Sunday 19 September 2021

Space Filling Picture Post

Posting will be slow and/or bad for a while as I am working on integrating playtest feedback for Demon-Bone Sarcophagus so here are some photos of minis I have painted since the last time I showed you mini photos.

Kitbashed Hellbrute for my 'Agents of Bile'

Some pretty decent Lumineth though it was hard to get a good photo of them.

Conversely a pretty bad paint job I was able to get some good photos of them.

'Lord Tiger Claw' or 'Joe Exotic' of the Emperors Children

Some more Agents of Bile

Light of Eltherion

Spooky AdMech kitbash I might get around to painting one day

Some slavic-themed Vampire and Skeleton boys

Stormcast/Noise marine Kitbash. Again not a great paint job but I am quite proud of the bash

The Fabulous One himself with some kitbashed obliterators and a gift from a friend

And finally the latest of fabulous Bills creations, some Indomitus assault marines kit bashed into biohorrors with a colour scheme based on emergency vehicle hazard patterns


Thursday 16 September 2021

Trailing Corposant 6 - Bottle Novels

So far we have dealt with the opening act of the Heresy, the catastrophe of Horus’ initial schemes, a character study on Fulgrim, another on the Lion and the Dark Angels in general, followed by alack-of-character study on the Alpha Legion

This brings us to Book Eight; Battle for the Abyss! A book legendary throughout the Heresy fandom as being a bit rubbish and, unusually, agreed to be so by almost everyone. 

But was it truly rubbish??? (Yes.) and what is quality anyway? 

In a vast and sprawling series made up of a crazed web of interconnected stories, a few stand out as being some combination of quite-to-pretty bad, and also in having very little to do with any other books. 

Now, this lack of connectedness is highly relative to the rest of the series. Even the smallest Heresy story has some hooks and tendrils leading elsewhere, but these are more separate than most and often much more separate than the fandom desired. 

So, rather than looking at a particular character or Legion, lets look at a particular form and do a deep dive on the “bottle episodes” of the Horus Heresy. 

[In U.S. tv terminology a “Bottle Episode” is a term for an episode, usually in the mid-point of a series where they are trying to conserve budget for the more expensive later episodes. They do this by putting together a bunch of characters in a confined (and inexpensive) place and watching them do acting.]



What counts as a Bottle Novel?

I eyeballed it tbh BUT 

No Primarch Ping-Pong. 

A Primarch has arrived! Now they have left! A Primarch meets another Primarch! They fight! Both survive! 

The whole ‘Unremembered Empire’ arc on the eastern fringe is very meandery and has a lot of “bottle energy” but it still has a shitload of Primarchs bouncing around (literally in Vulkans case) so doesn’t count. (Though ‘Pharos’, below is a distaff part of that sequence, its extreme bottleness gets it entry.) 


Not Part of an Arc 

 (Relative to the rest of the Heresy Series) 


Feels Like Accounting 

“But what about the Mechanicum/Assassins/Imperial Army/the battle over here/how did Horus get there etc etc etc.”) 

Some things just have to happen for the story to go on. (Titandeath has Primarchs, is technically part of the ‘Horus Advances on Terra’ sequence and arguably has a huge effect on the war, but… it just has a lot of ‘bottle’ energy. It feels like accounting so it goes here for now.) 


Self-Nullifying plot 

We must resolve this TERRIFYING THREAT we just found out about. Ok we have done that, lets never mention it again. 

Like the movie of an anime series, a bottle novel should produce a major threat that no-one mentioned till now and have it defeated or taken off the board by the end of the story with the loss of no major characters, did it even happen? 


Contained Stage 

Welcome to Planet X, where the adventure of X takes place in a book called ‘The Adventure of Planet X’, ok you are now leaving Planet X, have fun with the rest of the Heresy. 

Extra points if no-one goes to or thinks about this stage ever again. 


Lets look at our list; 

  • Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter
  • Mechanicum by Graham McNeil
  • Nemesis by James Swallow
  • The Outcast Dead by Graham McNeil
  • The Damnation of Pythos by David Annendale
  • Pharos by Guy Haley
  • Tallarn by John French
  • Titandeath by Guy Haley again.



Battle for the Abyss – Ben Counter

August 2008


Almost the prototype of a ‘bottle episode’ for its grand ambitions, low quality and the glorious futility of its main plot. And perhaps also in being a bit more fun than you probably expected. 

