Requiem Infernal

For talking openly about the spoilers from Black Library fiction.

Requiem Infernal

Postby Lord of the Night » Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:55 pm

Okay, it is time to compile my thoughts on the latest entry to the Dark Coil, Requiem Infernal by Peter Fehervari. Get ready for some mind-twisting thoughts, and heavy spoilers for the book so if you haven't read it yet, DO IT NOW!!
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Firstly the novel very nicely continues the idea that in 40k reality is a malleable construct. This is something that I've talked about with Peter in the past and this was his description of the idea behind it.

" My take on the 40k mythos (which I honestly feel reflects its logic) is that the firmament is mind, not matter, with emotions and beliefs literally shaping - or warping - reality. This is why 'ghosts' are not only frequent, but substantial in many of my stories. The Coil is essentially a metaphysical tangle - or cancer - growing at the heart of reality that manifests physically in regions where the consensus of beliefs have become particularly frayed, such as Phaedra, Sarastus and Redemption."

I saw a lot of this in RI, from the Incarnates ability to travel vast distances quickly by stepping through the "cuts" in reality, the nature of Sister Asenath and Sister Mercy, and the journey of the Blood of Demeter across Vytarn's ocean to name a few. I suspect that the journey to the Koronatus Ring is a microcosm of the Dark Coil, the time an individual spends on the journey is not the same as the time that has actually passed, and your belief in what can/could/will happen to you plays a big role in whether or not you'll emerge where you want to, or emerge at all. And the Incarnates ability to traverse Vytarn quickly isn't new, the character Talasca in Cult of the Spiral Dawn was able to do the same thing across Redemption's wastelands. But RI offers a new idea about why such a thing is possible in some places but not others. Pain. The Incarnates find it much easier to "step across" and arrive in areas where events of pain and suffering have occurred, a nod to their nature as beings of Chaos, but we know that events of that nature can thin the divide between materium and immaterium, which several characters note is already very thin on Vytarn (which is why no psykers are born there). However a reason, or potential one, for why this is so on Vytarn is given at the end when the Koronatus Ring is revealed to be of Eldar construction and is essentially a sewage plant that siphons off the excess Warp effluvium of the Webway and dumps it out onto Vytarn.

Now Sister Asenath and Sister Mercy are a much more overt manifestation of this concept. My theory is that Sister Mercy is a split personality of Asenath, a more violent and angry one, that Asenath's belief has evolved into a separate soul (as Athanazius notices near the end, using the term "souls" rather than "soul") and results in two beings inhabiting the same body. Yet Mercy is not Chaotic in nature as far as I could tell, she seems more like the darker aspects of Asenath's character given sentient form, but since Asenath views her (initially) as a Daemon her form is different with claws and needle-stilt like legs that allow her much greater mobility and killing power than the base human form. But these changes vanish when Asenath is in control, so they aren't mutations. As I said above I see this as a much more overt manifestation of the power of will and belief to alter reality. Also the Perihelion Light being revealed to be a simple wax candle that nonetheless can be seen across the oceans (which utterly stumps Mercy as to how) reinforces this as to me it was pretty clear that it's the faith and belief of the inhabitants and visitors to the Koronatus Ring that allows a single candle flame to seen across the horizon. (Also i'd like to think at the end, for now, that Mercy chose to have some faith and pray with Asenath rather than rage as would be her first instinct.) Whether or not the two have become "Travellers on the Coil", which is the term I use to describe those characters who are or have travelled through the Dark Coil like Captain Templeton, Chaplain Malvoisin and Preacher Gurdjieff, I can't be sure but only time and more stories will tell. (The name Asenath was also a great reference for fans of HP Lovecraft!)

The Travellers are another great concept since these characters have experiences that very few others can comprehend, and within the book i'm fairly certain that Jonah Tythe and Father Deliverance/Olber Vedas have travelled the Coil in their strange cat and mouse game that seems to span time and various alternate realities, but more on that later, and by the end I believe that Sisters Indrik and Aokihara have both begun their own sojourn into the Coil, and where they'll end up is anyone's guess. There are a few of Fehervari's stories that I have not had the chance to read yet so it may be that they have already reappeared somewhere in some form, but if not RI has done a very good job of setting up further threads to follow on from.

