Master of Mankind by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is basically a “Meanwhile, back on Terra…” of the Horus Heresy. It’s easy to forget with everything else going on in the galaxy that the Emperor is fighting His own battles on Terra. Sure, we’ve seen pieces of the goings-on with Terra, such as Malcador recruiting his Knights Errant and Dorn fortifying the Palace walls. However, there’s a bigger mess going on below the Palace’s surface, and it’s something I know I didn’t even consider in the wake of Magnus’ warning.
While I knew Magnus broke the gate of the webway to burst into the Throne Room to warn his Father, I didn’t fully grasp the fallout. I knew this action forced the Emperor to keep his butt firmly planted in His Throne to keep the daemons back, but this was hardly the only repercussion. When the intros to the “regular” Warhammer 40,000 books mention, “Forget the promise of progress and advancement,” it all comes to this point. I always thought this referenced Horus’ rebellion and how he mortally wounded the Emperor. That’s part of it. Magnus is responsible for most of it.
Mass Chaos Ensues (literally)
When the Emperor turned the Great Crusade over to Horus, we knew part of the reason was for His webway project. When Magnus broke it open, it was easy to assume that that is what the Emperor had been working on all this time—keeping the daemons locked away from humanity. To quote Obi-Wan, this is true, from a certain point of view. Regardless, daemons now have a direct path to Terra through the webway. Fortunately, this path leads them to a webway labyrinth underneath the Palace, so it’s not entirely simple for daemons to make their way through.
At the same time, the labyrinth contains a former eldar/aeldari city, filled with Mechanicus, Custodians, Sisters of Silence, and other humans working on the Emperor’s actual Great Work. While the Emperor remains seated on His Throne, stemming the tide of daemons, it’s up to the Ten Thousand to take care of the force that has come through.
It’s not going well.
Not the Master of Mankind-ness
The Dark Imperium series opened up questions about the Emperor’s love. Does He love His subjects? Does He love His sons, the primarchs? At the end of The Plague War, Roboute Guilliman came to grips with the fact that His Father doesn’t love individuals, or even His own Sons. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but NOW it most certainly does.
The Emperor loves humanity, the human race. He wants to see humanity rise and never fall in its dominion over the galaxy. How humanity gets there, though, well, individuals are eggs for this omelet. The primarchs are just tools He created in the lab. He doesn’t even call His primarchs by their names. They’re the Twelfth. The Sixteenth. The Seventh. That baffled me. Sure, they’re your tools, but you’re so distant from them you won’t even use their names? If they stayed on Terra, would they have ever been named? Bizarre.
And that’s just one example. To stop the daemon infestation in the webway, He, without telling him, sacrifices His most loyal Custodian. So He can leave the Throne to fight the daemon horde, He calls on the Sisters of Silence to round up one thousand psykers to fuel the Throne for him. At least we know why the Emperor needs one thousand psyker souls a day to keep the Astronomican lit.
Omelets and eggs.
And, unfortunately, it’s all for nothing in the end. The whole webway project was to save humanity from the warp, and now, thanks to Magnus, humanity is just as doomed as the aeldari. No wonder everything sucks in the 40th millennium.
Forty-one books down, 13 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.