Lorgar has secretly developed a super-mega extra-big ultra-star-destroyer, the Furious Abyss, and just before news of the Heresy arrives it sets sail for Calth to join in the super-betrayal there and make it a MEGA BETRAYAL! 

On the way the Abyss spotted by a small, isolated group of loyalists who, for whatever reason, can’t get a message to anyone and only have a handful of smaller ships, who set of in pursuit! It’s a rag-tag group of mismatched distaff Imperials vs the ultimate ship. Hunt the Bismark… in space! Plus to chase it they have to literally stare into (at) the Abyss, and it stares back! 

Some fun elements to this; 

Unlikely Allies! The Loyalists are Ultramarines, Space Wolves, World Eaters and a Thousand Son. In the paracosm they don’t yet know they are on different sides and in the written series these legions have not yet received their signature books. Everyone is slightly cheesy but that is far from the worst writing the Heresy has and its quite charming. 

The Mission is Doomed! The loyalists start to lose faith in what they are doing and cracks appear in their command structure as every irritates everyone else quite a lot. 

Backstabbing Word Bearers! In classic Chaos and also real-life ruling dynasty fashion, the Word Bearers end up waxing their best officers because they are perceived as potential threat to the guy in charge and so sent on suicide missions which they know are suicide but have to pretend to either not know or not care or else whats the point in even being a Word Bearer?. 

Turns out the mission was not doomed but was suicide. Ship blow up, everyone die. 40k stories do get an extra kick when the doom is actual doom and not heroic doom. We get a little of that here, though the good guys so end up saving Macragge so everyones last stands actually did count. 

Good? No. 

Fun? Kinda? Honestly I quite enjoyed parts of this. 

Primarch Ping-Pong? None. 

Part of an Arc? A little. Abyss feeds into the Betrayal-at-Calth arc and Lorgar and Angrons genocide holiday on the eastern fringe. Characters do refer to it later a little and in short stories and fragments some sort of military response is arranged to try to stop it happening again. 

Feels Like Accounting? Not at all. None of these people come from or lead to any other book. Abyss generates and resolves its own entirely new problem before disappearing. 

Self-Nullifying Plot? Oh hell yes. Almost the defacto example. 

Contained Stage? In a strange way, yes? Almost everything happened “in the depths of space”. There are only a handful of locations and all of the ships are gone by the end.


Farewell Ben Counter! 

One of the trio of writers selected to start off GW’s Biggest Series Ever, he wrote ‘Galaxy In Flames’, probably the least interesting of the opening books, but not terrible. After  The Furious Abyss he is not invited back. 

He joins our list of “Fallen Heresy Writers”, toll the Bell of Souls for; 

Mitchel Scanlon (Descent of Angels)

Ben Counter (Galaxy in Flames, Battle for the Abyss

(He’s written plenty of stuff for Black Library since, just no Heresy Stuff.) 



Mechanicum – Graham McNeil

December 2008


I barely remembered the details of this when I reviewed it the first time and now I still don’t remember. 

From that review;  [So, what happened with the Priests of Mars during the Heresy? Kind of everything and nothing really.

Mars schisms right away due to a cybernetic APOCALYPSE WAR. Martian baddies release scrapcode, a future super-virus full of Chaos-stuff, into the Martian Mainframe, and within about 5 minutes, literally, half the planet is aflame and millennia of hoarded knowledge is trashed. McNeill is really good at writing these mega-scenes of tragic knowledge-loss.

In the story this effectively takes Mars and the Mechanicum, off the board of the Heresy on a large scale. Which is boring but functional.


Their reasons for turning are some of the most interesting. Some don't like E-Money/Terra and think they should be leading humanity. Some just want to do research. FREEDOM BABY.

The big promise Chaos makes the Mechanicum is that they will take the leash off and let them do whatever they want. Artificial Intelligence, full-scale genetic fooling around, psychic dickery, the whole thing.

The whole question of what on earth happens to an A.I. exposed to chaos, or what they would even think of chaos, is only lightly grazed in in the setting*.]


Good? Its Mid. 

Fun? I don’t really remember. I don’t think so? Interesting maybe. 

Primarch Ping-Pong? Not that I remember.. 

