I dragged my feet with the Praetorian of Dorn by John French, rather unfairly, I must add. While I’ve liked John French’s short stories, we’ve typically found his full-length novels to be lacking. I expected his first full-length novel in the Horus Heresy to be the same. While I did find the Praetorian of Dorn to be a little padded, I did enjoy it. French writes the Alpha Legion quite well, which makes me cautiously optimistic about the Cypher novel he recently wrote.
I’m the blog gatekeeper for a tech firm that specializes in ERP software for large industries, and during the pandemic, I saw (and still see) a lot of blog posts regarding the state of the supply chain. If I’ve learned anything from these posts, it’s that the global supply chain was always cracked and frail, but the pandemic put it on life support. Horus’ betrayal did much of the same for Terra and the Imperial worlds—the Imperium compliance was always cracked and frail, and Horus deepened the cracks. Alpharius tapped into these cracks to further destabilize them so Horus wouldn’t have to tap the cracked vessel too hard to shatter it.
It’s what the Alpha Legion does and always has done when it come to warfare. It’s both a brilliant and a dishonest form of warfare, one that Dorn has repeatedly wrinkled his nose at. As much as Dorn dislikes it, the Alpha Legion was able to use these tactics to squeeze into the Sol System. All it took was finding minions who weren’t thrilled when the Emperor took over. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t difficult to find them.
Will the real Alpharius please stand up?
The biggest HH plot point to Praetorian of Dorn is the fateful encounter between Alpharius and Dorn on Pluto. Of course, the big question is, is it really Alpharius whom Dorn kills? For most of the book, we believed his name was Silonius. There were many signs that he wasn’t who he seemed to be, but to find out he was “actually” Alpharius (in quotes because it is the Alpha Legion, after all) with massive mind suppression at work was a little nuts, even for the Alpha Legion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s completely in their MO, but it felt over the top even for them.
There is also the scene where Omegon wakes up with an ache in his heart and a feeling that “he had never been alone, not truly” until now. That does suggest it was indeed Alpharius who was killed, but there’s one line that bothers me too much to believe it’s actually Alpharius.
“The blade cut down through Alpharius’ skull, and then tore free in a spray of blood and a detonation of light.”
A detonation of light. What is this light? Is it Alpharius’ mind going back to his real body? But what about the scene where Silonius, who is actually Alpharius, kills 20 Imperial Fists alone? Surely that has to be the work of a primarch and not a Space Marine. But what if it is actually Silonius, not Alpharius, but he believes he’s Alpharius?
THIS is how the Alpha Legion gets you. It is half the lies behind the lies, and it’s half getting everyone to second guess and think in circles. Geniuses. Annoying little geniuses.
Next book is a combo of two novellas from Gav Thorpe about Corax and the Raven Guard. Definitely haven’t seen Corax in a while, but I wasn’t prepared for the subtitle of the book to be “Nevermore.” I know that Games Workshop has the subtlety of a two-by-four, but good God-Emperor, man.
Thirty-nine books down, 15 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.