Awhile back, Games Workshop had this online quiz you could take to see which of the 18 original Legions you’d belong to. I always try to take these silly online quizzes honestly, because I was always curious if I actually lined up with what my favorite xxx thing was. That particular quiz put me with the White Scars. The White Scars? Really? The Legion hardly anyone knows about? The Legion that’s rarely in books? The Space Mongolians who keep to themselves and gotta go fast? I was surprised, my WH40k friends were surprised. After reading Scars by Chris Wraight, I’ve come to see that quiz was right. I’m behind these guys all the way, and I need more of them.
Where Have the White Scars Been?
It’s amazing, quite frankly, that we’re 28 books in and the White Scars have only been mentioned once or twice, and all of those times were before Horus fell. Since then, Dorn, Roboute, the Lion, and Sanguinius have wondered where the Khan’s loyalties lie. Since the Khan was very close to Magnus and Horus, most of them assume the worst. Unfortunately, as this book hammers home quite a bit, you should never make assumptions about Jaghatai Khan.
The White Scars are funny in that they don’t try to get close to anyone outside of their Legion, yet they get miffed when the Legions make assumptions about them. Oh they say they don’t care what the others say, but on the other hand, as Ilya exposed with Halji, they really do. And yet, they don’t try to work with or get to know other Legions to resolve any assumptions. It’s all rather comical, really.
In this aspect, they remind me of introverts: no they won’t go to a party, but they want to at least be invited.
The short answer is that the White Scars have been at Chondax this whole time, waiting for new orders from the Warmaster. The long answer is a little more complicated.
What Is the Truth?
My absolute favorite line was from Chapter 10, when the Khan is musing over the conflicting reports he received. Did the Space Wolves really go rogue and kill Magnus for no reason? Did Ferrus Manus kill Fulgrim? What really happened on Istvaan V? “The Khan had never much cared for the Imperium, but truth—that was important.”
Most importantly, he’s not going to take other people’s words for the truth. Leman Russ is calling for help, but didn’t he kill Jaghatai’s favorite brother? Dorn is ordering him to go to Terra to defend against Horus, but what if it was the Emperor who pushed Horus too far? The Alpha Legion and Mortarion both demand that the Scars meet up with Horus, but can he trust the Alpha Legion? Or how about Mortarion, who spoke against his Stormseers and Magnus at Nikaea?
The Khan will not decide anything until he sees the truth with his own eyes, and that truth is on Prospero.
The Cost of Freedom
Ilya commented early on in the book that the White Scars weren’t really rebellious; they were just themselves. They heard the Edict of Nikaea, shrugged their shoulders, and continued on with their Stormseers. They (rightfully) reasoned that unlike Magnus, they didn’t need to know everything about the warp. Maybe that was heresy, but they didn’t want to change who they were. (If you guessed I loved it when they pointed out the hypocrisy of the Wolves with their Rune Priests, you were right. I cackled.)
But as such, Jaghatai Khan didn’t want to change who any of his sons were, either. He knew the Lodge was meeting in secret, and he knew it could be a problem in the future. But he wanted his sons to have the freedom to choose, even if that meant they were wrong or they made a mistake. Even when he conquered nations on Chogoris before the Emperor found him, he didn’t want to rule any of them. He wanted them to be free from walls and living under someone getting fat off of the work and fear of the masses.
It’s a completely noble concept, and it’s definitely one I can get behind. It was his sons’ right to make a mistake, choose to not listen to him and WAIT, and choose to act without consulting the Khan first. To quote a very famous movie line, they chose poorly. But it was still their choice to make.
Just like at the end, Jaghatai Khan chooses to help the Emperor even though the Emperor is a tyrant. However, Horus is corrupted, and in the end, the Khan cannot side with the corrupted. Better be a slave to a tyrant than a slave to chaos.
Twenty-eight books down, 26 books to go.
Horus Hearsay is dedicated to Keri’s journey through the Horus Heresy saga. The chronicling of the Horus Heresy began over ten years ago, with currently 54 books in total, not counting The Primarchs series or the various short stories. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.