Part of an Arc? Not really.. HOWEVER, there are a bunch of fragmentary stories about the Mechanicum/Adeptus Mechanicus as the war goes on, and many about the business on Mars as various loyalists dip in and out of that warzone. There is a good Space Marine short story about some techmarines in training who realise “something is up” as Mars slides into civil war, a fun Young Bellisarius Cawl story where he escapes from a turning-chaotic Dark Mechanicum facility and some good political bits as the Mechanicum isolated on Terra transform into the Adeptus Mechanicus. 

Feels Like Accounting? Absolutely and totally. “What happened to the Mechanicum?” Well read this to find out and every other Mechanicum section attached to every other expeditionary fleet just ended up siding with that fleet. There are other Mechanicum stories but I can think of none where the cogboys actually form a strong opposition to either their loyalist or traitor commanders. There is not much Mars/Terra civil war in space stuff. 

Self-Nullifying Plot? Not quite. Mars remains a big fucking thorn in the side for the Imperium all through the Heresy and many stories are written about what they are going to do about it. The status and future of Mars also plays into mad shenanigans on Terra up to and during the Siege 

Contained Stage? Largely yes, it’s all about Mars.


*This is half-true. There are no evil chaos robot minds but there is an arguably-evil super-clockwork AI from the Dark Age of Technology which wants to destroy Chaos by, classically, wiping out mankind.




Nemesis – James Swallow

August 2010

I remember even less about this. Here are the highlights of the earlier review; [Why don't we just assassinate the enemy super-dude?" Asks everyone simultaneously.

So Malcador sends a shipload of space ninjas to take out Hourus and Maloghurst (Horus's Jaffir-style Grand Vizier), sends a super-demon to kill Big-E.

Both of these plans fail and once they catch wind of it, the Authorities on both sides nix any further assassination attempts.

There is a nice anime moment when someone tries to snipe a Primarch with a fucking huge gun the size of a building, which is also hidden in a building.]


Good? It’s very mid. 

Fun? It’s also very eh. 

Primarch Ping-Pong? Little bit of Dorn and Horus fails to turn up at the end. 

Part of an Arc? No but a single follow-up story is very good. The Sniper from this failed assassination attempt sneaks onboard the Vengeful Spirit, (which, as we have already discussed, tends to be pretty easy to get aboard), and decides to try to finish the job. Things do not go well. 

Feels Like Accounting? Very much so. 

Self-Nullifying Plot? Almost entirely. At the end of the book both sides simultaneously agree; “Lets not try assassination again, it is a silly thing”, and so they don’t.  Except they do a little bit but its hard to work out if Rus’s attempt on Horus with his magic spear is an actual intended killshot or just more theatre. The writers largely seem to have had a talk with each other and decided that both Horus and E-Money really want a face-to-face chat so Horus can cry and complain and kill his dad and so E-Dawg can [REDACTED]. 

Contained Stage? Honestly can’t remember.

The Outcast Dead – Graham McNeil

October 2011


Graham McNeil is back! And he has kinda forgotten the timeline!  

[A bunch of guys from Traitor legions were sent back to Terra to do the Captain America publicity thing, …  Now the Heresy is on they are in super-prison with rather mixed feelings. They were sent home largely before the corruption fully set in and so are not all chaosy themselves. But now Magnus has cracked a tube, they escape and are on the run. But to where?

There is a slightly silly future super-Samurai in this, and we get to meet maybe the last surviving Thunder Warrior who has been keeping it downlow in Terras criminal undercrust and hacking his own DNA to stay alive.

He's kind of a supervillan now but doesn't seem to hold it against Big-E?

Maybe he will turn up during the siege to do something.
[He hasn’t so far!]

The only other thing I can remember about this is Magnus cracking the tube gives an Astropath another FUTURE VISION which he has to get to someone important. This is a thing which gets re-used much later in the Solar War.]

Good? Mid. 

Fun? Loads! Himalayan mountain prisons! Samurai vs Space Wizard and World Eaters vs Thunder Warrior crime lord supervillain! 

Primarch Ping-Pong? No. 

Part of an Arc? Not really unless you count the “day-to-day-on-Terra” strand of stories an Arc. 

Feels Like Accounting? Voodoo accounting maybe, feels MENTAL. 

Self-Nullifying Plot? More like a what-the-fuck plot. Magnus’ message comes at the wrong time, the main character Kai Zulane get imprinted with a super-secret future vision of what happens on the Vengeful Spirit which everyone is after but in the end he meets the Emperor in a dream and E-Money says it’s cool I actually plan to die kinda actually? Like what? Think the Heresy writing team have decided to collectively forget about this one. Either it didn’t happen or if it did happen it didn’t happen at that time, in that way. 

