remixing tales from all manner of stories from various creeds, cultures, and traditions from throughout history and across the world in a way that is rich and engaging. It's a strange cousin to historical and mythological fiction, but in a grimdark space opera format. I am fascinated my myths, legends, and folklore, but can find translations of this wonderful ancient stories impenetrable because they are often told in an (understandably) archaic manner that bounces of my AuDHD addled brain. This is why I find books like the Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes and Circe by Madeline Miller so satisfying, but found Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology an impressive tome, but rather disappointing compared to something like American Gods, as I was hoping for expanded and immersive retelling, grounded in the detail of the originals, but injected with the intimate and personal that I am most drawn to opposed to a well-written and more accessible version of the stories that maintains the 'being told a story by the text ', rather than 'observing the story taking place as a witness.'

Unfortunately, this comes with the wildly vacillating sensitivity from a group of predominantly white, British, cishet men without sensitivity reading, cultural consultants, or, seemingly, any grasp of feminism. But when it works it is a beautiful thing.

Magnus most obviously embodying Odin, who gave his eye and one form of his life for knowledge, with the Cult of the Corvidae's name and prognostication evoking the All-Father's ravens, Huginn and Muninn, but there are so many other mythological shards his contains; Pandora and the dangers of forbidden knowledge (in many ways passed to Ahriman, along with the Book of Magnus), Sophia bringing instability through knowledge, Prometheus and sharing the knowledge fire with man, figuratively with manipulating the warp and literally wirh the XV's Cult of the Pyrae, and Kassandra, often depicted with red-auburn hair, and true prophecies ignored, to name a few.

This leads to rhe glorious irony and imagery of Magnus and Russ as mortal enemies, with the Wolf King as the apotheosis of the Space Sword Dane and the Emperor's 'justice', making there's a confrontation between Odin, whose name can be derived as 'leader of the possessed', and Týr, the Norse god of war and justice. The Vlka Fenryka call the Emperor the All-Father, one of Odin's titles, which is also perfect as in many ways Magnus is the Primarch most closely modelled on their father, reinforced by certain plans...

(Oh no! Looks like I'm about to start a document to chart refernces I come across...)

[We also really gotta talk about the sheer amount of corvid refernces, not just in the Thousand Sons and Raven Guard, but throughout the Legions and all of the Dark Millennia, including the shrouded and covetous Blood Ravens somewhen... I mean, the most likely short answer is that black birds are omenous and synonymous with death, so many gods, etc. and the birds themselves, feathers, and skulls all look cool and have a variety of cultural significances]

It is this mythological element, along with with the dramatic irony of the Horus Heresy and it's after effects being largely known, aside from the details and various twists of fate over the years that, depending on your perspective of him as figure, have not been kind to Sanguinius, that comes up in negative reviews of people acting in ridiculous ways or making wild decisions. At times it's a weak response, but it is also true - that's myths and drama, baybee! Without the ludicrous events, archetypal characters, and huge melodramatic swings, you don't get stories and events on this scale. A lot of myths and legends don't makes sense to assumed logic and sometimes the tragedy comes from the 'if you had just not done the thing, told the truth, actually had a conversation, etc.' You absolutely don't have to like it, and there are certainly times when it does more effectively than others, but it is what it is - a feature not a bug.

In the same vein, I have realised that the Emperor is, at least for me, best viewed as some kind of cthonic amalgamation of Zeus and a completely unknowable and alien being with godlike powers and perceptions that are anathema to truly understanding like Cthulhu.

I had a whole bunch of quotes and comments from my posted updates while reading this, but this has already gone on way too long and gotten too granular, so let's start wrapping this up.

Something I found very funny and probably are far more dotted throughout the book, like allusions to Blake, Crowley, magick, and gnosticism, are just a couple of absolutely ridiculous, but in my opinion glorious, references McNeill thrown into the Battle of Prospero, quothing The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe for the Corvidae Ahriman remembering having a good read one time in the middle of fighting, which would be cooler if McNeill didn't straight up copy paste the exact same line in reference to Magnus in his Primarchs novel (I will not be accepting George Lucas 'poetry' and 'rhyming' excuses at this time), and Magister Templi of the Pyrae, Khalophis, reciting the higher numeration of 'The Crazy World of Arthur Brown' on some Space Wolves that had me absolutely cracking up! (https://youtu.be/-4SnIJJCH8w?si=1FRAmU62xDZbPzY8). I can totally see how some people might feel torn away from the grief and carnage of the battle like seeing an Ed Sheeran cameo as a Remembrancer, but it's so silly and spot on that I love it.

