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post #151 of 156 (permalink) Old 12-21-11, 03:40 AM
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Xisor... spot on.

I couldn't get into pretty much ANY of the psyker characters. I thought Kai, for instance, was less tragic and damaged than he was petulant.

Probably the most interesting story angle of the novel ...



... had pretty much ZERO to do with the story itself, other than to provide an interesting opponent for our Astartes friends to face. I found myself why Mr. McNeill didn't just save them for an anthology. Their portion would have made for an excellent short story. Where Kai's conflict, the secret he harbored, and the Heresy itself were concerned, though, they were completely irrelevant. I felt as if two good story elements were brought together (conflicted character; conflict-defining secret trapped within conflicted character) and then someone spun a wheel to randomly determine the third:



I'll tell you what else I didn't like. Mr. McNeill had the world's greatest structure as the backdrop to his story. Yet while the characters were within the Imperial Palace, I felt the descriptions were rather bland and uninspiring. I kept thinking, "Shit, man, I see some illustrations from GW depicting these monumental fortresses, monuments, etc., and while this is supposed to be the grandest one... it feels so... plain." And then, to make matters worse, the story moves to a ramshackle shanty-town!

On a side note, I also found myself wondering why the greatest serving Astropath was assigned to... a Frigate. Or why the planet's most dangerous captives weren't under more secure captivity. I get that the story needs to move along at some point, but I just can't ignore details like "The superhuman warrior appears to have all his limbs free."

Cheers,
P.

Last edited by Phoebus; 12-21-11 at 03:44 AM.
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post #152 of 156 (permalink) Old 12-21-11, 07:08 AM
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Thing is, when someone is determined to be unhappy, even if they don't know it, they are petulant and unpleasant, especially if the person they are interacting with is trying to make them change their mind. A reason for why things are how they are is much more attractive for someone, certainly over something that appears random and sets them apart, maybe above, everyone else. Someone who has survived awful trauma, if not helped in the immediate aftermath, is not goign to be a pleasant person to be around as they work through the bowels of their depression. Being emotionally damaged doesn't mean being unable to function, just not able to function appropriately.
The -redacted- might have been something of an afterthought, but isn't this a good way to enter them into the wider mythos? It is obvious that the Crusader Host in the temple allowed him to take their Progenoids before they died; hence why he says as his [art of the deal he will 'allow them to live'. Isn't passing on your Geneseed to the next generation a way of immortality for an Astartes? And, so, we see the passing of their torch to -redacted- and a way back into the novel for the one who got away. They now have an obvious role (what it is, ahhh, that is the question) in a way that mightn't have been as connected if they were an anthology storyline.
As to the descriptions of the Imperial Palace, I see two reasons as to not go into too much detail. First, how can something so huge and majestic ever be described in a way that will resonate with all of us who have been imagining this place for years? There's no way any Author could hope to do it justice in this regard. Second, is that the characters themselves don't see it. The Palace isn't an actor in this story as it iss an indistinct backdrop, a vast oppressive curtain for the characters to act against. It passes by them in a blur, or hangs over them like a threat. They don't care about towers and statues, more than they care about what shelter may be found under and within them.
@Xisor. How could Nagasena avoid being Captain Japan? There is no Japan in the era of the Emepror Alive, so where is he going to be getting his ideas from? An idealised history passed on by those who want to keeo alove the ideals of a long-dead age. Today we see Medieval Knights as shining beings of Chivalry and honour, not spoiled brats with a congenital bloodlust and overwhelming urge to do violence as the answer to every question.

More generally, why do we need an answer to everything RIGHT NOW!!! How many books are left? How many stories? How many of the Crusader Host are still alive in the Custodes' prison and what stories are left for them to tell? The Emepror seemingly knows everything that we know- that doesn't mean that we know everything the Emperor knows; how could we? If such an imperfectly perfect being sees merit in a game he knows he can't win outright, then why can't he be playing the longest game there ever was? The Warp is uncertain and unsure, yet he has walked the path enough times to know that Ferrus has to die- who saw that coming? And if something that we all thought was a function of rage and honour and brotherhood besmirched was, in fact, a deliberate gambit by a controlling hand, then how can we sit back and look at what we know and say that [I]this is all there is to know about everyones' motivations/[I]?
The Authors know the romance inherent in the GC and HH and in 40k in general, stories of epic scale and utter Humanity; otherwise they'd be C S Goto. Why don't we, instead, trust these people with that romance and see where it leads us, rather than jumping the gun?