Contained Stage? Arguably! Its Terra!


The Damnation of Pythos  - David Annandale

July 2014


[It's not bad. It’s a horror story. Evil wins and everyone involved is fated to be doomed no matter how hard they fight, which is more like how 40k actually would be probably.

We also get a good look at how traumatised and fucked up the Iron Hands are from their cybernetics addiction and dad-dying trauma.

The real characters in the Heresy aren't even the Primarchs but the Legions, these weird communities, multi-levelled, with a big crazy main personality, at the other end, lots of low-level, serfs effectively, or at least people who's only real option is to live inside a culture largely set by someone else, and distaff elements, mechanicuim, navigators (though we don't see much of them), and in the middle these ascended godboys. Super-malmukes who's character is shaped a little by the culture of their home a little by the genes of their space dad, a lot by the cumulative culture of the Legion. The culture of the Legion often has this interesting split in it, the Veterans are often from Terra, each chosen from different tribes, and a lot by their own choices (also by space-gods and psychic gene-magic).

Here the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders rock up on a crazy jungle planet with a freaky artefact which they find out they can use to predict and observe enemy fleet movements, letting them launch highly effective space ambushes.

Unfortunately, because Astartes Know No Fear, they don’t watch Horror Movies, which means they don’t notice any of the blatant and intensifying horror movie beats happening on Pythos. The creep factor just keeps growing and growing and the split between the factions just keep intensifying.

And then everyone gets eaten by demons because the Ruinous powers not only predicted everything they would do but, in classic chaos fashion, actually relied on it.

Good Work Ruinous Powers, if only all your plans worked this well.

The writing is not perfect and it gets a bit daft towards the end, but this is a strong, grim book which stands out in the HH due to its tone and sense of identity..]


Good? Kinda? Grinding prose but interesting. 

Fun? Not at all, very very depressing. But fun in a way. 

Primarch Ping-Pong? None. 

Part of an Arc? Arguably yes, despite having few to no strong connections to most of the Heresy Pythos sits in a web of low-level plot webs which I will describe here;


The Shattered Legions Stuff 

What happened to the Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard who survived Istvaan but didn’t meet up with any Main Characters? Well they had their own mini-adventures by various different writers which vary hugely in quality but have a lot of potential. The Ravens, Salamanders and Hands really have almost nothing in common and the Iron Hands in particular are having an absolute fucking meltdown after Ferrus dies. Watching them all fail to communicate can make for some interesting stories. 

The Demons-Being Weird micro-arc 

The idea of Demons hanging out in the Warp and dicking each other about while visiting reality to fuck with people like Orca breaching, is an idea that never really comes up much. 

Lorgar visits Fulgrim in hell later in the series, in Fear To Tread we see some demons teaming up to try to corrupt Sanguinius, and in this story we see a demon prince – Madail, a perhaps ill-chosen name which doesn’t really feel scary or demonic, emerge on Pythos. He turns up again in ‘Ruinstorm’ also by Annendale and which has a fair amount of pretty-good demon madness.  

The Fun Times on Davin web of stories

There are quite a few stories set on and around Davin, the Horus-falling arc, this Pythos and Ruinstorm arc and a neat short story where Erebus goes there to learn spooky magic from a witch.


If a guy who looks like this asks if he can start a version of the Masons in your army.. just say no.


Feels Like Accounting? No. Literally no-one was asking “but what happened on Pythos”  

Self-Nullifying Plot? Nearly. The good guys die but the villain from this does go on to fuck with Sanguinius. I forget but I think maybe one of the dents put in him by the Iron Hands here helps out in that situation? 

Contained Stage? Almost perfectly so. It’s the Dammnation of Pythos which takes place on Pythos and in space a bit.


Pharos – Guy Haley

July 2015


A fresh read! (fresh listen really).

 Robute is holding together his questionable Imperium Secundus on the Eastern Fringe using a creepy bit of xenos hypertech which he happened to dig up. Fragments of the Night Lords, (who survived Konrad getting his face pushed in by the Lion in one of the Forgeworld Red Books), find out about this glowing beacon in space and, without really understanding what it is, decide to take it. 

