I actually finished The Crimson King by Graham McNeill weeks ago. I’ve been dragging my feet on writing it up for a few reasons. For one, I might have burned myself out on the Horus Heresy series, pushing through it as fast as I have. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about this novel.
On the one hand, I greatly enjoyed the parallels it set between Magnus’ relationship with the Emperor and Ahriman’s relationship with Magnus. You know the old saying of “like father, like son,” right? This gets rather hammered home.
On the other hand, I wasn’t a fan of much else. As much as I enjoy the Thousand Sons, especially in the A Thousand Sons novel, they have one major flaw that gets, well, old—their hubris.
A Crimson King Scavenger Hunt
When Leman Russ broke Magnus’ back and Magnus’ soul fled the mortal realm, it apparently split off into many pieces. Amon, Ahriman, and many other characters from the Ahriman series (yes, I know the series came later, just go with it) set off to find the various shards of Magnus. It’s a cross between a Pokémon game and a scavenger hunt.
It also reminded me a lot of the Teen Titans episode where Raven splits into her various personality traits. Each shard represents a facet of Magnus’ personality/being, and whoever finds the shard has to convince this aspect to come back with them and reunite with Magnus. Most do not want to join them, requiring a battle of sorts—sometimes a battle of words and wits and sometimes actual fighting.
It’s a rather tedious affair, to be honest.
The Hubris of Ahriman. Again.
While The Crimson King didn’t feature the Rubric of Ahriman, it had the beginnings of the first Rubric. The flesh change is the greatest fear among the Thousand Sons, dating all the way back to the beginnings of the Legion. The Planet of the Sorcerers is accelerating the process once again, but Ahriman is determined to find a way to fix it, just like Magnus did centuries before. Even though Magnus told Ahriman time and time again to not try to fix it, that he’s just making things worse, Ahriman doesn’t listen, just like how Magnus doesn’t listen to his Father.
But you see, Ahriman is TOTALLY not like his father Magnus, because unlike Magnus, Ahriman actually does know more than his father. He knows he can fix things, so there’s absolutely no reason to follow Magnus’ decree to stop trying. He’s not afraid to use the warp. He knows he can get the knowledge from the warp and daemons that Magnus is TOTALLY afraid to acquire.
Basically, Ahriman is like every teenager. Unfortunately, he never grows out of it over the last ten thousand years.
Why Magnus Joins Horus
One thing I never understood is why Magnus joined Horus and the Traitors. He saw Erebus deceive Horus. He knows Horus tricked Leman Russ into killing the Thousand Sons. No matter how many times Lorgar tried to appeal to Magnus to join him, Magnus saw right through him. It makes far more sense for them to hang out on the Planet of the Sorcerers and watch how everything plays out. Graham McNeill gave Magnus an actual reason.
I’m not sure it’s a great reason, but it’s a reason that makes sense. I’ll be interested in seeing how it plays out in the Siege of Terra series.
Forty-four books down, 10 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 outside of the official anthologies. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.