Continuing my very irregular book review series with the latest in The Primarchs series...
Coming in at 248 pages for a £12.99 hardback we are certainly in the realms of novella rather than full novel, albeit printed on a larger page. However this is not the book's fault; this seems to be style of the series, essentially giving the reader a flavour of the Primarchs' backstory/upbringing.
Which leads us to the first, crucial point; this book places way more emphasis on Lorgar's upbringing than on a general 'discovery by the Imperium/introduction to/shaping of the legion in question. Specifically, huge parts of this book are given over to Lorgar's first few weeks of life on Colchis. I would take the argument that this most pivotal of primarchs is deserving of such detail, in order that we may get a sense of his studious, fey nature but to me it just felt more like it belonged to a longer novel, rather than devoting a large portion of the novel to his first few weeks and the end pretty much being 'and then after a few years he conquered all of Colchis' (spoiler?). The balance is lacking in this one, I fear.
The contrast between this approach and say, Fulgrim, which places the reader at the IIIrd legion's first solo compliance action, many years post-discovery and legion shaping, with a few recollections of Chemos interspersed, was jarring.
I would have much preferred Lorgar to have followed the same path and given us a sense of the legion adapting to its new father figure, taking on his teachings, moulding their faith, interspersed with flashbacks to Lorgar's early days on Colchis, much like the regular Horus Heresy series do. Conversely, I would have enjoyed a novel concentrating on Fulgrim's time on Chemos, a backstory I have always found interesting. However, I'm not here to wishlist the novel I wanted, but the one that we got..
The other major bone of contention I have with this story pertains to the pivotal Kor Phaeron-Lorgar relationship. Obviously this requires some suspension of disbelief that a demi-god-like being can be manipulated by a regular human, which is fine insofar as most of the plot of the Heresy requires this, but it still felt a little...plot-device-y. If I can venture some conjecture here, I suspect the reason so much of this book centres around Lorgar's first few weeks of (conscious) life if that this was the only time it made relative sense for him to be so impressionable and accepting of so dubious a father figure; Kor Phaeron is completely bound up in his spiralling plots - Lorgar is only ever a tool to be manipulated. (There is a throwaway line right at the end of the novel implying Lorgar allowed Kor Phaeron to believe Lorgar unconditionally accepted his teaching as a way of masking his own plans, this is so convenient it just smacks of bad writing, and if Lorgar didn't truly believe all along, how on earth would he magically end up a true believer later?)
The parts I most enjoyed were those centred on Kor Phaeron's clandestine mission to keep the 'old faith' alive wherever he found it; this allows the idea that the seeds for Lorgar's return to the first faith he knew were planted way, way before his shaming on Monarchia and his pilgrimage to the Eye, rendering this aspect of the legion's volte face of worship far more believable. It was there all along!...
There are some minor grammar/continuity issues of no real concern, with the hilarious exception of the epilogue, which is set right at the onset of the Legion rejecting worship of the Emperor, (i.e. post-Monarchia) but according to the subscript apparently takes place in M40...c'mon guys, pretty basic timeline, you're only about ten thousand years out...
Overall, Lorgar is a decent read, I just feel its subject is a little misguided, (how apt!) and it could have done with more focus on the Machiavellian schemes of the legion in the run up (and way before) the Heresy and less on baby Lorgar's first steps. I can't let my personal feelings interfere too much; Lorgar is a decent book with a decent story; certainly you'll feel the urge to take up the sword and mantle of the cultist (incidentally I am building a cultist militia all of a sudden...), I just can't help but wish for the novel this could have been.
Thought for the day; 'Blessed is the mind too small for doubt'.