The Pharos is defended by its secrecy! Which it turns out is a terrible defence for a lighthouse! It’s also defended by Alexis Pollux, the guy who nearly killed Pertuabo at the Battle of Phall, loyalist Iron Warrior Barabas Dantioch, who also fucked with Pertuabos’ day, a handful of Ultramarines and the poor bloody infantry. 

A battle is on as the Ultramarines do Ultramarine stuff, Robute flips his lid trying to work out what to do, Pollux and Dantioch are best bros’ and the Night Lords, under pantomime-villain Gendor Skraivok, the ‘Painted Prince’ (he even sleeps on a bed!),  perhaps the first Space Marine to willingly pick up a demon blade, realise that despite being excellent creepy terrorists they are shit at siegecraft, especially vs an Imperial Fist AND an Iron Warrior working together, (maybe the first and last time that happens). 

Schemes will be schemed, last stands will be stood, the local populace will be skinned alive and the Pharos will be exploded, essentially ending Robutes Imperium Secundus and accidentally summoning the Tyranids. 


Good? High mid. Not an exceptional book but nothing to be ashamed of. 

Fun? Plenty! Haley writes a solid comic-booky 40k with decent character work and hissable villains. 

Primarch Ping-Pong? None, Robute is on his own for this one I think. 

Part of an Arc? Several! This forms part of the end of the Imperium Secundus arc. This incident, along with Konrad accidentally letting slip to the Lion that the Emperor is still alive, sends Sanguinius, Robute and the Lion on the path to terra. 

Alexis Pollux has his own deal and this story forma part of that. 

Barabas Dantioch has moved through a number of tales since his Primarch tried to kill him and here gets to finally die heroically. 

The planet Sotha will return in the 41st Millenium as the home of the Scythes of the Emperor chapter who have no idea why they have been set to watch over a giant spooky mountain (it’s the Pharos) or why their chapter symbol is a pair of Scythes (it’s a gesture of repsect towards the soldiers/agricultural workers of Sotha in ‘Pharos’ who died and suffered heroically to defend it from the Night Lords. 

Feels Like Accounting? Yes but not agonisingly so. The whole Imperium Secundus arc is rank with accounting and this is among the least offensive of the lot. 

Self-Nullifying Plot? Nope. 

Contained Stage? Largely yes. The battle for Sotha which takes place on Sotha. 


Hello Guy Haley! 

Its 2015 and Guy Haley has entered the Heresy. He will get three novels in the main series; Pharos, Wolfsbane and Titandeath, a Siege of Terra Novel; The Lost and the Damned, and three Primarch Books; for Konrad, Pertuabo and Corax. 

Haleys books don’t rise to the top of the series but they are defined by lively imagination and vivid characters. The shorter they are the better generally.



Tallarn – John French

August 2017

[Book opens with 99% of a worlds population dissolving and gets worse from there.

Pertuabo, still pissed from, pretty much everything that has even happened to him, is after another dang superweapon. This one seems to be a warp portal hidden beneath Tallarn, which presumably he hopes to use to repeat Horus' trick on Molech.

Oh and Pertuabo is dying it seems after that business with Fulgrim, and has an obsessive armour addiction.

Anyway he bio-nukes the surface of Tallarn and from that point on everyone has to roll around in tanks to get anything done.

Various factions run around in the bio-apocalyptic wasteland, including the Alpha Legion, who’s plans go about as well as accepted.
[“expected” Patrick]

The book is really more a collection of pre-existing tales and the best of these are the early ones concentrating on the military and civilian survivors of the initial attack.

Tank Operas, it turns out, are really effective storytelling devices. A bunch of people with complex interdynamics, locked together in a hierarchy, which is in a steel box that makes up both their prison and only chance of survival, seeing the world outside through a series of lenses and blotchy screens, having to continually shout out to each other exactly what they see.

It has that Jane Austin effect of the strands of a complex social structure thrumming like the spokes of a web under pressure. A lie in a tank is much more interesting than a lie elsewhere and an annoying teenage locked together in an armoured compartment with you is much more dramatically interesting than in normal circumstances.

An interesting thing brought to the surface of this story, but which the entire HH is about, and because its soooo fucking huge and affects such a huge range of time, is something that only a saga the size of the HH could really look at in the same way - causes and consequences.

No-one on Tallarn has a full idea of exactly what they are fighting for. In a real sense, the survivors have already lost everything they care about. Most of the population and all of the biosphere is dead. They don't know why the enemy are still fucking about on the surface and their initial strikebacks are done almost purely out of spite.