GFP
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post #153 of 156 (permalink) Old 12-21-11, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giant Fossil Penguin View Post
Thing is, when someone is determined to be unhappy, even if they don't know it, they are petulant and unpleasant, especially if the person they are interacting with is trying to make them change their mind. A reason for why things are how they are is much more attractive for someone, certainly over something that appears random and sets them apart, maybe above, everyone else. Someone who has survived awful trauma, if not helped in the immediate aftermath, is not goign to be a pleasant person to be around as they work through the bowels of their depression. Being emotionally damaged doesn't mean being unable to function, just not able to function appropriately.
Different people react differently. Some react stoically. Some react in a Spartan manner. Some shut down completely. Some consciously try to overcome their suffering but aiding others in theirs. There are myriads of different reactions to trauma. Petulance and self-pity are certainly two of those reactions, but they sure do make it difficult to sympathize with your focal character.

Quote:
The -redacted- might have been something of an afterthought, but isn't this a good way to enter them into the wider mythos?
It would have been had they actually had something to do with the greater storyline other than being an unforeseen stumbling block.

Quote:
It is obvious that the Crusader Host in the temple allowed him to take their Progenoids before they died; hence why he says as his [art of the deal he will 'allow them to live'.
I... got the distinct impression that he gathered the Gene-seed from those who had already fallen, during the utter chaos (no pun intended) of the battle.

Quote:
They now have an obvious role (what it is, ahhh, that is the question) in a way that mightn't have been as connected if they were an anthology storyline.
How exactly were the Custodes introduced in this series again?

Quote:
As to the descriptions of the Imperial Palace, I see two reasons as to not go into too much detail. First, how can something so huge and majestic ever be described in a way that will resonate with all of us who have been imagining this place for years?
Better than the way it has thus far. I wouldn't say that Mr. McNeill didn't try to put any effort, but I was disappointed to see only the most general terms of scale and size used. How is it that the artists who paint and draw illustrations for 40k are able to conceptualize and bring to life some of those images?

Quote:
There's no way any Author could hope to do it justice in this regard.
A complex the size of a small continent? Probably not. The specific portions of it that one DOES visit and interact with? Yes, absolutely!

Quote:
Second, is that the characters themselves don't see it.
Not true. Kai can see, thanks to his bionic implants, and it's at least implied that the Astropaths have comparable vision vis-a-vis their psychic sight. And even if the latter couldn't see, there's a challenge to provide a dramatically different perspective (and thus engage the reader more).

Quote:
The Palace isn't an actor in this story as it iss an indistinct backdrop, a vast oppressive curtain for the characters to act against. It passes by them in a blur, or hangs over them like a threat. They don't care about towers and statues, more than they care about what shelter may be found under and within them.
I find it odd, then, that the author went to the trouble to convey the reactions (emotional or otherwise) the characters had while passing various landmarks.

Quote:
@Xisor. How could Nagasena avoid being Captain Japan? There is no Japan in the era of the Emepror Alive, so where is he going to be getting his ideas from?
By not being Captain Japan to begin with, especially as there was no Japan for some thousands of years?

Finally, I don't really care about everything being answered now. I'm just concerned about what we do see (especially when we see it for the first time) being described to us with more justice.

Side note: I have no beef with Mr. McNeill. I think he's by all means a good writer. I've enjoyed a number of his novels - from "Storm of Iron", to "False Gods", to "Dead Sky Black Sun", to "A Thousand Sons". I've probably had one complaint or another for pretty much every single one of those books, just as I've had them for pretty much every single book I've read... since no one's perfect.

My disappointment with this novel is part of an occasional trend I see across Black Library, wherein some efforts just seem unambitious.

Cheers,
P.

Last edited by Phoebus; 12-21-11 at 11:47 AM.
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post #154 of 156 (permalink) Old 12-21-11, 10:36 PM
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Giant Fossil Penguin: Personally, I didn't mind Kai being petulant. His dialogue and interactions (and bewilderment) were all actually alright for me... if only he wasn't also the best Astropath in the Imperium. (Hell, that'd have been okay, if being an Astropath had been important at all. But it wasn't. It'd have taken a tiny leap of writing, such as simply writing the words "it happened this way" to convince me that a normal human could have equally received 'the secret'.)

