Monday, 1 October 2012

A Thousand Sons - a review

June last year we went to Llandudno and I came back with the two books above. I read A Thousand Sons quite a while back so my recollections of it will be hazy at best but it's been sat in my 'drafts' as something to do for ages and I really need to knuckle down and say something about this book because it's one of the best Horus Heresy books I've read so far. I heartily recommend getting it and if you're lucky, like me, you'll be able to pick it up still in a local discount store - they all seem to have the same stock!

Obviously this is about the Thousand Sons and it's a real tipping point in the Heresy. If you don't know your 30k history then the Thousand Sons were pretty loyal to the Emperor, they just had a penchant for psychic abilities that the Emperor didn't want them to delve too much into given the dangers in the warp and the tragedies that had befallen man in the past through dabbling in the occult and the wyrd.

Unfortunately the Primarch of the Thousand Sons - Magnus happens to be the greatest psyker so far and as with most children seem to know better than their parents. So he defies the Emperor and continues to practice magyk but only to try to uncover the conspiracies that are about to erupt across the galaxy. Unfortunately 'the ends does not justify the means' and the attempt to warn the Emperor goes horribly wrong and he's forced to punish them for doing what they promised not to do.

There's quite a few interesting lines of thought going through this book. There's the contradiction of employing psykers, something the Emperor decides to clamp down on, but continues to use Astropaths and their psyker abilities to fly around the warp, something that at least was brought up by a White Scars psyker in the gathering that eventually outlaws the Librarian order. There's the conflicting beliefs between Space Wolf Rune Priests and the various psychic orders of the Thousand Sons. There's quite a lot of fleshing out of the Primarchs and it soon becomes apparent that much like a photocopy and a photocopy of a photocopy the sons of the Emperor are slightly flawed reproductions of himself as are the astartes who are more flawed copies of their own sires. It's in these pages that you begin to realise the scope GW has to play with. There's 20 Primarchs each with a back story and a legion to tend and each has his flaws and aspirations, it amazes me how many balls they've actually got to juggle!

My one annoyance though is that with this book there's a very strong similarity to Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith. Magnus, much like Anakin seeks advice and answers from the Emperor and instead of getting them he goes off and finds a solution through dubious enterprises much as Anakin gets nothing from Yoda and the Dark Side of the Force from Darth Sidious. You can't help getting frustrated that these 'masters' just seem to be a bit too cryptic for their own good. Perhaps if they'd made a little more effort to understand their wayward sons/pupils there wouldn't have been quite the mess that ended up happening. Unfortunately this feeling manifests itself across the entire pantheon of Primarchs, not helped by their poor imitations of the Emperor 'hisself'. You can't help wondering if they'd had a mother to bang some sense into them things would have been a little less catastrophic.

Ultimately though this is an awesome book, well worth getting and I really began to sympathise with the Thousand Sons predicament. I know the other side of the story - Prospero Burns, is supposed to be good too but I don't know if I can put aside my Space Wolf prejudices to enjoy that as much. Anyway reading it certainly made me think about Heresy Era Thousand Sons and if you really want a good feel of what they're like you can't go wrong by checking out isotope99's Heresy Era Thousand Sons over on BoLS, here's some pics.