Chance, fortune and slim luck brings more Imperial dudes, which makes it a war.

All Pertuabo cares about is finding his goddamn warp gate, but he can't tell anyone about it because if they find out what he's after they can stop him getting it.

The Alpha Legion proceed upon their usual dickery, playing everyone off against each other.

But in this story, the Alpha-Legion get Alpha-Legioned because, again, by chance, a top-level Cyberpunk Assassin happens to be on the planet and survives the attack and then starts duelling them in the information sphere.

People are fighting largely on instinct, in a war who's shape they can't see, towards unclear goals that keep shifting, and no-one knows what is really going on. The war ends when one of Pertuabos guys finds the gate, but loathing what it represents, blows himself, and the access tunnel up, hiding its location.

Pertuabo is out of time and gets brought to heel by Horus.

Ten Thousand years later we know that the culture effectively created by the attack and subsequent armour war, in which the entire remaining civilian population was essentially drafted and trained in armour tactics, creates an Imperial War World who's job is essentially pumping out tank regiments for the Imperium.

The Warp Gate goes un-used and is eventually discovered, and sealed by the Imperium.

So what did it all amount to? A bunch of mistakes and near-misses leading to an unexpected end. This book felt in its tonality and texture much more like 'real' history than most HH stories.]


Thank you Old Patrick, a solid analysis which I doubt I could beat here.


Good? Yes. Imperfect but it has stuck in my memory. The initial stories about the thrown-together tank crews in particular. 

Fun? Very, very sad. And slightly fun. 

Primarch Ping-Pong? No. Perty looms in the background, makes bad choices and gets and email from Horus. 

Part of an Arc? Arguably sits between the “Fulgrim Screws Perty” arc and the “Horus Gets His Shit Together” arc. 

Feels Like Accounting? Not really. Again, no-one was asking “But what happens on Tallern?” or “But how does Perty come back after being betrayed by Fulgrim?” 

Self-Nullifying Plot? Sort-of largely yes. The whole thing is provoked by a search for a Demon-Gate that almost none of the characters know about and which none of the major ones ever find. The Gate does turn up in the 41st Millennium though. 

Oddly that makes it a strange paring with ‘Pharos’, which also has a piece of creepy hypertech built into the planet and which also ends with the hypertech nullified until it crops up millenia later, the planets population bollocked and all the major players moving on. And like ‘Pharos’ it’s the introduction (in novel form at least) of a new Heresy writer who gets their own books later. 

Contained Stage? Aye, it’s the Battle of Tallarn which Happens on Tallarn.



Hello John French! 

John French a previous writer for the Dark Heresy RPG, which makes him I think the second ex-RPG writer on the Heresy (Dembski-Bowden did stuff for White Wolf, appropriately enough). 

French writes very solid books. Later he will bring the baddys together in ‘Slaves to Darkness’, get them to Terra in blinding fashion in ‘The Solar War’ and smash though the walls of the Imperial Palace in ‘Mortis’. 

Notably he also wrote the Ahriman Trilogy and ‘Athame’ one of the more interesting Heresy short stories. 

French is a little more serious in tone than Haley, if I had to think of a defining quality I would say.. structural innovation? The Ahriman books do TIME LOOPS in excellent fashion, ‘Athame’ is innovative, it doesn’t show up as much in his Heresy books, but I will have time to look deeper into French when we get to his books.

Titandeath – Guy Haley

December 2018


Another fresh listen. By god I remember very little of this book. Lets see.. 

To reach Terra Horus has to get through the Beta-Garmon system. Rogal knows this, but also doesn’t really think he can win there, plus he wants to concentrate on the Solar System and Imperial Palace. 

So Rogal just jams Beta Garmon with a shitload of Imperial assets, and throws in all the Titans he can spare knowing Horus will need to kill those Titans with his own to take the system and that a Titan War of that scale will wreck the planet, which he would rather happen here than on Terra. 

In a synthesis of the writers and fictional generals ablative accounting, this also works for the Heresy writing team to answer; “What happened to the Titan Legions?” = most of them die here. 

The book gets off to a storming start with a classic fantasy heroine accidently winning the horse race and being made a knight/fulfilling the prophecy except this time its founding a titan legion. Much of the rest of the book is told from this legions pov and .. its not bad in concept? But isn’t very interesting. 