One idea in the novel that really had me engaged was what Jonah and Asenath term "Violation". Through the book both characters, and it's hinted others as well, realise that some of their memories are no longer accurate, and that when they realise that suddenly their memories begin to shift to accommodate the new reality. The best example is Asenath learning that Palatine Bhatori is still alive and in charge of the Bronze Candle, when her own memory initially is that a novice sister went crazy and defenestrated the Palatine and was then executed for it. Very quickly on learning of her former teacher being alive, Asenath's memory changes to the novice simply committing suicide rather than murder. I'm not sure as to the reason behind this but my theory is that it is a result of Father Deliverance/Olber Vedas, who in his own words "insinuated" himself into the "timeline" of the Last Candle. Now if that means what I think it does and that Deliverance can remove himself from the stream of causative time and insert himself into the past or future, his presence would cause ripples that would begin to change things. I think this is reinforced by a moment when Preceptor Halagaz tells Jonah how long Olber Vedas has resided on Vytarn, only to pause and state that he has "always been here", her tone seeming as though she has only just realised that, which Jonah and Asenath quickly realise is another Violation. It's pretty complicated and I don't fully grasp it yet, but i'll think on it more and see where my thoughts lead me.

One reference I particularly loved was on p.g 156, and reads "It is an article of the Imperium's pride that no Adepta Sororitas warrior has ever fallen to daemonic possession and, come what may, I will not allow myself to be the first. OH, THAT RACE WAS RUN AND WON BY ANOTHER UNSPUN SPINSTER OF THE THRONE LONG AGO, GREY SISTER." Miriael Sabathiel is an old reference to make, and I loved it!

Now for threads to the other books there are a few that I noticed, and I few i'm guessing/theorising at. The first is that Vytarn is also Redemption, the future world of the Spiral Dawn and where the Vassago Black Flags will eventually clash with them. The Koronatus Ring is a dead giveaway since it appears in both but now we see that the settlement there was built by the Last Candle and eventually adopted by the Thorn Eternal, who would then lose it to the Spiral Dawn. It was an idea in CotSD that the planet is cursed and that everyone who is involved with Redemption eventually pays the price for it, which is further reinforced here as very few survive the events of the novel, and a few of those who do have dark fates ahead of them. Given that all four Chaos Gods briefly warred for control over Vytarn, or just to carouse for the hell of it, it isn't surprising that the planet could be tainted and some of that taint could be cursing those who inherit control of the planet. It wouldn't be the first time in 40k that a curse has destroyed individuals and organisations (look to the Crimson Slaughter who were undone by a curse from Khorne, same for the Oracles of Change with a curse from Tzeentch.) Possibilities...

The return of Arkan and it's people was a great Easter egg in the book, and it shows that these stories are interconnected in ways beyond the metaphysical. The Providence Crusade that Asenath was a part of, along with the Adepta Sororitas of the Thorn Eternal and the Angels Resplendent were the conquerors that brought Arkan into the Imperium and resulted in the creation of the Arkan Confederates as regiments of the Imperial Guard (which also nicely tied in with their Southern Confederacy themes as they were forced to come back into a nation they didn't want to be a part of) which of course eventually leads into the events of Fire Caste, Phaedra and the creation of the Dark Man through Holt Iverson. Which is all one hell of a coincidence, but maybe it was all predestined, as Captain Templeton said "There are no coincidences."

The Angels Resplendent also appear for the first time before their tragic corruption into the self-loathing Angels Penitent and Fehervari definitely created an interesting Chapter here. The famed Captain Varzival finally appears as well, for those who can't remember he is the future Knight Resplendent (Chapter Master) who will lead the 1st Company on a crusade and vanish with them, leading to Chaplain Icharos Malvoisin and the Prophet utterly changing his Chapter into the fanatics we know them as. And surprisingly the young Athanazius the Artisan turned out to be a known quantity as well, he is (will be) the Chief Librarian of the Angels Resplendent and the one who along with his brothers will attempt to stop the rampaging Astartes under Malvoisin's sway and sadly fail. And it's Athanazius that provides one of the most interesting possibilties for a future novel, one focusing around the Angels Resplendent/Penitent. The answer that Varzival seeks to an unrevealed question, the perfect answer, that Athanazius seems to already know. What is it? Could that be why Varzival and the 1st Company vanished? Were they looking for that answer? Did they find it? The possibilties here are great and I would dearly like to know more.

