Oh how I have been looking forward to this Primarch novel over all of the rest. I didn’t know what to expect with it, because it could go either way, right? The whole thing could be a lie, or it could all be true. However, opening the book with “I am Alpharius. This is a lie” is no way to invoke confidence in Mike Brooks’ Alpharius — Head of the Hydra. That said, though, like everything Alpharius and the Alpha Legion does, there was a very good reason to start the book this way. After all, this is Alpharius’ record, and all records are lies.
Take everything you thought you knew about Alpharius and just throw it out the window. The lore about Horus the first to discover him? It’s both a lie and a truth. The lore about the Emperor finding Horus first? Also a lie and a truth.
Horus was the first primarch to be PUBLICLY announced. Alpharius was actually the first one the Emperor found. On Terra. Ever wonder why Alpharius doesn’t have a homeworld like the other primarchs? This is why.
Why wasn’t he publicly announced? Oh, the Emperor had his reasons, mostly to hide the fact that the primarchs went missing at all. This is the part of the Emperor’s personality that was imparted to Alpharius — His secretive side.
Hiding in Plain Sight
“Hiding in plain sight” is pretty much what Alpharius does all the time. Evidently he was present at almost all of his brothers’ findings, hiding in the audience as a member of his brother’s Legion. Malcador trained Alpharius to hide himself as well as his mind from others. Malcador would send Alpharius on hunts of a sort, seeing how far Alpharius could get without Malcador detecting him. Alpharius often took these lessons to mean “try to break Palace security to assassinate the Emperor without detection.” You can imagine how much Valdor appreciated these security breaches, especially since he still wasn’t sure of who or what Alpharius was.
In fact, the only times Alpharius did not conceal his nature was when he found Omegon and when he presented himself to Horus at his “founding.” Before then, he had masqueraded in each of his brothers’ Legions, including Horus’ Luna Wolves, as one of their own Space Marines, and none of them detected him. Although, he was quick to say that the Lion nearly found him out when he posed as a Dark Angel.
In other words, his ability to conceal himself in plain sight is exactly why Rogal Dorn and Roboute Guilliman both claim they killed him. Alpharius is the only primarch they cannot innately sense as being one of their brothers.
I really don’t want to get into too much about everything in Alpharius’ back story, but I can’t NOT mention how much he compares himself and his Legion to his brothers. For example, he says he doesn’t trust Rogal Dorn because he never lies. He calls Fulgrim’s friendship with Ferrus Manus “confusing.” That one made me laugh out loud.
He even goes into how the brothers feel about one another, which is amusing in of itself. My favorite is what he said of Guilliman, that he “has a tendency to put the hackles of others up due to his belief that not only has he solved the problems of warfare, but that he can write it down while he does so.” As much as I am a Guilliman fangirl, I can’t argue with anything Alpharius said. That’s part of what makes it all so delightful.
At the same time, while Alpharius is constantly criticizing his brothers for being arrogant, headstrong, and warmongering, he constantly boasts at how humble and pragmatic he and his Legion are. It’s an interesting dichotomy that brings to question how self-aware Alpharius really is. He claims to be, and yet he appears to not realize how much he humblebrags. Or is that just what he wants us to think?
Which is pretty much everything I love about Alpharius. Brooks really hit this primarch novel out of the park. So much so, I really hope he takes the reins of any Alpha Legion books in the future. Even if you have only a passing interest in the primarch of the XX Legion, you don’t want to miss Alpharius — Head of the Hydra. Even if the whole thing really is a lie.