Appropriately for Beta-Garmon the book itself is a little bit of a clusterfuck with a lot of not much. We get the lives and loves of a Titan legion plus Sanguinius and the Khan providing too little leadership too late.. In the end Horus develops demon-posessed Titans, feints the loyalists into a grinding Titan war by sacrificing all the Titans he also didn’t care about and does a sneaky strike on the astropahic choir, turning them into torture sauce and using the mess to make a mini-ruinstorm which his forces can navigate fine via demons but which Robute and the Lion will be massively slowed by. Essentially repeating the Calth/Ruinstorm gambit in miniature. 

I’m describing events, that’s most of what we have here. I don’t have a great synthesis for you. 


Good? No. 

Fun? No. 

Primarch Ping-Pong? Dibs and dabs, Sangy and the Khan bob about, Horus comes in for one scene and leaves. 

Part of an Arc? Only the “Horus Gets Very Slowly Closer To Terra” Arc, which we are still in really with the Siege of Terra books. THOUGH, some of the Titan characters turn up to die nobly in ‘Mortis’. 

Feels Like Accounting? Very much so. 

Self-Nullifying Plot? No, Horus wants something and he gets it. Though actually it feels like it has a self-nullifying plot even though it doesn’t. 

Contained Stage? Yes, it’s the Titandeath happens on Beta-Garmon 2 and 3, part of the Beta-Garmon system. 

Oh shit I forgot! The Machine God is real and exists in the warp! We find out at the end. A little dab of McNeil-style craziness there. 


What, if anything, have we learned? 

Bottle novels have been the cradle of two “finishing line” HH writers, and the grave of one. 

Story-of-planet is a solid book concept. Try to keep it largely on one world. Go hog wild with the planet , you may as well – what happened on Pythos, what happened on planet x, Throw in some hypertech, a demon gate, some unusual planet bullshit! 

Small wars work well. 

Life and energy can get you a long way, but won’t always be appreciated. 


A bad place for Primarchs – they don’t fit and aren’t fun, they work best hanging out with each other in the main-line books. The bottle novels are for “ordinary” people to live and die. 

Make it a downer, again, you may as well. 

Don’t forget StraaandSS of FAaaAAATE WWhhOOOooo! The Imperiums’ loss at Sotha helps to end Imperium Secundus and get the goodies to Terra, the futile defence of Tallern keeps Pertuabo from a Demon Gate, but also keeps the Traitors together.. the assassin sent to kill Horus ultimately gets corrupted by him (in a short story), the Demon awoken on Pythos gets a dent from the Iron Hands! And… whatever the fuck was happening in ‘Furious Abyss’ and ‘Titandeath’.




Peace out Bottle Novels, workhorses and under-appreciated guardsmen of the Horus Heresy Series. In times to come, men will remember not whether you lived or died, but that you stood.


Friday 10 September 2021

Friday Reveal - THE FRONT COVER

 I seems hard to believe that, when I first started relentlessly posting marketing copy, five, maybe even seven days ago, that we would one-day reach this point, the point of me no longer having to advertise and whore myself out with every word I speak.

Yet here we are, only a day or so away from the end of the Kickstarter for Demon-Bone Sarcophagus and already I can feel parts of my soul re-entering my body.

But, sadly, not quickly enough to save you from 24 MORE HOURS OF BLARING NONSENSE BABAY!!!!!!!!!

The marketing beast writhes in my stomach. It churns and bubbles, flicks its tentacles and whispers...

"Show them the cover Patrick..." it burbles.
"Show them the front cover.... The WHOLE BIG THING."

Very well ye foul tumesence, I shall bow to thy will this one last time.

Behold, the mummification, of a QUEEN

Sad deeds done darkly as foul forms gather. 

The Fire Queens Sem Priest begins her mummification, but what disturbing spirits gather as she does? Simply the ghosts of Rohtzukgambehs questionable past? The echoes of slain foes of One Who Strode The World? Or something still worse?

There are monsters so awful that even to destroy them sets them free. They must be bound, secret and safe in a place shrouded in shadow that no-one will ever locate.

Until the moment YOU arrive.


You have a day left. Will we hit the big map tomb-plan version - probably not, but if we do end up making the Heist Plans in real life I will **TRY** [THIS IS NOT A LEGAL PROMISE JUST A STATEMENT OF DESIRE] to make sure people who backed for that level get a copy, even if the KS doesn't hit that level. [IF WE CAN AFFORD IT WE ARE ON MINIMUM WAGE OVER HERE].