One possible link, though this is a far reaching guess, is the Blood of Demeter. The sea-ship that Asenath and Jonah take to reach the Koronatus Ring and that becomes "tainted" by the brutal murders of its crew by Sister Mercy. At the end it is revealed to have survived and has Sister Aokihara on board it, who notices that it is unharmed by the Chaos corruption all around her. Now the link is that this ship sounds interestingly familiar, perhaps one day it will have another name. Puissance maybe? Could the Blood of Demeter have travelled through the Coil and wound up on Phaedra? Or somewhere else where Admiral Karjalen would find it and then take it to Phaedra? Or maybe i'm wrong and there's no connection there. Admittedly it's a stretch, but it could be true.

Really there's so much that could be talked about in RI that to write it all would take hours, but i'll sum it up by saying that this novel is fantastic! Fehervari absolutely nails the horror aspects, the tone and the setting in ways that few other BL authors do, his characters are fascinating, multi-layered and frequently surprise with their actions and beliefs, and though he admits that action isn't his priority that doesn't stop his battle scenes from being great and very visually epic. And it goes without saying the story is top-notch, you'll appreciate it a lot more if you've read his other works but you could enjoy Requiem infernal on it's own merits without having read the other Dark Coil stories.

Some other thoughts:
-"Blood-tight and void-sealed! Spirit-locked and set to purge!" I loved the Exordio Void-Breachers, Fehervari really has a knack for creating unique and memorable Imperial Guard regiments. These guys would make a great IG force for the tabletop, and i'd welcome more stories about them.
-I do wonder what became of The Witness, the one Incarnate that the Feizt/Prophet didn't free from Bhatori's lab. If it was powerful enough to scare a Daemon of Nurgle, it must have been bad.
-I love the Angels Resplendent colours but what really stood out was that they each painted their own art onto their armour. The idea of a Space Marine with the Mona Lisa on his pauldron is absolutely fantastic!
-Though Jonah seemed sure she died, I am unsure that Sister Genevieve was killed before reaching the Orrery. Maybe she survived and is another Traveller?
-The Qareen claimed to have "prepared the way for others to take up the vigil." I wonder if that means she somehow set up the system of a powerful being like the Spiral Dawn Patriarch and the others who have wardenship over Redemption in the future? And if so what does that mean for the Crucible Aeterna? Could that mean it's something like an Infinity Circuit or a World-Spirit?

Lots of thoughts here. Hope enjoyed reading them!
http://www.talkwargaming.com/search/lab ... %20Reviews - Black Library Reviews by Lord of the Night@Talk Wargaming
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Re: Requiem Infernal

Postby Rost-Light » Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:10 pm

Fantastic analysis! I’m glad that Torn Prophet has sent me here.
There are several great points I hope to discuss one day, but sadly, I have just that much time now. I should at least address the last one. As far as I know, Crucible Aeterna was created by Angel Resplendent librarians significantly later and with Aphanazius help for sure, so if it is a re-creation of Infinity Circle it is unlikely that it was intentional (if only Qareen didn’t put this idea in Aphanazius head). Ironically there is a precedent of Librarius creating analog of Infinity Circle and in infamous Goto novel about Blood Ravens no less. Another point – those who join the vigil (through Crucible Aeterna or otherwise) ends up Underspire in flesh. Both Avelin and Ariken did and even Patriarch head disappeared. Therefore, I think it is something different. But I agree that the “the way for others to take up the vigil” clearly connect Requiem to the main mystery of Cults of Spiral Dawn. It would be delightful to find out about mechanism behind it.

And last thing – for those interested in Dark Coil there is a map created by Magos Secutor Strochan, our fellow pilgrim.
Image
I hope it live up the discussion.
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Re: Requiem Infernal

Postby Duke_Leto » Tue May 07, 2019 7:47 pm

I have read the Requiem Infernal...

And so dear reader it was time for the banquet. I have not the word skill to provide a proper telling lest I under-appreciate the meal and you fail to understand the rapture that it provided me. Instead please allow me to simply indulge my senses and tell it as I experienced it...

The feast was laid across the table, a multitude of platters hiding their contents beneath silver cloches with hand written cards containing evocative names hinting, yet not revealing, what delicacies lay beneath. Each name was a tantalising tease of what I could expect, enticing me to reach out and begin to sample in earnest.

A meal consumed! No not enough of a word...devoured perhaps? My hunger demanded I eat more quickly, ensuring my ravenous appetite be sated now! Right now! Immediately I say! Without pause! Yet no. I resisted. Despite the great effort, I took my time savouring the flavours. Took the time to appreciate the complex mix of ingredients, flavours and textures rolling them around in my mouth trying to seek purchase on sometimes intangible qualities that at times evaded easy investigation.