I don't have anything particular to say, but it should be noted that McNeill's writing of combat vacillates between frenetic and visceral, tragic, and truly ridiculous, and he's one of the best at it.


Magnus is an arse and establishes himself repeatedly as someone who obscures the truth, outright lies, and is consumed by his naive, egotistical certainty that he is absolutely the wisest, most knowledgeable, and powerful being in the galaxy, second only to the Emperor (Malcador get wrecked! [This series truly needs flashbacks awkward and fractious interactions between the Sorcerer-King and the Sigillite]). He talks about his connection and communication with the Emperor, even as the Primarch was being created (raising an interesting philosophical point for anti choice advocates) and that they are always connected. This is all called into question and possibly proven to be entirely false by the means with which Magnus feels compelled to use to warn the Emperor of Horus, his ultimate folly and damnation of his Legion. BUT the tragedy of Magnus is that, as much of an smug, elitist prick he is and the ignorant, unspeakable, and indefendable things he does, at his core he does them for what he believes is the right reasons.

He gave everything to make the deal that seemed to cure the Fleshchange and then genuinely tried to offer himself again when it came back, he was sure he had the best chance to save Horus and then notify the Emperor and believed the ends justified the means to enact the rituals involved in these endeavours (though this, like Ahriman burning out the Remembrancer for knowledge and the Mournival decimating the civilians on the embarkation deck of the Vengeful Spirit, all speak to the transhuman disregard for human life), he felt true shame and regret at everything he had wrought with a misplaced belief that the recompense would be served to him alone, and that refusing to defend themselves was the only way to prove they weren't monsters, and ultimately that submitting to, by any other name, Tzeentch, and bringing the survivors to the Planet of the Sorcerers would save what was left from further destruction and damnation. Clearly, he was wrong on all counts and I refuse to give him the excuse of protecting his sons by being the first to kill a son of Prospero in Tizca, but that doesn't matter because he believed it and the sudden shock of guilt, shame, and introspection he has, the first time we are given a deeper look into the mind of Magnus, is an incredibly powerful unleashing of tension and emotion that has been building up, barely acknowledged, throughout the novel. Honestly, it came out of the blue and truly dealt me the emotional blow I had been asking for, similar, if not as powerfully upsetting, as the incredibly depressing, but perfect, Know No Fear epilogue.

McNeill needs to get better at writing women and not to use lazy and racist orientalist tropes, like having the Chief Librarian of the White Scars speaking in broken English as if any Astartes couldn’t speak fluent Gothic, least of all a Master of Librarius. At least Gareth Armstrong doesn't do the unfortunate stereotypical accent the V Legion get lumbered with by predominantly white British directors and voice actors.

It took me a while to get there, but by the end I remembered just how much and why I love this book so much. McNeill continues to be a problematic fave and I pray his bioessentialist misogynistic fuckery in Fulgrim doesn't break me.

Taking a Primarch's holiday to Morningstar with Magnus and catching up with Russ as an intermission before Prospero Burns
… (more)
RatGrrrl | 8 other reviews | Feb 10, 2024 |
I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this wonderful short story, which was an experience heightened both by the fantastic John Banks narration and reading it as part of www.heresyomnibus.com's Omnibus I, placing it after Horus Rising and The Wolf of Ash and Fire, and before False Gods.

The story is one filled with symbols, portents, foreboding, and glimpses into the relatively recent past that I cannot say and pre-Great Crusade Terra.

A silversmith Remembrancer on the Vengeful Spirit lays dying after the finishing of momentous project, reflecting on his life, works, and the Legion he served.

A simple, internal monologue, but one absolutely glittering with meaning and suggestion that captures the mythological epic mess of the Horus Heresy and gives me everything I want from really rather short story like this.

Bloody marvellous!
… (more)
RatGrrrl | Jan 26, 2024 |



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