Pawns of Chaos (Warhammer 40,000 Novels)

Pawns of Chaos - Brian Craig This was a strange book in the 40k range. Usually the Chaos bit are from space marines pov and usually Chaos is what the word means: Chaos. Chaos is evil and such ...chaos... thingies. But on this book Chaos is something else. Tzeentch the god of the Gulzacandra people and is represented in one way that nobody done it before (or that I read it, of course).

In these book we follow several characters. Dathan from a Village in the middle of nowhere and Hycilla, the wise dreamer girl (a psyker). We also have Gavalon, the most powerful sorcerer on Sigmatus and leader of the forces against the Imperium and Nimian a boy who is a vessel to a daemon called Sathorael. On the other side of the conflict we have the Governador Orloc and the Inquisitor Balberith. We have several more characters but unimportant.

This tale follows the destruction of Dathan village by a Orloc general Fulbra as they flee and meet Gavalon army who is trying to battle Fulbra. So far so good. But there are differences between them. The chaos army (Gavalon) are armed with spears and swords and such and in the other end Orloc is armed with the Imperium arsenal ranging from firearms and trucks and cannons. This book also tells something the "Imperium" on this novel. They are the descendents of the original Imperium faith. Some of the Imperium guys want the True Imperium to come back and others do not, afraid of what they would do. Very interesting point of view. It's like Christianity. It was created something then changed to something else.

The prologue felt like I was reading a Aztec chronicle about the invasion of the spaniards. Few spaniards kill thousands american indians. Or like Colonial England versus Indians (from America). But what is tale about? And Why so good?

There is a moral dilemma, which turns the plot: not between good and evil - the book is ambivalent about them - but between order and chaos. As I read more about the characters and their views I came to understand that Chaos isn't just "Kill Murder and Destroy." It's more than that. There are people like me and "normal" people that worship or follow a doctrine that is considered evil. Like the Aztects that sacfifice animals and even people are they a bad religion to follow? To our western standarts they are but...

Other thing that made me love the book is the way the "Chaos" saw the Imperium. To them the Imperium destroy their homes and their way of life. Are they the Good guys? I now understand that the Imperium isn't the Good Guy of the races in the 40k universe. Of course neither is Chaos, Eldar or Tau. The rest (Dark Eldars, Orks, Necrons, Tyrannids) are too wild/animal or mechanical to be considered ever good guys).

This book change my view of Order and of the Chaos. Transcript:

(Dathan) ... But we are heroes, he reminded himself, and we have magic,. The Imperium has guns, and trucks but I have face them twice aqnd - admittedly with magical aid - have beaten twice. We are heroes fighting for our homeland, and Gavalon the Great is a powerful sorcere. How can the enemy possibly win?
(Gavalon) 'The secret of wether the enemy can possible win may be the darkest secret of all,' Gavalon said, his sonorous voice becoming even more distant and ruminative. 'Darker that the secret hidden by the Golden Throne itself. Everything we know and believe, of course, tells us that the Imperium cannot possibly win in the end. In the fullness of time, the only possible victory is that of Chaos. In the fullness of time, the only possible fate for humankind is extinction. And yet the Imperium fights on - and who knows what petty victories they might win the meantime, or what the true value of those petty victories might be? We who are proud to be dwellers in Gulzacandra and followers of the Changer of the Ways might say, and might even believe, that we are the heroes of the eternal struggle - but we know in our hearts that it is not true, and that the Imperium has the monopoly ao heroism. We fight out of choice, driven by pride and lust and fury, and everything we do hastens our own end and the end of our species. They fight for duty, driven only by faith. They know that they cannot win, but they fight on, determined to survive for another hour, another year, another century... even though they know that they cannot survive forever. It is they, not us , who maintain the game and make it worth the playing, it is they not us , who are the game. The ultimate triumph of Chaos, which lies so far in the future as to be of little concern to short-lived creatures such as you an I, is absolutely certain. The ruination and destruction of all mankind is but a tiny part of that culmination. The Imperial forces have nothing to fight for but a trivial postponement, and yet they fight. They have made their emperor a god, and are surely right to do so, for if anyone less that a god could ever deserve to become one, what other kind of man could it be than an emperor? The imperial forces are the heroes, because they gave nothing to win but a momentary eyeblink in the hour of eternity, for the sake of which they have sacrificed every freedom, every thought, every hope and every pleasure. They will never know how grateful my Divine Master and those like him must be for all their sacrificies, or what the true value of their petty victories must be.'
In the end of the book after the climax the God Tzeentch talks to Dathan and thanks him for betraying him.
"Who else could give thanks for a betrayal? Who else could entertain such a paradoxical need?" ... (Dathan) I'll never serve your cause' Dathan said. 'Never. I'll always betray you, because I'm a man. Mankind is all that stands between things like you and the ultimate annihiliation of everything'. ... (Tzeentch) How could one delight in taking the side of Chaos, in being Chaos, if there were no Order to make a game of it? Where is the spice in easy victory? Where is the pride, the joy, the sense of achievement, the triumph? I need enemies, Dathan, even more that I need allies. There is nothing quite so precious to me as a Traitor. But it doesn't work the other way around. Remember that Dathan, when you begin to feel again. Order cannot tolerate traitors, or weaklings, or maladjustment, or creativity. Order needs nothing but order, and calm of mind." ... (Dathan) .. then at least I'm free from all temptation. I am no longer corruptible.' 'That's good, very good. The only thing more valuable to the Ruinous Powers than a corruptible soul is an incorruptible one."

I think this says everything. This book is excelent and maybe the only fault would be the pace of the book. Brian Craig dwells much in every character psyche and the action scenes are rushed. But I must say If you want a book where Chaos is different from the usual books then this book is for you. If you want a book that what matters is the characters, philosophy. Then it's this book.