Read: A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill


(Editor’s note: I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the 30k universe lately, and figured that I may as well throw my thoughts out there regarding some of the books I’ve read. I don’t really read them in any particular order; my book selection process consists of walking into the FLGS, browsing their collection and thinking “hey, I haven’t read this one yet and I’ve always wanted to learn more about X Legion”. The “Read” series will be a quick (spoilerless) review of each novel.)

A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill is my most recent read, and I must say I quite enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I knew next to nothing about the Thousand Sons prior to the book, knowing little more than the fact that it was Magnus’ attempt to warn the Emperor of Horus’ betrayal that resulted in the Space Wolves being sent to bring him in. I must admit that I was a little more hesitant that I usually am when starting this book, as the Thousand Sons didn’t really interest me in the way that more dynamic Legions such as the Blood Angels or Sons of Horus do.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-crafted story that asked some interesting questions. Namely, do the ends justify the means? Do the intentions of the actor justify the means by which he reaches his goals? In the context of A Thousand Sons, is loyalty strong enough justification to use evil means to achieve noble goals?

I must admit that GW’s trailer for the Burning of Prospero box, as narrated by Ahriman, did a wonderful job of capturing of what made the Burning of Prospero so tragic – and McNeill captures the injustice of Prospero quite well in this book. Did the citizens of Tizca really deserve the destruction of their homeworld? Did the otherwise loyal Thousand Sons need to be broken for the well-intentioned decisions of their Primarch, especially considering Magnus’ significant regret over what he had done?

You may think it nobler to suffer your fate, but I will take arms against it.

I was further pleasantly surprised to find myself rooting for the Thousand Sons, despite all we now know about their descent into Chaos and their present state in the 40k universe. They are the scholars and intellects who have built a glittering, wondrous city focused on learning and the arts – the Space Wolves are the savages at the door, and yet the Wolves are supposed to be the “good” guys. An interesting contrast from the traditional tropes, and I look forward to reading Prospero Burns to get their side of the story.

The book is a little long (one of the longer Heresy books I’ve read) and could have benefited from a little tighter editing, particularly in the first half of the book as it’s not until the Council of Nikea occurs that the action really picks up (and it was awesome to finally read an account of what happened there). And aside from Ahriman, the other Thousand Sons captains are relatively one-dimensional. But all these flaws are made up for by a well-written story of a Legion’s unwilling descent into heresy; proof that the road to Hell really is paved with good intentions.

WIP: Crimson Fists 30k Seeker/40k Sternguard Sergeant

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Ignore the white spot on his forehead, that’s just the reflection of my lamp 🙂

Happy 2017! A very busy holiday season meant less time for posting, although the hobbying time didn’t decrease; in fact, more time at home and not at work meant I got a good chunk of my Crimson Fists painted. More pics to come. Also received some wonderful hobbying presents that will keep me busy for the foreseeable future, including a giant box of Marines from my wonderful fiance 🙂

Anyway, above is my work-in-progress 30k Seeker/40k Sternguard sergeant. He’s about 90% complete, and requires just some edge highlighting on the black and chapter/company markings, along with some weathering. He’s built using a mish-mash of Mark 3 and Mark 7 parts, along with the bare head from the Ultramarines upgrade sprue. I normally shy away from painting bare heads, preferring the realism/aesthetics of Marine helmets, but lately I’ve been experimenting with using more of them and the results have worked out great.

The trick, I’ve found, is to keep things simple. The above results were made using a Cadian Fleshtone base, an all-over wash of Reikland Fleshshade, then highlights using Cadian Fleshtone again. I tended to overdo highlights on fleshtones in the past, so I deliberately kept them to a minimum with this mini.

The sergeant also illustrates something I’ve been doing to all my Crimson Fists sergeants – giving them personalized heraldry via a backpack icon, then repeating that heraldry on their chestpiece and on the shoulder roundel. For this particular model, I found enough bits to add scrollwork heraldry on his backpack icon and chestpiece – I’ll be freehanding some scrollwork around the skull on the roundel to finish off the model. I find it does a nice job of adding some character and history to the model, because we all know that lets them roll better on the table 🙂