Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Dawn of Fire - The Best Thing to Happen to 40k

We're only two books into the Dawn of Fire series, and I'm confident in my statement that this is the best thing to happen to 40k in recent memory! How can I make sure a bold declaration? Read on to find out!

At time of writing this we have two books in the new Dawn of Fire series from Black Library, Avenging Son and Gate of Bones, with a third announced and on the way in the future. If you're not familiar with this series, at its core, its essentially the equivalent of the Horus Heresy series for the modern 40k setting. Where as the Heresy series, as the name implies, follows the very end of the Great Crusade and the great galactic civil war that followed, the Dawn of Fire series instead follows the very start of the Indomitus Crusade. The Indomitus Crusade is Guilliman's gambit to reclaim the battered Imperium after the events of the Gathering Storm and reassert a firm guiding hand over it. Sounds pretty cool so far, but what makes it the BEST thing to happen to 40k?


1. Roboute Guilliman

Roboute Guilliman has always been one of my favorite primarchs, but the stories since his reemergence into the 41st millennium has catapulted him into the front runner spot for me. His Heresy stories are great, don't get me wrong, but seeing him as a fish out of water in the backwards era of modern 40k really exemplifies how great of a leader he is. That's what makes him so great too. He's a fantastic warrior, but where he really excels is as a leader. While the Emperor may still be the head of the Imperium on the Golden Throne, it's Guilliman who's truly leading it now.

I loved him in the Dark Imperium novel (I still need to read the other two in that series) and he continues to be awesome here. He doesn't get a ton of time in Gate of Bones, but we do get more time with him in Avenging Son. Not only is he a great character on his own, but it's his unique perspective that really makes him awesome, which leads me to my next point...

2. The Imperium is a Horrifying Hellhole

While the Imperium may be the faction we're supposed to identify with in the setting, being humans and all, there's no denying how horrible of a system of government it really is. Sometimes this can get lost though in other stories. Not in the Dawn of Fire novels. In Avenging Son we get plenty of time "seeing" the Imperium from Guilliman's viewpoint. It's a horrifying, dilapidated mess of a system. This is played out in Dark Imperium as well. Guilliman is aghast at how inhumane and backwards it all is. He also despises the state religion, as he know his father is not a god. Despite all this, he also knows that he can't just kick the whole thing over and start again. He has to make compromises. Compromises that I'm sure are eating away at his soul. He has started to make little changes here and there to improve things, but it's slow going. I'm sure in his mind he believes he first must save what's left of the Imperium from Chaos before he can save it from itself. In Gate of Bones we see his more level headed approach to dealing with the Eldar as well. While he may not like them, he's not going to just kill them on the spot and understands that you need allies in the galaxy.

In Gate of Bones we also get a similar perspective from the Custodes. They also despise the state religion of the Imperium. Like Guilliman they know the Emperor is not a god and wouldn't want to be worshipped as one. Despite this, they have to bite their tongue and play along with the other factions, like the Sisters of Battle, in order to get things done. The whole time they're horrified by what they're seeing though.

I think this is an important point for the writers to continue to emphasize. The Imperium is a horrible fascist regime, that by any sane standards would be rejected right away. It's only in the equally hellish 40k universe that it's seen as a necessary evil. I really hope future books in the series continue to pull on this thread. Continue unravelling the myth that is the Imperium and reveal its horrible true face. That's not to say I want the Imperium to go away. It's an integral part of the 40k setting. It's just important to remember how horrible it really is.

3. We're Along For The Ride

This is what I really liked about AoS too. An unfolding story that we get to be a part of. For so long, the setting in 40k has been right on the precipice and most of the grander stories were from its past. Now we're finally moving forward and we get to see what's going to happen, as it happens. Unlike with the Heresy series, I more or less have no clue how the Indomitus Crusade is going to play out. While I'm mostly talking about the Dawn of Fire series, this also applies to its adjacent books, such as the Dark Imperium trilogy, the Dante trilogy, and stand alone books like The Great Work. These are all part of the new unfolding story, and really give the authors and background writers tons of creative freedom.

Those are the reasons why I think the Dawn of Fire series is the best thing to happen to 40k. What do you think? Are you a fan of it? Where would you like to see it go and what corners of the 41st millennium would you like it to explore in the future?

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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