“by a peculiar Ordinance of Heaven, and a Disposition occult within his Mind, is every Man protected from this Loss of his own Soul, until and unless he be by Choronzon disintegrated and dispersed beyond power of Will to repair; as when the Conflict within him, rending and burning, hath made his Mind utterly desert, and his Soul Madness.”
ζ Altera de Via Naturae

Quote featured at MILLIONS OF MAD VOICES from the Ministry of Information.

My Barbarian Lord

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews My Barbarian Lord by Andrew J Offutt.

This free-standing sword-and-planet novel is fun enough, although its greatest virtue may have been to provoke its Boris Vallejo cover art. The far future setting has no conscious relationship to ancestral earth, and the interplanetary civilization that forms the setting is just surfacing from a medieval dark age. There is a post-apocalyptic theme of the rediscovery of ancient technologies. The barbarian of the title is a newly-crowned warlord of one of the “Six Worlds,” and the tale concerns imperial intrigue touched off by the prospect of his possible betrothal to the daughter of the Emperor.

Although the setting and action are very much in line with Edgar Rice Burroughs, the running commentary on “barbarism” makes for a more interesting comparison to Robert E. Howard. Both emphasize the heroic virtues of men who succeed in conditions of barbarism. Offutt’s protagonist Valeron is rather embarrassed to be considered a barbarian, which Howard’s Conan never was. (Conan would simply take advantage of the way in which it would cause civilized folks to underestimate him.)

There are some consistent verbal affectations: “it seemed not deep,” “Maybe Darcus could have done defeat on the Sungoli,” etc. But the prose is fast-paced nevertheless, as is the sequence of events. The end of the story is abundantly foreshadowed, but not hopelessly predictable. [via]

It would be scary, either way—but when time draws near, you need all the help you can get.

Uvi Poznansky and Zeev Kachel, Home

Horus Rising

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Horus Rising by Dan Abnett.

Earlier this year, I had written that I was done with Warhammer 40,000 literature for a while. I had certainly more than satisfied the appetite for “lore” that was first instilled in me by playing Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game. But I recently got my hands on the game Forbidden Stars, a much larger-scale affair of conquering multiple star systems in the WH40K setting. Thus inspired, I returned to the novels, this time picking up with the start of the interminable “Horus Heresy” series. It was much better than I expected it to be, and I read through it quickly.

The saga appears to be the history of the origin of the Chaos Space Marines, covering events centuries prior to the game setting, and this first volume precedes even that. It presents the Warmaster Horus in his glory as Primarch and chief envoy of the Emperor of Mankind, mostly as seen by the straight-arrow Space Marine Captain Garviel Loken, a leader within the Warmaster’s own Luna Wolves legion. The mystical veneration of the Emperor, so well-established in the game setting, takes a nascent, clandestine form in this book. Also of great interest to me was the depiction of an unsanctioned system of Masonic-style lodges within the Space Marine legions.

The book is divided into three parts, each addressing a different world where Horus and the Luna Wolves conduct warfare and/or diplomacy. There is an isolated human civilization that believes itself to be the original Solar System, a planet of hostile arthropod “Megarachnids,” and a human-led, mixed-species “interex” that spans a swath of star systems. I do have the next book of the series—in a box somewhere. I’ll read it when it turns up. [via]