We Need to Talk About Corax

Apologies for the post title, but it was the best I could come up with…

Why "Corax:"? Because there are more to come...

Why “Corax:”? Because there are more to come…

Today (1800 GMT, in fact) my latest novella goes on sale. Corax: Soulforge is a Horus Heresy story in which I revisit the Raven Guard after recent time spent with the Dark Angels.

The situation is dire for the Imperium. The galaxy is torn in two by the Ruinstorm, the Space Wolves and White Scars are currently MIA while the Imperial Fists fortify Terra. Of the other legions, only scant information is available. Having chosen to bring the fight to Horus and his forces, Corax and his legion are waging planetary guerrilla warfare to slow the Warmaster’s advance.

This concept is central to the character of Corax. His legion is all but wiped out, but he will fight on to the last warrior if necessary. All of the Primarchs are driven by their past and their upbringing, and in Soulforge I’ve been able to look again at Corax’s motivations. Here’s my thoughts.

Coming to maturity amongst political prisoners has given Corax a strong ideology that drives everything he does. More than any of his brothers, Corax sees himself as a liberator. First, as the saviour of Deliverance. Second, as a commander of the Emperor freeing the galaxy from the darkness of the Long Night. He does not see himself as a conqueror, though he has conquered worlds. He does not desire dominion over the people and territories he has brought to compliance and, perhaps foremost amongst the Primarchs, was ready and willing to relinquish power to Mankind. Corax planned to compose a political treatise that would do for governance what Guilliiman’s Codex would do for warfare.

Now you can read the Raven's Flight script too.

Now you can read the Raven’s Flight script too.

With the treachery of Horus threatening to bring back the darkness once more, Corax has found new determination and a fresh purpose for war. He knows better than most the sacrifices required for victory, and although he values life highly he is far from a pacifist. Innocents will die, but Corax believes in his cause and hardens himself to their deaths. A greater aim drives him, allowing him to put aside the tragedies he must unleash in order to achieve that higher goal. As he says himself in Soulforge, “War is simply a series of intentional catastrophes”.

Yet for all this, Corax holds back from a total ‘ends justify the means’ approach. It is this that separates him from the likes of Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter who has plagued his thoughts since their confrontation on Isstvan V. It is a hard path to tread, and perhaps is one that brings Corax and his legion more grief than necessary. Corax often chooses the harder road to tread, preserving the lives of those he has sworn to protect in favour of his own warriors, holding back from bombardment and annihilation for fear of causing too much collateral damage.

He gets all the cool covers.

He gets all the cool covers.

One might think that he is perhaps testing his own resolve at every opportunity, seeking to assure himself that the vainglory, selfishness and arrogance that has seen the fall of the greatest Primarchs does not exist within him. This leads to self-doubts, and ultimately a questioning of everything he has done in the name of the Emperor.

On the other hand, Corax is well aware that he stands apart from humanity. He is not a mortal, something made very apparent by his own unnatural abilities and the status of saviour that was given him by the downtrodden of Lycaeus. He is a creature far removed from the humans that he protects, and while he may try to disguise his nature for the most part he cannot deny it. It is in believing himself different but not better that he attempts to reconcile this separation.

During Soulforge Corax will have to confront these issues if he is to succeed. We’re still a long way from that fateful ‘Nevermore’ moment, but in Soulforge we get to see a bit more of the journey that will take us there.

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Published in: on April 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm  Comments (14)  

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m so looking forward to this book and am certainly interested in the aspects of Corax you’ve mentioned above. I also find it interesting to see how he deals with failure, given Isstvan V, and the Raptors etc. These are pretty catastrophic failures and he just gets on with things which i like. He seems an exemplar of continuous struggle. Combined with stealth and lightning claws this is a great mixture.

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    • I’m not sure if either of the two events you mentioned could be marked as failure. How can something that was a result of enemy operation can be failure? On Istvaan V, the XIX Legion was victim of attack from unexpected side. And in case of Raptors, they were the target of an operation they (Corax and his loyal commanders) didn’t even know that was executed. They lost in both cases, but they survived.
      I think that it was victory that even some of Raven Guard legionaries survived and it was success that even some number of Raptors was able to bolster the legion forces. Corax was struck with grief so much because he, as master strategist of covert operations, blamed himself for not seeing this – well, at least the Istvaan betrayal. But seriously, how could he? XIX Legion didn’t have any forces deployed in the theatre, Corax didn’t have any eyes on target. Without independent source of intelligence he wasn’t able to predict any of this.
      So I think that he’s doing all this (and I really can’t wait to see in Soulforge what “this” would be) to atone the mistakes that weren’t his. And with his abilities, it will be interesting.

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  2. Sounds great, Gav.

    A thought, though – I know it’s not really you’re territory, but are either you or ADB ever going to shed some light on Alastor Rushal/”The Raven” again? You know, the Raven Guard 89th Captain who has no tongue and now fights for the Night Lords?

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  3. I haven’t been particularly inspired by the last few Horus Heresy books but this is one I’m looking forward to reading. Corax and Curze tend to compete for the title of favourite Primarch depending on what I read last, lol.

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  4. I hope you know that you’re always welcome in the damp, dark halls of the Rock. Don’t be a stranger now. ;)

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  5. Poor Corax. :(

    Why can’t there be a novella (or heck, even a short story) about some Primarchs vacationing on a beach? :P

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  6. Lieiedhe: Write it! Gav: It’s great to see these icons of power expand out from one trick ponies into fully fleshed characters. From “The Emo Primarch” into complex individual.

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  7. I just got e-mail that my book was shipped. Well from UK to Slovakia, it’ll be at least a week, probably two so I have to sit tight. But at least I’ve got great role model who is accustomed to waiting in the darkness.
    Gav, thanks for both Deliverance Lost and for Soulforge as well. I’m curious if there will be something more to shed light on how the XIX Legion is conducting their operations. I missed this in Deliverance Lost or Raven’s Flight. There were no descriptions of multiple-squad rear guard operations, nor some description of scout-led ambushes protecting the vunerable flanks of retreating legion.
    But Raven Guard against Dark Mechanicum – I can’t wait to see what the XIX Legion have prepared for them

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    • Corax: Soulforge is ALL about the Raven Guard way of war, albeit in tight circumstances. Feints, misdirection and deadly assault combined to terrifying effect.

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      • Great, I can’t wait to read it and see Raven Guard in action. I’m sure it will be cool, as always.

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      • I have to read the Soulforge twice to get all the details. And I have to say – it’s amazing. The new infiltration and attack craft, the Shadowmasters even the tactics. All of it is great. Thanks a lot Gav for this book. I’m looking forward to the next one

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  8. Damn, missed it! Any idea if it’ll ever be available again? I guess not, considering its ‘Super-Limited Edition’ status…

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    • Missed it? Wow, that probably took some effort. Fear not, the novella will be made available on more general release in a year or two’s time…

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      • Thanks Gav! If anybody was capable of missing what I now see is a huge amount of excellent press concerning this release, it was me :P

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