Actually, I'd go further than that. Kai's dialogue was really entertaining, as was 'the banter' with the Outcast Dead themselves. (It was undermined by them being poor copies/better-thans compared to Skraal/Mhotep, etc etc.)

Anyway, the Palace. How could it have been done differently? Deliverance Lost is how. Or The Lightning King. Or Blood Games. Or even the excerpts The Golden Throne and Beyond the Golden Throne from Horus Heresy: Collected Visions. (Though those last ones are due to the impossibly cool things happening in the palace.)

And on 'everything answered now', the main trouble is when they appear to be indistinguishable from mistakes or critical omissions. There's a difference, critically, between 'mystery' and 'gaping hole'. I could be wrong, sure, but TOD gives the overall impression of gaping hole. Especially with the Outcast Dead themselves. It's not so much a mystery about them as much as...it just doesn't say.

---

Captain Japan

Phoebus hits the nail on the head. Not being faux-Japanese would make more sense. Nagasena's bits were really interesting. But ... wields a katana? Lives in a pagoda? Embodies the shinto way? Knows karate? (Albeit without [often] using these words?)

(It's a similar problem, to an extent, that I have with the grim caricature that is White Scars Epistolary Ching-Chong the Chinaman. The sentiment articulate and impassioned plea? No problems.)

I can happily concede that it's useful to play up or appeal to certain preconceived notions, but if the next 'villainous' chapter master in a renegade Marine story happens to have a huge nose, is a leader in a conspiracy that controls the world, loves money and muses on picking a pocket or two whilst trying to wipe out their neighbours led by Chapter Master Abdul Al-Wahad...

Yeah.
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post #155 of 156 (permalink) Old 12-22-11, 04:03 AM
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I think I didn't explain some of my points properly, so sorry for that!
The thing about the characters not seeing the Palace wasn't meant as they couldn't physically see it, rather that it was not their focus. Descriptions of certain things rearing up, impressive or odd, would be like what heppens in those fleeting moments when their heads come up from concentrating on survival and WHAM! something is there that jumps out at them. Yes, there are things like this all over the shop, the Palace is just one big one as you've said, but too much just smears all the exceptional into a stodgy blur until just that moment when something jumps out at you.
With Nagasena, what I'm getting at is that all that has survived of Japan has been boiled away to some bare, disconnected ideals. What do we think of when we think of feudal Japan? Even the Japanese think this way if you were to go by some of their films. The essence of the place comes detatched from what it really meant to become a characature of reality, the self-delusion of the culture plus the misunderstandings of those not of that culture. He takes on every trope and stereotype because those things are like fucking cockroaches, survivng everything that wipes away the reality. I didn't see Nagasena as trying to represent anything, rather he was just a character who had had a life-changing epiphany and been told that this ancient way of life would help him; he's totally culturally adrift and living a life of anachronisms and absurdities turned up to 11.

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post #156 of 156 (permalink) Old 12-23-11, 02:11 AM
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Hmm, that makes more sense, GFP, but I think I still disagree. Or rather, I'm certain I do. He wasn't all cultural oddities, Japanese Stereotype didn't infuse every essence of his being. (He also didn't say Domo Arigato Mr Roboto, nor did he cross a big road intersection as a crowd in twelve directions at once in the middle of a crazy-colorfully-neon-lit city, for example; those being the first things I think of as Japanese. He also didn't shout and point "GODZILLA!", the third thought.)

Had he, as you suggest, been a pastiche on the idea of cultural survival despite the odds...okay...I like that idea. But I don't think Nagasena was a representative of that idea. (Or, if he was supposed to be that, I don't think he was very well portrayed with that in mind.)

Worse: if that excuses Nagasena, what about White Scar Ching-Chong the Chinaman in A Thousand Sons?

(As for the Palace: yep, that "accounts" for Blood Games and The Lightning Tower, but it doesn't even begin to deal with the discrepancy that Deliverance Lost describes the Palace really well. The Palace isn't the focus in that, it's incidental. )
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