Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fulgrim by Graham McNeill

Okay, now my guilty secret is revealed. It’s not all The Art of War and The Diamond Age with me. I read terrible pulp fiction too, sometimes. This is my weakness, the Black Library books. Only their sci-fi, which I find suitable enough, the fantasy tends to be awful. I mean unreadably so.

Fulgrim is the fifth book in an opened ended series about a rebellion that occurred ten thousand years before the game’s current setting. Basically what happened was that just as the galaxy was about to be conquered by these twenty legions of super warriors, half the super warriors rebelled and turned on the other half, and anyone else they could find.

Long story short, the rebellion is defeated and the traitors sent into an unstable region of space called the Eye of Terror, where they still live today (that’s today in the game, ten thousand years later) emerging periodically for raids that can represented in a tabletop battle game.

Stirring stuff. Which is why the Black Library has decided to make a series on this event, called the Horus Heresy, after years of saying they never would.

It’s hard to talk about Fulgrim without mentioning something about the previous four books. The Warmaster of the crusade, Horus has turned traitor along with a bunch of the other Primarchs. The twenty Primarchs each lead one of the twenty legions of super warriors, and are pretty supper themselves. By the end of the fourth book, four of the traitor legions have purged their ranks of any loyalists and are ready to strike. A few survivors of this massacre have made their way to earth to carry a warning, but become lost in a bureaucratic maze. You know what that’s like.

Fulgrim is entirely about one of the Primarchs – Fulgrim, hence the title. The story begins before the events we have experienced so far, but thankfully ends after them. The story of Fulgrim’s fall from grace into heresy is interesting, yet unfulfilling. If Fulgrim must essentially be tricked into turning traitor, what of the other Primarchs? So far, they seem willing enough.

That is the main problem with this series, the authors are so concerned with ‘filling in the gaps’ in the story, that they forget to move the story forward. So it is with Fulgrim. Luckily the last few pages of the book detail the infamous drop-pod massacre that starts the rebellion off properly. Let’s hope the next couple of books launch the story forward. The last thing we need is another dozen books, all variants of the Fulgrim story, but starring one after another of the Primarchs.

See? It’s not like these books are even particularly good, but they’ve managed to make me care about the story and their approach to it. I’m hooked, but I’m not happy about it.

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