Okay, so I finally finished reading Vengeful Spirit
- it took me quite a while to get through.
Before I dive into my thoughts about the novel, I just want to say that the series continuity seems to be getting more muddled in general. I think the main reason for this is the constant recycling of the same characters in too many novels/shorts/audios. So, Mortarion has just duelled The Khan and revealed how uneasy he is allying with the rebels because of their acceptance of warp-craft, and now here is he summoning daemons himself...
This novel proved beyond doubt that McNeill isn't a patch on Abnett or Dembski-Bowden. It's a total mess for plot, pace and characterisation....very, very poor indeed. McNeill is the most overrated writer in GW's stable. Just as he had no clue how to depict Horus in 'False Gods', where he turned instantly from the proud-but-noble warlord of 'Horus Rising' into a moustachio-twirling "Bwahaha!" bad guy with no explanation given, same here...suddenly he's Mr. Noble-But-Flawed again? And suddenly Mortarion, who has always been Mr. 'I hate witchcraft', is all 'LOLZ I'll sacrifice my entire Deathshroud for magic's sake!' with no explanation given...? REALLY? This is fucking bullshit.
Whilst I wouldn't say Vengeful Spirit
was poor, it was only average in my eyes. You are right about Mcneill's portrayal of Horus though. His actions in False Gods
were unexplained and unjustified, and now, as you say, he's gone back to the 'noble-but-flawed' and not particularly ruthless to be honest. There wasn't much in the book justifying his continued decision to plunge the galaxy into the fires of war and betray his father; I certainly didn't get a feel for his (apparently) gargantuan ambition.
Man, you and I have been calling the Lion saving Russ for, what? 3-4 years now? Longer maybe?
Damn you two...
It feels like a bit of an anti-climax now.
What does concern me is that at least two additional loyal Primarchs have now been shown to have made it to Terra before Horus but not remain there to defend it. It just seems a bit... odd. I don't know how they are going to justify Russ and the Wolves leaving and not returning to defend the Throneworld - I hope they don't go down the Russ-attacking-Horus route, as that plot-line would just be boring and pre-determined.
I read it... I still think it's a little jarring!
I agree. Horus's portrayal just seems a bit... muddled. Firstly, what continues to irk me is that his 'I'm the best strategist in the galaxy' tag still isn't being justified. All Mcneill seems capable of doing to try and show us the Warmaster's tactical genius is have one of the other characters (eg. Abaddon or Aximand) worrying about something and taking their concerns to Horus, for the Warmaster to just respond with: 'Don't worry, I've got something in mind, they don't call me the Warmaster for nothing y'know'. That must have happened at least three times throughout the novel. Abnett managed to give us glimpses into Guilliman's unparalleled strategic capabilities in Know No Fear
, and Alpharius' in Legion
. But Mcneill has again failed to show us exactly why Horus is the Warmaster.
Secondly, I'm still not seeing signs of his ambition, why he betrayed his father, or how he is justifying using Chaos and warp-craft. There was a brief insight into (building on the ending of Nemesis
) the Warmaster cutting ties with Erebus (and by extension Lorgar and the Word Bearers) and his methods/corruptions to discover/master the warp himself, but this was much too brief. In fact there was no further insight into the Warmaster's character whatsoever.
Thirdly, after he apparently claimed the power of the gods, he was absolutely no different. This was where I expected him to begin descending into madness (building towards his portrayal from Collected Visions
where he is an absolute nutter by the time of the final duel with the Emperor) and corruption.
Originally Posted by Forward Assist
Was anyone else miffed towards the end of the book by...
Yep, I agree with that as well. What did Horus do on the other side of the gate? What did the Emperor do? What is the power that they both apparently claimed? How did they do it? Is Horus now as powerful as the Emperor? Will this power utterly corrupt him? So many questions arose from this book with none being answered. For the climax of the novel, it was very... anti-climactic.
What did you all think about the House Devine story. It seem kind of rushed and very M Night Shyamalan.
Originally Posted by Angel of Blood
Could very easily have done without it.
The House Devine story was much more interesting in the old Index Astartes
/White Dwarf articles, and it was only a few lines of text then. The first half of the novel I was generally on board, but the manner in which they joined Horus was so, weird (did they even join Horus?), that it just felt a bit ridiculous. I would have preferred a calculated decision to join with the rebels when they made planet-fall rather than building up an extensive family-feud storyline just for them to randomly go mental at the opportune moment.
Another issue I had was the utter bore that the Knights Errant storyline was. Most people on these forums are aware of my contempt for the decision to have Loken survive Isstvan III, and I only feel that is more vindicated by his laughable plot-lines since. I felt absolutely no connection with his reunion with Horus, it was glaringly obvious what was going to happen - he would refuse Horus's offer (and he did) and would somehow escape in an unbelievable fashion (and he did). Yippee.
Mcneill should have made the bold move to have Loken rejoin the Sons of Horus, would have been much more shocking and may have actually made for an interesting plot line. I'm glad Qurze is dead though
(don't hold your breath, he'll probably come back to life miraculously at some point!)
Having said all of that, there were some good parts to the novel. It was certainly superior to the shambles that Angel Exterminatus
was, but no way near Mcneill's peak (A Thousand Sons