But investigate I did, peeling back the layers and ruminating over morsels that felt reassuringly familiar only to be snatched away as they passed over my tongue stimulating taste buds completely different to those I had expected. Memories were awakened the way a scent can invoke something intangible drawn from the dark recesses of your mind, and yet much of the time they remained stubbornly in the shadows, teasing me with anticipation and making me eager to take my next bite.

...I have read the Requiem Infernal, and the dark coil is calling me...

Over time, as each course made way for the next, I started to fear that the main course of this particular feast may remain stubbornly just out of reach and despite following on from a choice of startling hors d'oeuvres, my own palette might, I opined, not be sophisticated enough to fully comprehend what it was experiencing.

Dear reader you will, I am sure, be happy to know that my fears were unfounded. Without doubt the sustenance on offer was sublime, revealing the fragrant beauty of itself in steps and stages at a deliberately languorous pace. Still it is clear to me now that I require that I partake of this particular meal again to fully appreciate what I suspect I have only managed to taste the surface stimulants of.

And almost immediately I find my tongue, my nostrils and my eyes eager to return and sample these delights again. For my senses to be overwhelmed with joy by the many twists and surprises I now know further exploration will reveal. My appetite is fully whetted but far from satisfied. I must partake again, very soon, in fact now. The hors d'oeuvres are calling to me again and I know that resistance would be folly. Indulge myself again I must, for I no longer know whether it was I who consumed the meal or if the meal devoured me!

...I have read the Requiem Infernal and the dark coil is summoning me, insisting that I revisit the Cult of the Spiral Dawn to seek answers. Oh what flavours, textures and scents I will experience again...
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Re: Requiem Infernal

Postby Alin » Wed May 08, 2019 11:25 am

Hello, Mr. Lord of the Night,

I've recently found this delightful blog thanks to Mr. Torn Prophet's mentioning it on the Requiem Infernal page at Goodreads... and this long, detailed, thoughful post about the Requiem was hugely interesting to read!

I'm currently re-visiting beautiful, storm-wracked Candleworld for the second time, and have noticed much that hadn't caught my attention the first time around. But I suppose it's the greatest feature of Mr. Fehervari's writing that every reader is free to explore the tangles of the Coil in their own manner and possibly discover differrent things and themes along the way...

Anyway, what I wanted to note here (and maybe you've already thought of it too) is this:



(probably spoiler, but hey)



The first time that Olber Vedas' peculiar eyes were mentioned, I immediately recalled the silver-eyed Kangre Talasca of the Black Flags from the 'Spiral Dawn'. So I wonder: is he the same characher, then?.. In your wonderul post above, you mention that good old Father Deliverance and Vedas are one & the same guy (well, he did lose his human eyes) , and then there's this proud religious nickname that Kangre assumed for himself - "The Retriever of Faith and the Faithful". Somehow it sounds pretty, well, Tzeentchy to me :) Besides, he had been to Oblazt before - and in the RI, Jonah obviously was there (in the future??) hunting for Vedas... after learning of his presence there in advance? Could it really be that he'd been to the ash-choked Redemption, before settling, for some inscrutable reason, on its previous version - Vytarn?..

Honestly, that's just one of the interesting questions I thought wouldn't be out of place to ask here. I'd really like to know what you think!



Alina
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Re: Requiem Infernal

Postby Alin » Wed May 08, 2019 2:34 pm

<To Duke Leto>

Oh my!!

That was a real chef d'oevre of a review... description... impression? ... Enticement?
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Re: Requiem Infernal

Postby Alin » Fri May 10, 2019 3:54 pm

OK, just thought that I’d share some more of my own findings/guesses about the brilliant novel here, for you fellow Coil-wanderers to ruminate upon. Hopefully they’ll be of interest!

(I’m yet very new to this forum, but have been enjoying the Dark Coil for more than a year already, so…)


The Resplendent Ones

- Oh, they were hugely welcome guests in the book, with so many little details about them, despite not much overall time compared to other heroes. We even got to glimpse their Chapter icon and colours for the first time! Regarding this, it was mentioned that

Spoiler: their old Librarian had a strange, repelling work of art on his pauldron – which, to me, looked pretty much like something devised (imitated?) by the antagonist… I wonder whether the warrior has seen it in reality or in his psychic meditations… And why I’m at it, is it the mystical Razor that serves as the original of the self-appointed architect’s creation?..



