As soon as I finished reading Fulgrim, I pulled my copy of Ferrus Manus: Gorgon of Medusa from the shelf. I had zero interest in reading about Ferrus before, but now I needed to know more about him.
I’ve heard Ferrus called many things, including “boring,” “the primarch no one cares about,” and “the primarch only known for dying first.” None of it paints an interesting picture of him, but Fulgrim turned around my thinking. How fascinating is it that the most pompous and prissy primarch can be best friends with someone known as boring? Sure, you can argue that Fulgrim could never be besties with someone as glamorous as he is. Otherwise, Sanguinius or Lion El’Jonson would certainly be his BFF. However, the end of Fulgrim showed me something completely different about him.
Yes, he’s straight-laced and boy howdy does he have some anger management issues. Ferrus also has an obsession with perfection. (For the record, I really hate that word now.) The difference between them is how they go about achieving perfection. Fulgrim’s Emperor’s Children strive for perfection across the board, including in the arts, to the point of obnoxiousness. The Iron Hands want to be perfect in how they do things on the battlefield. It’s a far narrower focus, and while it takes some of the arrogance away, the Iron Hands still have an incredible amount of pride.
Then again, I might too if making mistakes made my primarch throw a temper tantrum. Ferrus Manus is one hot-tempered man, much like the iron forges he constantly mentioned from his homeworld of Medusa.
Quick random note here: If you thought “Ferrus Manus,” Latin for “iron hand” was too on the nose, then his nickname (excuse me, sobriquet) as the Gorgon of Medusa punches the nose. I have to say, one of my favorite parts of this novel was when the Gardinaal sorcerer commented on the literalness of Ferrus’ name.
Someone Notice Me, Dammit
Ferrus seems to fall under the same flaw so many primarchs do, and that’s the need for Daddy to notice them. I suppose this would happen to anyone who has 17 other siblings. How can you stand out to your father? What makes you so special? What can get Him to turn His head in your direction?
The primarch of the Iron Hands has decided that the best way to get the Emperor’s attention is to show Him he can do things better than his brothers. A wonderful opportunity opens up on the non-compliant system of the Gardinaal. A few companies of the Thousand Sons and Ultramarines are having great difficulty in bringing this civilization to heel, and they’ve called upon the Iron Hands to help them out before Roboute Guilliman arrives. Guilliman is several weeks away, whereas Ferrus is only days out. He’s supposed to hold things together for the Ultramarines while they wait for their primarch, but Ferrus has other ideas. He’s going to bring this system under compliance before Roboute arrives.
To say that the Ultramarines were displeased with this battle plan is like saying Nurgle is the god of the common cold. The only Space Marines who were pleased were the Iron Hands, and even they were grumbly about Ferrus bringing an Emperor’s Children along as his equerry. It’s a bit ironic that he’s flustered about the lack of his father’s attention when he doesn’t give his own Legion attention, isn’t it? Obviously, he brought Second Captain Akurduana to light a fire in his Legion’s forges, thus improving them overall. Pity he doesn’t see his father treating the Primarchs similarly.
Dat Ego Doe
If there was one thing Ferrus certainly has in common with Fulgrim, it’s his easily wounded pride. Couple that with his emotions always bubbling on the surface, and you have one pouty primarch. Even though it was his idea to bring Akurduana with them to defeat the Gardinaal, because, remember, he wanted the Second Captain to teach his men new things, he still threw a fit when Akurduana proved to be better than all of his men. He nearly beat Akurduana to a pulp in the training cages, to prove another point that he was still better than Akurduana. As if there could possibly be a doubt between any primarch and a Space Marine. It’s like an eighth grader making a three-year-old cry. Are you proud of yourself now?
He can’t even concede that any other primarch is worthy of his attention, other than Fulgrim. When Roboute arrived, he thanked Ferrus for bringing the system to heel, and then grew angry upon learning how Ferrus treated his men. However, Roboute still appeared for the funeral ceremony of the fallen warriors from this campaign. Ferrus started to admire Roboute for not letting his wrath get the better of him, and yet…
He [Roboute Guilliman] was angry, yet articulate, wrathful, yet noble – he was all that Ferrus Manus had striven to be.
‘He admires you, you know,’ said Fulgrim, with the near-telepathy that only the closest of brothers could share. ‘Greatly. I’ve heard him say that he counts you and Dorn as the greatest among us.’
Ferrus snorted and looked away. ‘It is not reciprocated.’
So close, Ferrus. So close.
However, I can’t help but wonder if part of his refusal to acknowledge the greatness of other primarchs is due to his secret desire to meet a challenger able to beat him in a fight. He emphatically states, repeatedly, that no one has come close. A lump formed in my throat upon reading those words.
Reading the Ferrus Manus primarch novel right after Fulgrim was one of the best decisions I’ve made in reading WH40k.