Maps by Rachel Tew/Cartographybird

Design Polish by Mariah Ku

24+ hours to go!

Thursday 9 September 2021

Thursday Image - Seven Silver Statues

 "Persistent and irritating. The move like sleepwalkers or drugged actors playing nobles and feed off attention, following and gesturing at anyone who pays attention to them."

Who are these strange figures...

 and what do they portend? 

"1. A daring and beautiful, though imperious young woman, armed with a macahuitl, crowned, clearly not entirely human.
2. A near middle-aged man, cracks run though his flesh like the wood of fire-blackened trees. He feels calm, centred and commanding, uses a slender war hammer as a walking stick.
3. A slightly pompous, serious-looking young man, a half-face mask set around one eye, a circular sun etched in the centre of his chest, attired in what looks like jagged feathers.
4. A figure with no mask, impudent face. A light step and open manner. bald, halo like a candleflame. Indiscernible gender.
5. A teenage girl, half-face mask, hair worked into tight ropes. Slight vulnerability.
6. A teenage girl, lower body a crazed constellation of shifting elements, as if she were billowing int and out of existence from the waist down.
7. A teenage girl, no mask, armed with a sword, confident princely stride and high head. Statues Tipping Over: Filled with liquid metal, the statues are unsteady and must move slowly. If interfered with or impacted with, they may fall and if they fall they will smash open, releasing the mercury within."

To Find Out...

All you need to do is back out Kickstarter, then wait a year or two and back the second Kickstarter; 'Frictionless Blue Glass', and then assuming we haven't gone mad or bankrupt, come in again a year or so after that and back the third Kickstarter; 'Palaces of Fire'!

There you will visit the titular Palaces of Fire and meet all the individuals depicted here (except for one....)

Pretty simple really. 

Though actually we do include a big lore dump at the start of this book which sets up and refers to the whole series and which is itself introduced by your old friend....



And who calls in a new friend, one freshly arrived at False Machine Towers, (we needed someone with a 'sonorous tone' for the Lore bits). Who are they....

Back the Kickstarter to find out!


Wednesday 8 September 2021

Meet the Salt Dryad

Only three days (of marketing posts), till the Demon-Bone Sarcophagus Kickstarter is done.

"In the darkness, a ring of burning phosphorous orbs reveals a glittering chrysalis of violet crystal wrapped around an empty space, in the shape of a woman.

Her eyes sparkle like broken geodes. She wears a depleted uranium robe that curls around her like smooth silk, and carries a Tomb Key around her neck."

Handmaiden to the Queen of Fire, the timeless dryad has been chilling in her Helictite Boudoir, quietly watching the tendrils of her salt-ivy infiltrate and consume the local area.

"Glistering and glimmering, reflecting every ray of lamplight, the Ivy is a wonderland, shining like ice over steel, rising in piles from the floor and hanging like vines from above. Plantlike tendrils form a semi-enclosed globular bed, like a huge empty lantern, in the middle of the room."

Those of you familiar with Salt Dryads will know that they key to speaking with them is to be polite. (If your PCs played through Deep Carbon Observatory and met the Salt Dryads there then Navidorines responses will take that into account.)

The Keys to the Tomb

As for the Tomb Key - yes, this is a dungeon crawl and there are Keys. In particular the Tomb Keys which open (or aid in opening if you are an exceptionally good thief) several important doors. 

The Tomb Keys are cursed (or enchanted), should you receive one willingly, it acts as a normal item. If you receive one without the consent of its holder then each key weighs 75 Kilos (about 160 pounds). Though of course for the true OSR player having a super-dense item only opens up new and disturbing possibilities for trickery and problem solving.

New Interview

A new interview! On a little-seen blog, Dan Sumptons Peakrill!


Watch me be interviewed from a car! In respect for the theme of the book, one item in Dans car chooses to go on fire during the interview, can you guess what it will be, and when?

Add-On Products?

Can we 'add on' other False Machine products with Demon-Bone Sarcophagus?

Effectively - yes.

As soon as the book is printed it goes up on our store here;

The backers are then sent a code which reduces the cost of the book to zero.

They then go to the store, order the book using the code, paying nothing for the book itself, and pay postage to wherever they are.

At the same time you can order any other False Machine book available at the store and have it sent to you as part of the same order with combined postage