Spoiler: - During Athanazius’ wanderings in the tainted building - which might as well have taken decades for all we know, hence his white hair (just as it might very likely feel like mere days for some…), had he glimpsed the Resplendents (Penitents?) shuttle caught in the labyrinth that Jonah saw entangled there? And had maybe found that answer then, as well?.. (or, equally plausible, it was confided in him later, by a certain xenos being…)



- One tiny detail: their Apothecary from the spire fortress may well be a recruit from Providence (this guess is based solely on his voice – described as a melodious twang – but still, might be possible…)

- It’s funny that Asenath hadn’t learned of the Resplendents’ presence since her arrival on Candleworld. Surely their respective fates could’ve become… entwined somehow? Maybe at some future point, the Angels come searching for the Sister, and she’ll finally recognize them?..

Sister Darkstar/Mercy


- Personally, I do believe that Sister Mercy is

Spoiler: a daemonette/herald. Some words from her ramblings/testimonies even made me think of possible involvement by a Keeper of Secrets…
And as we learn, the township of Trinity was cursed by a Norland witch, so maybe it was her... particular taint that changed Asenath and spawned Mercy further on?.. Plus, the order of Thorn Eternal seems to dangerously court the attention – possession – of Chaos. It’s really curious how her fellow Repentias never questioned Asenath’s overtly, inhumanly flamboyant behaviour… Maybe they simply thought it to be the signs of her righteous zealotry all along?..
Anyway, it’s no wonder that Asenath was deemed the best candidate for an Incarnate, as it’s mentioned that they are Chaos entities dwelling inside their mortal hosts – the Sister was effectively ready for such a fate! Whatever the case, this particular version of Jekyll&Hyde motif was artfully presented and very enjoyable to follow. Though, since “we are not responsible for the sins of our shadows” (and so obviously don’t have to repent for them), I’d really like to learn more of the discordant sisters’ fate… Does feel like some very bad blood would be imminent, and bitter feuds would ensue...



- Additionally, I’ve glimpsed some common traits in the fates of Asenath and another, later pilgrim of the Coil...

Spoiler: Both had killed, or helped to kill, their mentors (and had been chosen for service by them seemingly at random!), and for most of their lives, simply followed in the wake of their respective superiors. And all this before having their, well, personality splits.

Of course, I've no idea if the similarities were intentional or just something I wish to see!

- Btw, if I recall correctly, it was mentioned in ‘Fire Caste’ that Providence had been brought into the Imperium only 200 (and not 1300, judging by the dates of Damocles Crusade) years ago. So, was the campaign of Father Deliverance just the initial (and not too successful one) attempt at conquering the Arkans?

The Commissar

- It was a nice surprise that the good commissar is from another wonderful world that we know and love

Spoiler: (Childe Wars, Grandpa Death and all that stuff…)



It seems that Fehervari’s two commissar protagonists – Lemarché and Iverson – may be called complete opposites, for even though both

Spoiler: had become warp-tainted, the former still managed to die honourably, while the latter brought about not just his own doom but that of his compatriots.

And curiously, they were both met at one point by the same message: “Death is the beginning, Holt Iverson/Ichukwu Lemarché”.

Btw… Can the dark(er) man apparently confronting O.Vedas in his “memories” actually be Iverson in his daemonic form (maybe on Providence in the distant future-that-was-to-be?..)


- Last but not least, my humble take on the “violations”... It’s easily the most cryptic feature of the novel, but as I’ve learned both from this forum and Hachisnax website about Fehervari’s literary influences, one of them was Robert Aickman (remember the Tempestor from 'Spiral Dawn'?..) And from what little I’ve read of Aickman’s style, it was heavily characterized by fundamental wrongness of things around us and overall predilection for ‘English understatement’. So who knows, there may be something in this regard… To add, it's kind of hinted once in the novel (rather masterfully, at that) that of the characters themselves,at least one of them pretty much understands his true nature in the narrative. After all, he knows two mutually annihilating verities of the Coil: that nothing is chance and everything is a lie… And if so, any variables in the character’s fates are effectively their creator’s prerogative – along with everything else!


Well… that's it, for now. Enjoy!

Alina
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Re: Requiem Infernal

Postby Duke_Leto » Sat May 11, 2019 4:05 pm

@Alin nice analysis. Deep!

On your point about Father Deliverance's crusade and Arkan Confederates etc. Requiem Infernal is set approx 1000 years before Cult of the Spiral Dawn and CotSD is set after Firecaste by approx 7 years (due to the journey a certain character is on).

It is what happens to the Koronatus Ring in RI that helps explain why "Redemption" is the hellhole it is in CotSD.
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